The easiest way to download YouTube videos: add ‘pwn’ to the URL


Imagine the scene: You’re visiting family and watching YouTube videos (naturally- isn’t this what all families do?) and your mother/brother/father wants to download the video.

What to do? Do you hunt around the internet for a YouTube downloader type software? Do you start trying to remember the name of an online service that can do the job?

Here’s the easiest thing you can do: add “pwn” to the beginning of the URL in the address box, and watch as a number of downloading options appear for you to choose from.

“pwnyoutube” is a service that can use the YouTube URL structure to identify your desired video and subsequently offer you a slew of possible video-related services to choose from, including downloading, downloading to MP3, video sharing, etc.

pwnYouTube screenshot

How to use:

(1) Browse to the video you want on YouTube, on any browser.

(2) Click into your browser’s address bar, and insert the letter ‘pwn’ (without the quotes) before ‘YouTube’ and right after the ‘www’, and then press enter. See screenshot below.

pwnYouTube step 1

(3) A list of services will appear that can be applied to your video. You have your pick of online video downloading services, online download-to-mp3 services, and others. In the screenshot below, we are choosing ‘keepvid’ as the service to use to download.

pwnYouTube step 2

(4) Once the downloading service page opens, select the quality/format of the video you would like to download, and you’re done. Note: you may be required to allow JavaScript to run on the page.

pwnYouTube step 3

The verdict: what an awesome, simple. idea. The developers behind this didn’t even bother creating their own downloading service, opting instead to serve a menu of existing download services (which, as far as I am concerned, is brilliant!).

This service is actually called ‘DetUrl’, and if you want another way to check it out aside from adding pwn to a YouTube URL, go here.

  • Womble

    Nice find!

    The only thing I don’t like about all the Youtube down-loaders that I’ve tried is that they re-compress the video/audio. From a quality standpoint It would be much better to be able to just download the file as it exists on Youtube servers.

  • Jonathan

    I can not get this to work in Firefox at all! I have tried multipul videos and keep getting the message that Firefox can not connect to the server Am I missing something here?

  • abazh

    More easily. You can add ‘ss’ instead of ‘pwn’

    • Jonathan Wiklund

      the ss one has started going to malware sites now at times.. I started using dlvyoutube instead because of this..

  • Michael

    Thank you!

    • Samer

      @ Jonathan: I just tried it on Firefox and it worked just fine. Make sure that you insert pwn and keep the entire URL string intact (although it seems from what you wrote that that is in fact what you were doing)

      @ Womble: the download links you can get with these services are straight from YouTube, and not recompressed, I believe.

  • Womble

    @Samer I’m not sure. I Just searched for a video on YT that states the audio quality and downloaded it using the PwnYouTube bookmarklet, You can probably guess where I’m going with this, the audio quality on the downloaded file was significantly different.

  • I use IDM…n love it! 😀

  • I think this is a very useful and easy trick to download your favorite Youtube videos.
    Actually, from what I’ve seen in the downloading options, you can also use this service with other online video websites, for example Dailymotion, Metacafe, Vimeo, to name a few.
    As I also have noticed, this “pwn” also offers other benefits, such as bypassing country restrictions with a US based proxy, bypassing age restrictions, etc. This is exactly what thousands, not to say millions, of Internet and Youtube users have been looking for. The “Tools and tricks” section is full of great features. I particularly liked the “BennyHillifier”, even though I haven’t tried it!

  • InternautaX

    Thanks for the tip Samer.

    You can also add “xd” as pointed in website.

  • dc2

    You can also try out , just copy and paste the youtube link into this website and it will generate download links for you!

  • Hello, and seen and read something about this elsewhere, but yet nothing better as they have read and seen here,

    Share your videos, pictures with friends and family and the world.

    Greetings Daniel Aguilar

  • lady

    this pwn thing does not work
    i tried it

    • Samer Kurdi

      I read this comment and I thought to myself ‘hmm.. I wonder if the service has stopped working’, so I just tried it again and I can confirm that yes it does work. You probably didn’t do it correctly, try again (insert pwn after www. and before youtube).

  • I’m not sure this is how it’s done or at least how it used to be done. I learnt about this “pwn” thing from Michael Wesch’s Cengage Learning Course Technology 2013 Conference “The World Remixed: Learning in the Digital Age” which was posted on YouTube on March 28, 2012 ( In minute 33:06 he shows how he mashes two YouTube videos and although you can barely make out what he does, it seems he never leaves the YouTube web page and when he inserts ‘pwn’ a bar menu seems to appear in the same YouTube video web page instead of the web page opening as it does when I inserted “pwn” between www and YouTube for the “Free Hugs Campaing” YouTube video (the video I happened to choose to try this out). Any comments?

  • roger gillies

    not working anymore :/

  • Kevin Miller

    check – also simple and fast way to download music from YouTube!

  • Neha Saraf

    Thanks for this

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  • Eric Brugge

    Awesome! Everything works smoothly. However this way not for HD YouTube videos. For somesone who want to download 4k or 1080p videos, I’d recommend Acethinker Video Downloader, It’s a free web-based application to download online videos, you don’t have to install anything.