youtube No matter how committed you are to some of the alternatives, Google’s YouTube will remain part of your online life. So we continue our look at how to make it more livable.

Readers wrote in with some tips and impressions of YouTube’s new "higher-quality video" mode:

Make Your YouTube More Livable: I Have a Fast Connection Setting

Richard Lainhart, a regular on Create Digital Music (attention, Buchla modular fans!), had some specific tips on which upload settings to use and how to force high-quality playback:


First: I’ve had my Video Quality settings on "Fast Connection" for some time, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the better quality. In fact, for me, it doesn’t work at all. In my case at least, I still have to use the "&fmt=18" URL trick to invoke the better quality. (I’d be curious to hear if just changing the settings works correctly for others, and if so, what’s your OS and browser.) For music-based clips, however, it’s definitely worth it, as you get both a higher bitrate and stereo playback.

In terms of preparing clips for upload to try to ensure that the higher-quality version is available, after some trial and error, I’ve been encoding them at 640×480, 30fps, H.264 multi-pass encoding, with a target daterate between 700 and 1000 kilobits/second. Audio seems to work well at 16-bit, stereo, 44.1 kHz, using AAC encoding at 192 kbps. You can see, and more importantly hear, the difference here on my YouTube channel – Try, for example, the clip entitled "Jordan Rudess Ethno 1." Try it first at the default version, and note the audio in particular (headphones or external speakers will help make the difference clearer). Then add the URL extension "&fmt=18" (without the quotes) to the URL, and wait for the new clip to load.

You’ll know it’s linked correctly when you see "Watch this video in lower quality for faster playback" beneath the clip. You should hear vastly-improved audio as a result. Be aware that it can take more than 24 hours for the higher-quality version to circulate through the system, for some reason, so don’t expect the ULR extension thing to work immediately after you’ve uploaded it.

Those upload settings, incidentally, work nicely on services like and our house favorite Vimeo, so you can avoid re-encoding standard-def videos for uploading in both places. YouTube’s audience is so large, it’s hard not to upload there, so my current feeling is that you upload twice, one for a community that’s your favorite, and once for the mainstream YouTube audience.

image That covers uploads and online viewing, but what about downloads? The Google Operating System blog, via Lifehacker, comes to the rescue:

Download YouTube Videos as MP4 Files

Of course, this is doubly nice for VJs, because those MP4s could be dropped in a VJ set — legally, if they’re public domain or Creative Commons-licensed. And as bitrates online continue to push upward, I could imagine these formats looking decent enough to use soon (for now, they may look a bit too cruddy to use).

Got more online encoding and sharing tips? Let us know.

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  • massta

    Holy crap, what a difference (video and audio).

  • I notice that the "play at high quality" preference setting fails to kick in if the audio is high quality but the pixel count is low. Any vids with a low pixel count are delivered as bad mono regardless of settings, and what quality of audio is available.

    In that case using &fmt=18 in the url is required to force high quality audio out of the system.

  • ajeje

    To download the video in high quality, you can use Youtube Downloader. It's a free online tool so you don't have to install any software.

    You have only to put youtube code in the form and press Submit. The download starts automatically.

  • Bobo

    I think to get the high quality videos everytime you have to make sure that your browser accepts cookies from youtube, coz that's where the setting is saved.

  • Buck

    "Upload to your favorite community, and again to the larger mainstream audience". I don't mean to sound like a spammer, but there is a service called 'TubeMogul' that lets you upload to 20 sites at once with all your posts. After the initial 'hurtle' of creating multiple accounts, you will end up with a bigger audience. Thanks for the technical advice!

  • Extremely helpful article, thanx a bunch!

    What program do y'all use for converting? I'm not all too happy with my current program, it's hard to set correct crop points and the presets to choose from doesn't allow me to use the settings that are recommended here.

  • Hope to hear from you all… đŸ™‚