Prince Mathew (

Installing youtube-dl in Android using Termux

There are plenty of applications available for Android to download videos from streaming services. Videoder, TubeMate, KeepVid, Snaptube ect are some of the examples. They are not available on Google Play Store because of the Youtube policy regarding downloading of copyrighted material. Problem with these apps are we cannot trust them because of their closed source nature.

This is where youtube-dl excels. It is a tiny command line program which is open to anyone to check its source code on Github. It is a community driven development and most of the above mentioned apps use youtube-dl at the backend. Even some of them are just the GUI version of youtube-dl.

Even though the name suggests only the Youtube, it supports more than 1,000 services and it has a generic downloader built-in which can download any streaming media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Twitch, Udemy are some of the supported sites. It can download an entire playlist or chapter which comes handy when you are downloading a course or study material from Udemy or Youtube.

Youtube-dl requires the Python interpreter (2.6, 2.7, or 3.2+), and it is not platform specific. That means you can install it on your Linux distros, Windows, Mac OS or Android.

Installing Termux

To install youtube-dl in Android, we need to install an app called Termux

Developer: Fredrik Fornwall
Price: Free
Developer: Unknown
Price: Free

Termux is an Android terminal emulator and Linux environment app that works directly with no rooting or setup required. A minimal base system is installed automatically – additional packages are available using the APT package manager. Using Termux we can install youtube-dl and ffmpeg in Android.

After the installation of Termux open it like any other app. You will be greeted with a command line interface.

You need to provide storage permission to Termux. Either open the app settings of Termux and allow Storage permission or run the command

termux-setup-storageCode language: Bash (bash)

and accept the permission request when prompted.

Then run the command

apt update && apt upgradeCode language: Bash (bash)

apt update will resynchronize the package index files from their sources and apt upgrade will install the newest versions of all packages currently installed on the system from the sources.

Installing Pyhton and FFmpeg

Now we nee to install Python and FFmpeg

apt install pythonCode language: Bash (bash)
apt install ffmpeg

Now we can use pip to install youtube-dl. Pip is the package installer for Python. You can use pip to install packages from the Python Package Index and other indexes. Pip installs additional libraries and packages that are not part of the standard Python library. The Python installer installs pip automatically, so it is ready for you to use now.

Installing Youtube-dl

pip install youtube-dlCode language: Bash (bash)

Configuring Youtube-dl

We need to create a directory for youtube-dl config file. Run the following command:

mkdir -p ~/.config/youtube-dlCode language: Bash (bash)

and we will create a configuration file for YouTube-DL.

vi ~/.config/youtube-dl/configCode language: Bash (bash)

This configuration file works sort of like the preferences section of other apps. Here we can pass various options for youtube-dl such as preferred format, resolution, download location etc. For simplicity’s sake I am not going to explain all the option. Copy and paste the following in vi editor.

# Default Output Directory and Pattern
-o ~/downloads/youtube-dl/%(extractor_key)s/%(extractor_key)s_%(title)s_%(id)s.%(ext)s
-f 'bestvideo[height<=480]+bestaudio/best[height<=480]'Code language: Bash (bash)

Let me explain the above options

-o ~/downloads/youtube-dl/%(extractor_key)s/%(extractor_key)s_%(title)s_%(id)s.%(ext)s
Here we pass the location and naming format of output file. ~/downloads/youtube-dl/%(extractor_key)s/ will save the file in downloads ⇨ youtube-dl ⇨ ‘site_name’.

extractor_key (string) : Key name of the extractor
title (string) : Video title
id (string) : Video identifier
ext (string) : Video filename extension

After pasting the content in config file, you can save it by pressing ESC key. This will switch vi to command mode. Type :wq to save the file and exit vi.

Now you can download videos from various streaming services by opening Termux and typing

youtube-dl [OPTIONS] URL [URL…]Code language: Bash (bash)

For example:

youtube-dl language: Bash (bash)

Bonus Tip

We can create a Bash Script to download the videos using Android share feature. This way you can share an url to Termux using android share and the download will start automatically.

In Termux run the following command to make another directory

mkdir ~/binCode language: Bash (bash)

Then we will create a shell script

vi ~/bin/termux-url-openerCode language: Bash (bash)

Copy an paste the following commands in editor

youtube-dl $urlCode language: Bash (bash)

Save the file by pressing ESC key then type :wq

We need to make script executable

chmod +x ~/bin/termux-url-openerCode language: Bash (bash)

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