How to Download Hidden Audio and Video Files

Updated

Learn how easy it is to Download Audio and Video Files online. With just a few shortcuts from the keyboard, you can extract any hidden file.

download hidden files

Intro

Have you ever wanted to download that one song that you couldn’t find anywhere else online?

Was it hidden in plain sight? Was the audio playable only on a certain web page?

Or even worse: was there a video that you really would have liked to keep on your computer, but didn’t have a clue on downloading it?

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. 

This was something I struggled with whenever I would try to find music that was simply not anywhere else.

Not exactly an easy situation to circumvent.

But what you’re about to see is simply unbelievable; being able to download basically anything that you come across a webpage without having to learn any HTML!

How did I discover this technique?

I discovered it on a Saturday morning when I was trying to figure out how I would spend the rest of the day.

Perhaps listen to some media online, make more goals, try different software, something new, etc.

I wasn’t too sure until I realized that I actually wanted to download a music video to show to my relatives.

These days, you can obviously stream videos through your phone, but they wanted to keep it for themselves in case they went offline (fair enough).

camera near by laptop


The video was located on a newsfeed website that was basically difficult to click on.

It had a lot of junk that it would recommend to me, but I never click on things that get in my way.

Once I was able to click on the video, the audio was muted.

A pretty common thing. I simply clicked on the audio button and I now heard sound.

What was strange about this you might ask?

Well to start off:

  • My windows kept on freezing
  • I couldn’t make the video skip to a certain timeframe
  • The browser was terribly getting too intensive from this one little video

Now I started to realize why my relatives wanted the video to themselves; it was near impossible to have it on playback.

It would even stutter on a low resolution!

At that point, I began to do some research on acquiring the video for myself.

What did I struggle with?

Well, it was actually a lot of things.

In fact, I don’t even know where to start.

red question mark


The amount of information that’s out there on achieving this is very redundant.

Many users point to 3rd-party apps that would download any music and video online, but most of the time, I see responses from others claiming that the methods aren’t working anymore.

Or if someone would like to download files, they would need to pay a subscription fee to temporarily use a cloud storage service to even access them!

Why in the world would I ever want to pay a fee if I simply wanted one thing?!

On top of that, you could stumble upon a fishy link that might lead (or lean away) to the download link, but have to pass through endless websites.

That probably sounds very familiar, especially if you’ve been using the web for quite some time.

But man, I just want a simple video. Why would Google suggest me this information?

It’s because information online about the software can sometimes (if not most of the time) be polluted with wishy-washy methods that expire quickly.

If only there was an Evergreen technique that could be applied across any website…

How was the technique born?

Once I started to look at coding forums, now I began to have a better understanding of where files are located.

Soon enough, I began just trying anything that seemed good enough to be true.

It made me more familiar with looking at HTML that wasn’t properly formatted.

But in that HTML was really what I was looking for.

And once I discovered the developer tools, now I began to see how different elements of a web page are loaded.

At that point, I began to follow a systematic way of downloading what I can.

And once I acquired them, I realized that it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined.

Again, most people rely on website “downloaders” that honestly give you an error with any link you feed it with.

Not saying that they’re terrible. It’s just that most of them are simply unusable.

Without keeping anyone waiting anymore, have a look for yourself.

Resources

Bonus: How to reverse engineer m3u8 video URLs

This will be a quick technique to download any .m3u8 URL you come across through the developer tools.

1. Download and install youtube-dl (macOS / Linux)

sudo curl -L https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

2. Go to any page with an embedded video. In this example, I'll be going to a free Teachable course.

3. Once you've loaded the page, open the developer tools and click on (Network > XHR)

finding XHR files on webpage


4. Set the video resolution to HD or above, and play the video for a couple of seconds before pausing.

5. Look at the developer tools again, and you should see a couple .ts files detected.

ts video files from network


6. Right-click on any recent .ts URL, and select "Copy link address"

7. Open the terminal and run youtube-dl on the URL. At the end of the URL, delete some characters until the last 5 characters are .m3u8

youtube-dl https://embed-fastly.wistia.com/deliveries/678fec637b62b7268e21f784fffd029e5a49f102.m3u8

That's it. What it's now doing is basically combing all the separated video files into one.

combining ts video files into one


Make sure you know which directory it's in when executing the command line. It might not be in the Downloads folder.

Conclusion

After watching the video, you realize just how simple it is to extract any audio and video files you want online.

It works most of the time, but not on every website, especially if it has some security.

For example, LinkedIn is difficult because the video hyperlink is a Blob URL, which isn’t easy to reverse engineer (I have to admit).

Also, some online platforms might have the videos segmented into chunks so downloading the whole suite might not be an option.

Nonetheless, this technique will work on any generic website that you come across.

You actually don’t really have to know any HTML. You just need to look for that hyperlink to click. It’s pretty well-hidden.

Look through the code and see if you’ve hit the jackpot.

Have any questions? Leave a comment down below.