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How to Use Different Ways to Download and Save Online Videos

Online videos can come in a variety of shapes and sizes – but almost all of them nowadays are streamed.

While streaming videos does make watching them more convenient – it also means that you need to be online every time you want to view the video, even if it is one that you’ve watched in the past. On top of that you won’t actually have a file that you can transfer to other devices should you want to watch the video there.

That is part of the reason why people often try to find ways to download and save online videos – and there are several ways that can be done.

URL-Based ‘Video Downloader’ Websites

The most widely-used way to download and save online videos is by using ‘video downloader’ websites.

Essentially these websites tend to work in the same way and you will need to:

  1. Enter the URL of the video that you want to download.
  2. Let the website process the video.
  3. Download the video via the link that is made available.

While relatively easy to use, video downloader websites normally have limitations in place in terms of the quality as well as the file size or video duration. On top of that because they are URL-based, they aren’t able to download videos that may not have a URL – such as from within apps.

Last but not least most video downloader websites contain lots of ads, including pop-ups and other annoying elements. Using an ad-blocker can help, but some ads will still worm their way through.

Browser Extensions that Locate the Video Source

Some browser extensions are really just browser-based versions of video downloader websites. But others will actually attempt to locate the video source on websites so that you can download the video directly from it.

Typically browser extensions that locate the video source will list all the videos on the website and you can click on any one to download them. Some may even list multiple versions of the video, in different resolutions.

Because you will be downloading directly from the video source, there is normally not going to be any limitation to the quality or file size and video duration. That being said browser extensions are limited to working within browsers, and will only be able to download videos from websites – not apps.

On top of that some websites and online platforms may ‘mask’ the video source using various means, making it difficult to locate. In other words this method may not always work as a means to download online videos.

Keep in mind that browser extensions can cause security concerns – depending on the type of permissions they require. As such you should weigh your options carefully, and steer clear from any that looks suspicious.

Screen Recording to Capture and Save Online Videos

Arguably the most versatile way to save online videos is by using screen recording. It technically won’t ‘download’ videos, but will allow you to record them from your screen then save them.

While different screen recorders function in slightly different ways, for the most part all that you need to do is define the area that you want to record to encompass the online video.

The reason screen recording is more versatile is because it is not tied to a URL or browser and can record any online video from anywhere – apps included. It does not have any limitations in terms of the quality or file size either.

However there is one downside to screen recording: It is comparatively slower. Effectively you will need to wait for the video to complete playing before you can save it, meaning that saving online videos will take at least as long as the video duration.

To help overcome that you should try to find screen recorders that can automate the recording. For example Movavi Screen Recorder will let you set a timer to automatically stop recording after a certain duration, and will make it far more convenient to download videos from websites.


Technically there is one other option not discussed above: Manually locating the video source in the website code. Needless to say that can be challenging, which is why it is best to not go down that route.

Instead, the three options listed above should provide you with ample ways to save online videos – especially now that you know how each one works, and what their limitations are.

Before you make a firm decision regarding the one that you’d like to use, it may help to try out each one and see how it works for yourself. That way you’ll get a better feel for each option, and be able to find the one that you feel is the most convenient to use. 

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