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How to Build a Python YouTube Downloader: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Rahul Lath

Python Tutorials

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Have you ever wanted to download a YouTube video to watch offline or save your favorite playlist for later? With the rise of Python as a powerful, flexible, and intuitive programming language, building your own Python YouTube downloader is not only possible, but it’s also an engaging and enriching project.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into how to create a Python YouTube downloader, explaining each step of the process in detail. Whether you’re a Python novice or a seasoned programmer looking for a new project, this guide offers a valuable chance to expand your Python skills.

This project will also introduce you to web scraping, APIs, and even how to package your Python program into a standalone application that others can use. So grab your favorite IDE, let’s get started on your Python YouTube dl journey.

Setting Up Your Python Environment

Before you start any Python project, you need to have a functional Python environment. If you don’t already have Python installed, you can download it from the official website.

Installing Python

Here’s how you install Python:

  1. Visit the official Python downloads page.
  2. Download the latest version for your operating system.
  3. Run the downloaded file and follow the instructions in the setup wizard.

Remember to check the box that asks to add Python to your PATH to ensure that your system can find Python.

Essential Python Libraries for Building a YouTube Downloader

To build Python YouTube downloader, we’ll primarily use three Python libraries: pytube, requests, and BeautifulSoup.

  • Pytube: This lightweight, dependency-free Python library is perfect for downloading YouTube Videos and Playlists.
  • Requests: It is used for making HTTP requests in Python.
  • BeautifulSoup: This library is used for parsing HTML and XML documents, which we’ll use for web scraping.

Installing the Required Libraries

To install these libraries, use the pip package installer in your command line:

pip install pytube requests beautifulsoup4

Remember, whenever you’re working with new packages, it’s a good practice to create a virtual environment. This isolates your project and its dependencies from other Python projects on your system. To take your python download YouTube video tool to the next level, you’ll need some more Python libraries, but we’ll get to them as we reach their implementation part.

How to Code a YouTube Downloader with Python

Now that we have our Python environment set up, let’s start coding our Python YouTube downloader.

Importing the Necessary Libraries

First, we need to import the libraries we installed. Place the following code at the top of your Python file:

from pytube import YouTube import requests from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

Understanding the Pytube Library

Pytube is a very lightweight and versatile library with an easy-to-understand API. Here are the key Pytube features:

  • Download videos at various resolutions
  • Extract video audio
  • Query video metadata
  • Get caption tracks
  • Get video streams

How Pytube Interacts with YouTube’s API

Pytube sends a request to YouTube’s servers to get the video’s webpage, parses the page’s code to extract the video’s information, and presents a simple API to interact with this data.

Writing the Initial Code: Accessing a YouTube Video

To access a YouTube video, you use Pytube’s YouTube class, passing in the URL of the video you want to download. Here’s an example:

# create a YouTube object video = YouTube('https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ') # print the video's title print(video.title)

Understanding YouTube URLs

YouTube URLs generally have two formats:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIDEO_ID: This format is for individual videos. The VIDEO_ID part is a unique identifier for the video.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAYLIST_ID: This format is for playlists. The PLAYLIST_ID part is a unique identifier for the playlist.

In our downloader, we’ll accommodate both formats.

Using Pytube to Access Video Information

With a YouTube object, you can access a lot of data about the video, including its title, author, length, and more. Here’s an example:

print('Title:', video.title) print('Author:', video.author) print('Length:', video.length)

This information can be handy when providing feedback to the user about the video they’re downloading.

Downloading YouTube Videos

Now that we’ve accessed our video, it’s time to download it.

Downloading a Single Video

Downloading a video is as easy as calling a method on our YouTube object. Here’s how to download a video in its highest resolution:

Understanding Video Formats and Resolutions

Videos on YouTube are available in various formats and resolutions. Some videos are in 4K, while others are in lower resolution. Also, some videos are in MP4 format, while others are in WEBM. Pytube allows you to filter streams by file format and resolution, and download the one that fits your requirements.

Here’s an example of how to download a video in 720p resolution:


Writing the Download Code

Incorporate the above understanding in your YouTube video downloader script, and it should look something like this:

# Create a YouTube object video = YouTube('https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ') # Download the highest resolution version of the video video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download() print('Download complete!')

Downloading a YouTube Playlist

You can use Pytube to download all the videos in a YouTube playlist. To do this, you’d use the Playlist class, passing in the URL of the playlist. Here’s an example:

from pytube import Playlist playlist = Playlist('https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAYLIST_ID') # download all videos in the playlist for video in playlist.videos: video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download()

Adding User Input Functionality

To make your script more interactive, you can allow users to input the URL of the video or playlist they want to download. Here’s how you can do it:

# Get user input url = input('Enter the URL of the video or playlist: ') # Create a YouTube object and download the video if 'list=' in url: # this is a playlist playlist = Playlist(url) for video in playlist.videos: video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download() else: # this is a single video video = YouTube(url) video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download()

Implementing Error Handling

Your code should be able to handle any errors that occur during the download process. For instance, if the user inputs an invalid URL, your program should not crash but instead provide a helpful error message.

We will continue with enhancing the YouTube downloader and the possibilities of converting the downloaded videos into MP3 format, adding metadata, and packaging the code into a standalone application. Let’s build Python YouTube downloader to its full potential.

Enhancing Your YouTube Downloader

As we have built a basic YouTube downloader, let’s enhance it by adding more features like a download progress bar, the ability to convert videos to MP3, and adding metadata to downloaded files.

Adding a Progress Bar

A progress bar provides a visual representation of a task’s progress towards completion. Pytube provides a built-in mechanism for displaying a download progress bar using callback functions. Here’s how you can implement a progress bar in your YouTube downloader:

def on_progress(stream, chunk, bytes_remaining): progress = round((1 - bytes_remaining / video.filesize) * 100, 2) print(f'Download progress: {progress}%') video.register_on_progress_callback(on_progress)

Understanding Callback Functions in Pytube

In the above code, on_progress is a callback function that Pytube calls whenever it has downloaded a new chunk of the video. The register_on_progress_callback method is used to register this callback function.

Implementing a Download Progress Indicator

Now, let’s include this progress bar into our YouTube video downloader:

def on_progress(stream, chunk, bytes_remaining): progress = round((1 - bytes_remaining / video.filesize) * 100, 2) print(f'Download progress: {progress}%') url = input('Enter the URL of the video or playlist: ') if 'list=' in url: playlist = Playlist(url) for video in playlist.videos: video.register_on_progress_callback(on_progress) video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download() else: video = YouTube(url) video.register_on_progress_callback(on_progress) video.streams.get_highest_resolution().download()

Converting Videos to MP3

If you wish to convert the downloaded YouTube videos to MP3 format, you can do so with the help of the MoviePy library.

Introduction to the MoviePy Library

MoviePy is a Python module for video editing, which can be used for basic operations (like cuts, concatenations, title insertions), video compositing, video processing, or to create advanced effects.

Writing the Conversion Code

After downloading the YouTube video, you can use the following code to convert the video into an MP3 file:

from moviepy.editor import VideoFileClip def convert_to_mp3(file_path): video_clip = VideoFileClip(file_path) audio_clip = video_clip.audio audio_clip.write_audiofile(file_path.replace('.mp4', '.mp3')) audio_clip.close() video_clip.close()

Adding Metadata to Downloaded Files

After downloading and converting the YouTube videos, it’s a great idea to add metadata to the files. The metadata can contain information about the title, artist, album, track number, and other details about the media file.

Understanding Metadata in Media Files

Metadata in media files is a set of data that describes and gives information about the data. In the case of media files like MP3, the metadata can contain information such as the title of the song, the artist’s name, album name, genre, track number, and more.

Using the Mutagen Library to Edit Metadata

To add or edit metadata in our downloaded files, we can use the Mutagen library in Python. Here’s how you can add metadata to your MP3 files:

from mutagen.easyid3 import EasyID3 def add_metadata(file_path, title, artist, album): audio = EasyID3(file_path) audio['title'] = title audio['artist'] = artist audio['album'] = album audio.save()

In this snippet, we’re using the EasyID3 class from the Mutagen library to add metadata to the MP3 file. You can add as many metadata fields as you want, depending on your requirements.

Packaging Your Code into a Standalone Application

After successfully building your YouTube downloader, the final step is to package it into a standalone application that can be run on any computer without requiring Python or any dependencies to be installed.

Introduction to PyInstaller

PyInstaller is a program that converts (packages) Python programs into stand-alone executables, under Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, AIX, and Solaris. Its main advantages over similar tools are that PyInstaller works with any version of Python since 2.3, it builds smaller executables thanks to transparent compression, it is fully multi-platform, and uses the OS support to load the dynamic libraries, thus ensuring full compatibility.

Why Use PyInstaller?

The main reasons to use PyInstaller are:

  • Your users don’t need to install Python or any dependencies.
  • Your application can be distributed and used on any computer.
  • You can protect your Python source code from being viewed by users.

Installing and Using PyInstaller

You can install PyInstaller using pip:

pip install pyinstaller # After installing PyInstaller, navigate to your script's directory and run: pyinstaller --onefile your_script.py

This command will create a standalone executable file from your Python script.

Creating an Executable File

The –onefile option ensures that PyInstaller creates a single executable file. If your script has any external files or dependencies, PyInstaller will automatically bundle these into the executable file.

Understanding Executable File Structure

The structure of an executable file created by PyInstaller is straightforward. All your script’s dependencies, including the Python interpreter, are bundled into the executable file. When the executable is run, these dependencies are extracted to a temporary folder and your script is executed.

Packaging Your YouTube Downloader

With PyInstaller, you can easily turn your Python YouTube downloader into a standalone application that anyone can use. Simply follow the steps above and your YouTube Downloader is ready to go! The final code will be a perfect example of how to build Python YouTube downloader effectively.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve taken you through the process of creating a Python YouTube downloader. From setting up your Python environment, understanding and utilizing the Pytube library, to enhancing your downloader with user-friendly features, and finally, packaging it all up with PyInstaller into a neat standalone application, we’ve covered it all.

Not only does this demonstrate the power and versatility of Python, but it also shows the extensive range of external libraries available that simplify and expedite the development process. Furthermore, this knowledge and these skills can be applied to a plethora of other projects, opening up a world of possibilities for you as a developer.

We started by introducing the concept and setup of a Python YouTube downloader. Then, we delved into the Pytube library and how it interacts with the YouTube API. We wrote code to access, download, and convert videos and even playlists. We added user input functionality, implemented error handling, and created a progress bar. Finally, we added metadata to downloaded files and packaged our code into a standalone application using PyInstaller.

Python and YouTube’s API offer endless possibilities for developers. Other than downloading videos, Python can also be used to gather video metadata, analyze YouTube’s trends, automate the upload process, manage YouTube channels, and much more.

We hope this guide has proven useful in your quest to build Python YouTube downloader and sparked your curiosity to explore more projects using Python. Happy coding!


Why isn’t my YouTube Downloader working?

If your Python YouTube dl isn’t working, make sure all libraries are correctly installed and you’re using the latest versions. Additionally, ensure you’re correctly handling exceptions and errors.

How can I download videos in different formats or resolutions?

Pytube allows you to specify the format and resolution of the video you want to download. You can check the available streams of a video and choose the one that fits your needs.

Is it legal to download videos from YouTube?

Downloading videos from YouTube can infringe on copyrights, and it’s against YouTube’s Terms of Service. Make sure you have the necessary permissions before downloading any content.

How can I improve the speed of my downloads?

The speed of your downloads can depend on several factors, such as your internet connection, the server’s response time, and the size of the video. However, using a faster or more direct connection, if available, can speed up your downloads.

Can I use this code to download videos from other websites?

The code in this article is specifically designed to work with YouTube. However, Python has libraries like BeautifulSoup and Selenium which can be used to scrape and download content from other websites. Always ensure you have permission and respect the site’s robots.txt file and terms of service.

Written by

Rahul Lath

Reviewed by

Arpit Rankwar

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