This tip was too good not to pass along: a way to download high quality videos from YouTube for free (the high definition ones that have been uploaded in 720p).
You’ve likely already noticed that YouTube has enabled high quality viewing for all users – and if your system’s fast enough, and you have a broadband connection, the first thing you should do is visit your Video Playback Quality page and enable the “I have a fast connection. Always play higher-quality video when it’s available” option. This is apparently a cookie-based setting, which is a bit disappointing (because you have to re-enable it on every computer rather than having it set as a static preference in your YouTube account). Do this, and you’ll always see the best version of a video available.
Now, what if you want to save that high quality YouTube video to your computer?
Forget about using a third-party Web site or software to download 720p video from YouTube – there’s nothing for you to install other than this bookmarklet:
Go ahead and create that link into your browser’s Bookmarks (or Favorites) bar. If you’re not familiar with the concept of bookmarklets, they’ve been around forever.
Once this is in your browser’s bookmarks bar, you simply click it when you’re on a YouTube video page that has a 720p (high quality video) that you want to download. You only need click this bookmarklet once. The download doesn’t start – but after clicking this bookmarklet, you should see a new “Download as 720p HD MP4″ link in the video information box in the right sidebar of the YouTube page. It’ll be automatically inserted directly beneath the Embed code for that particular video. NOTE: this bookmarklet only works for the 720p videos.
If you want to download any other YouTube video as an MP4, you’ll want to use this bookmarklet: Download YouTube MP4. It works similarly to the HD version of the bookmarklet, only it should work with any YouTube video – and starts downloading the page’s video as an MP4 file without further intervention.
I’m not here to support either bookmarklet, nor to help you figure out how to use either one (beyond the instructions I’ve provided above). If you want to thank anybody, thank Google Operating System and Mac OS X Hints for surfacing the bookmarklets. I’ve tested them on the latest nightly build of WebKit (as of today) and they both work extremely well. Don’t ask me how to get them to work in anything else. ;)