How to Download YouTube Video Online?

YouTube Video Download

YouTubers upload hundreds upon hours of footage each minute. But what if you wish to download it? You might be told that this is a bad idea in some circles. But you can still use it. Here’s how.

YouTube has billions upon billions of hours worth of video. Literally. This is not the most remarkable statistic about the site. It has been the number one destination for watching and uploading videos since 2005. Sometimes you may need or want one of these videos on your computer or smartphone. When the topic of downloading YouTube videos is brought up, there’s an additional subject to be discussed: Is it illegal?

You should be fine as long as the video is downloaded for personal offline use. Google’s Terms of Service for YouTube make it more straightforward: “You are not permitted to…access reproduce, download, transmit, broadcast or display any part of YouTube or any Content except (a) as explicitly authorized by YouTube; or (b), with the prior written permission of YouTube and the respective rights holders.”

YouTube video creators and Google pay money to watch YouTube videos offline via unofficial channels. YouTube makes money by running ads.

It is forbidden to steal videos from YouTube. YouTube and other video sites make sharing videos easy. You can embed, email, or share the video via social media. Most videos are available online, so you don’t need to download them.

You have your reasons. If you must download a YouTube video–need to, just for yourself, and not for dissemination, and not to be a total douche-nozzle–here’s how.

Note: This story is constantly updated as the tools used change frequently. Sometimes, these changes can be unpleasant. For example, software that is so loaded with “extras” that it is flagged as malware in antivirus tools. The same goes for helper websites – a change to a site’s ad network could also cause issues with malware.

We have a few guidelines to prevent it from becoming a list of sites and programs to download YouTube videos. Services must be:

  • You can download 4K files even with the free version.
  • You can work with the top three video sites, YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.
  • You can download entire playlists and channels (on YouTube) in a single batch, at least with a paid edition.
  • You can output audio to MP3 (or provide companion software).
  • You want an interface that isn’t annoying.
  • Do not collect any personal data other than your email address.
  • Not contain malware. It’s not allowed to be in the air, even as a PUP.

As of the writing of this article, all programs, sites, and services are free from spam/virus/problems. Big time. Even if you aren’t empty or-ing.

YouTube Premium Downloads

YouTube Premium subscribers can now download videos. This is the paid version of YouTube. It’s kind of. One caveat about quality: The video you download must be at least 1080p. No 4K.

This feature does not allow you to download a video to your computer and save it forever. This is similar to Hulu and Netflix’s mobile apps that will enable you to download streaming videos to your computer. You can view the video using the app’s interface and watch it later. This does not allow you to watch the video with different software, such as VLC Media Player.

Go to YouTube’s hamburger menu and select Downloads to download the file. You can view the complete list of downloaded files. According to the page, “Downloads are available for as long as you have an active internet connection at minimum once per 30 days.”

These tools may not be what you need in a download. The tools below provide precisely that.

YouTube Video Download Desktop Software

You will have the most control over downloading the online video using third-party software. The program will download the highest-quality version of the YouTube video URL you have entered. The MP4 file is used for videos in 1080p HD (HD) format. The file format for anything higher quality, such as 4K or 8K, is usually MKV.

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YouTube videos used Flash in the past. Your download was an FLV file. However, these files are more difficult to playback. MP4 is short for MPEG-4 Part 14 multimedia format. It can be played everywhere.

The MKV file (also known as a Matroska) is a container. It could contain video using any number of codecs. VLC Media Player for Windows is the best way to play them all. You can read more about it here. Here are the top downloaders.

VLC Media Player

Free; Windows, macOS, Linux

VLC Media PlayerVLC Media Player is an excellent tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux that can playback almost any media ever made. You can also download YouTube videos, though this is a complicated process. If you have any issues, you can try a complete reinstall of VLC. Clear your cache and restart the program.

You can copy a URL from YouTube and then open VLC. Select Open Network Stream (Ctrl+N), and then paste the URL. Click Play. Go to Tools > Codec Information once the video has started. You will see a box called “Source” at the bottom. Copy the URL in that box.

Now, go back to your browser. Copy the URL (it’s temporary and eventually expires) in the address bar. Then you can start the video. Click the 3-dot menu in the lower right to download the video.

VLC will save your file at 1080p and not higher, regardless of whether the original YouTube stream was in 1440p, 2160p, or 4K. VLC won’t also convert video to any other formats. The desktop software below will allow you to access these options.

YouTube 4K Video Downloader

Get a lifetime license for Windows, macOS, or Ubuntu Linux free of charge (or $15)

Multilingual 4K Video downloader (4KVD) is regularly updated. It also features clear download links on its website. There are no ad traps. It does exactly what it says in a simple interface. It can download videos in many formats and grab up to 8K in quality. To get started, copy the YouTube URL and then click on the Paste Link button. 4KVD can even extract subtitles, playlists, and videos from any channel you subscribe to. Although YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook are the only supported sites, this covers most of your needs. The banner advertising is there to keep the lights on. You can only download it 30 times per day with the free version.

To get my 4K test video, I switched from MP4 format to MKV format. 4KVD grabbed the 3 minutes, 229.7MB movie trailer file in just 1 minute and 20 seconds. 4KVD defaults to 1080p HD, so I did the same thing when downloading an Ultra High Definition (8K).

4KVD will perform one-click downloads of your preferred format if you enable Smart Mode and its presets. The paid version is required to download more videos at once or subscribe to YouTube channels to receive the latest. The MKV files were played flawlessly via VLC Media Player.

You can extract audio from the program to make MP3 files. This is a great feature that you don’t need to use the companion 4K YouTube to M3 software.

VideoProc Converter YouTube Video Download

$59.90 per year, $78.90 annually, $119.90 families (2-5 PCs); Windows and macOS

Digiarty’s powerful VideoProc comes in an editor edition and this converter. This allows for editing and other effects. It is similar to Digiarty’s WinX YouTube Downloader but with a better downloading feature. VideoProc Converter supports 4K downloads from more than 1,000 websites, which makes sense. It promises speed with hardware acceleration. It often offers price discounts.

Open the program and let it detect your hardware. If necessary, it will show you how to accelerate. Click the Downloader button and click Add video to add as many URLs to a batch as you like. Then, click Download Now. You can also download a YouTube playlist or live stream. The conversion time of our test 4K video to WEBM format was only 2 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s not bad. The best part is that the VideoProc Converter trial, which limits conversions time to five minutes, does not appear to restrict downloads.

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FlixGrab YouTube Video Download

1-year license $44.99 plus tax (or $9.99 for Free YouTube Download); Windows

FlixGrab offers many programs, some with overlapping features, like other programs. FlixGrabMS is a version that you can get from Microsoft Store for Windows 10/11, but it won’t allow me to grab video from YouTube. FlixGrab was able to download the FlixGrab program directly from the flixgrabapp.com website. It also worked with YouTube and other sites. It also offers a free YouTube download specifically for YouTube and uses the same user-friendly interface. Although it has its downsides, like many others, the subscription price is high, but it is the only way you can get high-quality downloads. However, the YouTube-only version costs $9.99 per annum. Both versions come with a trial period.

5KPlayer YouTube Video Download

Windows and macOS are free

5KPlayer is more than just a downloader. It also has an integrated downloader. It promises no viruses, ads, or plug-ins. Unfortunately, it is one of the few that requires you to register your name and email to access the full download function on 300+ sites. You can still download 4K videos from YouTube without having to register.

The program will try to hide certain things when you download. The URL of a YouTube video can be pasted into the analysis engine. It will only show a few options for downloading. Scroll down to view more, such as a 4K file in WebM format, 3,840 by-2,160. It took 6.5 minutes to download the 227MB WebM test file. You can grab playlists, but you need to adjust the download settings for each video individually. It is challenging to navigate other playlist videos due to the confusing interface.

5K Player supports DLNA server playback, so you can watch videos on any device that supports DLNA. It also supports AirPlay for fast playback to Apple devices. You can quickly convert any video from the library to MP4, MP3, MP3, or ACC (the preferred audio format by iOS). However, the player had trouble playing the 4K file and had buffering problems. VLC did not have any issues with the same file.

Overall, 5K Player has a lot to love, including the price and the features. You might consider looking elsewhere because of the poor interface, slow download speeds, and playback problems.

YouTube Video Download Helper Websites

Are you looking to avoid installing any software? These video download assistance sites will do all the downloading work for you. They all do the same thing. You provide them with a YouTube URL or another video site if it is supported. Then they parse that URL and give you a choice about how big you would like to download. Finally, they will provide you with a link to the downloaded file. They can be used on any platform and sometimes on mobile devices. It doesn’t require you to install anything on your computer. Depending on how extensive and detailed the video is, you can expect it to take longer, but the convenience is worth it.

You can’t always trust these sites. These sites are numerous and can be found on the Internet. Anyone with any programming skills will have one. These sites can quickly become suspicious and even dangerous, especially when they are popular enough that the owner sells them to make a profit.

All the helper websites we recommended were removed from this story. They are no longer available for sexually explicit ads, not working anymore, switching to pushing their download utility only, and one to go out of business to avoid being sued.

We are not currently recommending any helper websites. If you do find one, go ahead and try it. However, if your browser, antivirus, or intuitions give up warnings, move on.

YouTube Video Download Extensions

An extension for your browser can help you save a step. You might have problems downloading YouTube videos, especially if Chrome as your primary browser.

YouTube’s owner, Alphabet/Google, controls the Chrome Web Store, where you can get Chrome browser extensions. Chrome Store restrictions mean that even extensions intended for this purpose won’t allow direct YouTube downloads. Chrome extensions don’t let protected RTMP video or streaming video be downloaded. They can be used on other websites with video, however. YouTube is not an option.

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You can get around it. You can get an extension from another source than the Google Web Store. Many programs and other helper websites offer extensions and can show you how to install them without the assistance of the Chrome Web Store. These are just a few.

YouTube Video Downloader

Free; Chrome, Opera, Edge, Vivaldi, UCBrowser

download youtube videos by Addoncrop works on many browsers and has excellent side-loading capabilities. It places a button right below any YouTube video or embedded YouTube video. This makes it easy to grab. The supported video quality can reach 8K. Audio from the video can be converted to MP3. You can even take video screenshots.

YouTube Video Download Helper

Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Free

Video Download Helper supports many sites, even those that are for adults. When the icon for the extension is animated when you visit a web page, you will know that a video has been made available. Video Download Helper Chrome is no longer compatible with YouTube. This allows it to be placed in the Chrome Web Store. You can get around this by installing the Video Download Helper extension for Firefox or Edge.

Mobile YouTube Video Download

It isn’t easy to download YouTube from Android using an Android application from the Google Play Store. Google controls the site and offers the YouTube Premium paid service that allows offline viewing.

It is possible to install Android apps without having to go through Google. InsTube is the only site that offers InsTube – Free Video and Music Downloader Android. To sideload the APK file on your Android device, download it. Click to download it from your device’s Downloads section. You may need to enable “Unknown sources” in your security settings.

You’d expect no such restrictions on iPhones or iPads since Apple and Google don’t seem to be the best of friends (or maybe they are). But, I found that iOS apps are unable to download from YouTube and don’t usually last long. One of these apps stated in its description that “Downloading from YouTube is forbidden due to its Terms and Service.” Apple has made it clear that app developers must follow the rules, even Google’s.

Most likely, once you find an iOS application that allows you to download YouTube videos, it will be “fixed” or blocked. You have two options: jailbreak your iPhone or use sideloaded apps to download your desired content.

There are ways around this. You can subscribe to YouTube Premium to download videos to your iPhone or iPad for later viewing, just like Netflix and Hulu.

Another option is to use an iOS file manager app such as Documents by Readdle. To visit YouTube videos:

  1. Use the Safari browser. The Share option will allow you to locate Copy Link.
  2. Go back to Documents and then use the Safari browser to navigate a video download site.
  3. Paste the link in the form.
  4. Hold your finger down until the “Paste” menu appears. You will be able to download the links from the site.
  5. Drag the file to the Photos folder by holding it down.

To access Photos for the first time, you will need to grant Documents permission. The video can be accessed in the Photos app, just like any other video you have taken on your phone or tablet.

Another option is to go back to your desktop and install AnyTrans (39.99 USD for one computer, Windows or macOS). This desktop file manager supports iOS devices and has an integrated downloader that supports 900 sites, including YouTube and Facebook. The USB cable will transfer the videos to your iPhone. The download option is available for free even if You don’t have to pay AnyTrans.

YT Scribe

Do you want a unique way to “download” a YouTube video? YT Scribe allows you to grab the transcription and read them instead. It automatically transcribes, punctuates, and paragraphs the text. The subtitles are more important than the article. It’s also completely free.

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