Want to download a YouTube video? It’s easier than you think

So you want to download YouTube videos? It’s not surprising; in our increasingly mobile world, you might want to watch a new music video or viral sensation, only to find yourself thwarted by a lack of Wi-Fi or a restrictive data plan. Thankfully, if you want to store your favorite videos, it’s easier than you might think to learn how to download Youtube videos and we’re going to take you through it, whether you want to store a music video or NASA archive.

It is generally legal to share and embed YouTube videos on the internet, but downloading them for your own offline use isn’t always permitted. Downloading videos is a violation of the YouTube Terms of Service, unless YouTube has explicitly given permission to download the video in question.

VLC (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

As one of the best media players out there, it’s perhaps no surprise that VLC can also help download Youtube videos too. It’s not as straightforward as other methods, but it still allows you to bypass ad-riddled websites and other third-party software that you might otherwise seek out. The method differs slightly between operating systems, but it’s not terribly confusing.

Keep in mind that there are downsides to using VLC, however. You can’t convert the video to another format, or choose which resolution you prefer. But the software still gives you access to your videos faster than other tools, mostly because it downloads directly from Google’s servers.

Step 1: Navigate to the YouTube video you’d like to download in your browser, and copy the URL. Then, launch VLC as you would normally, and click “Media” in the menu bar, followed by “Open Network Stream”. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll want to click “File”, then “Open Network”. Once done, paste your YouTube URL in the box housed within the Network tab, and click “Open”. Your video will automatically start playing in VLC.


Step 2: If you’re using Windows, select “Tools” in the toolbar at the top and select “Codec Information” from the resulting drop-down menu. If you’re on a Mac, select “Window” and click “Media Information” in the drop-down menu.


This will bring up a screen with various information about the video, but we’re only interested in the “Location” bar at the bottom. This will showcase the exact URL for your video, directly from Google’s servers. Go ahead and copy the link and paste it in the address bar of your browser.


Step 3: The video will then play within your browser. Right-click the video, click “Save As” — or “Save Video As“, if using a Mac — and wait for the download to complete. That’s it! The video is now on your hard drive.


Clip Converter (web-based)

Clip Converter is an easy solution for all your downloading needs. The web-based utility is free, requires no additional software to run, and can quickly download videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, IMDB, Metacafe, MySpace, and many other platforms. The tool is compatible with an array of format types — from MP3 to WMV — and even includes an option for editing embedded ID3 tags. Plus, there is a dedicated browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, as well as a sleek desktop version for most popular operating systems.

Ads are relatively few and far between, no matter which platform you’re using, making it one the least invasive and streamlined tools of any converter out there.

Step 1: Navigate to the main Clip Converter website and enter the appropriate URL for the video you wish to download in the text field near the top of the page. Then, select your desired video format — MP4, 3GP, AVI, or MOV. In most cases, go with either MP4 or AVI, which are nearly universal file formats that will likely be compatible with your devices.

Step 2: Check the various conversion options once the expanded settings panel appears. By default, the conversion will span the entire duration of the video, but you can always click the check box directly left of “Start of Video” or “End of video” to manually enter start and stop times. Afterward, click the gray “Continue” button beside the URL box.

Step 3: Check the bubble directly left of your desired output resolution from the list below the URL box, and name your video file in the text box below. Keep in mind that many YouTube videos offer 1080p resolution, as well as lower-res options for those looking to save space. We suggest selecting the highest resolution available unless you’re truly limited on space. Once done, click the gray “Start” button at the bottom of the page to begin the conversion process.

Step 4: Wait until your conversion is complete — this can take a few minutes — and then click the gray “Download” button. That’s it! Now you can watch the video on your desktop, or upload it to your mobile device as you would normally.

4K Video Downloader (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)

If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a dedicated piece of software for specific functions, there is a tool for downloading Youtube videos too. Although there are a number of alternatives out there, our favorite is the 4K Video Downloader. If you don’t have a 4K display, don’t be put off by the name, this is one of the most versatile download tools out there.

The free version of this software has the ability to download individual videos at customizable qualities all the way up to 4K, has support for 3D and 360-degree videos, can download subtitles and is even able to do so via embedded links. Although there is a paid for version with a price tag of $20, that only enhances existing offerings rather than hiding the best ones behind a paywall. For your money, you can download larger playlists and use the subscription system to have it automatically download videos for you as and when they are uploaded.

Step 1: Download the 4K Video Downloader from the official site and after installing, open it.

Step 2: Navigate in a browser to your chosen Youtube video and copy the URL from the address bar. In the 4K Video Downloader window, press the “Paste Link” button in the top left-hand corner.

Step 3: Once it has finished parsing the video, you will be given a number of options for video quality, format and conversions. You can also adjust the download location of the video.

Note: The video the software grabs will be based on your IP address, not the URL you input, so VPN users, you may need to change location to download the right version.

Step 4: Click the download button. You’ll then be shown a progress page that details download size, download speed and estimated time remaining. You can pause and cancel the download at any time.

Once you have the hang of it, the 4K Video Downloader can be configured to download videos automatically, or with a single click using the “Subscriptions” and “Smart Mode” respectively.

Don’t want to use 4K Video Downloader to convert your videos? There are a number of free alternatives.

Updated 09/08/2017 to replace Any Video Converter with 4K Video Downloader.

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