6 Easy Ways to Download YouTube Live Stream to MP4 or MP3

Emily Zeng
Updated on July 16, 2024 Preview 40.7K Preview 0
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YouTube Live is a compelling method to reach the target audience, whether for new product launches, sporting events, seminars, etc. YouTube can automatically save and publish the recordings of past live streams if they're under 12 hours. But if the live stream exceeds that limit, YouTube will only save the last 12 hours at most or won't capture it at all. Also, some streamers may save the live to private once it ends, so viewer cannot watch a replay or download it.

This guide will explain how to download YouTube live streams from the start to the end for offline viewing or archiving purposes. Choose a capable downloader or recorder and follow the detailed steps outlined below.

How to Download YouTube Live Streams (live now or finished)?

YouTube Live Stream Download Summary
  Finished live stream Ongoing live stream Save from the start Convert to MP4
1. Cisdem
2. VLC × ✔ (lower quality)
3. youtube-dl Require FFmpeg
4. Online tool × × ✔(360p for long videos)

#1 Use a versatile app

Cisdem Video Converter is one of the best YouTube live stream downloader on the market. It can capture content (songs, movies, live streams, etc.) from YouTube and other 1000+ video sharing websites, and the original quality will be retained, be it 8k, 4k, 1080p, 720p or others. It allows you to download any YouTube live stream before it ends, preserving the highest quality.

Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7 Free Download macOS 10.11 or later

Impressive features of Cisdem YouTube stream downloader:

  • Download finished and real-time YouTube livestream, highlight clips, VODs, etc.
  • Download live video from YouTube, Vimeo Livestream, Facebook, Twitch, and so on
  • Advanced accelerator to rip and save long videos fast
  • Download YouTube live streams to MKV with lossless quality, and convert to MP4, MP3, AVI, iPhone, Android, etc., 300+ formats offered
  • Support batch processing of video download and conversion
  • Download a whole YouTube Playlist in one go
  • Download YouTube videos in 1080p or higher
  • Reduce live video size via x265 compression, and no quality loss
  • Quick edit toolbar to trim and crop video, adjust video effects & brightness, add watermarks, etc.
  • Rip DVD/Blu-ray to digital format

Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7 Free Download macOS 10.11 or later

Steps to download YouTube live stream on Mac or Windows:

1. Download and launch Cisdem Video Converter on your computer. Go to the third interface by clicking at the top.

conversion interface

2. Find a YouTube live stream and copy its URL from the address bar.

3. Go back to the Cisdem app, and paste the copied URL into the text box at the bottom, then click the + button to analyze the link.

paste url from youtube

4. Choose the video resolution and format from the Format drop-down menu. Note: the avc codec is more compatible than vp9.

choose video resolution and output format for live stream

5. Click the down-arrow icon or the Start button at the lower right corner to begin downloading the live stream(s).

download video

6. Convert and edit downloaded livestream from YouTube (optional).

Hit tick icon to quickly locate your downloaded YouTube live video. Drag-n-drop the media file to the Convert interface, from which you can select any output format such as MP4, MP3, etc., and you can click the edit icon icon to edit the video.

convert video

Tip: Cisdem will keep downloading until the end of the broadcast. You can also click the Stop button and it should save the already downloaded portion.


#2 Try freeware

We all know that VLC is an open-source program that integrated media player and converter for Mac and Windows. Actually, it's also packed with a hidden function - stream and download video from the Internet, including YouTube Live.

But it's not a perfect free livestream downloader. It can only download from the current point of the live, not downloading previous segments of the stream. And the video quality can be severely degraded. VLC can only save 720p or lower resolution for YouTube live stream download.

Now, let’s see how to save a YouTube live stream using VLC on Mac and Windows system.

1. Fire up VLC on your computer.

2. In the top navigation bar, click "File" > “Open Network” to call the "Open Source" window.

open network vlc

3. Copy the link of a live video from YouTube, and paste it in the "URL" box.

4. Hit "Open" to play the YouTube live streamed video in VLC.

paste url vlc

5. Click "Window" in the menu bar, and choose "Media information" from the dropdown.

open media information vlc

6. Copy the full URL from "Location".

copy location url vlc

The next steps are a bit different for Mac and Windows. 

7.1 On Mac, click File > Open Network again, and paste the copied URL into the feild. Check "Stream output" option, and click "Settings" to specify a save destination, name your file as "xxx.mp4", and choose an output format from the "Encapsulation Method" list. At last, click "Open" to start downloading YouTube live stream on Mac.download youtube live stream in vlc on Mac

7.2 On Windows, go to Media > Convert/Save, click Network pane, paste the long URL, and click "Convert/Save" button to open the Convert window. Next, choose an output format from the "Profile" drop-down list, such as MP4 Video. Then click "Browse" to choose a save folder and enter a file name. At last, click "Start" to begin the live stream download in VLC.

download youtube live stream in VLC on Windows

8. You can view the download process with the progress bar of VLC player.

Tip: If it's a past YouTube live stream, you can simply open the URL you got in Step 6 in a web browser, then right-click on the video player, and select "Save video as" to download it.


#3 Use command line

youtube-dl is a Python-based command-line tool to download videos from many popular websites. It's free and download YouTube live stream quickly. But according to my test, it can easily cause incorrect timestamps. 

  1. Install youtube-dl on your computer.
  2. On Mac, go to Applications > Utilities, and launch Terminal. On Windows, click the “Start” button > type in “cmd” > click “cmd.exe” to open the Command Prompt.
  3. Type the command in Terminal or Command Prompt, and here are some common options:
    Use the basic command line: youtube-dl "live-url", a 4K YouTube live video will be saved to 720p or lower.youtube livestream downloader command 01 If use youtube-dl -f bestvideo+bestaudio "live-url", the output video preserves the best resolution up to 4K but be exported as MKV video and M4A audio format. To merge it into MP4, you need to install ffmpeg or avconv.youtube livestream downloader command 02Type youtube-dl --live-from-start "live-url" to save the YouTube live stream from the beginning.​
  4. Hit “Enter” to download live video from YouTube.


  • You can find the downloaded YouTube live stream in the same directory as youtube-dl.
  • Update: youtube-dl has been discontinued since 2021. You can use its successor yt-dlp as well. They work the same way.


#4 Try online tool

While no online downloader can save YouTube livestream while it's live, you can still download a live stream after it ends using online tools, without any software or plug-in. 9xbuddy is a convenient online YouTube video downloader, ensuring you can download long YouTube videos to MP4. It also support catching videos from Facebook, Twitter, Dailymotion and so on.

But online free YouTube stream downloaders typically don't give you much choice in terms of quality and format. 9xbuddy allows you to download up to 720p for live streams within one hour, but for videos longer than that, only 360p is available.

  1. Copy the URL of a live streamed video from YouTube.
  2. Open https://9xbuddy.com/ in your browser.
  3. Paste the link to the text box and click DOWNLOAD. 9xbuddy will analyze the video link.
  4. Select a format and resolution, right-click on the DOWNLOAD NOW button, and choose "Save link as" to download the video.youtube live video download online


How to Record YouTube Live Stream While Live?

Except for YouTube livestream downloaders, you can also use one of the screen recorders to save real-time YouTube live videos.

Option #1 OBS

OBS Studio makes for a powerful video streaming and recording software. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Compared with other YouTube livestream recorders such as QuickTime, OBS empowers you to pick the output format. You can record the video as MP4, FLV, MOV, MKV, TS, etc.

  1. Download and run OBS Studio on your computer.
  2. Click "+" in the “Sources” box.
  3. Choose “Display Capture” from the expanded list. Hit "OK".choose display capture
  4. Click “Settings” in the lower right corner, and then configure the output options.tweak outputs
  5. Hit "Start Recording" in the "Controls" box.record youtube live stream
  6. Open a YouTube live stream that you want to record. Play it in full-screen mode.
  7. After the live broadcast, back to OBS and click on "Stop Recording".
  8. You can click File > Show recording in OSB to easily find the recorded live streams.

Option #2 screen-recorder.com

Another convenient way to capture YouTube live stream is to use a free online screen recorder, no need to install any app. Screen-recorder.com allows you to record a specific tab in the web browser, and save the recording to MP4 file. But the audio and video quality may not be as clear as OBS recorded streams.

  1. Visit https://screen-recorder.com/ in Chrome or any other web browser, and click "Start Recorder".
  2. Select the tab that contain the YouTube live stream, and click "Share" in the prompt window.online youtube live stream recorder
  3. Click the red button to start recording the YouTube live. It allows you to click and drag to zoom.record youtube live stream online
  4. Click “Done Recording” when the broadcast is over.
  5. Click “Save Video” to download the MP4 video file to your device.


Common Questions & Answers

1) Can I download YouTube live stream with Chrome or Firefox plugins?

Unfortunately, You can't do it with Chrome and Firefox extensions.

Google prefers users to purchase YouTube Premium to save related videos. Therefore, since 2014, Google has started a strict rectification. Video downloader plugins must remove the function of downloading videos from YouTube. Otherwise, they will be taken down. One solution is to utilize a screen recorder extension to record the live stream in Chrome or Firefox, which works similarly to the online recorder mentioned above.

2) How to download YouTube live videos in mobile?

There are three solutions:

  1. Download live stream on your computer, and then transfer live streams from Windows or Mac device to your mobile phone.
  2. Use the online tool on Android or iPhone to download live video after it's over and published.
  3. Record using the native screen recorder of your cell phone.

But I don’t recommend saving a YouTube live stream on mobile. YouTube live videos are usually longer than 2 hours, and a one-hour 1080p (at 60FPS) YouTube video approximately occupies 3.04GB of data. The memory space of the mobile phone is difficult to accommodate such a large video.

3) How to download your own YouTube live streams?

After your live broadcast is over, go to YouTube Studio > Content. Switch to the "Live" tab under Channel Content, select the live stream you want to download, and click the three dots icon. Then click Download. You can download an individual video up to five times a day.

live tab



We have introduced 6 tools to download YouTube live streams, including 4 YouTube livestream downloaders and 2 screen recorders. Picking the best tool will depend on your requirements, budget, technical savvy and even download frequency.

If you desire to download by simply copying and pasting URLs, Cisdem Video Converter is a good choice. It can save full YouTube live streams at the original quality and offers conversion feature to make the downloaded live streams compatible with all devices and screens.

Emily Zeng
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Emily is a girl who loves to review various multimedia software. She enjoys exploring cutting edge technology and writing how-to guides. Hopefully her articles will help you solve your audio, video, DVD and Blu-ray issues.

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