YouTube has billions of hours of video. Literally. And that isn’t even the most amazing fact about the site, which has been the go-to place for sharing and watching movies online since 2005. However, there are occasions when you truly want or need to have one of those films on your computer or phone. But when it comes to downloading YouTube videos, there is a side issue that must be addressed: Is it legal?
In terms of copyright, as long as you’re downloading a video for your own personal offline usage, you should be fine. It’s clearer when you look at Google’s YouTube terms of service(Opens in a new window), which state: ‘You are not permitted to…access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify, or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except: (a) as expressly authorized by the Service; or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders.’
How to Save YouTube Videos
Watching YouTube videos offline through unauthorised channels costs Google and content producers money. People make a living by running advertisements on YouTube.
Stealing videos from YouTube is obviously prohibited. If you want to share a video, YouTube and most other video sites make it simple, with options ranging from embedding to emailing to social media sharing. Most of the time, you don’t need to download a video.
You, on the other hand, have your reasons. If you really must download a YouTube video—just for yourself, not for distribution, and not to be a total douche-nozzle—how. here’s
NOTE: This narrative is constantly updated since the tools involved change on a regular basis. Some of these modifications are not necessarily pleasant, such as software that is so packed of “extras” that antivirus software flags it as malware. The same is true for assistance websites—a change in a site’s ad network can likewise cause malware difficulties.
To keep this from becoming a laundry list of apps and websites that can download YouTube videos, we devised a few inclusion criteria. Services must include:
Collaborate with the major three video platforms: YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.
Download full playlists or channels in bulk (at least with a premium version of YouTube).
Audio output to MP3 (or offer companion software that does so).
Have a non-sucking interface.
We will not gather any personal information about you other than your email address.
Malware is not present. It’s out if there’s even a smell of it in the air, even if it’s a PUP.
As of this writing, the applications, services, and websites in this narrative are all free of spam/virus/problems, but buyer beware. It’s a big deal. Especially if you’re not practicing caveat emptor.
Downloads from YouTube Premium
Video downloads are now accessible to YouTube Premium customers (the premium version of YouTube that allows you to watch without commercials). In a way. There is one constraint regarding quality: any video downloaded is limited to 1080p or below. No 4K.
The main issue is that this tool does not really download a movie to store on your computer indefinitely. It is more analogous to the download function featured on Netflix and Hulu mobile applications, which makes a streaming video ready to watch later using your local storage and watches it only through the app’s UI. This is not a way for, instance, watching a video with separate software such as the VLC Media Player.
To examine the list of what you’ve downloaded, go to the YouTube hamburger menu and pick Downloads (Opens in a new window). ‘Downloads stay available as long as your device has an active internet connection at least once every 30 days,’ according to the page. This is definitely not what you’re looking for in a download; read on for tools that do.
Third-party software provides the most control over downloading web videos. Typically, you enter the URL of the desired YouTube video into the application, and it downloads the greatest quality version it can locate. An MP4 file is typically used for videos in 1080p High Definition (HD) format. MKV is generally used for files with greater resolutions (4K or 8K).
Previously, YouTube videos were Flash-based, so your download was a FLV file, but those are more difficult to play back. MP4 (short for MPEG-4 Part 14 multimedia format(Opens in a new window)) is universally supported.
It is important to note that the MKV file, also known as a Matroska, is a container—the file might include video encoded with any number of codecs. The VLC Media Player for Windows, which plays everything, is the failsafe way to play them all. (For further information, see below.) Here are the finest downloaders.
The VLC Media Player
Free for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
VLC Media Player(Opens in a new window) is mentioned above because it’s a terrific utility for Windows, Mac, and Linux users that can play almost any media ever made. It can also download YouTube videos, although in a confusing manner. (If you have any troubles, try a thorough re-install of VLC and clearing your cache.)
Open VLC and paste a URL from a YouTube video. Select Open Network Stream (Ctrl+N) from the Media menu and paste in the URL. Press the Play button. Navigate to Tools > Codec Information while the video is playing. At the bottom, there is a box labeled ‘Source,’ which you should copy the URL from.
Return to your browser and enter the URL—a it’s temporary web address that will expire eventually—into the address bar before beginning to play the movie. When you’re viewing the video on Chrome or Edge, click the three-dot menu at the bottom right to access the download option. Right-click the movie in other browsers, such as Firefox, and select Save Video As.
VLC appears to only save your file in 1080p resolution, even if the original YouTube broadcast was accessible in 1440p or 2160p (aka 4K). It also does not transcode video to other formats. You’ll need the desktop software listed below to access those choices.
Downloader of 4K Videos
Free for a year, or $10 for a lifetime license on three machines; Windows, macOS, Ubuntu Linux, and Android.
Multi-lingual 4K Video Downloader(Opens in a new window) (4KVD) is constantly updated and has clear download links on the program’s website; there are no ad traps here. In a basic interface, the app accomplishes what it says. It can capture movies in up to 8K resolution and download them in a variety of formats. To get started, just copy a YouTube URL and click the Paste Link button. Subtitles, whole playlists, and all videos on a channel to which you have subscribed are all captured by 4KVD. The supported sites are limited to the big names like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and a few more, but that should handle the majority of your needs. The free edition, which is likewise restricted to 30 downloads per day, does display a giant banner advertisement to keep the lights on.
To get my test video to download in 4K, I had to convert it from MP4 to MKV format. In around 1 minute and 20 seconds, 4KVD grabbed a 3-minute, 229.7MB file for a movie trailer. When downloading an Ultra High Definition (8K) playlist (Opens in a new window), I did the same thing.
When the Smart Mode and its presets are enabled, 4KVD may do one-click downloads to your preferred format. The premium version is required if you wish to download more than 30 videos per day or subscribe to YouTube channels to quickly download(Opens in a new window) the newest. The generated MKV files played well in VLC Media Player.
You don’t even need the 4K YouTube to MP3(Opens in a new window) companion software because the application itself offers an option to extract audio to MP3 format. If that’s your thing, it costs the same as 4KVD.
$25.95 for a year/3 PCs; $39.95 for a lifetime on one PC; $57.95 for a family of three or more PCs; Windows, macOS
Digiarty’s sophisticated VideoProc comes in an editor edition and this converter(Opens in a new window), which also includes editing and effects and, of course, handles a lot of downloads, including 4K from over 1,000 websites, including TikTok. It offers some speed with hardware acceleration(Opens in a new window). Fortunately, it routinely offers price reductions; in fact, the price of the one-year license has reduced significantly; it is now (Opens in a new window) only $25.95.
Allow the app to identify your hardware to determine what will aid in acceleration (if anything). Click the Downloader button, enter as many URLs as you wish to batch, and then click Download Now. Alternatively, you may download a whole YouTube playlist or live stream.
It converted our 697MB test 4K movie to WEBM format in roughly 2 minutes and 15 seconds, which isn’t awful. The trial version of VideoProc Converter, which has a 5-minute converting time limit, does not appear to have a download limit.
Windows; free (donation-ware).
FlixGrab(Opens in a new window) has various apps available, several of which have overlapping functions. For example, it offers FlixGrabMS for Windows 10 and 11 computers in the Microsoft Store(Opens in a new window), but it wouldn’t allow me capture video from YouTube. The FlixGrab application downloaded directly from the flixgrabapp.com website worked with YouTube and numerous other sites. Furthermore, it provides a Free YouTube Downloader(Opens in a new window) that is exclusive to YouTube but utilizes the same simple interface.
The most significant change since our last update is that the subscription costs for an upgrade are vanished. The site now features a contribution page, which states that “for the time being, our programs are completely free.” However, the creators would appreciate it if you could pay a little amount by PayPal or credit card.
Windows and macOS are both free.
The free 5KPlayer(Opens in a new window) is much more than a downloader, although it has a great one built in. It’s a good start to promise no malware, advertisements, or plug-in needs. Unfortunately, it is one of the few tests that requires registration of your name and email—you must do this to access the full download feature across 300+ sites(Opens in a new window). You may still get 4K videos from YouTube without registering.
When downloading, the application attempts to conceal some information. When you enter the URL of a YouTube video, the analysis engine runs and just a few download alternatives are displayed. Click the gear icon, then the Show All option, then scroll to see something resembling a 4K 3,840-by-2,160 WebM file. It took an excruciating 6.5 minutes to download the 227MB WebM test file. It was possible to download playlists, but you had to alter the download parameters one video at a time. The perplexing UI makes it difficult to return to the other videos in the playlist.
5K Player also supports DLNA server playback, allowing you to watch videos you’ve downloaded on any device that supports DLNA, as well as AirPlay for rapid playing on Apple devices. Select a video from the collection to convert it to MP4, MP3, or even ACC (the audio format preferred by iOS). However, the player did not enjoy playing back the excessively huge 4K file and encountered buffering difficulties (VLC did not have any issues with the identical file).
Finally, there’s a lot to appreciate about 5K Player, from the price to the functionality, especially when seen as add-ons to a downloader. However, the poor UI, sluggish download speeds, and playback troubles may cause you to go elsewhere.
Do you want to prevent having to install software? Video download assistance websites are designed to conduct the downloading for you. They all do the same thing: you give them a YouTube URL (or another video site, if supported), they parse it, give you a size download option, and provide a link to that download. They function on any platform, including mobile devices. Nothing has to be installed on your computer. It may take much longer depending on the size and quality of the movie you desire, but the ease cannot be surpassed.
The issue is that you can’t always rely on them. There are hundreds of these sites out there-it appears that everyone with a smidgeon of coding competence has set one up. Such sites can quickly swing from beneficial to questionable, especially if they become famous and the owner sells out to profit from your visits.
Since the publication of this story, all of the helper sites we recommended have been removed for a variety of reasons, including the addition of sexually explicit ads, the site no longer functioning, the site shifting to promoting its download utility only, and one going out of business voluntarily to avoid being sued.
As a result, we are not currently recommending any helpful sites. If you locate one, try it, but if your browser, antivirus, or intuition raise red flags, shun it and go on.
A browser plugin can help you save time. However, downloading video from YouTube will present some difficulties, particularly if you use Chrome as your primary browser.
Alphabet/Google controls the Chrome Web Store (Opens in a new window), where you can download Chrome browser extensions. Because of Chrome Store restrictions, even an extension allegedly for this purpose will not allow YouTube direct downloads. In general, downloading any RTMP protocol video (restricted movies) or streaming video is not feasible using Chrome extensions. Of course, you may use them on other websites with video. But not on YouTube.
Do you want to avoid it? Get an extension that is not available in the Google Web Store. Some of the apps and helper sites have an extension component and will explain how to install(Opens in a new window) it without the aid that the Chrome Web Store often gives. Here are a few examples.
Download YouTube Videos
Brave, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, Safari, and Vivaldi are all free.
YouTube Video Downloader from Addoncrop(Opens in a new window) is available on multiple browsers, but with excellent side-loading capabilities(Opens in a new window) via user scripts or third-party extensions such as Foxified (Opens in a new window) (which allows Chrome/Edge to use Firefox extensions). It places a button underneath any YouTube video you’re watching, or even an embedded YouTube video, making it easy to grab. Video resolutions up to 8K are supported. You may also convert the video’s audio to MP3. It will even assist you in taking video screenshots.
Video Download Assistant
Firefox, Chrome, and Edge are free.
Video DownloadHelper(Opens in a new window) supports a large variety of websites, even those intended for adults. When the extension symbol animates while you’re on a web page, you’ll know a movie is downloading. Video DownloadHelper for Chrome has stopped functioning with YouTube in order to be considered for inclusion in the Chrome Web Store. To get around this, use the Video DownloadHelper plugin for Firefox or Edge.
Apps for Mobile Video Downloading
Downloading from YouTube using an Android app from the Google Play Store is difficult since Google controls the site (even though it never seems to scan for viruses), and it also provides the premium YouTube Premium service stated above to facilitate offline viewing.
However, with Android, it is possible to install apps without using Google Play. InsTube – Free Video and Music Downloader(Opens in a new window) for Android, for example, can only be obtained on the InsTube website. Download the APK (Android application package) file to your Android device for sideloading. Locate it in your device’s downloads folder and select Install (Opens in a new window). (You may need to activate ‘Unknown sources’ in your security settings.)
You’d think there’d be no such limitation on iPhones and iPads because Apple and Google aren’t exactly great friends (or maybe they are(Opens in a new window)). However, the iOS applications I tried not only wouldn’t download from YouTube, but they were also seldom available for long. ‘Downloading from YouTube is restricted owing to its Terms of Service,’ one of those applications stated in its description. Apple is ensuring that app manufacturers follow the rules—even Google’s restrictions.
Most likely, the moment you discover an iOS app that can download YouTube videos, it will be ‘fixed’ or blocked. The only viable solution is to jailbreak your iPhone and utilize sideloaded applications to get whatever you like.
There are workarounds available. One option is to subscribe to YouTube Premium, which allows you to download videos to your iPhone or iPad to view later, similar to how Netflix and Hulu do. However, it does not provide you much leeway in editing a clip.
Another option is to use a free iOS file management software such as Documents by Readdle (Opens in a new window). Visit a YouTube video in Safari and look for the Share button to discover Copy Link. Then, return to Documents and utilize the app’s built-in browser to navigate to a video download helper site (the sort we don’t advocate). Copy and paste the URL into the form (hold your finger down on it until the ‘Paste’ menu appears). The site will provide download links, and you may save the file to Documents. Hold the file and drag it up until you return to the main screen, then drag it to the Photos folder. To access Photos for the first time, you must grant Documents permission. The film may then be accessed in the Photos app just like any other video made on your phone or tablet.
Return to the desktop and try AnyTrans(Opens in a new window) ($39.99 for a single computer for a year, Windows or macOS; $59.99 lifetime plan), a desktop file manager for iOS devices with an integrated downloader that supports 900 sites, including YouTube and Facebook. It will transfer the videos to your iPhone through USB cord. Even if you don’t pay for AnyTrans, the download option is always available and free.
Want a genuinely one-of-a-kind way to ‘download’ a video? YT Scribe (Opens in a new window) allows you to download the transcription and read it instead. The text is auto-transcribed, punctuated, and paragraphed. Of course, the better the subtitles, the better the ‘article.’ The best part is that it is completely free.