How to Put YouTube Videos (and More) on Your iPod

A video-capable iPod is a wonderful thing, but some of the best videos on the web, like the viral hits on YouTube, aren't easy to put on your iPod. In this tutorial I show you some free tools to download YouTube videos, convert them to an iPod-friendly format, and take them with you.
Published: May 15, 2007
Author: Jordan Running
Related OS: Windows

I have a confession to make: I'm a little late to the iPod bandwagon. I just got my first iPod last weekend. While not everyone agrees that the iPod is the pinnacle of portable media players, it's certainly a step up from the underpowered gizmo I was using before. Almost as soon as I had it plugged in I was trying to figure out how to load videos on it. While iTunes can convert a number of formats to iPod-friendly .mp4 files, there's a major gap in its capabilities: Videos in the Flash Video (.FLV) format used by most video-sharing sites, including YouTube.

There's two parts to this problem: The first is actually getting the video files off of the web (since YouTube fails to provide a simple "download" button), and the second is converting them to an iPod-friendly format. We'll tackle each problem in turn.

Downloading Videos From YouTube

I'm using YouTube as an example, here, because it's the 300-pound gorilla of video-sharing sites, but the tools I'm about to introduce you to actually work with a huge variety of sites, including Break.com, MySpace, iFilm, Blip.tv, and many more. The first tool is a web site called KeepVidh. At KeepVid you can enter the URL of a page on a video site and it will give you a link to download the .FLV video file. Just that simple.


There's very little to figure out with KeepVid, but here's a couple tips: First, when you click on the download link and are prompted to save the downloaded file, it probably won't have a very informative name by default (YouTube videos, for example, are called "get_video" by default). You should do two things here: 1) Give it a descriptive, sensible name, and 2) put .flv at the end, so that programs will recognize it as a Flash Video file. Save the file wherever you want�My Videos is as good a place as any.

Second, install the KeepVid bookmarklet. A bookmarklet is just like a bookmark (or "Favorite" if you use Internet Explorer), except that it performs an action rather than just storing a location. In KeepVid's case, the bookmarklet will give you the download link for a YouTube (or other) video with just one click, instead of you having to navigate to the KeepVid web site and copy and paste a URL. To install the bookmarklet just go to KeepVid's front page and drag the button to the right of the logo (the one that says "Drag this button onto your links toolbar") and�you guessed it�drag it to your links or bookmarks toolbar.

Once the bookmarklet is installed, whenever you're at a video page on a supported site, you just have to click on the bookmarklet once and you'll immediately be taken to a KeepVid page with a download link.

While we're talking about bookmarklets, there's another bookmarklet worth checking out if you don't like having to hit KeepVid every time you want to download a video: The All-In-One Video Bookmarklet. Rather than relying on an external server to generate a download link for you, this one does it all in your browser, so it's a tad speedier, and it works with the most popular video sites.

All-In-One Video Bookmarklet

One last thing: If you just want to watch those video on your computer, and not on an iPod, you don't need to do any conversion. All you need is a player capable of playing them. For that I have two recommendations: The first is FLVPlayer, which, as the name implies, is a program just for watching Flash Video files. The other is VLC, which is a good all-around meayer that's open source and works on many platforms.

Converting Downloaded Videos For Your iPod

Now that you've got a nice collection of downloaded .FLV files, you probably want to put them on your iPod, huh? My tool of choice is Videora iPod Converter, but there's a bit of a caveat here: It's a free tool, but its developers have taken a somewhat unpopular route to financial stability: Really obnoxious ads. Animated, talking ads. I'm not kidding and I don't know why any developer would do this, but I promise if you can get past the terrible ads, Videora iPod Converter gets the job done.

When you launch Videora you'll see a Home screen with some news and ads. What you want to do is click on the Convert button at the top. Then you want to click on Select File button in the lower right corner, then locate the .FLV file you downloaded. You can also click on the Set Title tab if you want to specify a title for the video different from the filename. Above, you'll be presented with some sliders for conversion settings. Usually it's fine to leave these at their defaults, but feel free to tweak them.

Videora Settings

When you're satisfied with the settings, click on the Next button, then click on the Start Converting button in the lower right corner. You'll see the progress bar fill up as the file is converted�most web videos have low resolution and aren't very long, so this is usually pretty quick. Once Videora is done converting the file, it will be added to Videora's own Library. To put it on your iPod, click on the Library button at the top of the Videora window. Here you can select the file(s) you want to put on your iPod and click on the Add to iTunes button, which will add the file to your iTunes library, from where you can sync it to your iPod.

Videora Library

All of this might sound like a pretty laborious process, but once you've been through it once or twice it's really easy.

About Jordan Running

Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.

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