YouTube Video Downloads Made Simple – A Beginner’s Guide

YouTube is the king of online video hosting and streaming. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it’s no surprise that downloading YouTube videos is hugely popular. But with so many download options and methods available, it can get confusing for beginners.

This comprehensive guide breaks down everything you need to know about downloading YouTube videos in 2022. We’ll cover the basics, walk through step-by-step tutorials, compare the best downloader tools, look at mobile options, and address frequently asked questions. Read on to boost your YouTube download IQ!

An Introduction to Downloading YouTube Videos

Before we dive in, let’s quickly go over the basics:

  • Why download YouTube videos? The main reasons are to watch offline, save permanently, convert to other formats, edit & remix, or upload to other platforms.
  • Is it legal? Downloading videos for personal use is generally allowed under YouTube’s terms of service. However, redistributing or commercially exploiting downloads without permission is copyright infringement.
  • Will it affect quality? Most methods will download an exact copy of the original, so quality is unaffected. Converting to other formats can potentially reduce quality however.
  • What are the main methods? The main ways to download are using online converter tools, browser extensions, desktop software, mobile apps, or YouTube Premium. We’ll cover these in detail shortly.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get stuck into the good stuff!

Downloading with Online YouTube Converters

The quickest and easiest way to download YouTube videos is using an online converting tool. Here’s how they work:

Step 1) Go to the website of the online converter tool

Step 2) Paste the URL of the YouTube video you want to download into the box

Step 3) Select your preferred download format – MP4 for video or MP3 for audio

Step 4) Click the “Convert” or “Download” button to start the process

Step 5) When finished, your converted file will begin downloading automatically

Online converters make downloading YouTube videos a breeze. However, here are some disadvantages to be aware of:

  • Slow speeds – Website servers limit download speeds, especially for long or high-quality videos.
  • Limited formats – Often only offer MP4 and MP3, not other file types.
  • Malware risks – Shady sites can infect your computer with viruses and malware.
  • Questionable legality – Many flout YouTube’s terms by allowing downloads of copyrighted material.

With the negatives in mind, here are 3 of the best and most trusted online YouTube converters:


  • Pros – Simple interface, high-quality files, supports 4K.
  • Cons – Daily conversion limits, occasional site errors.

Overall the best balanced converter site with no major downsides. Ideal for quick everyday downloads.


  • Pros – No file size limits, supports 8K downloads.
  • Cons – Contains some ads, has download delays.

Great choice for large high-res videos thanks to unlimited file sizes.

3. OnlineConvertFree

  • Pros – No account required, supports many formats.
  • Cons – Light download restrictions, busy interface.

Converts to less common formats like MKV, AVI, MOV, FLV making it more flexible.

Those are 3 of the best online YouTube converter tools overall. Avoid anything that looks scammy or spammy.

Downloading with Browser Extensions

Browser extensions provide another handy way to download YouTube videos.

Extensions are add-ons you install to your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge etc). They then allow downloading videos with the click of a button from YouTube or any site.

Here are the steps to use a browser extension downloader:

Step 1) Install the extension to your browser from the official store.

Step 2) Restart your browser to activate the extension.

Step 3) Open the YouTube video page you want to download.

Step 4) Click the extension’s icon in your toolbar and select download.

Step 5) Choose a download format if prompted. Wait for the video file to download.

Step 6) The extension will typically notify you when downloads complete.

Browser extenders make downloading videos quick and painless. Benefits include:

  • Speed – Leverage your browser for potentially faster downloads.
  • Formats – Access to MP3, MP4, MKV, AVI formats.
  • Subtitles – Ability to download subtitles and captions.
  • Anonymity – Increased privacy compared to online converters.

With that said, here are 3 top options:

1. Video DownloadHelper

  • Pros – Recognizes many sites, easy drag & drop downloading.
  • Cons – Busy interface, ad-heavy free version.

A popular extension supporting major browsers. Can detect videos automatically across many sites.

2. FastestTube

  • Pros – Minimalist, supports 4K, queues downloads.
  • Cons – Firefox only currently.

A slick modern looking downloader made specifically for Firefox. Also features batch downloading

3. Ninja Download Manager

  • Pros – Clean simple interface, queues downloads.
  • Cons – Chrome only.

Does one thing (YouTube downloads) and does it well. Queuing makes grabbing multiple videos easy.

For convenience, extensions are hard to pass up. But shop around to find one matching your browser and needs.

Downloading with Desktop Software

Dedicated desktop software is the most full-featured option for downloading YouTube videos. Desktop downloaders come with the following pros:

  • Speed – Leverage your PC’s power for ultra fast downloading.
  • Formats – Access to every file format including HD and 4K.
  • Features – Advanced tools like playlists, subtitles, metadata etc.
  • Library – Media library to organize and manage your downloaded videos.
  • Support – Actively developed and supported.

There are both free and paid desktop YouTube downloaders available. Let’s compare some of the best options:

| Software | Price | Platform | Key Features |
| 4K Video Downloader | Free / $15 | Windows, Mac, Linux | 4K, playlists, subtitles |
| WinX YouTube Downloader | Free / $29.95 | Windows | WebM format, hardware acceleration |
| Freemake Video Downloader | Free | Windows | No viruses, simple interface |
| iTubeGo YouTube Downloader | $29.95 | Windows, Mac | Built-in converter, AirPlay support |

As you can see, 4K Video Downloader is hard to beat with cross-platform support and a stacked free version. But there are other great paid and free choices too for Windows and Mac.

For the very best desktop YouTube downloading experience, dedicated software is worth considering.

Downloading YouTube Videos on Mobile

Mobile is a major way most users access YouTube these days. Thankfully, downloading YouTube videos on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or tablet is easy.

Here are your main options:

YouTube App – The official YouTube app allows Premium subscribers to download videos using the Save Offline feature. This gives you native downloading at max quality.

Third-party apps – Apps like Video Downloader for YouTube offer basic downloading features plus converted formats like MP3. However, quality and reliability vary.

Mobile browsers – You can use browser extensions like Video DownloadHelper on mobile Firefox and Chrome browsers. But support and convenience isn’t as good as desktop.

Shortcut using converters – An alternative is to text yourself video links then visit a converter site on your mobile browser. A bit tedious but gets the job done.

Overall, getting the official YouTube app and a Premium subscription is advisable for the best mobile experience. But the other workarounds give you plenty of downloading options as well on iPhone or Android.

6 Key YouTube Video Download Tips

Follow these handy tips for a better downloading experience:

1. Use the best quality source – Download from the original source at the highest quality possible for optimal results. Avoid reuploads.

2. Download during off-peak hours – For very large or long videos, download at night or when internet usage is lower for quicker speeds.

3. Convert wisely – Be thoughtful with conversions to avoid quality loss. Convert only if you need a specific file format.

4. Rename files meaningfully – Rename downloaded files so they are easy to find and organize later. Include the video title at minimum.

5. Check audio sync – Ensure audio remains properly synced when converting to formats like MP3. If not, tweak encoder settings.

6. Use antivirus – Scan downloads if concerned about malware, especially from shady websites. Stick to reputable sources.

YouTube Video Downloader Comparison Tables

Here are some cheat sheet tables summarizing the key Pros, Cons and Features of the top methods and tools:

Online Converter Comparison

| Site | Pros | Cons | Features |
|| Simple, quality files| Limits, errors| MP3, MP4, 4K |
|OnlineVideoConverter| No limits, 8K| Ads, delays |Unlimited sizes|
|OnlineConvertFree| No account, formats| Limits, busy |MKV, AVI, MOV|

Browser Extension Comparison

| Extension | Pros | Cons | Features |
|Video DownloadHelper|Multi-site, easy| Cluttered, ads|Formats, subtitles|
|FastestTube|Minimal, 4K |Firefox only|Simple controls|
|Ninja Download Manager| Clean, queues |Chrome only|Straightforward|

Desktop Software Comparison

| Software | Price | Platform | Key Features |
|4K Video Downloader|Free / $15|Windows, Mac, Linux|4K, playlists, subtitles|
|WinX YouTube Downloader|Free / $29.95|Windows|WebM, hardware acceleration|
|Freemake|Free|Windows|Simple, no viruses|
|iTubeGo YouTube Downloader|$29.95|Windows, Mac|Built-in converter, AirPlay|

Mobile App Comparison

| App | Platform | Price | Pros | Cons |
|YouTube|iOS, Android|Free w/ads
Paid Premium|Official app, max quality|Need Premium for downloads|
|Video Downloader for YouTube|iOS, Android|Free w/ads
Paid Premium|Downloads w/o Premium|Varies in quality|
|Firefox w/extension|iOS, Android|Free|Use desktop-grade extensions|Not very mobile friendly|

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Hopefully these condensed tables help provide an at-a-glance summary.

The Best YouTube Video Downloader Is…

Based on our extensive analysis, here are my top picks for the best YouTube video downloader by category:

  • Best Online Converter: – Simple, quality downloads.
  • Best Browser Extension: Video DownloadHelper – Feature-packed and easy to use.
  • Best Desktop Software: 4K Video Downloader – Ticks every box.
  • Best Mobile App: YouTube w/Premium – Seamless saving offline.
  • Best Overall: 4K Video Downloader – Combining speed, format support, and usability.

But in reality, you can’t go wrong with any of the credible tools covered in this guide. Pick the one that best matches your setup, needs and budget.

Now let’s move onto addressing some common questions people have around YouTube video downloading.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Getting downloads working can involve some trial and error. Here are helpful answers to the most frequently asked questions:

1. Why does my download get stuck?

Answer: Stalled or frozen downloads usually come down to 2 potential issues – internet connectivity problems, or the downloader tool getting overloaded. Try restarting the download or tool. Or use a simpler tool that puts less strain on your internet and device.

2. How do I download age restricted YouTube videos?

Answer: Age restricted videos require verifying your age through a Google account or credit card. The easiest way is using a downloader like 4K Video Downloader that can login and verify on your behalf to download age restricted videos.

3. Can I download region blocked YouTube videos?

Answer: Yes, by using a proxy service or VPN to change your virtual location, you can evade regional blocks and download region locked videos not available in your country.

4. How do I download a YouTube playlist?

Answer: Desktop software like 4K Video Downloader make downloading full YouTube playlists easy. Simply paste the playlist URL. Browser extensions can also download playlists but the process is more tedious.

5. Why does my YouTube video have no audio after downloading?

Answer: This is typically caused by selecting the incorrect download format. Make sure to choose “MP4” not “MP3” if you want both audio and video. Re-download using the right format settings.

6. How can I download private or deleted YouTube videos?

Answer: By default this isn’t possible. However, there are special sites that archive deleted YouTube videos you may be able to recover with the video’s URL. But downloading private videos is more difficult.

Hopefully these tips help troubleshoot any issues you may encounter. For further questions, check your downloader’s help docs or contact their support team.

And that wraps up this epic step-by-step walkthrough on downloading YouTube videos!

You now have all the knowledge needed to start grabbing videos like a pro with the tool of your choice. Enjoy exploring everything YouTube downloading has to offer! Let us know if you have any other questions.

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