Working with YouTube and Extracting Audio

The biggest block of code creates a default output filename from the YouTube URL:

if [ $# -eq 1 ] ; then
  # no output filename specified
  outfile=$(echo "$1" | cut -d= -f2)
  if [ $audioonly -eq 1 ] ; then

This isn't the most robust code, because it assumes that the URL specified is in a format like the examples used herein, youtube-yadda-yadaa?value=shortcode. It extracts the shortcode and simply appends an appropriate filename suffix. There are better ways to do this, but that's okay, this'll work for now. Just realize that your output format might be a bit weird if you have a very different type of YouTube URL or a URL from another site.

And, finally, the actual invocation of the youtube-dl command:

$youtubedl $flags -o "$outfile" "$1"

That's it! Now you can download a video as simply as:

$ ytdl '' wiper.mp4

And an audio portion with:

$ ytdl -a ''

Nice, eh?

I've way overrun my space for this column, but this is such a fun and simple script atop a terrific, powerful program, that it's worth it, right? And now you know how to make YouTube work for you, rather than vice versa!


Dave Taylor has been hacking shell scripts for over thirty years. Really. He's the author of the popular "Wicked Cool Shell Scripts" and can be found on Twitter as @DaveTaylor and more generally at