Along all these years as software reviewer I've come across many applications that let you download videos from YouTube and other popular online video websites. But it wasn't until yesterday that I tried out a handy little Firefox add-on called Video DownloadHelper, and after only a few hours of usage I've already decided this is the only app I'll ever use to download YouTube videos.
Video DownloadHelper is installed just like any other Firefox add-on. After the ubiquitous Firefox restart you'll notice a new button on your Firefox toolbar that will light up with colors and move every time you're on a web page with embedded videos. Click the button and you'll access download links for all the videos included in the page, both in FLV and MP4, as well as a series of available actions for each selected video. There's also an icon beside the video's title that lets you access the same menu. All you have to do is click the link of the video you want to download, and you'll be prompted for the target folder. That's all!
But what about all those other options available in the context menu? They let you perform several different actions with the selected video, besides downloading it straightaway to your hard drive:
Download & Convert - Helps you convert the selected video to a handful of formats, including WMV, iPod and iPhone, 3GP, MOV and AVI. This tool requires the installation of a third-party video converter - ConvertHelper, also developed by the Video DownloadHelper guy. You can easily get this tool in the extension's settings menu: go to Tools > DownloadHelper > Preferences and then click the Conversions tab.
Tweet this video - Lets you send a message about the selected video to your Twitter account. You need to fill in your Twitter credentials (username and password) in the extension's settings menu, inside the Services > Twitter tab.
Copy URL - Copies the video's URL to the Windows clipboard so that you can use it elsewhere. Note that this option doesn't copy the standard YouTube URL you see on your web browser, but the address that points to the actual video file - either in FLV or MP4.
Add to black list - This option enables you to add certain websites to a blacklist and thus block them from appearing on the list of available media generated by Video DownloadHelper. It's a smart way to avoid advertising videos, for example. You can also check the complete blacklist in the settings menu.
Send to mobile phone / Send to locker - Lets you upload the selected video (or only its audio stream) to your mobile phone or your personal web locker via a special online service called MP3tunes. You need to set up an account though. Video DownloadHelper lets you create one in the Services > MP3tunes tab inside the settings menu.