How to download YouTube videos for free

Watching videos on Youtube in free time is all well and good. But you don’t always have free time and free internet at the same time. That is why I want to show you how to download YouTube videos for free.

YouTube may be designed in a way to have audiences watch the videos online. And it makes sense. This way the video creators get can the benefit of a view, a like or a new subscription.

But all that is well and good, it still leads to the question…

(I highly recommend that you skip to the part which interests you most from the Table of Contents below. Because this article is long and full of information.)

Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

To put it bluntly, No. It is against the Terms and Conditions of YouTube. Usage of third-party apps to download videos from YouTube is against their policy which is, as mentioned before, that you are only able to stream videos directly from their servers.

Moreover, it could also open you up for potential copyright infringement cases as long as the videos are:

  1. Not in the Public domain.
  2. You do not have permission from the copyright holder
  3. You do not own the video yourself.

Just a disclaimer, we are not encouraging anyone to use any of these services but are simply listing the available options. That said…

Users can download certain videos from YouTube from the mobile app. The policy is that the videos will disappear if there is no internet access for 30 days, kind of like in Google Maps.

Additionally, Google did introduce a paid service that allows you to download YouTube videos. We’ll talk more about it later in the article.

The ethics of downloading YouTube videos for free

YouTube works on a variety of factors that will determine how much content creators can earn from their videos. One of the primary factors is the number of views.

However, your view only counts once, and so does you like, and the same goes for your subscription. What I am trying to say is that for personal use, it may be okay to download YouTube videos. As long as you have watched the entire video at least once online and maybe have given it a thumbs up and subscribed if the content is relevant to you.

If the video is worth downloading, then it certainly deserves your like and whatever support you can provide. Some content creators even have their Patreon account where you can make donations.

The ethics of it depends on what you want to use it for. If you are planning to sell a playlist by burning the content to a CD or DVD, then that’s a big no. However, if you just want the video for personal use, then you aren’t hurting anybody. Even so, the final decision is yours to make.

Before moving on to the free and morally grey options, let’s talk about the official and legal but paid option in downloading YouTube videos. I am talking about Youtube Premium. There is a problem in YouTube Premium and that makes our ethical dilemma a bit easier to solve, read on to find out.

YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium not just allows videos for offline viewing but it also lets YouTube run even if the display is off or if another app is running. It is also ad-free and comes with a YouTube Music premium app which makes listening to music a better experience on YouTube.

However, the only downside is that it is only available in select countries. And that’s the problem. You can open this link here and see for yourself if it will work for you. But if it doesn’t, it makes the decision easier.

Moving on to how to download YouTube videos for free.

How to download YouTube videos to a PC

This is where perhaps the most YouTube videos are being downloaded. Extra space is one of the reasons. There was a time when YouTube was only available on the desktop. So it makes sense that there is the most number of options available for downloading a video from YouTube.

And these options come in all shapes and sizes. From smart browser extensions, web-based services or downloadable software. We will be discussing only the best way to download a video from YouTube for PC.

1. Downloadable Software

Free downloadable software is a good solution if you are looking for a reliable tool for downloading a video from YouTube.

It will take your PC’s storage space and some of the softwares may be posing as helpful YouTube downloaded only to reveal themselves as malware after you install them. But worry not, only the best free trusted software is listed here.

4K Video Downloader

The best option to download a video from YouTube for free using a downloadable software is using a 4K Video Downloader. It is simple, packed with functionality and works like a charm. You can get it from here.

It is easily the most feature-rich free software out there to download a video from YouTube. It even has features you probably wouldn’t have even thought of. For instance, you can extract individual subtitles from video in different languages. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

But that’s not all. You can save entire playlists in various formats, including mp3 so you can just keep the audio to save space. There is even the option to save 360-degree and 3D videos and of course, 4K videos. It’s in the name.

And yes. Did I mention cross-platform support? No? My bad. It runs on Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu.

2. Online tool on a website

If you want to save those precious megabytes for the actual videos instead of the software that’s required to download them, then this is the way to go.

The convenience is there as all you got to do is bookmark a good service, (of which we are about to tell you) and you are all set. All you have to do then is to simply copy the link and paste into the website, and it will generate a downloadable link for the format selected.

All in all, it’s perfect for those on the move. If you are using someone else’s PC, then you don’t really have the option to download additional software in it. It will even work on internet cafés and public computers. In fact, we have a dedicated article which lists all the worthwhile online tools:

Best online tools to download YouTube Videos for free in 2019

KeepVid

how to download YouTube videos for free online with keepvid
They may not be entirely sure what to call their tool, but this is the one.

KeepVid is a good option for an online service that lets you download a video from YouTube. But as a bonus, it works on 1000+ video hosting websites, so it is a one-stop-shop.

It is also totally free, has no limitations and secure. We checked. You can bookmark the tool by visiting here. Like a 4K downloader, you can also download entire playlists.

They also offer desktop downloadable software. But you’re better off using the 4K video downloader if you really want a desktop app.

One drawback is that if you only want to download the audio, then you have to go to another website that is linked to this one. If you want to avoid that, there is another option, you can read about it in the Writer’s Pick.

3. Browser extension

This is for people who want the best of both worlds. Extreme convenience at low storage requirements and fast access. However, it does offer limited features when compared to the above to ways of downloading a video from YouTube.

I don’t want to confuse you with options so read on for the single best browser extension that gets the job done.

Video Downloader Professional

My first impression on this Google Chrome browser extension was that it must be paid. But spoiler alert! It isn’t. With 3,636,713 users as of writing this article, its hard to see if that many people can be wrong.

Video Downloader Professional is also available for Mozilla Firefox. You can get it here.

Once you download it from here(for Google Chrome), it shows up as a green down-facing arrow in the top right of your browser. You can choose to hide it in the menu or just keep it there for convenience.

To use it simply press that green button that will show up a downloading panel where you can select what video size and video to download.

It’s an easy way of downloading a video from YouTube. Moreover, it supports a wide variety of video hosting sites, including Vimeo, Dailymotion, Ted and of course YouTube. Another nifty feature is that you can send it over to Chromecast player.

However, it is still a browser extension. And a browser extension can offer only so much functionality. Currently, there is no way to download videos in any format other than the mp4. But, that’s not a big problem. After all, that format is the most popular when it comes to videos.


So that’s it for how to download YouTube videos to a PC. I hope you found an option that feels the best and you have made your PC capable of downloading videos from YouTube and maybe even other sites.

How to download YouTube videos on Android

How to download YouTube videos on Android

What’s the point of downloading a YouTube video for PC‘ you ask? Well, you do have a point. The PC just sort of sits there all day, all week all decade. And it is always connected to the internet.

What you really need is to learn how to download YouTube videos on Android. So you can actually kill some time on the move, without having to spend a premium on data plans. I swear these YouTube videos burn through my data plan like fire burns through gas. But we’ll fix that.

However, unlike the PC you don’t have many options here. You may be thinking there must be an app for that. And there is. But there is just one problem. It isn’t on the App Store. It kind of makes sense. Google doesn’t really want you to download YouTube videos for free, especially on mobiles.

Even so, there are two major ways you can download YouTube videos on Android.

1. App

This is the most straightforward option. You download an app specifically for the task of downloading Youtube videos for free on Android and you get it. Sure it does take up some extra space, but you do get a reliable option to get the job done. And that reliable option is…

TubeMate

This is the app I was talking about that you can’t get on the Google Playstore. However, it is totally trustworthy and free to use. You’ll need to change the settings of your Android smartphone to allow downloads from unknown sources.

You can learn how to do that from here.

Anyways, moving on to the app TubeMate itself. It is an easy to use app that will leave you questioning if this is the official YouTube app meant to just download videos.

Just like the official app, you can search for videos and after it starts playing press the red ‘Download’ button that shows up at the bottom right.

It has pretty standard features, like selecting which video quality to download. But you need to be careful here. Those high-quality videos can take up a lot of your smartphone’s space which is already at a premium.

You can get it from here. However, it will only let you download videos from YouTube. Moving on to fix that…

2. Browser

If you can think it, an app exists for it. That’s pretty much what describes the app market today.

So I had thought, what if, there was an app that not only lets you download videos from almost any video hosting service but also double as a browser so you don’t have to keep two separate apps. And guess what, it exists. From the ashes of poor apps rises the…

Phoenix Browser

You will have to face some ads when using this browser, however, the features it provides make it worth it. The easy YouTube video downloading is a plus that can make the Pheonix Browser the only browser you would ever need for Android.


And that brings us to the conclusion for how to download YouTube videos to Android. I have a feeling that you now have a good option ready to be implemented. Now you can kill that long time spent in commutes with an offline playlist.

How to download YouTube videos on iPhone and Mac

Each iPhone and Mac have different approaches to answer the question, how to download YouTube videos on iPhone and Mac. First, let’s talk about the iPhone.

iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

How to download YouTube videos on iPhone

Although, Apple has recently split its Operating Systems for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the underlying method remains the same for all of these.

Documents

I know what you’re thinking. We’re supposed to be downloading videos not documents. But that’s the name of the app and we can’t do anything about it. Although it is primarily made to organize documents.

However, it carries a nifty built-in feature that lets you download YouTube videos on iPhone / iPad or iPod touch. You can get it from here.

Since it is not specifically designed to download YouTube videos for free, it is not very obvious on how can do so. But worry not! We will be discussing how to use it.

To start with, open any video you wish to download either through the YouTube app or through the Safari browser.

How to download YouTube videos on iPhone
Image credit: Readdle Inc

As shown in the picture, navigate to the sharing options and select ‘Copy Link‘.

Afterward, open the Documents app and look for the web browser icon which at the time of writing is a little compass at the bottom right of the display.

Finally, go to savefrom.net and paste the link at the input field provided. It’s pretty big so you can’t miss it. Choose the quality you are looking for and start the download.

When the download is finished, the video will show up in Documents’ downloads section from where you can move it over to ‘Photos > Camera Roll’ so it’s available from outside the Documents app as well.

So you’re essentially using a web service combined with a third-party app to get the video. Granted, it is not the most straight forward way, but it’s still the best way we have for downloading YouTube videos for free on iPhone / iPad and iPod Touch.

How to download YouTube videos on Mac

Unlike the mobile department, we have a couple of options to choose from in how to download YouTube videos on Mac. But in the interest of brevity, I will discuss the best solution so you can go through the process smoothly.

MacX YouTube Downloader

MacX YouTube Downloader is the go-to solution to download YouTube videos on Mac for free. Its simple to use, fast and efficient. It is true that you will need to download and install the software, but after the one-time effort, downloading YouTube videos is a buttery smooth experience.


I hope now you have a good idea on how to download YouTube videos on iPhone and Mac. Now you can finally fill up all that extra space just lying around in your trusty device.

Writer’s Pick

Personally, I use y2mate.com to download YouTube videos for free. It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s trusted. That’s pretty much all I am looking for. It’s online so I don’t have to download anything but the video I want.

Sure there are no fancy options like downloading 4K, however, that is hardly something of any concern for me as the best display I have is full HD, which is 1080p.

Oh and I can choose to get an audio file for any video. A nifty feature especially for podcasts and music.

But don’t take my word for it. I rarely download videos from YouTube so pick the one you feel that will be the best option for you. If you’re not sure then why not try a couple of the options to see what works best.


What formats and quality should I download YouTube videos in?

Most of the options listed above to help to download YouTube video for free offer a variety of different formats to download in. It can be overwhelming, especially if you have no idea what most of them mean. Moreover, there is a host of quality options that offer tradeoffs between resolution and space.

Formats to choose

In a nutshell, the most common formats are MP4, 3GP, AVI, and MOV. Your choice of format and quality settings will affect what device you can watch your video on, and how good the video will be.

For selecting video formats, the most easily recognizable and safest option that works on virtually all the platforms is .mp4. It is the video counterpart to the .mp3(which also works almost everywhere).

To make things more specialized, we have .MOV which was specifically developed for Mac while .AVI was created for Windows by Microsoft.

If you have an old flip-up phone then .3GP format will be good enough. Since space is a premium in old phones, combined with a small screen size makes .3GP suitable for these phones. But not for anything else.

About the Video Quality

Finally, you will have to decide on the quality. Unlike the video format, you will probably need to decide the quality several times, depending on the scenario.

So the standard options we have for your computer, smartphone or tablet are 360p, 480p, 720p, and 1080p. Some even offer 4k and 8k resolution but they are way too extravagant. The higher the resolution, the higher the storage capacity required.

For a smartphone that’s 6 inches or lower, 720p is more than enough. There will be only a slight difference with higher qualities but the difference in quality and size is too much. 480p will also work just fine if you are planning on downloading multiple videos.

However, if you are not too keen on video quality but quality, then 3GP is the smallest size video you can get. Although it will be difficult to watch it unless on an old phone with a small screen size.

One final thing to keep in mind is whether there is an option to download in .mp3 format. If you only want music files, then mp3 is the way to go. Even if you download an mp4 video that has a resolution of 1080p, it will still have the same music quality as mp3 with no video.


That’s all folks. I hope after reading this guide to download YouTube videos for free, you can get all the videos you want. Just be sure not to misuse it. From now on, it will be a breeze for you to get videos from YouTube. Enjoy!

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