How to Download This Old House Episodes

March 20th, 2012 | Tags: ,

All of the episodes (starting with Season 31) are available to watch on the This Old House website. Unfortunately, I would much rather be able to watch them on my television. The following steps show how to download them from the website for playback anywhere.

Note: I consider this fair use of the videos and, as described in the outdated original source I used, this technique should not be used to steal content.

These instructions are based on using Safari in Max OSX. They may be adaptable for other browsers or operating systems, but that is outside of my interest.

  1. Remove the Flash Video Player from Safari (if it is installed). Make a backup (for re-installation), then delete these files using the Finder:

    • /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Flash Player.plugin
    • /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/flashplayer.xpt
  2. Ensure the Develop menu is available in Safari. Enable it on the Advanced pane in Safari Preferences.

  3. Go to the the page of the This Old House video that you want to download. You should get an error that Flash needs to be updated.

  4. Change the User Agent to one for Safari iOS. Select Safari iOS from ‘Develop > User Agent’ in the menubar. (The iPad version seems to work more successfully than the one for iPhone.)

  5. If a preview of picture of the video loads:

    1. Right click the video and choose “View Frame Source”.
    2. Use ‘Edit > Find > Find…’ to search for “mp4″. Find the second occurrence.
    3. You are now looking at a list of videos, each with a different encoding rate and frame size. (The size of the smallest video will be about 30 MB, the largest 300MB.) Pick the video file that you want to download and copy what looks approximately like a URL from the line, starting with ‘http’ and ending with ‘mp4′. If in doubt of which one to pick, use the one with the largest encoding number and largest frame size.
    4. Close the Source window.
    5. Paste the text into the address bar in Safari.
    6. Edit the text in the address bar to remove all backslash characters (backslashes travel from upper left to lower right). (This replaces each ‘\/’ with a single ‘/’.)
  6. If a preview picture of the video does NOT load:

    1. Right click in the black box and choose “View Frame Source”
    2. Use ‘Edit > Find > Find…’ to search for “video.pbs”.
    3. Copy the URL, stopping before the question mark.
    4. Paste the URL into the address bar in Safari and press “Return”.
    5. Use ‘Edit > Find > Find…’ to search for “mp4″
    6. Copy this URL and paste it into the address bar in Safari.
  7. Hold “Option” and press “Return” to initiate the download.

  8. Wait for the download to finish.

  1. July 27th, 2013 at 11:00

    Are you still doing this? I couldn’t get it to work with Safari 6.

  2. July 30th, 2013 at 04:52

    I hadn’t done it again until this morning (I stopped since I was watching the new episodes on TiVo and there was not an archive available.) I followed the steps (went down the path of step #5) and everything worked as expected.

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