Download videos from almost any streaming site in just one click. The Ant.com Video Downloader is an extremely simple extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer that makes downloading videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo easy – and tries to work with every video site on the web.
Whether you want to use a clip in your own video project or simple save a video for offline viewing, sometimes you’re going to want to take a video from the web and put it on your hard drive. There are lots of site-specific tools for this, but if you want a catch-all tool for most video sites on the web, look no further than Ant. Sure, it doesn’t offer many options, but it also stays out of your way. Let’s take a look.
Downloading Videos With Ant Video Downloader
This simple button will change into a floppy disk when you watch a video. Here’s how that looks:
When the button looks this way you need only click it to download the video you’re watching. Be careful: if you’re watching a commercial you just might end up downloading the commercial, so be sure your desired video is playing before you click anything.
I tested this on YouTube and Vimeo – both worked perfectly. I would have liked a choice of format and quality, but the files I ended up with played back nicely and would be more than useable as b-roll for projects if I wanted. I also tested the plugin with a couple of more-obscure sites, just to make sure. Videos from Cinemassacre didn’t download, so that site didn’t work. Downloading from RocketJump.com, however, worked perfectly.
Commercial sites seem to consistently fail. I tried Hulu, CBS and Fox – and ended up each time downloading the commercial no matter what I did.
So yeah, using Ant Video Downloader can feel like a mixed bag. Ant offers a hard to browse, impossible to search list of compatible sites, but there’s no way to find out for sure if a given site is working or not right now – I couldn’t find list of user recommended sites, for example.
If you want something simple, and you mostly download videos from popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo, this might work for you. Anyone wanting more features or control should check out the other suggestions below.
I thought I’d go over the configuration options this extension gives you. Here’s how the preferences look in Firefox:
You can set this to show up as a toolbar in the setting – don’t! You might like toolbars, but you’re wrong – they’re a waste of space. You can also move the downloader to the statusbar, if you still like statusbars. I’d stick with the button.
Below that you can change the folder where your downloads end up. Probably a good idea, but it’s up to you.
Ant offers a player, which is basically a quick way to watch the videos you’ve downloaded. That player can open in a window or a new tab – it’s up to you.
You can configure notifications, if you want. And you can stop the program from sending your download data to a central server. I’d recommend this, particularly because it’s the only way to turn off the seemingly useless “Ant Rank” button from your toolbar.
Other Video Downloading Tools
Of course, Ant is far from the only video downloading service on the web. Some are simpler; some are more complex. Let’s take a look at a few.
KeepTube is probably the simplest tool outline there, even if it only works for YouTube. Using it couldn’t be easier: you need only add the word “keep” the the front of any YouTube URL:
It’s simple, sure, but requires Java and only works for YouTube. Read about it and similar tools in Yaraa’s list of 5 easy ways to download and convert online videos.
If you want more options than Ant Video Downloader, and don’t mind installing some software to get it, check out Freemake Video Downloader. This program allows you to paste URLs from thousands of sites and download a clean copy:
It’s Windows only, sadly, but works quite well. Read Saikat’s excellent review about how Freemake Video Downloader allows you to paste the URL of any video and download it without a fuss.
Ant is somewhere in between these two options. It’s a one-click solution, and because it’s a browser extension there’s no desktop program to worry about installing. But it’s not as complex as tools like Freemake, meaning you have less control over how it works. If you’re looking for a compromise, Ant might be for you.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. Let me know your thoughts about Ant Video Downloader below, along with any other alternatives you feel are worth mentioning.