How can I download subtitles of a list of videos using youtube-dl? I need an option for this. However I could not find an option to download only subtitles

  • 13
    the option is --skip-download – 尤川豪 Oct 1 '15 at 8:57
  • 2
    Maybe because he already downloaded the videos, and doesn't want to download them again, just wants to download the subtitles now because he didn't get them before. That's why I'm using this option. – spacefaced May 8 '20 at 1:11
  • Or it messed up the --embed-subtitles step so I want to download them again separately. (Iʼd file a bug report but the repoʼs down for the moment) – Daniel H Oct 28 '20 at 17:25
  • @Prometheus … Perhaps because YouTube subtitles are not in the standard .srt format, he got the YT timestamped formant, now wants .srt … I'm here because I have vids that have no subtitles, so I want to get them easily. – Rowe Morehouse Nov 16 '20 at 4:56
  • @HashimAziz Judging use-cases is not an answerer's job. – felwithe Jun 5 at 18:16

There is an option, clearly mentioned in the documention:

Subtitle Options:

--write-sub                      Write subtitle file
--write-auto-sub                 Write automatic subtitle file (YouTube only)
--all-subs                       Download all the available subtitles of the video
--list-subs                      List all available subtitles for the video
--sub-format FORMAT              Subtitle format, accepts formats preference, for example: "srt" or "ass/srt/best"
--sub-lang LANGS                 Languages of the subtitles to download (optional) separated by commas, use IETF language tags like 'en,pt'

So for example, to list all subs for a video:

youtube-dl --list-subs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye8mB6VsUHw

To download all subs, but not the video:

youtube-dl --all-subs --skip-download https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye8mB6VsUHw
  • 51
    I gave the docs a fair look and didn't find the --skip-download option which is hidden under Verbosity / Simulation Options. Glad @fivetech asked this question, or I may still be stuck. – Zaz Aug 7 '16 at 19:04
  • 9
    how to download autogenerated subtitles? – brauliobo Sep 7 '17 at 17:39
  • 3
    It's clearly "mentioned in documentation" and "clearly mentioned in this answer": "--write-auto-sub Write automatic subtitle file (YouTube only)" – radekg Sep 16 '17 at 7:41
  • 12
    @brauliobo --write-auto-sub from documentation, youtube-dl --sub-lang LANG --write-auto-sub --skip-download URI. – Pablo A Jan 13 '18 at 18:35
  • 4
    youtube-dl --sub-lang en --write-auto-sub --sub-format srt --skip-download v0uYZ4rTOrk 1. get ENG subtitles 2. get auto-generated subtitles 3. get subtitles in srt format 4. do not download the movie – deadfish Mar 21 '19 at 16:14

Or you can only download one subtitle

youtube-dl --write-sub --sub-lang en --skip-download URL 
  • 17
    Or --write-auto-sub for downloading the automatically generated subtitles! – Lenar Hoyt Nov 22 '19 at 16:19
  • @pouya will your option download both autogenerated and proper subtitles of english lang, for example? – Edward Torvalds Feb 1 at 7:10

just run the following command

youtube-dl --write-auto-sub --convert-subs=srt --skip-download URL 

For example you are downloading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=example. with title "example" --convert=srt will output to a file named example.en.srt where en stands for English es for Spanish etc.

The file will have something like this:

00:00:04.259 --> 00:00:05.259
>> I’m Elon Musk.

00:00:05.259 --> 00:00:06.669
>> What is your claim to fame?

00:00:06.669 --> 00:00:07.669
>> I’m the founder of

00:00:07.669 --> 00:00:08.669

OPTIONAL - If you need the text to be cleaned up you can use python to clean it a little:

import re
bad_words = ['-->','</c>'] 

with open('example.en.vtt') as oldfile, open('newfile.txt', 'w') as newfile:
    for line in oldfile:
        if not any(bad_word in line for bad_word in bad_words):

with open('newfile.txt') as result:
    uniqlines = set(result.readlines())
    with open('sub_out.txt', 'w') as rmdup:
        mylst = map(lambda each: each.strip("&gt;&gt;"), uniqlines)

Output newfile.txt:

I’m Elon Musk.
What is your claim to fame?
I’m the founder of
  • 1
    Just as a markup from the doc: --convert-subs FORMAT Convert the subtitles to other format (currently supported: srt|ass|vtt|lrc) – lkahtz May 4 '20 at 2:50
  • 5
    convert subs doesn't seem to work if you use the --skip-download option it just gives it in vtt format – pt123 Aug 29 '20 at 22:50
  • 2
    In my case, I still need to run ffmpeg -i foo.vtt foo.srt to convert caption manually. – Fruit Feb 25 at 22:23
  • python script does not work well... – nephewtom Jun 6 at 12:52
  • The script works just fine. You need to run 'youtube-dl --write-auto-sub --convert-subs=srt --skip-download URL ' first. Within the same folder run the script. Change bad_words = ['-->'] to bad_words = ['-->','</c>'] since the format seem to have changed a little. hope this helps. – Hernan Pesantez Jun 7 at 14:52

Another simple way to download subtitles from YouTube is to download Google2SRT. Google2SRT is a free, open source program for Windows, Mac and Linux that is able to download, save and convert multiple subtitles from YouTube videos.


Click the links to see screenshots of steps 1 and 2.

  1. Paste the URL in the Google subtitles text box and click Read.

  2. Choose the language by selecting the appropriate check box provided and press Go.

  3. View the destination folder that was input in the SRT subtitles textbox to locate the SRT files.

  • 9
    The issue with this is that it only works with YouTube; youtube-dl supports hundreds of other sites. – Hayden Schiff Nov 14 '16 at 2:48
  • 8
    The question is about youtube-dl. – user598527 Apr 18 '17 at 20:53
  • 1
    Thanks so much, jegadesh! Google2SRT is just what I needed to download auto-generated closed captions/subtitles from YouTube, since youtube-dl does not handle them properly (instead returning foo has no subtitles). – Miles Wolbe Feb 4 '18 at 6:31
  • 2
    @miles-wolbe I'd appreciate it if you could mention a YouTube video where youtube-dl failed. – naki Mar 19 '19 at 7:37
  • @naki youtu.be/nv99gj1xxWw – Phani Rithvij Mar 5 '20 at 17:46

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