A couple of times a week, I like to browse through YouTube and download a handful of the latest “must see” clips onto my iPod to share with my wife (who just doesn’t have the patience to wade through all the skateboard tricks, playground fights, and “teen” diaries). It used to be a bit of a chore to download and convert those videos, but over the past few months, a flood of little helper applications have hit the Internet.
I’ve actually been meaning to get around to recommending a few of the YouTube download programs here, but every time I sit down to start writing I realize that as a Mac user, it’s difficult for me to recommend a program for the majority of my readers, who are Windows users. Yesterday, Lifehacker recommended a website that not only downloads any YouTube Flash video file, but also converts it into your choice of five different formats, including iPod mp4. Vixi.net’s FLV Online Converter is amazingly simple to use, and works directly from your browser. Just enter the URL of the video’s webpage, select the format you want it converted to, and press the start button. The download and conversion are surprisingly quick, and once it’s finished Vixi automatically downloads it to your computer. Simple.
There are a couple of features I miss, however. Previously, I had been using KeepVid.com to download FLV files from YouTube. KeepVid doesn’t convert the video to iPod format, but it does let you place a link on your browser’s toolbar which you can click while you’re on a video’s page, eliminating the need to cut and paste a URL. That would be handy. I’ve also used a free Mac program called PodTube, which pulls video off of your frontmost webpage and converts it. But it goes a couple steps further by renaming the file to it’s YouTube title and automatically adding it to your iTunes. Super handy.
Those few features aside, I think I prefer using Vixy to having a separate app open, even if it means dragging the finished files to iTunes and renaming them. And for those who are wondering, YouTube videos look great on the iPod’s screen and are surprisingly watchable if you connect the iPod to a TV. Now you can watch the Florence Foster-Chickens during your commute, or from the comfort of your sofa.
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