Who the hell wants to sit fixedly in a chair watching a visually uninteresting YouTube video when you can just listen to it while on the go? A lot of lectures and interviews have no useful visual component, and you really can just listen to them and miss almost nothing.

(Now with updated instruction [singular] that I had forgotten all along ☛)

Use Snarfed

(UPDATE, 2018.05.09) Almost immediately after publishing this posting in January, I received an E‑mail that surprised me twice over.

  1. It was a surprise that I have readers who write in, or simply readers.

  2. I forgot about Snarfed, the service that automates what the rest of this post laboriously describes. Snarfed converts YouTubé and other videos to HuffDuffer files, which you can then subscribe to via RSS (as I do).

Somewhat straightforward method

You need a Mac and Overcast. You may need Firefox and VLC.

  1. Save the YouTube video.KeepVid or ClipConverter are two somewhat reliable methods. So is the Video DownloadHelper extension.

  2. Convert the video to audio. It turns out the Mac can do that by itself. If you have the correct setting enabled, you can right-click on one or more video files and choose “Encode selected video files.” Pick “Audio only” in the resulting dialogue box. What you get is a quite large .M4A file, which is a kind of MP3 and plays everywhere.

    Another option is to use VLC, the open-source video player that is maddening only some of the time. Its Convert/Stream command lets you save a file as .MP3. The interface is a mess, and you have to specifically type out a filename after you hit Save as File, and VLC temporarily takes over whatever audio was playing.

  3. Get the audio onto your phone or moral equivalent. If you’re a paid subscriber of Overcast, prickly Marco Arment’s A+ podcast player (q.v.), you can upload up to 2 GB of files. Note that you’ll want to change the filename before uploading to something you can understand within the first dozen characters or so.

It seems like a lot of steps and seems to take a great deal of time. It isn’t a lot of steps and you’re sitting at your computer anyway. Every task runs in the background once triggered.

Moderately difficult method

If you don’t have Overcast, first of all, there’s something wrong with you, but you can synchronize a playlist in iTunes that contains your saved audio files. Under battle conditions I have had to do exactly that, discovering along the way that this much effort was not really worth it to listen to Slavoj Žižek one more time.

If you’re dealing with, say, a subscription video service that nothing can capture, and it’s really important to you, then pay for a licence to Audio Hijack, which can capture audio from any application. You can, for example, play the subscription video in one browser, with Audio Hijack recording its audio (and speakers muted for that browser – they did think of everything). Your upload options are unchanged at that point. But here you have to watch the on and off (or in and out) times like a hawk.

For the record, the opposite scenario, in which you’re deaf as a post and rely on captioning to understand YouTube, is a fool’s errand. If you are using Windows or Android, again, there’s something wrong with you.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2018.01.09 19:28. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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