YouTube on the Mac: The Definitive Guide – Part 3. Converting the Videos

Now that we’ve learned how to save and watch YouTube videos, what about if we want to take them with us on the go? With video enabled .mp3 players like the iPod Nano or Touch, it would be great to watch YouTube videos on them. For part three of this series, I will show you how to convert YouTube and other online videos into iPod (and other) formats.

Since online video from YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe and others is in the Flash Video Format, iPods and other players can’t understand how to play them. Unlike in part two where we explored applications that will play these videos, there aren’t any applications written for the portable players themselves. This leaves us with a different option – to convert the videos into a format the iPod and other players can understand.

While a simple search within Google returns tons of results with great software to convert videos, when you begin to examine these results the sad truth is that its almost all Windows applications. What’s a Mac user like us to do? Well, I found two great solutions that are also free.

Techspansion’s iSquint:
Techspansion’s iSquint is an easy to use, free converter that will convert from Flash Video (FLV) to iPod (.MP4) format. It’s also quite fast. Here’s how easy it is to use:

1. Download iSquint and install.

2. Set the quality setting by moving the slider. The default is Standard.

Converting YouTube Videos with iSquint

Note: You can get more control through the Advanced settings but you may end up with a video that will not play on the iPod.

3. Drag the downloaded .FLV into the window.

Converting YouTube Videos with iSquint

4. Click on the “Change” button and choose where you would like the converted file to go.

5. Press start and the video will convert.
Note: This could take a while depending on video length and quality.

6. When it’s finished, bring it into iTunes and send it to your iPod.
Note: You can also check the “Add to iTunes” box to do this part automatically.

Unfortunately, iSquint is a one trick pony. It will only convert Flash Video into iPod format. For most of us with OS X, this is about all we will ever need. To convert “from nearly every video format to iPod, PSP, DV, DVD, Tivo, AVI, MP4, WMV, MPEG and Flash” in three simple steps, you will need iSquint’s incredible big brother: VisualHub.

Chimoosoft’s TubeTV
You may remember Chimoosoft’s TubeTV from part one of this series because TubeTV will not only convert the videos to iPod format, it will search for and download them as well. As an all in one solution, I really recommend TubeTV. Let’s expand upon part one’s instructions and learn how TubeTV easily converts Flash Video into iPod format.

1. Download TubeTV and install.
Note: If you would like to see how to use TubeTV for searching and downloading the videos, head back to Part One of this series for a quick review.

2. Once TubeTV downloads a video, it will automatically convert it to iPod format.

3. To change the format to AppleTV, iPhone or other Phone, go to TubeTV’s Preferences and choose the Downloading tab.

Converting YouTube Videos with TubeTV

4. For a previously downloaded video that you would like to convert, Click on the File menu bar item.

5. Choose “Convert Files”.

Converting YouTube Videos with TubeTV

6. Pick the file you would like to convert and set the format. You can also set how you would like the video to appear in your iTunes catalog.

Converting YouTube Videos with TubeTV

As an all-in-one solution, TubeTV excels. However, its format conversion approach gets a bit “cookie-cutter”ish. The documentation explains that the AppleTV format returns the highest quality but may result in a larger filesize and won’t play on an iPhone. While iPod and iPhone formats are similar, the screen size is optimized for each. That’s good but there’s no control over actual quality settings or screen size. I downloaded a quick video to convert for each format to illustrate some of the differences.

Note: The original .FLV is 1.6 MB in size with 320×240 screen dimensions. These results may differ than the video you use due to screen size and quality of the .FLV.

AppleTV – .M4V File, 1.9 MB Size, 320×240 Screen, AAC Sound, and H.264 Video
iPod – .M4V File, 1.8 MB Size, 320×240 Screen, AAC Sound, and H.264 Video
iPhone – .M4V File, 1.9 MB Size, 320×240 Screen, AAC Sound, and H.264 Video
iPhone (Cellular) – .3GP File, 960KB Size, 176×132 Screen, AAC Sound, and H.264 Video
Phone – .3GP File, 872KB Size, 176×144 Screen, AMR Narrowband Sound, MPEG-4 Video

Which application you choose all depends on your level of expertise and what you will want out of it. If you want a simple solution that helps you find the videos, takes care of things like the URL and automatically converts to a simple iPod, iPhone or AppleTV format then go with TubeTV. Its simple and works well.

If you need more control over the conversion process and are going to be using an iPod format exclusively, iSquint is the way to go. If you need a stronger conversion program that will convert to different formats such as .AVI, DVD, etc then VisualHub is the one for you.

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