I wanted an alias or function to use youtube-dl in the background. Looking around the web lots of people seemed to want this and most of them were banging their heads against a wall due to:

  • A) bash quoting
  • B) backgrounding dying when their terminal closed
  • C) passing the argument (url in my case) to the function

Here’s a simple function I whipped up that seems to ‘just works’™:

function yt
  nohup youtube-dl "$1" --no-progress 2>&1 > youtube-dl-"$(date +%Y%m%d-%H%M%S)".log &

And if you don’t want logs, simply send the output to /dev/null:

function yt
  nohup youtube-dl "$1" --no-progress 2>&1 > /dev/null &


yt 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK0qwngdNgw`

…and you can continue on with other work, queue up more downloads or even close the terminal session.

The resulting output looks as such:

~ ls
Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.mp4

The log file contains the usual youtube-dl information:

~ cat youtube-dl-20180730-085025.log

[youtube] fK0qwngdNgw: Downloading webpage
[youtube] fK0qwngdNgw: Downloading video info webpage
[youtube] fK0qwngdNgw: Downloading js player vflE6swsi
[youtube] fK0qwngdNgw: Downloading MPD manifest
[youtube] fK0qwngdNgw: Downloading MPD manifest
[dashsegments] Total fragments: 8
[download] Destination: Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.f137.mp4
[download] 100% of 15.84MiB in 00:10.04MiB/s ETA 00:0002:39
[dashsegments] Total fragments: 5
[download] Destination: Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.f140.m4a
[download] 100% of 564.58KiB in 00:01.31MiB/s ETA 00:00:12
[ffmpeg] Merging formats into "Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.mp4"
Deleting original file Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.f137.mp4 (pass -k to keep)
Deleting original file Jimmy Licks-fK0qwngdNgw.f140.m4a (pass -k to keep)