I use youtube-dl to download videos, and while downloading I start watching with vlc.

youtube-dl used to download video+audio simultaneously so you could play the partial file. But recently a change to youtube-dl causes it to download first video, then audio, which is then eventually merged into a single file. So you would have to wait for the download to complete before starting to watch.

Is there a way I can activate the old behaviour?

  • Guess: That behaviour only applies to "dashboard" formats with separate video and audio. Try youtube-dl -F to see available formats for a specific video, and youtube-dl -f formatname to choose a format that isn't split in audio and video.
    – dirkt
    Jan 15 '17 at 21:14

You can use -f best to download video and audio in a single file. But keep in mind that the resolution is limited to 1280x720.

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