We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I just dug up a really slick Firefox add-on that takes care of two pesky little problems when it comes to grabbing online videos.
Traditionally, the easiest way to grab a YouTube-type video is to install a Firefox add-on like CacheViewer, play the video, open the cached files, sort them by 'Size', and the video was usually sitting right at the top of the heap.
There are two small problems with this method:
1. It doesn't always work. Sometimes the video simply isn't there.
2. If there's a choice of the same video but different quality, you won't get the one with the best quality.
Enter little DownloadHelper.
It allows us to pick the download with the best quality and format. Installation & tweaks are below the fold.
Head for the Firefox Add-Ons site and install DownloadHelper. Close the Web page that pops up after it's installed.
Go to Tools Menu, 'Add-ons'. Click on 'Extensions'. Click on DownloadHelper's 'Options':
— It's going to place a worthless icon over to the left of the tool bar. It's also going to annoyingly make it animated. To turn off the animation, uncheck 'Icon animation'. We'll use the program from the Tools menu, so uncheck 'Display in context menu' and 'Display icons in system menu'. Remember where the 'context menu' feature is for possible future use (mentioned below).
— Click on 'Capture' up at the top, then the 'YouTube' tab. Change 'Quick Download' to just 'Download'. You don't ever want an online program to convert a video from one format to another. They always do a crappy job.
— Click on 'Services' at the top. On the drop-down menu, switch it from 'Download & Convert' to just 'Download'.
— Click on the 'Download' tab. Change the 'Download mode' to 'Normal'. Click on 'Change directory' and find a permanent spot where you want everything downloaded.
— Click on the 'Social Share' tab and uncheck the first box unless you actually want to use this feature.
Close the Options and the tab it opened.
When you get to the page you want, let the actual video start playing. You can then stop or mute it. Once you start the download, you can close the browser.
— Go to Tools Menu, skip down to 'DownloadHelper, then down to 'Media' and look over the choices. You usually want the biggest starting number of a file ending with ".mp4". The bigger numbers indicate a higher resolution (size) of the video frames, hence the higher quality. The 'Medium" entry means '480'.
— Make your selection, the download requester will pop open and it's on its way.
Note: If it just goes 'blip!' and doesn't actually take any time to download, it's just a header file. Try another entry.
For multi-part videos, always first look for a full-length version, as occasionally one will slip through. On YouTube, you can usually see the time of the video embedded in the small thumbnail when they're listed. To grab individual parts, just grab each one with DownloadHelper and they should all come down together.
If the site opens a special window for the video, there won't be a Tools menu you can access, so use the one on the original window and it should work. If not, try going back into Options, turning on the 'context menu' function and right-clicking on the video.
If it's a page of videos, first click on the one you want to start it playing, then it should be listed in the DownloadHelper/Media area.
On some sites you won't see a 'Media' entry on the drop-down menu, which means the selfish asshats have coded their videos so they don't behave like normal. Using the cache routine on these sites probably won't work, either, but it's the only other option.
Update: The day after the first presidential debate I went over to YouTube to download the event. There were about ten entries on the 'Media' panel. Every single one of them was a blank header file except the very last one, which downloaded and played like normal. So, always check every file if you run into something similar. It was probably handled a little differently because it was originally a live streamcast.
This is a 2-step process. You first render the parts to AVI format with one program, then combine them with another. Tools and instructions are here.