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How Can I Extract Audio From an MP4 or YouTube Video?

Christian Cawley 09-04-2014

Watching YouTube videos is great – but what if you want to just listen? Stripping the audio from a video can let you enjoy YouTube content anywhere. You might even distribute a video podcast on Hangouts as an audio podcast!

Dealing With YouTube’s Vast Volume of Content

There is a lot of content on YouTube. You’ve probably noticed, and found yourself watching video after video well into the night on at least one occasion.

But what were you watching? YouTube features everything from pop videos to classic adverts, TV event reactions to instructional pieces covering cooking, computers, nuclear fission, putting on makeup and much more.

YouTube video Brandweer Nederweert

The fact is, you won’t want to watch all of these. But with over 6 billion hours of video to view, there is a good chance that the clips you are really interested in might be too long to enjoy in video form. It makes sense, therefore, to strip the audio from these clips and experience them at your own leisure, perhaps in the car or on your MP3 player as you drift away at night, much like a free audiobook The 10 Best Websites for Free Audio Books Want to listen to audiobooks without paying a premium? Here are the first websites you should check out. Read More .

How Easy Is Stripping the Volume?

After holding some video podcasts on Google Hangouts (inspired by James’ videocast guide This Is How To Run A Live Podcast Or Videocast Let me tell you - running a live video stream and podcast every week is tough work indeed. Actually... that's a complete lie - but don't tell my co-hosts that because they think I'm a... Read More ), it struck me that the regular listeners of my weekly show (upwards of 2000) would be missing out if they didn’t get their hands on an audio copy of the event on iTunes and Audioboo.

It seemed sensible that there must be a method to strip the audio from the Hangouts session. Following this it would be a simple task to top and tail the audio with the usual intro/outro music and present it as a usual podcast.

After searching for the most effective method, I eventually settled on one very clever, quick and easy way to strip the audio. This is made possible using an app that has proved again and again to be one of the most versatile media apps ever developed…

Surely Downloading YouTube Audio Files Is Easy?

Various services and apps out there enable you to download the audio from a YouTube video. However, these have their downsides.


Some are adware, while others charge a fee if you need more than 5 or 10 minutes. If you’re looking for something simple and free, with no limitations, then the app you need is our old friend VLC Player from

Using this app, YouTube video audio can be stripped and saved as an MP3, ready for you to enjoy or distribute as needed.

Extracting Audio From a YouTube or Other MP4 Video

You’ll need to begin by downloading and installing the remarkably versatile VLC Player 6 Cool VLC Tips & Tricks You Might Not Know About VideoLan's VLC media player is a real box of tricks and is just as effective on a Windows operating system as it is on Mac or Linux. Those of you who are already using VLC... Read More , if you don’t already have it on your system. Versions are available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems, as well as Android. The instructions here are for VLC Player on the desktop.


You will also need to have the YouTube video downloaded to your computer. This is usually easier with your own videos, which can be downloaded from Video Manager > Edit > Download MP4.

Open the VLC, then Media > Convert/Save. Under the File tab, click Add then browse for the downloaded MP4. It doesn’t have to be a YouTube video – this method will strip the audio from any MP4 video and convert it to an MP3 audio file. Learn more about the differences between MP3 and MP4 What Is MP4? The Difference Between MP3 and MP4 MP3 and MP4 make up two of the most common media file formats today -- but despite the apparent similarity, the two couldn't be more different from each other. Here's our comparison breakdown. Read More .


Use the Convert/Save button to select Convert, then change the Profile to your preferred output option – presumably MP3, but FLAC and OGG are also available. If you have problems with the output for MP3, switch to Audio MP3 (MP4), and if necessary change the .mp4 suffix to .mp3 if your MP3 player cannot play the resulting file.

You will then need to specify a destination filename and location. Click Browse to specify a directory to save the audio file to – if you don’t, the video won’t be saved, even if you have entered a filename.

Click Start, and wait as the audio is ripped from the video and saved in your preferred format. Once complete, the audio file should be ready for you to listen to or edit!

Enjoy YouTube Content Without the Tube

After successfully stripping audio from YouTube videos – or any MP4 videos you might have access to – you can enjoy the content perhaps on a car journey or while you’re at the supermarket.

This method is easy, straightforward and gives good results. As long as the video you use is not corrupt, the extracted audio should work.

Image Credit: YouTube Flames by Maurits Knook via Flickr

Related topics: MP4, Podcasts, Video Editor, YouTube.

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  1. Annie
    November 2, 2018 at 3:40 am

    I have tried some many tools for extracting audio from videos, and I recently find that HD Video Converter Factory Pro is a good tool. It is so easy to handle with and the conversion speed is also fast.

  2. HoraceSciep
    July 27, 2018 at 4:32 pm


  3. Carlos Samey
    October 19, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Thanks for taking the time for making this tutorial, really appreciated. I'd also recommend Acethinker Video Downloader which I have used for many years. It is a free online tool that lets you save Youtube video as mp3 song right from the browser. Share it here as an alternative to VLC.

    • Judy S.
      January 4, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Thanks for recommendation! But I found Total Video Downloader more useful! It can help me download more videos with high quality compared to other tools.

      • Mike O'Sullivan
        January 28, 2018 at 8:21 pm

        I use and recommend Clipgrab. Works well and it's free!

  4. Mork
    July 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    How to become a millionaire and never pay taxes. First, get a million dollars...

    That's about how useful this is: you skirt the key issue, which is getting the YouTube content locally accessible. Great. Back to square one.

    • jijijij
      July 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      Um if you mean locally accessible, you can always just use youtube to mp4 converter...

    • Christian Cawley
      July 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      In an article about extracting audio from a YouTube video, how is "getting the YouTube content locally accessible" even remotely a "key issue"?

      • Mork
        July 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm

        Look at the "Source" in the dialog image above: the "file://" means it's LOCAL. And you even said, "You will also need to have the YouTube video downloaded to your computer." So, if I can't just Save As from YouTube, the hardest part is the part you left out: getting the video as a local file. Since you can't extract audio without it, it's a key issue.

        • Christian Cawley
          July 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm

          My apologies, I was thinking of a totally different post when I replied last.

          But if you read carefully, you'll note that in this guide we're specifically looking at videos that you own from your own account. This is why the video is downloaded, via the Download MP4 option in the Video Manager in YouTube (pictured above)

          Options for third party videos are available, but we don't cover them here.

    • Savol
      November 14, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      I know it's a 1.5 year old post, but if anyone stumbles upon this and doesn't know how to save youtube video on your driver, there IS a solution.

      Just type the video url there and press a button.

  5. Josue Contreras
    June 19, 2016 at 2:03 am

    So useful! Thank you so much!

    • Christian Cawley
      June 19, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Glad it worked for you.

  6. Fabio
    June 12, 2016 at 1:08 am

    Thank you very much for helping me with my movie Project. This is a very good website and thank you very much for the hard work you´ve put in it. Without your help I wouldn't be able to edit my movie. For some reason windows movie players could not recognize the audio files, so I had to extract this with vlc and reconnect them. Thanks.

    • Christian Cawley
      June 12, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Happy to have helped, Fabio!

  7. alsen
    April 6, 2016 at 4:36 am

    I used Gilisoft Audio Converter Ripper to Extract Audio From An MP4.

  8. TomD
    February 1, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    This does not work because in my version (latest I could find) the command Media > Convert/Save does not exist. The closest command I could find was Convert/Stream, however, that command does nothing to/for the selected file

  9. Anonymous
    October 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I actually agree with the VLC solution. I don't think there's any need to install task-specific programs if all you need to do is extract the audio from a single mp4 file. Most people already have VLC installed on their computer and they don't need anything else. That being said, I do personally prefer the (faster) command line alternative as described here

  10. Anonymous
    June 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you for this! I would like to strip the audio from just one or two songs on a very long (concert) youtube. Is there a way to do that? Otherwise, the file seems too large and I get crashes and such. Thanks!

  11. Kat
    January 14, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Thanks Christian, I followed a tip in the forum (your link)
    to reset the VLC Preferences. That seems to have worked for me. But the audio setting at MP3 does crash the VLC Player now and then. It works fine at MP3(MP4) setting (your tip in this article)


  12. Donna
    January 13, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Disappointed in the VLC program. When it works for audio stripping, its great, but more often than not it crashes.

  13. Kat
    January 13, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Just like Randy, my VLC player (version 2.1.5) converts MP4 to MP3 but the converted file doesn't play on any player. But my VLC player converts AVI file to MP3 without problem. What could be the problem!

    • Christian Cawley
      January 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Kat - the best option is probably to start with some of the suggestions here on the VLC forum: [Broken Link Removed]

  14. Randy
    January 2, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I downloaded VLC and there's nothing that looks anything like the procedures described in this article. When I finally found a way to get it to convert, the resulting file doesn't open with iTunes or anything else. (MacBook with OSX Mavericks.) Did you really do this yourself? I think I'm gonna delete 'trusty" VLC and try your commenters suggestions...

    • Christian Cawley
      January 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      VLC does tend to revise the UI from time to time, so while the features are probably still there, they might take some uncovering.

      As to your question, "Did you really do this yourself?" ...well that's rather rude, don't you think? Did *you* really try?

  15. Michael
    December 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Anyone know how to download videos from Youtube (usually MP4 files) which have DRM protected content to watch on mobile devices/tablets etc...??

  16. Lisa L
    August 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

    The services mentioned above require you to install a software. If you want a simple and fast youtube to mp3 converter which has no ads or popups then use this service YouTube to mp3 Converter

  17. bawiret
    August 5, 2014 at 11:49 am

    After a little big digging, I found an article named "How to Extract Audio from MP4, AVI, MKV, MOV, FLV, WMV, etc on Mac and Windows?" from Faasoft Video Converter website.

    This article also applies to:

    1. Extract audio in MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA, Apple Lossless, M4A, DTS, AIFF, MP2, AU, RA, FLAC, OGG and etc from video files.
    2. Extract audio from all kinds of video files like extract audio from MP4, extract audio from FLV, extract audio from AVI, extract audio from MOV, extract audio from MKV, extract audio from WMV, ASF, SWF, VOB, OGV, WTV, RMVB, WebM, MVI, MXF, AVCHD, MPEG, 3GP, and etc.

    Happy with it.

    • Ed Farah
      September 11, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks for posting, this worked for me

  18. Frank Townsend
    May 2, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Audacity works also and is free. Just drag and drop mp4 on it and there is the audio to change or just save in many different formats such as mp3 or flac. Flac is lossless,

  19. Brian De Palma
    May 1, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Firefox + flashgot will do this in two clicks
    (right click on save icon in firefox toolbar ---> available formats ---> dash)
    No need for any specialist 'youtube downloader'

  20. Natella
    April 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    My personal preference is
    It allows to select the quality of your mp3 too.

  21. ol new dealer
    April 16, 2014 at 2:25 am

    sound tap streaming audio recorder is direct and free.

  22. Mike_the_Mechanic
    April 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

    My favourite website for extraction of mp3 from YT is - easy and efficient.

  23. ###ELITE###
    April 12, 2014 at 5:48 am

    My vote will go to the excellent free, cross-browser addon (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) "Easy Youtube Video Downloader" offering all format downloads including 192Kbps HQ MP3 and Full-HD MP4's -

  24. JN
    April 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    One of my favorites is the chrome extension " Streamus "

    It's very useful for streaming youtube - content without the video.
    It plays in the background, so you don't need additional programs like spotity etc.

    It also has a free " Radio " function similar to the Spotify Radio, but without the commercials :-)

    You cannot use it for downloading, but with wifi and todays often flat internet - rates, we are streaming more and generally keep less stuff downloaded.

  25. Omar E
    April 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I've used many many extensions for youtube, but none of them could beat Youtube Center
    It has many features, like downloading different video, audio quality of the video right away from the youtube page
    but the most important feature is that it allows me buffer the whole video once i just start it

  26. Krish
    April 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

    1. Format Factory > all to mp3 (or other) > high quality and size > Settings > click at extreme right for a lot of options > that's it. BTW Format Factory (a front end for MEncoder) is the only one out there with amazing features for a free Multi Converter.

    2. mmg > add > check audio stream > uncheck all others > start muxing > that's it. Portable is good if you are not a regular encoder. BTW 6.4.1 is the best windows version ever. A small problem: mmg saves the audio file as mka.

    • Peter Oh
      March 26, 2015 at 6:26 am

      As at March 23015 -- Format Factory will attempt to install every PUP known to man.
      The home webpage is a shambles as is the GUI.
      It was designed by Chinese & it looks that way - total mish mash & not worth the effort to discover how to do something as simple as extract MP3 from an MP4 video. God give me strength ................

    • Christian Cawley
      March 28, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing Peter.

  27. pmshah
    April 11, 2014 at 3:55 am

    There is a much simpler method to do the job. Simply use mkvtoolnix.

    1. Start mkvmergegui.
    2. Add the required file.
    3. Start muxing.
    4. Exit mkvmergegui when done.
    4. Start mkvextractgui.
    5 Add the freshly muxed mkv file as the "input file".
    6. Select / check mark the audio track.
    7. Start extract.

    You have your ORIGINAL and unaltered audio file. The whole process - regardless of the file format / size will not take any longer than a few seconds to may be a couple of minutes !

    • pmshah
      April 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

      I left one point out though. You can completely eliminate the second part. You could simply check mark only the audio track and mux the file. What you would end up with would be an MKV file with only audio in it. This would however probably not play under most MP3 players.

  28. Victor O
    April 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Um... use Right-Click > Extract Audio?

  29. Saajan S
    April 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I personally use You just have to enter the YouTube video URL and it gives you the download links of all audio and video formats. We can even download just audio or just video of any format we want.

  30. Ron M
    April 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Try -

    It can do this and so much more.

    • Christian C
      April 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Any limits on it, Ron?

    • Ron m
      April 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      No limits that I know of.

  31. Franka M
    April 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    @Chinmay, Thanks for the link to Clip Converter.

  32. Peter
    April 10, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    any idea how to do this with (aax) files?

  33. Bob
    April 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    How about or download the video and use pazera audio extractor

  34. Ed
    April 9, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Haven't tried it, but read about it on LifeHacker.

  35. likefunbutnot
    April 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I use video downloadhelper, a Firefox add on, to grab videos I want to keep. I usually use for audio extraction. I like that because it works as week on mobile devices as PCs and doesn't require Mr rio install anything.

  36. Shawn R
    April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I use aTube Catcher. It works very well and does other things, too. [Broken Link Removed]

  37. David E
    April 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I used to use an app called Grappler to download and extract YouTube stuff, but it hasn't been updated in a while to work with some new tweaks that YouTube has put in place. I've gone back to my old standby, to download the mp4. Then just dump the video in QuickTime and export as an audio file. So simple!

  38. jasray
    April 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Yes, lots of options to separate audio and video in one click. To advise readers to use VLC shows a real lack of research, but it's your site so . . .

    • Vc N
      April 11, 2014 at 1:30 am

      VLC is a great program and for anything big it's a great way to go. While there are a lot of simple solutions (I myself use ClipConverter) they come and go but VLC will always be there for you and it does more than rip audio or download videos.

    • Christian C
      April 11, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Well firstly as Vc N says, VLC is a great app and it's somewhat foolish to run around looking for new apps to complete tasks when you already have one to do the job.

      Second, it's not a lack of research: it's about opening a dialogue with our readers. This is how blogs work - it is unlikely that we would have such a great series of comments on this post if I'd offered a more comprehensive list.

    • Paul
      April 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Perhaps your lack of experience or skill is driving your remarks? VLC is THE Holy Grail of desktop media ANYTHING! If it were a paid for app, which it's not-it's FREE, I would toss out a few Benjamin Franklins for it-in a heartbeat. Combine that with the Firefox FREE addon Download Helper, and shazaam! You can download, convert in one whack, and play in ANY format on VLC. And that doesn't even scratch the surface of it's abilities.

      But, it's your life.

  39. Mark
    April 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    My favorite way to save the audio from ANYTHING I hear on my computer is MP3MYMP3 which is a free program that can be found at

    • Dona
      January 30, 2015 at 12:17 am

      My virus protection found a Trojan thanks

    • Christian Cawley
      February 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Dona, was the Trojan in the download, or on the site?

  40. Eric S
    April 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    MP3 Rocket does this for you. They have a free version or a paid version. I was given a lifetime subscription and you can actually watch the video's and extract the audio from them!

    • Christian C
      April 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Is this a website, app or extension, Eric?

    • eric
      April 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      It is a website.

  41. William A
    April 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I'd personally recommend .

    It has no ads, and is extremely convenient, from my experience.

    Also, I'd recommend the Save Tube userscript/javascript bookmarklet ( ), which gives an option to download a video-stripped mp4 of a video, which downloads faster than download the full video, then converting it. It's a powerful userscript on it's own, too.

  42. Chinmay S
    April 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    This is also a extremely complicated and long process. I know a super easy way of downloading audio without even downloading the whole video.
    This service is provided by ClipConverter
    Head over to its addon page. and install the addon according to your browser. Then just visit any youtube video and you will be able to see its different downloadable format below the video. Just click on mp3. It will redirect to its site and then click Download. And it is completely free and there are no restrictions.

    • Christian C
      April 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Excellent comment, Chinmay, thanks for sharing ClipConverter! I've bookmarked it for future use.

    • G
      April 10, 2014 at 6:28 am

      I use the bookmarklet from ClipConverter for converting and downloading videos and audio. It opens in a new page and it saves me from adding another addon to my browser.