Capture streaming video for free using Videolan

PCMag recently had an article suggesting using Replay A/V (a shareware tool for $50) for capturing streaming audio / video streams. I was left scratching my head why they didn't suggest a wonderful free tool like Videolan. Here's the lowdown on using Videolan to capture video streams:

  1. Download and install Videolan for PC/Mac/Linux.
  2. Click on File > Open Network Stream.
  3. In the dialog box click on "HTTP/HTTPS/FTP/MMS" and type in the URL of the network stream you want to record.
    Videolan Open Network Stream Dialog
  4. Select the "Stream output" checkbox and click the Settings button.
  5. In the dialog box select the File option and browse to create a file for the stream to be written to. Leave all the settings as they are.
    Videolan Stream Output to File
  6. That's it! Click on OK twice and the stream will be written to the file. You can stop anytime you want. For best results use Videolan when playing the file.

Tomorrow: recording MP3's from online radio stations for free!

45 thoughts on “Capture streaming video for free using Videolan

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  9. Dear Exertia,
    Interesting Post, This year will be remembered as the year the Internet Video Revolution has taken over the Internet and simultaneously left many people wondering what streaming videos are all about.
    Good Job!


    1. The newest version of VideoLan (1.1.0) does give you an empty file when streaming an mp3 internet stream to a file… With prior versions I have no problem as long as I choose the file-type in the drop-down even if I un-check the “Active Transcoding” option.

      Does that help?
      I’m not sure what you were trying to do…


  10. What version of VLC Player were you using when you wrote this tutorial? I’m using VLC Player 0.9.8a and can not seem to get it to work as you described.



  11. hi friends

    I am having problem with saving a streamed video file

    I save a streamed video from another system using vlc but while playing the saved video back it won’t display the length( in seconds ) that is it won’t display the time of the video. The same thing happens while playing the streamed video from another computer.

    This thing creates a great problem in my project that i am doing.

    Would any know how to resolve this problem or give the steps to save the streamed video.

    Advance thanks


    1. I have the same issue. Can anyone please help with some info on how to change the metadata of a captured stream (whether video or just audio) so that the time will display?

      This is the only thing stopping me from utilizing directly saved stream (without re-encoding). If there is no duration, most players will either not play the file at all or not let you fast forward or backtrack…

      Thank you!



  12. does anyone know if this will work for websites like . also the mac setup of vlc is a little different. If anyone knows of how to record streaming video w/ a mac on vlc it would be very helpful.. thanks..


  13. Thanks CJ, and your blog post is quite informative too! Unfortunately Real Audio / Video files are always quite tricky because of their proprietary nature. Haven’t had a chance to experiment with these or with a Mac, so wouldn’t be able to help. But you might try some specific bulletin boards / support forums to see if you get a response there…


  14. Hey, nice little tutorial. I have a similar one but maybe more general about how to rip RealMedia and Microsoft Media streams here:

    Anyway, there’s one thing I still haven’t succeeded in and tried using your advice for – playing the captured realaudio (.rm) in Videolan (on Mac) in an attempt to convert it to wav saved to file. No success… and I don’t know how to get realmedia support into the ancient MPlayer OS X either. Any suggestions?


  15. Hi. I did the above using the Windows version of VLC. Something seems to be recording, but the video isn’t playing in VLC. I know it’s recording something, as the file I requested to save is getting bigger and bigger (can see this through “Refresh” of the directory). How can I view what it’s recording? What’s the best file format to save in? I saw a few mpeg formats, mp4, mov, etc. I just had the first one checked.


  16. This didn’t work for me. I followed the steps and a file was produced but it didn’t have any file association and it wouldn’t play using any of the various players I have.


  17. This is exactly what I had been looking for! This is the “pro”s tool who knows exactly what s/he wants but is looking for the correct tool.

    Thi plug-in doesn’t just give you the videos for a couple of supported web sites, it actually gives you the possibility to use the underlying techniqeus to get them.

    When you don’t get it another way, you still may get it with this tool.


  18. James, I tried accessing your link – it gives an error in VideoLan and it starts in Windows Media Player but does not give any visual output. I am not sure what might be going wrong here. Try posting a query at the VideoLan Support forums at to see if you can get some help there.


  19. Hi,

    I have a device (AverMedia DVB-T USB2.0) that can save digital broadcasts to my hard disk. I want to read that output file as a stream so I can forward it on to a machine in another room (lots of people coming round this weekend to watch the football).

    Any ideas?


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