How to extract video from Vimeo

Like many people, I often find myself wanting to distribute video I find online in a variety of different formats, and utilise them in different applications. Flash video, one of the most popular ways to distribute video online,  puts a minor stumbling block in your way- as it provides a wrapper around the original video file, obfuscating it’s original source in the process.

For YouTube videos, I’m a big fan of the ZamZar service for abstracting video from the original Flash. You can simply plug in your YouTube URL of choice, add your email address, and wait for it to be delivered to your inbox. I’ve used it personally on several occasions, and it is yet to let me down.

Extracting video from Vimeo however, isn’t quite as simple, and from what I could see, no online video converter currently performs the magic for you. It’s a bit on the technical side, but here’s how to extract it yourself.

Step 1).

Download Firefox, and once installed, the Firebug extension.

Step 2).

Open Vimeo, and browse to the video webpage you want to download from.

Step 3).

Open Firebug, Tools > Firebug > Open Firebug, or press F12 to bring the pane up.

Step 4).

Switch to the ‘Net’ panel. This will allow you to see browser requests from the browser to the server. This will expose the original video file that you want to download.

Step 5)

Press play on the video file whilst the Firebug panel is still open. You’ll see the video file streaming down via the Net Panel, exposing exactly where you need to go to get the file. See the screenshot below:

Step 6)

Right click on the file, and copy its location as you can see from the screenshot below. This is the file you want to download.

Paste it back into the browser and it should offer you a way to download the mp4 file.

If it opens in Quicktime or something similar, all you have to do is wait for the entire file to download, and go to file > save.

Voila! Done! You can now take this file and convert, re-upload elsewhere or embed into an offline application.


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  1. Thanks X 10 – this is extremely helpful and has renewed my interest in Firebug from being exclusively on Chrome for quite a while. Quick note – Firebug for Chrome currently has a limited feature set so stick with Firefox for this example.

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