YouTube is the largest video sharing platform on the internet, with over 2 billion monthly active users. At some point, you’ll likely want to download a YouTube video to watch offline or save it permanently. However, YouTube makes it difficult to download videos directly from the platform.
Thankfully, there are easy workarounds that allow you to download YouTube videos on any device. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the best methods, tips and tools to download YouTube videos on a computer, smartphone, tablet, game console or smart TV.
An Overview of YouTube Video Downloading
Before we dive into the step-by-step instructions, let’s review some key information on downloading YouTube videos:
- Why Download YouTube Videos? Top reasons include watching offline, archiving favorite videos, converting to other formats, fair use purposes such as commentary and education.
- Is It Legal? Downloading videos you own or have rights to use is perfectly legal. However, downloading others’ videos without permission for certain uses may infringe copyright.
- YouTube’s Stance: YouTube actively discourages downloading to curb piracy, and doesn’t offer a direct download option. However, it doesn’t explicitly prohibit downloading.
- Video Quality: YouTube offers videos in different quality formats, from 144p to 4K UHD. The download method determines the available formats.
- Subtitles and Metadata: Most download methods preserve subtitles and metadata like descriptions and tags. Closed captions require an extra step to burn in.
Now let’s look at the best practices for downloading YouTube videos on all your devices.
Downloading YouTube Videos on a Computer
Computers offer the most options for downloading YouTube videos quickly and in high quality formats. Here are the top methods for PC and Mac:
Using a Web Browser Extension
Browser extensions or add-ons allow one-click downloads from YouTube. Here are the best options:
- VideoDownloadHelper – Works on Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge. Offers all quality formats and subtitles. Easy interface.
- 4K Video Downloader – For Chrome, Firefox. Downloads up to 8K videos. Also available as standalone software.
- Ninja Download Manager – Chrome extension with browser integration. Fast downloads.
To use a browser extension:
- Install from the Chrome Web Store or Firefox Add-ons site.
- Restart the browser.
- Go to YouTube and click the extension’s button near the address bar when viewing a video.
- Select download format and quality.
- The video will download to your default Downloads folder.
- Simple one-click downloads in browser.
- No signup required.
- formulas Offer highest quality formats.
- Retains subtitles.
- Requires browser extension install.
- Browser must be open during download.
Using a YouTube Downloader Website
Dedicated YouTube download sites convert and deliver videos in the format you choose. Top options:
- SaveFrom.net – Allows downloading videos and audio in any available quality. No software needed.
- OnlineVideoConverter – Downloads in MP4 up to 720p and MP3 audio. Includes video editing tools.
- aConvert – Downloads up to 8K resolution. Supports 500+ file formats.
To use an online YouTube downloader:
- Go to the site and paste the YouTube video link.
- Select the download format/quality, such as MP4 720p.
- Click the download button and save the file when prompted.
- No software install required.
- Often faster than extensions.
- Wide format support.
- Must upload each video link manually.
- Some sites have file size limits.
- Potential quality loss from compression.
Using Desktop Software
Dedicated downloader apps provide robust options for saving YouTube videos. Top picks:
- 4K Video Downloader – Downloads any YouTube video in original quality. Saves playlists, channels and subtitles.
- TubeGet – Lightweight program with options for HD, MP3 and different formats.
- WinX YouTube Downloader – Downloads 4K videos. Fast and free for personal use.
- Freemake YouTube to MP3 – Leading option for extracting and downloading just the audio.
To download with desktop software:
- Install the software and launch the app.
- Copy and paste the YouTube video link.
- Select quality, format and other options.
- Click download. Video will save to your computer.
- Downloads in original quality.
- Fast download speeds.
- Feature-rich options to customize.
- Requires software install.
- Potential adware from some free programs.
- Desktop only (no mobile app).
Using a Programming Library
Developers can integrate YouTube downloading into apps using libraries like youtube-dl. It’s used by many downloader tools behind the scenes.
Advanced users can also run youtube-dl from the command line to batch download videos. But it requires programming knowledge.
- Original quality downloads.
- Customization options for coders.
- Technical setup for command line use.
- Coding needed to integrate into apps.
Using a YouTube to MP3 Converter
To save just the audio from a YouTube video, use a dedicated MP3 converter:
- YTMP3 – Leading YouTube to MP3 site with 320kbps download.
- Free YouTube To MP3 Converter – Simple online converter with 128/256/320kbps options.
- Convert2MP3 – Popular downloader supporting over 1000 sites. No limit on conversion length.
To convert YouTube to MP3:
- Go to the site and input the YouTube link.
- Click the convert/download button.
- Save the outputted MP3 audio file.
- Strips audio for listening offline.
- Usually fast conversion speed.
- No length limits.
- Lower audio quality than original video.
- No option for keeping video.
Burning Closed Captions/Subtitles
Most methods retain soft subtitles you can enable, but not closed captions burned into the video. To burn captions:
- Subtitle Tools – Free online tool to burn subtitles into a downloaded YouTube video.
- Movavi Video Editor – Desktop editor allows burning subtitles into videos. 30 day free trial.
- Aegisub – Free open source subtitle editing software with subtitle burn-in.
Simply download the video with subtitles, then use one of the tools to burn them into the video permanently.
- Makes captions readable on any device.
- Allows translating captions to other languages.
- Extra software and steps required.
- Only certain tools support burning captions.
Downloading YouTube Videos on iPhone and iPad
The iOS YouTube app doesn’t allow saving videos. But third-party apps provide download capabilities:
- Documents by Readdle – Free app with built-in downloader supporting many sites.
- Downloads Folder – File Manager – Manage, share and play downloads. YouTube addon available.
- DG Downloader – Transfer videos to Camera Roll. Extracts MP3 audio.
To download YouTube videos on iPhone/iPad:
- Install a download manager app from the App Store.
- Copy the YouTube link and paste it into the app’s search bar.
- Select download quality and format.
- The video will save to your device storage.
- Works directly within iPhone and iPad apps.
- Saves videos for offline viewing.
- Better quality than browser downloads.
- Requires a separate app install.
- iOS app selection less robust than desktop.
- Requires more steps than a one-click browser extension.
Using Shortcuts App
Apple’s Shortcuts app allows creating workflows with download capabilities:
- YouTube-DL Shortcut – Simple shortcut to download YouTube via link with quality picks.
- Save YouTube Videos – Enter URL or search keywords to download.
- Download shortcut from the gallery into the Shortcuts app.
- Launch it from the shortcuts list.
- Input YouTube URL or keywords.
- Tap to download.
- Native iOS integration through Shortcuts.
- Expertly pre-made download shortcuts.
- Shortcuts app required.
- More limited than full downloader apps.
- Requires manual input of each video.
Downloading YouTube Videos on Android
Android’s YouTube app also lacks downloading. But Android offers plenty of downloader apps:
- SnapTube – Popular downloader supporting YouTube and 1000+ sites. Multiple formats.
- TubeMate – Longtime favorite for downloading videos in original quality.
- Videoder – Clean interface and fast performance. No ads or bloatware.
To download YouTube videos on Android:
- Install app from the Google Play store.
- Copy and paste video link into the app.
- Select desired format and quality to download.
- Purpose-built for quick and easy Android downloads.
- Support all YouTube formats.
- Simple share menu integration.
- Requires separate downloader app install.
- Apps sometimes contain ads.
- Less functionality than PC solutions.
Downloading YouTube Videos on Smart TVs
Smart TVs take a bit more creativity to download YouTube videos directly:
- Screen Mirroring – Mirror mobile device’s display to download in a YouTube app, then cast video to the big screen.
- Internal Browser Downloading – Use web downloader sites in the TV’s built-in browser. Download to USB stick.
- External Media Device – Use a media streaming stick or HDMI-connected laptop to download and display YouTube video.
While smart TVs themselves can’t download, these methods leverage other devices to get YouTube videos onto the big screen for offline viewing.
- Allows watching saved videos on television.
- Avoids slower smart TV apps and browsers.
- Full quality playback on home theater.
- Requires additional gadgets.
- More complex than one-click solutions.
- Not direct downloads to the smart TV itself.
Downloading YouTube Videos on Game Consoles
Modern game consoles also offer possibilities for downloading YouTube videos:
- PlayStation 4 – Use the built-in web browser to access YouTube downloader sites. Save videos to a USB drive.
- Nintendo Switch – Insert Micro SD card and use downloader site in the hidden browser.
- Xbox One – Open Edge browser to downloader site. Save to external HDD or USB.
While not the most obvious devices for downloading YouTube videos, consoles can in a pinch serve as capable tools.
- Allows saving videos to enjoy on the big screen.
- Avoids slow streaming on game console.
- Easy to move videos from USB/HDD storage to apps.
- Console web browsers can be slow.
- Requires USB/external drive.
- Xbox One lacks built-in browser.
Top YouTube Video Download Tips
Follow these tips for the best experience downloading YouTube videos on any device:
- Always use trusted downloader tools and sites to avoid malware.
- Download the highest quality format available and your device supports.
- For mobile downloads, use Wi-Fi and charge your device to prevent data overages or battery drain.
- On iPhones and iPads, save downloaded videos to Files instead of Photos to retain full quality and metadata.
- Before downloading an entire playlist or channel, check the video count to avoid going over device storage limits.
- Test downloading a few videos first before committing to larger batches.
- Make sure you have rights to reuse each video, or limit usage to personal offline viewing.
- When converting YouTube to MP3, 128kbps provides minimal file size while still being decent quality.
Frequently Asked Questions About Downloading YouTube Videos
Let’s review some common questions about the best practices, risks and legality of downloading YouTube videos:
What is the easiest way to download YouTube videos?
The easiest option is using a browser extension in Chrome or Firefox that adds a download button to YouTube. Just click to download any video in your original quality format of choice.
Do you need YouTube Premium to download videos?
No, downloading YouTube videos works the same whether you have a free or paid YouTube account. Premium provides ad-free and offline viewing options, but does not enable downloading.
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What are the risks of downloading YouTube videos?
The main risks are malware from unsafe downloader tools, copyright infringement from reusing others’ content without permission, and mobile data overage fees if downloading large videos without Wi-Fi. As long as you exercise caution, downloading reasonable amounts of videos for personal use has very low risk.
Is it illegal to download YouTube videos?
Downloading generally does not violate any laws as long as it’s for your personal use to watch offline and not redistribute. However, downloading others’ videos without permission for certain commercial purposes can infringe copyright. It’s safest to own the rights or get permission first.
How do I download age restricted videos on YouTube?
Most downloader tools require logging into YouTube, so your account age and settings determine availability. If you can view the video on YouTube itself, downloader apps will also be able to save it as long as you stay logged in.
Can you convert and download YouTube videos as MP3?
Yes, specialized YouTube to MP3 converters allow saving just the audio track in MP3 format. Quality varies from 128kbps to 320kbps. Take care to only download videos you have rights to use the audio from.
What video format do most YouTube downloader tools use?
The most common download format is MP4, which provides the best quality and compatibility across devices. Other options like WebM, MKV, and MOV are also available from some downloader tools.
With the variety of downloading methods and tools covered in this guide, you should have no problem saving YouTube videos on any device – from desktops to smartphones, tablets, game consoles and smart TVs.
The key is using trusted solutions, exercising caution with others’ content, choosing the highest quality formats available, and following best practices for a smooth downloading experience.
Whether you want to build a playlist of music videos, preserve favorite clips, watch tutorials offline or archive a channel, being able to save YouTube videos opens up many possibilities.
Just remember to use downloads judiciously. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Enjoy your newfound freedom to download YouTube videos!