Saturday, 26 March 2011

Downloading Soundcloud tracks using Firefox's cache

Every now and then some of the people I follow on Soundcloud will upload a track that will never be officially released as a free or purchasable download, and my Interent streaming isn't always reliable (I'm thinking of when I'm at work, grrr).  This means that best option for audio playback will come from a downloaded version of the source.

So, I figured that anything that streams through my web browser must be downloaded or cached somewhere on my machine, meaning that if I can find the data, then I should be able to save that track.  This post will be a little tutorial showing you how to do the same using nothing other than Firefox 4 and Finder on my Mac (I'm sure Windows Explorer will do much the same job).

1 - Prep work

First thing to do, in order to make this easy, is I recommend emptying your Firefox browser cache:

Firefox -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Network -> Offline Storage -> Clear Now

2 - Pick your tune

Navigate your way to the appropriate tune you are after on Soundcloud and play it.  Your browser will cache the data.

3 - Locate the cache

Open another Tab (ctrl/cmd+T) and in the URL field type: about:cache and hit enter.  Under the header "Disk cache device" you should see your Cache Directory where the streamed tune will have been cached.  Navigate your way to the cache folders with Finder/Explorer (Mac tip: copy the text and in Finder hit shift+cmd+g and paste the text to get there direct).

4 - Find the recently used folders

Sort your folders by the date they were last modified and then check each of the subfolders within the cache for data files.  Some of the cache folders will be empty thanks to the prep work we did in step 1, making this a relatively quick exercise.  Providing you haven't used your browser to do lots of searches, you should see very few files, but their filenames will all be a mixture of random numbers and letters.  The largest one you find is likely to be the file you are after.  Highlight it, and copy the file your desktop

5 - Convert the file

What you need to do now is merely alter the file extension to include .mp3 and you should be done.  You can also rename the file to something more memorable.

What you should be left with is a 128 kbps mp3 file of the tune that the SoundCloud artist didn't want you to have.  If you can live with this ethical quandary then fine.  If not, please delete the tune and wait for the day it is officially released.  Obviously, 128 kbps is a terribly low bitrate and should never be played through a decent audio setup for fear of compression shame, but it will be okay for most portable media players until an official release becomes available (which you should buy if you love it so much).

#nb This should be achievable in other browsers like Google Chrome too.


Ray said...

I've been using this tip ever since you posted it, but it doesn't work with Firefox 4. The Cache folder has all sorts of subfolders now. Any tips?

Rob said...

Hi Ray

I've just tested this with Firefox 4 (Mac version) and it worked. There are an awful lot of subfodlers now, but as long as you clear your cache first you can eliminate most of them quickly. Also, make sure Firefox's preferences are set so that the file fits the cache - it should be fine with a default of 1024 mb or something (more than enough for audio files)

ic said...

In case of FF3 make sure u have enough cache. If u listen to a 1 hour long dj set, then the default 50M cache is too small, and u wont see the file under the cache directory.

T4 said...

can you do the same in IE?

Rob said...

@ ic - thanks for the update - good point

@T4 - I'm afraid I don't know much about IE as I abandoned the Windows platform in 2005. However, you can try this

Anonymous said...

Im afraid this doesn't work anymore!
i figured this out a while ago and now im looking for help on getting it working again...but i bet they changed it on purpose!

Anonymous said...

Works like a charm on Firefox 8.0. Thanks, dude!

Anonymous said...

Increase your cache in Firefox if it doesn't work

Anonymous said...

Cool, but I prefer something thats online and that doesn't have to be installed before.
(I have bad memories with that stuff, haha, my PC crashed once when I tried to install a Downloader but it was a Malware)

wenwensusu said...

It do work while needs enough cache.
I tried another software, Hidownload. It's awesome, until now, it didn't bring any virus.It is very easy to use and it already downloads thousands of streaming songs for me.
Here I share the usage of Hidownload with you!
Hidownload is indeed a great helper for music lovers.

Bryce Beatty said...

Anonymous said...

Just had to run a search for *.* on the cache folder to sort out the files in all the subfolders, a few misses and found what I was looking for. Thanks. Great tips.

Anonymous said...

I followed the instructions in this article but I also used a free program called Disc Savvy to help locate the file. Just put in the directory and then click Analyze and then look for the folder with a file thats several MB. Most souncloud songs are about 4-10MB or so. Thanks Robert.

Abdul Bari Chanessra said...

then listen to the song and see what shows up in it! ... from c1987-89 (dj laurent) but the person that uploaded em to soundcloud (nothing to do with laurent) just, for whatever reason, ... Stream ripper extension for Firefox. motiono grapher media

Anonymous said...

this trick is not working in new firefox 29.0.1
so what now
please find a new way to save this cache

Aditya Patel said...

This is wonderful! I have tried with sc-downloader and its is amazing! Thanks for your helpful tips on soundcloud

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