It's not all clips of burping babies and snoozing grannies: YouTube offers some real gems, too. Using RealPlayer, you can download your favourite clips for offline viewing and even convert them to a format compatible with your portable player.

It's not all clips of burping babies and snoozing grannies: YouTube offers some real gems, too. There are thousands of music videos and some great live performances, for example, plus plenty of sports clips to browse through. Increasingly, film and TV companies are also making films and TV series available on the site.

YouTube streams video within your web browser, which means clips play automatically. But this also means you lose the clip as soon as you close your browser and have to wait for it to stream again before you can watch it a second time. You'll need to be online, too.

If only you could download video clips and store them permanently on your PC's hard disk, letting you watch your favourite clips offline whenever you want. It would be even better if you could convert the resulting file into a format compatible with your iPod, mobile phone or other portable device of choice.

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Fortunately, a number of programs enable you to download video from the web. You'll need a second piece of software to convert YouTube clips formatted as Flash video files, however - these aren't natively supported in Windows Media Player. Alternatively, get a program that can play back Flash video.

Many free and paid-for programs can handle one of these tasks; RealPlayer, our favourite, does all three. The basic version of the program is free for download from

Over the following pages, we'll demonstrate how to download your favourite YouTube clips to your computer and enjoy them offline using RealPlayer.
We'll also show you how to convert video to a format compatible with your MP3 player, portable video player, smartphone or PC.

Download web video using RealPlayer

Step 1. Download RealPlayer SP. It's compatible with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google's Chrome browser, and runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, so you should be able to use it without changing your existing computer setup.

RealPlayer step 1

Step 2. Follow the RealPlayer installation wizard and agree to the default settings. Be sure to select the option marked ‘Enable browser download button' in the ‘Download and Recording' section of the dialog box. This option will be necessary for directly downloading video from web pages.

RealPlayer step 2