YouTube has billions of videos. Literally. YouTube is the go-to platform for uploading and watching online videos since 2005. Sometimes you need a video on your computer or phone. When discussing YouTube video downloads, a side topic must be raised: Legal?
If you’re downloading a video for offline usage, you’re generally cool with copyright. “You are not allowed to…access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, licence, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except: (a) as expressly authorised by the Service; or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders.”
Unofficial YouTube video downloads cost Google and content creators money. YouTube advertising bring people money.
YouTube video theft is illegal. Moreover, YouTube and most other video sites make it easy to share videos via email, social networks, and embedding. Most video downloads are unnecessary.
You have motives. Here’s how to YouTube video downloads for personal use only, without being a douche-nozzle.
This narrative is constantly updated since the tools change. Antivirus tools designate software full with “extras,” as malware. Changes in helper websites’ ad networks can potentially cause malware difficulties.
To prevent this from becoming a long list of YouTube downloaders, we set some rules. Services must:
Use YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.
Paid YouTube users can download playlists or channels in bulk.
MP3 audio output (or offer companion software that does so).
Have a good UI.
Only collect your email address.
Malware-free. If there’s a PUP, it’s out.
As of this writing, the programmes, services, and sites in this narrative are spam/virus/problem-free. Majorly. If you’re not actually emptor.
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YouTube Premium subscribers can now download videos. Almost. The quality caveat: Downloaded videos are 1080p or lower. 4K?
This tool doesn’t save videos to your computer permanently. It’s similar to the download feature in Netflix and Hulu’s mobile apps, which saves a streaming video to your local storage for later viewing. This method doesn’t let you watch a video in VLC Media Player.
Go to YouTube’s hamburger menu and click Downloads to see what you’ve grabbed. Downloads are available as long as your device has an internet connection once per 30 days. Read on for more useful downloads.
Downloading web videos is easiest with third-party applications. The application downloads the highest quality YouTube video from the URL you provide. MP4 files include 1080p HD videos. 4K and 8K files are MKV.
In the past, YouTube videos were Flash-based, thus you downloaded a FLV file. MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) plays anywhere.
MKV, also called Matroska, is a container that can hold video using any codec. VLC Media Player for Windows plays everything. (Read on.) Best downloaders:
1. Player VLC
VLC Media Player is a great utility for Windows, Mac, and Linux users that plays almost any media. It can download YouTube videos, albeit convolutedly. (If VLC doesn’t work, reinstall it and erase your cache.)
Open VLC with a YouTube URL. Paste the URL into Media > Open Network Stream (Ctrl+N). Play. Tools > Codec Information while playing a video. Copy the URL from the “Source” box.
Paste the temporary URL into your browser’s address bar and play the video. Click the three-dot menu in Chrome or Edge to download the video locally. Right-click the video in Firefox to save it.
VLC only saves 1080p files, even if the original YouTube stream was 1440p or 2160p (aka 4K). It doesn’t convert video either. This desktop software gives you those alternatives.
2. 4K Downloader
4KVD is constantly updated and has clear download links on its website; no ads. The software’s UI is straightforward. It downloads 8K videos in many formats. Copy a YouTube URL, then click Paste Link. 4KVD grabs subtitles, playlists, and subscribed channel videos. YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and a few more are supported, but that’s plenty. The free edition has a huge banner ad and 30 daily downloads.
My test movie wouldn’t download in 4K until I switched from MP4 to MKV. 4KVD grabbed a 3-minute, 229.7MB trailer in 1 minute 20 seconds. I switched when downloading an 8K playlist (Opens in a new window).
4KVD’s Smart Mode and presets allow one-click downloads to your preferred format. Paid version required to download more than 30 videos per day or subscribe to YouTube channels to quickly download the latest. VLC Media Player played MKV files perfectly.
The tool can extract audio to MP3, therefore you don’t need the 4K YouTube to MP3 companion software. Nevertheless, it costs the same as 4KVD.
3. Converter VideoProc
The powerful VideoProc from Digiarty comes in an editor edition and this converter, which supports 4K from over 1,000 websites, including TikTok. It’s faster with hardware acceleration. It often gives pricing cuts; the one-year licence is currently $25.95.
Let the app detect your hardware to see what helps acceleration (if anything). Click Downloader, Add video, and Download Now to batch URLs. Or watch a YouTube live stream or playlist.
It converted our 697MB test 4K video to WEBM in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. VideoProc Converter’s trial edition limits conversions to 5 minutes but not downloads.
FlixGrab offers multiple programmes with overlapping functions, like others. FlixGrabMS for Windows 10 and 11 is on the Microsoft Store, however it won’t grab YouTube video. FlixGrab from flixgrabapp.com worked with YouTube and other sites. It also offers a Free YouTube Downloader with the same easy-to-use interface.
Subscription rates for upgrades have disappeared since our last update. “for now, our applications are totally free.” the site’s contribution page adds. The developers will appreciate a PayPal or credit card donation.
5KPlayer is more than a downloader, but it has a great one. Promise no viruses, advertisements, or plug-ins. It’s one of the few tests that requires name and email registration to access 300+ sites (Opens in a new window). YouTube offers 4K videos without any registration.
The application hides items when downloading. Paste in a YouTube URL to see a few download options. Click the gear icon, then Show All, to see a 4K 3,840-by-2,160 WebM file. Downloading 227MB WebM took 6.5 minutes. You can download playlists, but each video must be downloaded individually. The complex UI makes it hard to access additional videos.
5K Player supports DLNA server playback and AirPlay for rapid playback on Apple devices. Choose a library video to convert to MP4, MP3, or ACC (the audio format preferred by iOS). The player had buffering troubles with the huge 4K file (VLC didn’t).
5K Player’s pricing and features are appealing, especially if you view them as downloader extras. Poor UI, slow downloads, and playback issues may turn you off.
Heed Any s
Avoid installing software? Video download assistance sites download videos for you. All of them parse a YouTube URL (or another video source, if supported) and provide a link to a download. They’re cross-platform and sometimes mobile. Your PC needs nothing. It can take longer depending on the video’s size and quality, but it’s convenient.
They’re unreliable. Anyone with some coding skills has created one of these sites. Such sites can become suspect if their owner sells out to gain money off your visits.
Since this piece was published, all the helper sites we mentioned have been removed for reasons including adding sexually explicit adverts, no longer functional, and pushing its download utility solely, and one went out of business willingly to avoid being sued.
We don’t currently propose any assistance sites. If your browser, antivirus, or instincts alert you, avoid it.
An add-on saves time. You’ll have trouble downloading YouTube videos with Chrome.
Alphabet/Google controls the Chrome Web Store, where you get browser extensions. Chrome Store restrictions prevent even a purportedly YouTube-specific addon from allowing direct downloads. Chrome extensions can’t download RTMP (protected) or streaming video. You can use them on video sites. YouTube.
Want out? Get a non-Google extension. Some programmes and helper sites sell extensions and explain how to install them without the Chrome Web Store’s help. Some examples:
YouTube Video Downloader from Addoncrop is on multiple browsers and has side-loading capabilities using user scripts or third-party extensions like Foxified (which lets Chrome/Edge use Firefox extensions). It puts a button below any YouTube video or embedded video, making it easy to grab. Supports 8K video. Video audio can be converted to MP3. It takes video screenshots.
Video Downloads Helper
Video DownloadHelper supports several pornographic sites. When a video is downloaded, the extension icon animates on the website. Video DownloadHelper for Chrome ceased working with YouTube to get into the Chrome Web Store. Use Firefox or Edge’s Video DownloadHelper extension instead.
Video downloader apps
Downloading from YouTube using an Android app from the Google Play Store is difficult because Google owns the site (even though it never checks for viruses) and offers the premium YouTube Premium subscription for offline viewing.
Android allows app installation without Google. InsTube – Free Video and Music Downloader for Android is exclusively available on its website. Sideload APK files on Android devices. Install it from your downloads (Opens in a new window). (Enable “Unknown sources.” in security settings.)
On iPhones and iPads, you’d assume there wouldn’t be a restriction since Apple and Google aren’t friends (or maybe they are(Opens a new window)). On iOS, YouTube videos won’t download and aren’t available for long. One app’s description claimed, “Downloading from YouTube is prohibited due to its Terms of Service.” Apple enforces Google’s guidelines for app developers.
If you locate an iOS app that can download YouTube videos, it will likely be “fixed” or blocked. The only solution is to jailbreak your iPhone and use sideloaded apps.
It’s possible. YouTube Premium lets you download videos to watch later on your iPhone or iPad, like Netflix and Hulu. You can’t modify clips.
Documents by Readdle
Documents by Readdle is a free iOS file manager app (Opens in a new window). Safari’s Share menu has Copy Link for YouTube videos. Use the app’s built-in browser to visit a video download helper site (one we don’t advocate). Link the form (hold your finger down on it until you get the “Paste” menu to pop up). The site provides download links; save the file to Documents. Drag the file to the Photos folder from the main screen. First, give Documents access to Photos. You may then access the video in the Photos app.
Also: Try AnyTrans ($39.99 for a single computer for one year, Windows or macOS; $59.99 lifetime plan), a desktop file organiser for iOS devices that supports 900 sites, including YouTube and Facebook. It transfers videos to iPhone through USB. Even if you don’t pay for AnyTrans, downloading is always free.
Want to “download” a video differently? YT Scribe allows you read the transcriptions. It auto-transcribes, punctuates, and paraphrases. Better subtitles, better “article,” It’s free!