General Information
Video Players
Recoder Software
How to Download Youtube Videos

Note: be sure you have LOTS of hard disk space when you start playing with videos--they take up a lot!

General Information about Videos

Videos have different formats which means that a video player on your computer may not be able to play a video if it is in the wrong format. The digital information of a video does not change but the information around that video is different for each format. It's like the old Beta vs. VHS in video tape back in the day. You couldn't play a VHS video on a Beta machine and you could have the exact same video in each format.
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Here are some common video formats on the computer:

.avi Audio Video Interleave File
.flv Flash Video File
.mov Apple QuickTime Movie
.mp4 MPEG-4 Video File
.mpg MPEG Video File
.rm Real Media File
.swf Flash Movie
.vob DVD Video Object File
.wmv Windows Media Video File
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The first challenge is to get a video player on your computer that will play the various formats. For example, Windows Media Player will play .wmv but it won't play .flv (Flash video, which is the format for Youtube videos).

Here is a video player that will play many different formats. It is open source and is available for a wide range of operating systems:
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In order to move a video from one format to another (e.g., you have the VLC media player at home but not at school, so you need the video in a different format), you need software to convert your videos. Media Coder is a helpful program for this process, but it works best on Windows:

Choose "Full Edition."

Here's one for Mac that looks promising:

Please note about open source software. You have to be willing to play around with things and try them out. Sometimes open source programs come with great documentation and sometimes with none. You can always use a search engine and type in the name of the program and "how do i..." mentioning what you are trying to do. You will probably get forums with threads related to your question and you are likely to find your answer. Just allow plenty of time for this part of the process. Also when you find good open source software that you use a lot, donate a little money to it.
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How to Download a Youtube Video

There are a number of ways to download youtube videos. One is to use Keep Vid:

You put the url of the Youtube video you want in the box at the top of the page. It will then give you several choices of formats in which to download, including choices about the level of quality you want. High quality videos play better, especially if you are going to project them. They do take up more space on your hard drive.

Once you have downloaded the video you can keep it in its present format or recode it to another format.

Another way to download youtube videos is to use XVideoServiceThief:

Unlike KeepVid, this is a program you install on your computer. There are versions for mac, windows, and linux. Open the program and follow the directions for getting your videos.
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VOB (DVD) Files

One special format of video is VOB which is the format you find on DVDs.