download YouTube videos YouTube videos are designed to stream, not to sit on your hard disk, phone or solid state drive. But sometimes there are very good reasons why you might want to save videos for watching offline. You might live in the sticks, where reliable broadband is as rare as reliable buses. You might commute through areas where people still point at aeroplanes, never mind let mobile data masts anywhere near them. Or you might be reliant on data connections so congested they resemble a freeway designed by the devil himself.
Or you might just want to save a clip for posterity because you suspect it’s about to be deleted.
Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways to download YouTube videos for free on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. In this feature we’ll share our favorites and explore what’s legal and what isn’t.
To the tubes!
Method 1 Download YouTube videos using a web browser
There are three main ways to download YouTube videos to your PC or laptop: you can use a browser plug-in, paste the URL of a video into a site that offers to download YouTube videos, or you can type vd, dl or dlv in front of YouTube in the address bar when you’re on a page with the video you want to download (eg. www.vdyoutube.com…), then press Enter.
In the following walkthrough we’ll use KeepVid, but Freemake Video Converter and Freemake Video Downloader are also good alternative options if you want a piece of software which can also convert the downloaded videos into other formats (see below for yet another option: YouTubebyClick).
1. Head to www.youtube.com and find a video you want to download. Copy the URL from your browser’s address bar. Clicking in the address bar is usually enough to highlight it, but clicking three times should also do the job. Press Ctrl-C to copy the highlighted address.
2. Head to keepvid.com and click in the box to the left of the Download button. Press Ctrl-V to paste your copied URL and click Download. You’ll see the available versions of the video appear below. Ignore the big ‘download’ buttons – these are adverts.
3. From the list, choose the format you want. We recommend MP4 for the best compatibility, and go for the highest quality – in this case it’s 720p. Simply click the link to start the download – ignore the flashing adverts around the page which are not download links at all.
4. Look in your ‘downloads’ folder, or click the downloaded video in your browser’s status bar (we’re using Chrome here) to watch the video. You can also copy the file to another computer or transfer it to another device .
You could alternatively use ClipConverter, a free online tool that downloads YouTube videos and converts them into the format of your choice.
Simply visit the site here, paste the full YouTube URL into the main black bar and then click once on your format of choice (e.g. MP4). Then click Continue, close any pop ups and finally click Start at the bottom of the window. The file will save in your chosen format in your PC or Mac’s Downloads folder.
METHOD 2 FOR DOWNLOAD YOUTUBE VIDEOS PC/LAPTOP
There are all kinds of PC apps with names like Super Best Windows YouTube Downloader Oh Yeah Try This One, but many of them are dodgier than dodgy Dave’s dodgy dodgems: expect unwanted software installation, misleading download links, terrifying terms and conditions and other tomfoolery.
If you’re not fussed about downloading multiple clips simultaneously, we really like Any Video Converter Free. As with other apps you simply have to provide it with the clip address, choose the quality you want and let it do its stuff. If your ambitions are a little higher, the excellent aTube Catcher offers all kinds of tools for pixel-perfect performance. It’s really quick too.
You’ll find both these apps – and lots more – in our roundup of the best free YouTube video downloaders for Windows. Or if you’d rather use a web-based tool, we really like ClipConverter.cc.
METHOD 3 TO DOWNLOAD YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Step 1: Install ClipGrab
First of all, you need to install ClipGrab . ClipGrab is a 100 % free and easy to use YouTube downloader and available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Click on the button to initiate the download.CLICK TO DOWNLOAD
Step 2: Copy the video link
After you have successfully set up ClipGrab, you can launch the program.
Now you need to copy the web address of the video that you want to download. In order to do that, mark the link to the video in the address bar of your browser and hit Ctrl+C (or Cmd+C if you are on a Mac).
Step 3: Insert the video link in ClipGrab
After copying the link, switch to the ClipGrab window. In the “Downloads” tab, insert the copied link into the input field. You can do this by hitting Ctl+V (or Cmd+V if you are on a Mac).
ClipGrab will now gather all necessary information about the video and you can proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Select download format and quality
Before you start the download, you can now decide in which quality and which output format you want to save the video.
Just select the desired format from the “Format” select box and do the same for the video quality with the “Quality” select box.
Step 5: Grab that clip!
All you have to do now is to click on the “Grab this clip!” button. You will be asked to select a file name and the download will start just after that.
Download YouTube videos with TubeMate for Android
TubeMate is one of the most popular tool for downloading YouTube videos on Android smartphones, and with good reason: it’s really easy to use and has the features you need without any bells and whistles you don’t. We like it a lot.
This app isn’t available on the Google Play Store (Google isn’t too keen on YouTube downloaders), so first of all you’ll need to allow your Android device to install and run apps downloaded from other places. Be cautious when you turn on this setting, as you’ll want to make sure you only downloaded apps you know are safe and reliable.
Download YouTube videos to an iOS device or Mac
If you’re an Apple addict the process of downloading YouTube clips is very slightly different depending on which Apple OS you’re on. If you’re using iOS on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch then you’ll need our first method, and if you’re using OS X or MacOS on a Mac you’ll need the second.
On iOS, the trick is to install a clever little app called Documents. It’s a file manager, but it also happens to be able to download YouTube clips too. The process is a little fiddly but still straightforward.