Trying to figure out how to download YouTube videos? Or perhaps wondering if downloading YouTube videos is even legal in the first place?
Well, as it turns out, it’s actually possible to download YouTube videos. And yes- fortunately, you can download YouTube videos legally.
But then again, and rather, unfortunately, the whole process can also be illegal. In fact, most of the people who download YouTube videos from the platform happen to do it illegally.
Luckily for you, though, we don’t judge. You see, YouTube is consistently attracting about 500 hours of video uploads every minute. So, of course, we understand that every now and then, you’re bound to come across a couple of clips that you might want to watch offline.
As such, we won’t hold anything back. We’ll reveal both legal and potentially illegal means of downloading YouTube videos, and then leave you to decide.
What This Article Covers
This post guides you through the entire process of downloading YouTube videos in different formats using the best and easiest methods. What’s more, the options and apps we’ve covered here are all free of charge. That means you get to download an unlimited number of YouTube videos for free.
But, it doesn’t end there. Since mobile accounts for 70% of YouTube’s watch time, we’ve further done you the courtesy of explaining how to download YouTube videos from your mobile device (particularly Android).
However, before we get into all those details, let’s start with the basics. You ought to understand the legalities surrounding YouTube downloads before taking any risks.
Is Downloading YouTube Videos Legal?
Well, if you take the time to read the fine print in YouTube Terms of Service, Google explicitly states that “…you’re not allowed to access, alter, license, sell, display, broadcast, transmit, distribute, download, reproduce, modify or otherwise use any part of the service or its content unless; (a) as expressly authorized by YouTube, or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and possibly, the corresponding copyright holders too…”
In short, therefore, YouTube doesn’t want you ripping its content. Downloading YouTube videos is basically a form of copyright infringement on the platform.
But, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t apply to all YouTube videos and users.
If you haven’t noticed already, some YouTube videos come with a download button. Turns out YouTube gives content creators the option of enabling video downloads.
Quite a neat feature, I must admit. But then again, let’s be honest about it. You’ll only find the native download option on a handful of YouTube videos. And, for some strange reason, it just so happens that such clips are not typically what you’d call entertaining.
But, there’s a way out. At least YouTube is kind enough to lift its download restrictions through the YouTube Premium service. Here’s how it works:
1. How To Download With YouTube Premium
YouTube Premium is best known for offering the privilege of downloading music and videos for offline listening. Additionally, you can minimize your phone’s YouTube app and play your stuff in the background.
Here’s the kicker though. The YouTube Premium service is not for budget-minded users. It costs at least $11.99 a month.
And if you think that will give you unlimited download privileges, here’s another disappointing fact- the Premium service is not exactly all-inclusive. You’ll notice that some YouTube videos come with extra restrictions. That means that even with your Premium account, you won’t be able to download them.
Then for the ones that you end up downloading, don’t be mistaken that YouTube will let you off easily. The platform keeps even its offline content on a tight leash, with YouTube Premium users renewing their content rights on a monthly basis. So, if you choose to opt-out of the service, you can bet that YouTube will take away even your video and music downloads.
Also, while you continue using YouTube Premium, you cannot distribute the downloads or broadcast them publicly. All the videos and music you download from YouTube are essentially for personal offline use. Nothing more.
Now, if that sounds fine by you, you can go ahead and try out the YouTube Premium service. And while you’re at it, here’s how you’ll download YouTube videos:
Step 1: Access The YouTube Video
You can only download YouTube videos from their respective watch pages. So, start by searching for your target video, and then click on its link to access the main watch page.
Step 2: Find The Video’s Download Icon
While the video is playing, you’ll find its download icon at the bottom of the screen, right next to the share button. It’s normally displayed as a grey down-arrow symbol.
Step 3: Download The YouTube Video For Offline Listening
Hitting the grew download button allows you to download the YouTube video to your device for offline listening.
However, you won’t find subsequently find the video file within your general Downloads folder. Rather, YouTube prefers to hold it in your app’s Library or Account tab.
All in all, though, that’s a pretty convenient and simple way of downloading YouTube videos legally. The only problem is, it just so happens that only a negligible fraction of users have such capabilities.
You see, only 2 million of YouTube’s 20 billion users have, so far, joined its premium service. This puts the rest- 99% to be precise- in an awkward position. They have to seek other ways to download content from YouTube.
2. How To Download Without YouTube Premium
The good news is, you can download pretty much any YouTube video without subscribing to the YouTube premium service. But, there’s a catch- you’ll need a third-party app to proceed.
Now, this is where things get a bit interesting. And the kicker is, YouTube considers this approach a blatant violation of its copyright terms. That means there might be legal ramifications if you’re caught.
But then again, the chances of that happening are pretty low, especially if you restrict yourself to personal use. YouTube has bigger problems to worry about than a few video downloads from a random user every now and then.
And with that, let’s now move on to the next issue; which are these apps that allow you to download YouTube videos?
The Best Free Apps For Downloading YouTube Videos
The YouTube video and audio download spaces are extensively broad, with numerous applications claiming to provide the service. A quick search on Google alone will give you an overwhelming range of options.
But, here’s a word of caution. Don’t be tempted to try out the apps right away, as the YouTube video download industry is a lot like digital torrent systems- unregulated and with a disproportionately high volume of deceitful malware.
So, before anything, you might want to research extensively and identify bonafide apps that have been adequately tested and reviewed by other users. Once you do, you should subsequently zero-in on the few solutions that offer the following features:
- Free YouTube Video Downloads: You get to download an unlimited number of YouTube videos without ever paying anything.
- High-Quality YouTube Video Downloads: Capable of downloading YouTube videos in not just HD and UHD, but also in 4K and 8K resolution.
- Multiple Video Formats: You should be able to download YouTube videos in mainstream formats like MP4 and FLV, as well as non-standard files such as HML5, OGG, WEBM, SWF, MKV, 3G2, 3GP, M2TS, ASF, AVI, MPG, WMV, etc. The more the format options, the better.
- Simple and Fast Downloads: It should only take one or two clicks, and a couple of seconds to initiate and complete the entire YouTube conversion and download process.
Now taking all these factors into consideration, we ultimately picked the following as the best YouTube video downloaders in their respective categories.
- Best YouTube Video Downloader App for Pcs: 4K Video Downloader
- Best Cloud-Based YouTube Video Downloader: Y2mate
- Best YouTube Video Downloader for Mobile: TubeMate
3. How To Download To Your PC For Free
1. Downloading With An Installable App: 4K Video Downloader
Step 1: Install The 4K Video Downloader App
4K Video Downloader is an on-premise PC application for converting and downloading YouTube videos and audio. That means you can only leverage its tools after acquiring and installing the software directly to your PC.
Thankfully, the installable version of 4K Video Downloader is readily available on 4kdownload.com. Simply click on the “Get 4K Video Downloader” button, and voila!
Once you’ve downloaded the file, you can proceed to install the app on your PC right away. Just click on the installation file and choose to run it as an admin. Your system will then briefly guide you through the installation steps, which should only take you a couple of seconds.
At the very last stage, though, remember to click on the “Launch” checkbox before hitting “Finish”. This will open the 4K Video Downloader immediately after installation.
Step 2: Go To YouTube and Copy The Video URL
Minimize the 4K Video Downloader app for now and go to your internet browser.
You should then access YouTube, search for the video you’d like to download, open its watch page, and copy the URL directly from your address bar.
Step 3: Paste The YouTube Video URL To 4K Video Downloader
The standard logical step, at this point, would be pasting the YouTube video URL to your 4K Video Downloader window. But, as you’ll come to notice, the app is intelligent enough to automatically lift YouTube video links from the system clipboard.
So, in short, 4K Video Downloader won’t sit idly waiting for you to paste the link. It’ll start parsing and processing the YouTube URL as soon as you hit copy.
But, in the event the app fails to proceed automatically, you can go ahead and manually paste the link through its “Paste Link” button.
Step 4: Select Your Preferred Download Video Format and Quality
The entire parsing process should only take a couple of seconds for a standard YouTube video. And by the time it’s done, 4K Video Downloader will have analyzed the available video resolutions and content formats.
The app will then display a pop-up window, from where you can choose your preferred download format and quality. In other words, you get to pick not only your download video type but also its display resolution.
You could, for instance, choose to download your selected YouTube video in MP4 format, along with an accompanying display resolution of 8K.
It’s worth noting, however, that the higher the resolution quality, the bigger the resultant file, and the longer the download process.
Step 5: Download The YouTube Video To Your PC
With the preferred file format and quality selected, you can go ahead and hit the download button. 4K Video Downloader will swing into action immediately and download the identified YouTube video in its requested format and resolution.
In the meantime, you can freely introduce additional download tasks, as 4K Video Downloader is capable of handling multiple download threads at once.
And after everything’s done, you should be able to play the downloaded YouTube videos directly from the downloader app. Simply select your file from the download list, right-click it, and hit “Play”.
Then to organize, edit, and rename the videos, right-click yet again, and choose to access their destination folder.
4. Downloading With A Cloud-Based App: Y2mate
Step 1: Access The Y2mate Website
Unlike 4K Video Downloader, Y2mate is not an installable YouTube downloader app. It is, instead, built to run entirely from the cloud. That means you won’t be required to install any software on your PC.
In fact, the only thing you’ll need here is an internet-connected device. As long as it comes with a standard browser, you should be able to conveniently access the Y2mate website, from where you can download YouTube videos straight to your PC or mobile device.
On the website, you’ll find a search box positioned centrally on the homepage. This is where you’ll ultimately be expected to paste your YouTube Video URL links for subsequent conversion and download.
Step 2: Go To YouTube and Copy The Video URL
After familiarizing yourself with Y2mate’s website, open a new tab on your browser, and go straight to YouTube.
As soon as you land on the platform, you can run a quick search to identify your target video. Afterward, click on the search result link to open the video’s watch page.
The as the YouTube video is playing, copy its URL directly from the address bar. This is what you’ll be posting to Y2mate’s search box.
Step 3: Paste The YouTube Video URL To Y2mate’s Search Box
When you’re done copying the YouTube video URL to your clipboard, go back to the Y2mate’s website and paste everything directly to the search box.
You’ll even find a prompt that shows you exactly where to paste your YouTube video link.
Next, you can go ahead and set things in motion by hitting the “Start” button that flanks Y2mate’s search box.
Step 4: Pick Your Preferred Download File Format and Quality
The “Start” option essentially brings Y2mate’s AI engine to life, compelling it to begin processing and converting the video.
As such, the system will display its results almost immediately, in the form of multiple download options. This is where you specify the type and quality of files you’d like to rip from the YouTube video.
You can, for instance, have Y2mate download an MP3 audio version in 128 kbps. Then when it comes to YouTube video downloads, the most prominent format is MP4.
Sadly, however, turns out Y2mate isn’t as generous as 4K Video Downloader. Although you’ll be free to download as many videos as you like, the corresponding display quality is pretty restricted. The highest resolution you can get here, for most of the YouTube videos, is standard HD (720p) or UHD (1080p).
Step 5: Download The YouTube Video In Your Preferred Format and Quality
Once you identify your desired quality and format from the list of options, click on the adjacent “Download” button to start the download process.
Y2mate will then respond by launching a confirmation window. So, go ahead and give your approval by clicking on its “Download” button.
With that, your browser will download the YouTube video just like any other web file. And when the process is done, you’ll find the resultant file in your local downloads directory.
5. How To Download YouTube Videos To Your Phone For Free
YouTube Video Downloader For Android: TubeMate
Step 1: Download and Install TubeMate
Although TubeMate is an exceedingly popular Android application, you won’t find it on the Google Play Store.
You see, with YouTube being one of Google’s principal services, the company has, understandably, blacklisted apps that are known to breach the platform’s content terms.
On the bright side, though, at least the Android OS isn’t restricted to Play Store apps. It’s flexible enough to accommodate externally-sourced apps too. So, while TubeMate is not your typical store-recommended app, it can still run seamlessly in all sorts of Android devices.
That said, the app itself is readily available on TubeMate’s official site, tubemate.net. What’s more, it comes completely free of charge. Simply download the installable APK file from one of the available host links, and then run it on your Android smartphone or tablet.
To complete the installation procedure, however, remember to adjust your device’s security settings to accept applications from unknown sources. And with that out of way, the whole installation process should only take you a few seconds.
You can then approve the app’s resource-access permissions to unleash its full capabilities.
Step 2: Access YouTube Via TubeMate
TubeMate isn’t just a YouTube downloader. Technically, it’s more of a mobile browser- but with specialized tools for ripping audio and videos from web platforms like YouTube.
And speaking which, you’ll soon notice that TubeMate comes with an interface that’s built a lot like YouTube’s Android app. Hence, it shouldn’t take you long to familiarize yourself with its basic functions.
You might, in particular, want to use TubeMate to access and view your favorite YouTube videos. Then from that vantage point, you can seamlessly download all sorts of YouTube videos without switching between apps. TubeMate is developed to give you the benefit of downloading endlessly while you surf.
The trick is to take advantage of the “Download” button that hovers prominently once you begin playing YouTube videos. You’ll see it appear as a standard download arrow icon, through which you can conveniently convert and download YouTube videos.
Step 3: Select Your Preferred Download Video Format and Quality
A gentle tap on the “Download” button will reveal several download format options. TubeMate basically processes your YouTube videos automatically in the background to provide various conversion formats and qualities.
You can, for example, choose to rip audio tracks from the YouTube content. And as for video downloads, TubeMate does an impeccable job of providing all the relevant quality levels- HD, UHD, you name it. Android users even get the privilege of downloading YouTube videos in 4K.
Come to think of it, however, it’s not always advisable to go for such high-resolution formats. 2K and 4K files are particularly heavy and might take up disproportionately huge chunks storage in your phone. So, you might want to stick with standard HD video downloads.
Step 4: Download The YouTube Video In Your Selected Format and Quality
When you ultimately identify and choose your preferred video format and quality, tap on the app’s “Download” button again. This will start the download process in the background, while you continue surfing and watching YouTube in the foreground.
Alternatively, you can hold off the downloads and place them in a queue along with other pending tasks. This is particularly advisable when you’re using your standard mobile data, as TubeMate is capable of suspending its downloads until you connect to a Wi-Fi network.
It’s worth noting, though, that the whole process of downloading YouTube videos with TubeMate might drain your battery much faster. But, not for long, since TubeMate happens to be a considerably fast downloader.
In the end, you’ll find the downloaded files in TubeMate’s default folder for “Videos”; while audio files, on the other hand, are usually held in a separate “Music” folder.
If you prefer otherwise, you can easily change the destination folders through TubeMate’s settings. Just tap on the main menu and select “Preferences” to access the storage location options.
And there you have it. Three simple and free methods of downloading YouTube videos to your local device storage. So, feel free to choose your preferred weapon, fire it up, and have fun downloading an unlimited number of YouTube videos.
But, don’t feel restricted. You can still sample alternative options. And, in particular, we’d advise you to consider Videoder, Vidmate, Any Video Converter, Snaptube, and YTD Video Downloader. Having tested all of them quite thoroughly, we can confirm that they indeed some of the best apps for downloading YouTube videos for free.
The choice is all yours!