Download Web Videos With The Command Line Using Movgrab [linux]

download videos command lineUse the command line to quickly download videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Ted, Discovery and over 40 other sites using one simple program. It’s called MovGrab and it’s a great, free program for Linux.

We’ve shown you a few easy ways to download online videos 5 Easy Ways To Download & Convert Online Videos Streaming video websites are such a big part of our lives, it’s hard to remember a time when they didn’t exist. These websites revolutionized our computer video experience – no longer do we have to… Read More , and Linux and Mac users can check out check out Clipgrab for basic video downloading ClipGrab Makes It Simple to Download Videos Off Websites Read More . It’s hard to match Movgrab, though, in terms of the sheer number of sites it supports. As of this writing, 45 different sites are supported. Combine this with a simple command-line interface – all you need to do is type the name of the program followed by the URL of the file – and MovGrab is a program worth having for anyone who likes to watch their online video offline.

Basic Usage

Are you familar with the terminal? The basic command here isn’t that hard, then. Just browse using cd to the folder where you’d like to store your download, then type movgrab followed by the URL of the video you’d like to download.

For example: if you’d like to download Nyan Cat (and you would), the command would would be movgrab

Here’s what the command looks like when it’s running:

download videos command line

You should do this right now, and watch Nyan Cat on a continuous loop for the rest of your life. At the very least there should be a computer in your house that is always playing it, music and all.

The basic process is pretty much the same for any video, regardless of where it’s hosted. Here’s me dowloading a video about trick photography from Ted:

download videos command

Once the download is done, you’ll find the video in the folder your Terminal was set to. Here’s me watching my Ted download:

download videos command line

Wasn’t that easy?

A Few Advanced Features

Do you want to know what this program can really do? Type movgrab -h to see the full instructions. Command line experts will be able to figure out pretty much everything based on that, but let’s go over the highlights.

  • If you want the download to happen in the background just add -b to the command. The download will happen in the background, letting you use your terminal for other things.
  • If you want to continue a download you started earlier, you can add -r to the command.
  • If you want to pick a particular format, you’ll need to do two things. First: use the -T option to get a list of your options. Then, run the command again using the -foption followed by the format of your choice. For example, downloading Nyan Cat, I would use this command:movgrab -f webm:845x480It’s the same command, just followed by -f and the format I’d like to download the video from.

Do you want to see which sites are and aren’t working? Run movgrab -test-sites and your computer will test each and every supported site. If many are broken, it may be time to update Movgrab.

There’s a lot more this program can do, so be sure to check out the -h option to get a complete rundown.

Installing MovGrab

I found this program thanks to a great article on WebUpd8 ClipGrab Makes It Simple to Download Videos Off Websites Read More , a site I recommend you all check out. That site’s PPA is probably the simplest way for Ubuntu users to install MovGrab, and all you need to do is enter the following three commands in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install movgrab

You’ll need a relatively recent version of Ubuntu for the first command to work.

Users of other operating systems can grab the source code at the movgrab homepage. You’ll need to compile the source code yourself, but it’s not anymore complicated than the standard configure, make and make install.

Get a Linux geek to help you out if you’re not sure what that means!

Supported Services

This program supports a lot of different sites. Some may or may not be working, but here is a currently complete list:

  • YouTube
  • Metacafe
  • Dailymotion
  • Vimeo
  • eHow
  • vbox7
  • Ted
  • MyVideo
  • ClipShack
  • MyTopClip
  • RedBalcony
  • Mobando
  • Yale University
  • Princeton University
  • Reuters
  • LiveLeak
  • Academic Earth
  • Photobucket
  • VideoEmo
  • VideosFacebook
  • Aljazeera
  • Mefeedia
  • IViewTube
  • Washington Post
  • CBS News
  • Euro News
  • MetaTube
  • MotionFeeds
  • Escapist
  • Guardian
  • RedOrbit
  • Sciive
  • Izlese
  • British Academy
  • Kitp
  • Dotsub
  • Discovery


This is simply a must-have video downloader for anyone who wants to download from a wide variety of sites. The command-line interface may make it inaccessible to some, but those who take the time to figure it out won’t be disappointed.

How do you like this program? Please leave a note in the comments below, along with any recommended similar software.