How To Download YouTube Videos

There are literally billions of hours of videos on YouTube. There’s an unlimited number of videos that you can stream if you’re online. That means that you’re going to need significant data allowance from your service provider to watch videos on YouTube. Or, you got to be connected to a stable Wi-Fi with unlimited Internet to enjoy YouTube videos all day.

Now, how about if you’re offline? Is it possible to download YouTube videos so you can have a copy that you can conveniently watch anytime, anywhere without connecting to the Internet?

The answer is a ‘YES’. But, is it legal?

Downloading a YouTube video is not permitted, especially when you intend to distribute it. It is a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service as well as the video creator’s rights. If your goal is to share the video, YouTube has a couple of options for you to share it via social media sites and applications. YouTube also allows you to embed the video on a website. However, if you badly need to download a YouTube video, these options are hugely helpful. Just keep in mind to keep it to yourself and not distribute it.

For starters, downloading YouTube videos using 3rd party software is a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service. The TOS reads, “You shall not download any Content unless you see a ‘download’ or similar link displayed on YouTube on the Service for that Content.

What this means is that YouTube doesn’t allow you to download its content for offline use. The possible consequences against legal boundaries reside on how you’re going to use the content. If you’re going to use it for your personal consumption only, then that’s okay. However, if you’re going to distribute and/or share the Content that you downloaded, then that will potentially implicate you for copyright infringement. Unless you have the authorization to do so or if you are the owner of the Content.

On top of that, watching YouTube videos offline cuts YouTube’s and video creators’ revenue. They’re not going to be able to earn money because ads can no longer run on the Content that you downloaded. Bottom line is you’re keeping a lot of people from making a living.

Nevertheless, if you really have a solid reason to download YouTube videos and you don’t intend to distribute the Content, it’s easy to download any videos out of YouTube or watch it offline. YouTube Premium gives you an option to stream videos while being offline.

In some cases, you’re allowed to download the video when there’s a download link embedded in the video itself. But not all YouTube videos are like this. Only a few video creators allow their videos to be downloaded for some specific reasons. Other than that, you will need some 3rd party software to download the Content you want.

Tools For Downloading YouTube Videos

There’s a ton of software or sites that you can use to download Content from YouTube. Here’s a laundry list of what you can use:

  • 4K Video Downloader
  • TubeMate
  • WinX YouTube Downloader
  • AnyVid
  • Gihosoft TubeGet
  • YouTubeByClick
  • 5K Player
  • TubeNinja
  • YouTubNow
  • YoutubeMonkey
  • FetchTube
  • VidPaw
  • FastestTube
  • Video DownloadHelper
  • Threelly SmartView
  • InsTube
  • WonTube
  • YTD
  • AnyTrans

The list is a combination of software/programs, helper websites, extensions, and mobile apps. Each of these has their own specific pros and cons, fees, and/or supported format. What these have in common are the following:

  • Supports 4K downloads
  • Can download channels and/or entire playlist in one batch
  • Great interface
  • Works with Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook
  • Doesn’t collect personal data aside from an email address
  • Capability for MP3 audio output
  • Doesn’t contain malware

These are the requirements of a safe and effective YouTube video downloader. There are a lot more programs and sites available on the Internet as of writing. And more mobile apps as well. However, they don’t qualify the requirements above.

Video Format

You can choose the file format of the video you’re going to download depending on the software/program, site, or app you’re using. The most common video formats you can choose are the following:

  • 3GP
  • MOV
  • MP4
  • AVI

If you’re not too particular about video quality and you’re okay with watching the video on a small-screen then the most recommended of these formats is the 3GP. It doesn’t eat up that much storage and memory as well. It’s perfect for mobile phone viewing. Outside of that, it’s awful on every other aspect.

If you want clear and crisp output, MOV is the best choice. It’s Apple’s file format and will work amazingly on every Mac. AVI, on the other hand, works great on PCs while MP4 works pretty much on any platform. MP4 also has the highest compatibility among these 4 file formats.

Video Quality

The other decision that you’re going to make is video quality. What you may not know is that YouTube allows you to stream in a variety of video qualities that range from 360p to 1080p. That said, you can watch YouTube from an old mobile phone to large HD displays.

For instance, the 3GP file format allows you to download four video quality options that can work for your smartphone, tablet, or computer – 360, 480, 720, and 1080 video resolutions. Of course, the higher the quality means the bigger the size of the file. A clever decision is to balance the size and quality of the video to save memory and storage. But, if you have an unlimited storage capacity, you can download all videos in 1080p resolution.

If the video you’re downloading has music in it, the video quality won’t matter. The soundtrack in every YouTube video has the same bitrate regardless if you’re downloading a 480p or a 1080p. YouTube’s video and audio streams are two separate entities, so the video quality choice won’t affect the audio quality.

Download YouTube Videos to Your PC

To download YouTube videos to your PC, you’ll need to download and install a program first. The most popular and highly recommended is 4K Video Downloader. It’s a completely versatile software that lets you download entire playlists, 3D videos, and even 360-degree videos. Most importantly, it’s free. Once the software has been completely downloaded, you can just click the ‘Launch’ and ‘Finish’ buttons.

Here are the steps to download the video content from YouTube using the 4K Video Downloader:

  1. Open web browser
  2. Go to the YouTube website
  3. Search for the video you want to download
  4. Copy the URL of the video from the address bar
  5. Open 4K Video Downloader
  6. Click ‘Paste Link’ button at the top left
  7. Choose preferred selection (video or audio) from the drop-down menu on the left
  8. Choose video format from the drop-down menu on the right
  9. Choose video quality from any of the radio-button selections
  10. Choose a location where to save downloaded video using the ‘Browse’ button
  11. Once you’re satisfied with all your selections, click ‘Download’

You can open the file in the destination folder after the video has been completed. You can also play directly in 4K Video Downloader by right-clicking on the video and selecting ‘Play’. All the video you have downloaded will remain on the list until you adjust the settings or when you choose to remove them.

One great feature of 4K Video Downloader is the Smart Mode. This feature saves your preferences and then loads them automatically. This comes in handy when you download videos with the same format. The Smart Mode can be turned on by clicking on the lightbulb icon located at the top right of the window. The next time you paste a URL of the video you’re going to download, 4K Video Downloader will download it right away using the most recent settings you used.

Download via YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium offers a lot of perks to its subscribers. One of these is the ability to download Content and watch videos offline without the need for a 3rd party software or program. You can do this using YouTube’s apps – YouTube, YouTube gaming, YouTube Music.

This is convenient when you’re out on a trip to a remote location. There’s just one caveat: you can only save and watch the videos using these apps. You can’t move or transfer the videos to a different location and/or watch the videos using a different app.

To do this, you’ll only need to download any of the YouTube apps. As soon as its downloaded, you can open the app to watch the video. There’s a ‘Download’ button with a grey arrow that’s located under the player. You’ll have an option to choose a quality setting.

You can find the video in your Account tab or Library as soon as the video has been completely downloaded. You also will need to sign in to your account to watch the downloaded videos. However, since you’ll be offline, you won’t be able to like the video and/or respond to comments.

Download YouTube Videos Using TubeMate

Another very popular tool for downloading YouTube videos is TubeMate. It works perfectly with Android smartphones. It’s extremely easy to use and contains features that are superbly useful.

Although TubeMate is a great partner with an Android smartphone, there’s one hiccup that can easily be worked around. TubeMate can’t be downloaded via the Google Play Store. You’ll need to configure your Android smartphone to install and run apps that are downloaded outside of Google Play Store. Keep in mind though to only make sure you download and install apps that you know are safe.

To do this, you can follow these quick steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to Security
  3. Scroll down and find Unknown sources
  4. Toggle to turn on

This will allow your Android to download, install, and run apps that are not downloaded from Google Play Store. Once this is done, you can visit the TubeMate YouTube Downloader website. Select any one of the verified websites to download the tool from. Sometimes you’ll get a warning message because of downloading an APK file. When you get this message, just click ‘OK’ and the download will resume.

As soon as the TubeMate has been downloaded into your smartphone, locate the file and run it. Tap the ‘Install’ button and then tap the ‘Open’ button. It will then tell you which permission the video will need to run. You can proceed by letting it run so the app will launch.

What TubeMate looks like is an old YouTube Android app. It has a black background and will give you an option to search for a video and/or begin playing the video in it. Tapping the red ‘Download’ button that shows up at the bottom right of the window will take you to several choices.

You’ll see a list of formats for video and audio as well as options to choose the quality. You’ll also see options to select the resolution for each format. You can choose the highest quality, highest resolution for the format of your choice if you have enough space in your Android smartphone. As soon as you’re happy with all your selections, tap the ‘Download’ button again and the video will download in the background. You can keep using your phone like normal while the video downloads. You’ll notice the battery to drastically juice down while you’re doing this.

Alternatively, you can schedule the download later by queuing it. This will be very convenient as the download will start only when you have a stable Wi-fi connection. You’ll spare a lot of your data when you do this.

Download YouTube Videos to an iPhone

Downloading a YouTube video on an iPhone is so much different than an Android. If you’re using an iOS device – iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch – you’re going to have to follow these steps:

  1. Install Documents app from App Store
  2. Open a browser and go to YouTube
  3. Find the video you want to download
  4. Tap the ‘Copy Link’ or ‘Share’ icon of the YouTube video you want to download
  5. Open the Documents app
  6. Find the web browser icon
  7. Tap on the web browser icon (it looks like a little compass)
  8. Go to
  9. Paste the URL of the YouTube video in the input box
  10. Choose preferred video quality

The file will start to download as soon as you’ve chosen the video quality. You’ll find the file in the Document’s download folder as soon as it’s completed downloading. You can then drag the file into the ‘Photos’ app so you can watch the video without opening the Documents app.

Final Thoughts

We do not condone the illegal downloading and distribution of content. This article is intended for informational purposes to explain ways to download content, when legal.