Youtube Bandit

The idea of using sound clips from Youtube videos has come up no less than 100 times each quarter since I began teaching audio.  Although I am completely naive to the legality of this, I almost always indulge them with the one of the, I’m sure, thousands of ways there is to accomplish this.

Youtube videos are now saved as .flv (flash video) files.  In order to import these into most DAWs, you will first need to convert these .flv files into .mov files. The way I do this is using a Firefox plug-in called download helper.  You will need to download this at

You’ll see a yellow box to the left of the screen like this one below:

Picture 1

Click “Installation” inside the yellow box.

Follow the installation instructions.

Before download helper will work, you’ll need to restart Firefox.

One more plug-in you’ll need is a Quicktime plug-in known as Perian which allows you to open the .flv file you download from Youtube.  Go to this web site,, and download Perian.  A lot of my students have forgotten to follow the entire download through to its end.  Don’t forget to click “Download Perian” on this screen:

Picture 2

Restart Quicktime.

Now go to the Youtube video you want to sample.  You will now see three dots next to any video that you can download via Download helper such as below:

Picture 3

Clicking the three dots will begin an automatic download of the .flv from Youtube.

Picture 4The video will download directly to its own download helper folder:

The final step is to open the file using Quicktime.  If Perian is properly installed, the .flv should open in Quicktime with no problems.

The file will open in Quicktime.

Next, simply export the file.

Picture 5

The file will default as a .mov.  Save the file to a convenient place and import the newly formed .mov to Pro Tools or whatever DAW you’re working with.

Sample away.

  1. Since you’re dealing with lossy YouTube audio anyway, Audio Hijack Pro would be a much simpler and elegant solution if all they want is the audio:

    Simply run the app, “hijack” Firefox, select your desired recording format and hit record. Play the video. Done. What’s better, if they’re recording under 10min of material, the app is essentially free (payment is required for more than 10min).

      • ryanpeoples
      • November 3rd, 2009

      Or there’s that. Thanks for sharing Eric!

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