Tuesday, June 5, 2012

iPad Essentials: Working around the Barriers to YouTube Access

YouTube scares a lot of people, who rightfully worry about its Wild West of content and the often pragmatically inappropriate and soul-crushingly rude comments left in response to videos.  It is not a resource that kids should really be allowed to explore without boundaries.

At the same time, I do think it is a shame that so many school districts have chosen to block this and other resources rather than teaching kids to use them responsibly, and holding them accountable for when they don't. Doing so prevents educators from accessing many videos that have educational and language-enhancing purposes (see a previous post on this here, if you want specifics). YouTube also has a "channel" just for teachers, and blogs such as The Kid Should See This provide great examples of videos you can use to elicit language.

Unfortunately, if your building blocks access to YouTube or does not allow you access to wifi on your iDevice, your YouTube app is pretty much useless while in that zone. However, there is a way to access those particularly choice videos for therapeutic use, it just takes a few steps and some forethought. Here's what you do.

1. Identify a video of interest and while on a computer (not your iPad), copy the video's URL:

2. Go to KeepVid in your computer's browser and paste in the copied URL and hit Download at the end of the blue bar (not the giant red download, that's a ubiquitous ad, LOL):

3. Wait for the potential video files to pop up and download the MP4 by clicking on it. Again, ignore the giant Download button:

4. This will download the YouTube clip as a video file to your computer, usually to the Downloads folder. Now to get it onto your iPad. Open an email account that is accessible on your iPad (added to your Mail app. Accounts can be added to the Mail app using the Settings app under Mail, Contacts, Calendars). Gmail accounts work well for this process. Attach the video file to an email and send it to that account that you can access on the iPad. This may take a minute.

5. On your iPad, while connected to wifi, check the email account and locate the email. Tap the video icon in the email to download the video to the iPad. Then, tap and hold to bring up the option to save the video:

6. Now, go to your Photos app.  The video will be saved there (not in the Videos app, which is for iTunes content), and you can play it whenever you need to, regardless of YouTube blockage or wifi connection.

[Edit: You can also import/drag your video file into iTunes on a computer, plug in your iPad (you don't need to sync), and drag that video as displayed in iTunes onto the iPad icon in the left sidebar.  The video will then appear in the Videos app.]

A couple of caveats:
-Videos take up space. You'll want to be aware of this, and delete from your iPad if necessary, as well as from your email account and computer.
-KeepVid is Java-based. If you run into trouble with it, try running a Java update (through Software update on Mac or by Googling "Java Update" on PC). Also make sure your browser is updated or KeepVid might not function correctly (see part B here).
-This process will not work if the YouTube user has disabled embedding and downloading.  

Happy Work-arounding!


  1. We just got youtube unblocked! hooray! But this is good for when I don't have wifi! Thanks Sean!

  2. Great post! I wish I had filed this away in my brain before spending most of my weekend figuring this out on the Mac. Though I probably understand it better playing around with it! Thanks for all of the great tech how-to's! Very helpful!!

  3. It's my first time to have an iPad and I was trying to figure this out. I'm having issues streaming videos with this device. Thank you for this!