As the second most visited site on the Internet – after Google itself – YouTube has around 23 billion visitors per month. Most watch videos on the website or through one of the many YouTube apps.
However, sometimes you want to download a video. Maybe you want to watch it offline, or maybe you want to save a useful video in case it ever shuts down. Whatever your reason, we’ll explain a few different ways you can do this. It’s possible – and easy – to download videos on a Windows laptop or PC and on Android phones. It’s not that easy on an iPhone unless you pay for YouTube Premium, but it’s possible if you’re determined.
Remember that watching videos on the YouTube app (or website) and not skipping the ads is the best way to support your favorite channels.
There are two official ways to download videos from YouTube. First, there’s the YouTube Go app, which is available in countries where mobile data is too expensive to stream.
Then there’s YouTube Premium, a paid service that allows users in other countries – including the UK and US – to download YouTube content within the app. There are other benefits of Premium as well, such as: B. No ads and the ability to listen to music in the background so you can use other apps on your phone.
YouTube Premium doesn’t come cheap at £11.99/$11.99 a month, and if you only want to download a clip occasionally, it’s probably too much to justify paying.
The good news is that it is easy to download YouTube videos using unofficial methods. First, we recommend reading our guide on whether downloading YouTube videos is legal.
Download videos with YouTube Premium
If you are a YouTube Premium subscriber, downloading videos is easy. There’s one big caveat though: you can only do this with the official YouTube or YouTube Gaming apps, which means you can’t use Premium to download videos to your computer – only to a phone or tablet.
To download, just open the app and go to the video you want to download. Below the player, you should see a “Download” icon – tap it, select the video quality you want to download, and you’re done.
Once the video has downloaded, the icon at the bottom will change to a blue tick – tap it if you want to remove the download. You can find all your downloaded videos under “Library” or “Account” tab.
Download YouTube videos in Windows
As with websites, there are many options for downloading with a desktop app. Not all are free, but some are. A paid program that we can recommend is ByClick Downloader. It has a user-friendly interface, is regularly updated, and makes it extremely easy to download videos – or just audio – from YouTube.
All you have to do is copy a video’s URL and a pop-up window will ask if you want to download the audio or video. Or you can set a default and it won’t even ask for it: it will automatically download MP3 or MP4 in the default quality.
It costs $9.99 (about £7.40) and you can try it for free for 24 hours without entering any payment details.
There are many alternatives, but none that we found to be as good.
These include iTubeGo, which offers a simple interface but can download playlists and 4K videos. However, it is more expensive at $29.95.
If you want a free option, try WinX YouTube Downloader. This will push you to upgrade to the full version, which includes conversion to other formats (including MP3), but if you can take it, it won’t cost you anything.
The process is pretty much identical to using a website: you copy the video’s URL and paste it into the app. Then select any options, e.g. B. the resolution you want to download, and then click the Download button. Most apps allow you to create a list of videos and then download them all at once. Some even let you insert a YouTube playlist and automatically download all the videos.
Download YouTube videos in a web browser
If you want to save videos without installing any app, there are many websites where you can paste the YouTube video URL and then click the resolution you want to download. These sites are often shut down because they are regularly bombarded with cease and desist letters from copyright owners.
Also, these websites tend to redirect you to other websites that may or may not be safe and could pose a risk to your computer. For this reason, firstly, it is important to use quality antivirus software and secondly, we no longer recommend this method of downloading.
Previous websites that we have used for years such as B. SaveFrom no longer work in the UK or US, and even if you can find a “safe” site to download videos from, there are usually restrictions.
Typically, you are limited to downloading a lower quality 720p version even if the video is in 1080p or 4K. And not all just download the audio (e.g. from a music video).
Sometimes you will find videos are downloaded in WebM format. You can convert these videos to MP4 or any format with Freemake and Any Video Converter, or you can download and install VLC, a free video player that can play almost any file.
How to download YouTube playlists
Sometimes you have to pay for software if you want to have a simple life. Again, we recommend ByClick Downloader.
If the video is part of a playlist, you can click the “Download Playlist” button and you will get a pop-up window like the one shown below, where you can select the videos you want from the playlist. After that, a single click on the download button is enough.
You get a free trial for one day to see if you like the program, but after that you have to pay $9.99.
How do I download music from YouTube?
Sometimes you might just want to download the audio from a video on YouTube. The easiest way to do this is to use one of the methods above and select MP3 (or whatever audio format it offers). This way, you only download the audio track without the video footage. This is ideal if you just want to download some music or audio from a YouTube podcast and don’t need to keep YouTube open and running on your phone while you listen.
It is possible to listen to YouTube in the background with this workaround for iPhones and a separate solution for Android phones.
If you don’t mind paying, you can also download music as part of YouTube Music Premium, which costs £9.99/$9.99 per month. You can use it to download songs and even music videos, but you’re limited to music – you can’t download other videos like you can with a YouTube Premium subscription.
Download YouTube videos to a phone or tablet
There’s the official YouTube Premium service that we mentioned earlier, but there are other apps that allow you to download videos directly to your Android phone (also free), but it’s more difficult on the iPhone. We have written separate guides for both device types:
However, don’t forget that you can also use the above methods to download videos to your laptop and then transfer them to your phone or tablet or upload them to a cloud storage service where you can then access the videos on any device.
To copy files from Windows to an Android phone, connect the two with a USB cable and use Windows File Explorer to copy the video file(s) to the appropriate folder, usually called Movies. Then you can play the video with Gallery app or any other video player on your phone.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, import the file into iTunes and then sync it to your iOS device. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file(s) to your iPhone or iPad via the Apps tab when you click on your device in iTunes. All you need is an app like Good Reader or any other video playback app that can transfer files using this method.
If you don’t want to use iTunes and are happy to pay, Waltr 2 is an excellent little utility for copying videos, music, and other files to your iOS device for viewing in the native apps. Learn more from our guide on how to transfer videos to iPad and iPhone.
Finally, you can download any online video here – not just YouTube, although almost all the apps and services mentioned here also download videos from other streaming services and social media platforms like Facebook and DailyMotion.