We all love watching videos on YouTube, but sometimes we want to watch our favorite content offline or keep it for later, which means downloading the video to our device. YouTube doesn't normally permit this, but there's always a way. In this article, we show you how to download a video from YouTube to your smartphone or PC.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. Generally speaking, Google does not want you downloading YouTube videos, because it (and YouTubers) make money from the advertising shown when you view the videos online. Google's terms of service for YouTube lay it out like this: "You shall not download any Content unless you see a 'download' or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content."
Consider yourselves warned. With that in mind, when it comes to technology, there's always a way to get what you want. Without any judgement, here's how to download videos from YouTube.
The good news, is there's a legit way to download videos from YouTube. The bad news, of course, is that you have to pay for it. For $11.99 a month ($17.99 for a 6-person family account), a YouTube Premium subscription allows downloads and background play as well as basically giving you an ad-free YouTube.
How to download YouTube videos on YouTube Premium
- Look for the 'download' button, next to the share button under the video.
- Hit it and the download should start.
- The button should turn blue to show you are downloading.
- You can also view the progress of your downloads by hitting 'view'.
- Once complete, the downloaded video is available to play for 30 days.
In addition to downloads and extra features, Premium subscribers also get access to YouTube Original content. If you're not sure whether Premium is right for you, you can still get a month's free trial when you sign up.
There are a few different programs you can use to download YouTube videos (and videos from other sites) to your PC to store or convert them. Take care, however as there are many dodgy programs out there. One reliable service that we tried is a tiny program called ClipGrab. It’s a free YouTube video downloader and converter, and it takes up very little space. It also works for other video hosting sites like Vimeo and DailyMotion.
Downloading YouTube videos with ClipGrab:
- Download the ClipGrab program to your PC.
- Launch the .exe file, and follow the Setup Wizard instructions
- Once installed, open the program, and simply type in your YouTube search terms. I’ve used our video on ''how to conserve battery life on your smartphone'' video as an example. Or, if you already have the URL of the video you want, just click the ''Downloads'' tab and enter the URL.
- Choose the download options you want, from the format you wish to save the video in, to the quality of the download.
- Click ''Grab this clip''
- Select a download location and name the video. ClipGrab will download and convert the video. That’s it!
Using 4K Video Downloader
4K Video Downloader (and companion app 4K YouTube to MP3) is another program we tried that works well, without any malware traps. It does what it says on the tin: grabs videos up to 4K in quality and downloads to plenty of formats—it will even grab subtitles and entire playlists, even all the videos in a particular channel.
Once it's installed, you can use the following steps to download videos from YouTube or other sites:
- Copy the video link from the browser.
- Press 'Paste Url' button in 4K Video Downloader application.
- Select a quality type in the download window and press 'Download' button.
- After the download is completed, you may play the downloaded video.
Recommended by our community member ameliaj, VidPaw has similar features to the above-mentioned services but gets points for a nice clean user interface. VidPaw works well, and not just with YouTube, but also with more than 1000 more video sites. It offers the ability to download videos as .mp3 if you just want the audio, and promises that an Android app is forthcoming.
- A neat trick: add "paw" to the end of "youtube" in a URL ("www.youtubepaw.com/blablahblah") to instantly get VidPaw running with that video.
Bear in mind that YouTube Premium works just as well on your smartphone using the YouTube app, so consider paying for it before resorting to the following unofficial methods.
This is only a sort-of unofficial method, since this uses an app straight from Google. YouTube Go is a lighter version of YouTube intended for developing countries where Wi-Fi is scarce and mobile data very precious. As such, it features a download button for videos so that users can grab a video to watch when they don't have an Internet connection. If you live in India, you can simply download YouTube Go from the Play Store.
But what if you live in a more privileged country and still want YouTube Go? You can check its features and where to get it here.
Alternative YouTube apps
One way to get the ability to download YouTube videos on Android is to use an alternative YouTube app. Naturally, Google will not think very highly of you for doing so, and you won't find such apps on the Play Store. But apps like NewPipe and OGYouTube give you a "download" button and also support background play, features that you'd normally need to to pay for Premium to enjoy.
Some readers have chimed in to recommend TubeMate in the comments section. TubeMate works well, and is clearly geared towards downloads, with a big red download button popping up on the videos you browse. However, the app isn't open source, shows ads and asks for personal information (such as your location and access to your calls) that it could share with third parties. Even if some users swear by TubeMate, I'd still recommend a non-commercial open source app like NewPipe over it.
Have you used these methods on how to download videos from YouTube? Do you have any other apps or tips to share?