Downloading YouTube Videos using yt-dlp

I see tools like youtube-dl (and its successor yt-dlp) recommended a lot in privacy circles; for example, it was mentioned by Michael Bazzell in his “Linux Lifestyle” article in the latest edition of Unredacted Magazine.

How safe are tools like this? Is there any risk of downloading malware? I assume that Google has good security practices and probably scan files before allowing them to be uploaded.

I also notice that in downloading something using yt-dlp through the command line, it first downloads the webpage, then creates the mp3 or mp4, and then deletes the webpage. Does this run the risk of downloading ads or something?

Nothing is 100% secure, but I think the risk would be quite low. How someone would get malware to persist in a YT video after it’s been processed is beyond me.

If you mean ads on the webpage then no, because yt-dlp is not a browser and doesn’t need to load every single thing or run JS (which is used to show you ads). From what I understand, it only parses data it needs from the webpage after downloading it. yt-dlp also won’t include any video ads, if that’s what you mean.


Has youtube-dl been abandoned? I have used it for around two years to this day.
You will not be downloading malware or ads. Unless by ads you mean the ones the creators make themselves.

The last commit was 7 days ago. Maybe it’s yt-dlp’s features that caused many to use it:

yt-dlp is a youtube-dl fork based on the now inactive youtube-dlc. The main focus of this project is adding new features and patches while also keeping up to date with the original project

– the GitHub page

Seems odd that they shut down after a “come back” post not too long ago

youtube-dl is active, youtube-dlc (a fork) is inactive, and yt-dlp (based on youtube-dlc) is active. What I meant was that yt-dlp has more features than youtube-dl, and that might be why people recommended it.


as @plate said yt-dlp is really good. personally I use yt-dlp

yt-dlp can be used in linux but I’m not for certain about any other operating system.

if you open up a linux cli you would enter the following:

python3 -f 22 yt-dlp

this would allow you to download a video in the best format available

if you want to see a list of available formats, you would enter the following:

python3 yt-dlp -F

you will see a list of available formats. replace the 22 with the applicable number you want for your download.

the following example is for downloading multiple youtube videos through a content creator’s playlist

python3 yt-dlp_linux -f “bestvideo[height<=720]+bestaudio/best[height<=720]” --yes-playlist -o “%USERPROFILE%\Desktop%(title)s-%(id)s.%(ext)s” --embed-chapters

anyway it’s what I use and it saves me a lot of time and effort