Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Download YouTube Playlists to MP3 with youtube-dl

Ubuntu 9

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of downloading YouTube playlists to MP3 format using the popular command-line tool, youtube-dl. This tool is a versatile, lightweight utility that allows you to download videos from YouTube and many other platforms. It’s open-source, meaning it’s free to use and modify, and it’s supported by a vibrant community of developers.

Quick Answer

To download YouTube playlists to MP3 format using youtube-dl, you can use the command youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" <playlist URL>. Replace <playlist URL> with the actual URL of the playlist you want to download.


Before we begin, make sure you have youtube-dl installed on your system. If you don’t, you can download it from the official website. This guide assumes you have a basic understanding of how to use the command line.

Downloading a Single Playlist

To download a playlist in MP3 format, you can use the following command:

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" <playlist URL>

Here’s a breakdown of the command:

  • --extract-audio: This option tells youtube-dl to extract audio files.
  • --audio-format mp3: This option sets the format of the extracted audio files to MP3.
  • -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s": This option sets the output file name template. In this case, the output file name will be the title of the video followed by the extension.
  • <playlist URL>: Replace this with the actual URL of the playlist you want to download.

Handling Errors and Missing Videos

If you encounter any missing or unavailable videos in the playlist, you can use the -i flag to ignore errors:

youtube-dl -i --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" <playlist URL>

Downloading Multiple Playlists

If you have multiple playlists to download, you can put all the URLs in a text file and use the --batch-file option:

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 --batch-file="/path/to/playlist.txt"

Avoiding IP Bans

Downloading playlists too quickly may result in your IP being banned by YouTube. To avoid this, you can add a sleep interval between downloads using the --sleep-interval option:

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 --sleep-interval 10 -o "%(title)s.%(ext)s" <playlist URL>

Choosing the Best Audio Format

While this guide focuses on downloading in MP3 format, youtube-dl supports many other formats. You can specify the desired format using the -f flag followed by the format code. For example, -f 251 for Opus or -f 140 for AAC.


youtube-dl is a powerful tool for downloading YouTube playlists in MP3 format. With the right options, you can customize the output to your liking, handle errors gracefully, and even avoid IP bans. Happy downloading!

How do I install youtube-dl?

You can download youtube-dl from the official website. Once downloaded, you can follow the installation instructions specific to your operating system.

Can I use youtube-dl on Windows?

Yes, youtube-dl is compatible with Windows. You can install it and use it from the command line just like on other operating systems.

Can I download videos from platforms other than YouTube?

Yes, youtube-dl supports downloading videos from many other platforms, including Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, and more. You can find a complete list of supported sites on the official website.

How can I specify a different output directory for the downloaded MP3 files?

You can use the -o option followed by the desired output directory path. For example, -o "/path/to/output/%(title)s.%(ext)s" will save the files in the specified directory.

Can I download only certain videos from a playlist?

Yes, you can specify the index or range of videos you want to download using the --playlist-items option. For example, --playlist-items 1,3,5-7 will download the first, third, and fifth to seventh videos from the playlist.

How can I update youtube-dl to the latest version?

You can update youtube-dl by running the command youtube-dl -U in your command line interface. This will check for updates and install the latest version if available.

Is it legal to download YouTube videos using youtube-dl?

The legality of downloading YouTube videos depends on your jurisdiction and the terms of use for YouTube. It’s important to respect copyright laws and use downloaded videos for personal use only.

Can I download entire channels using youtube-dl?

Yes, you can download entire channels using youtube-dl. Instead of providing a playlist URL, you would use the channel URL, and youtube-dl will download all the videos from that channel.

Can I run youtube-dl on a server or in the background?

Yes, you can run youtube-dl on a server or in the background. It is a command-line tool that can be executed in a terminal or as part of a script.

How can I control the quality of the downloaded audio?

You can specify the desired audio quality using the -f flag followed by the format code. You can find a list of available format codes in the youtube-dl documentation or by running youtube-dl --list-formats <video URL>.

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