You cannot download YouTube videos directly from the platform. You can, however, download YouTube videos on its mobile app only if you subscribe to YouTube Premium. YouTube is willing to throw in a couple of months of free trial, if you want to check out the premium service first.
However, not everyone is willing to subscribe to YouTube Premium. I am definitely not one of them. But there are times when I just want to watch my favorite YouTube videos even when there’s no internet connection. You may feel like doing that too!
What if you are on a very limited mobile data plan? What if you are in a place where there is no proper mobile network (on a plane)? What will you do in situations like that? The best way to cope with such situations is to store your favorite YouTube videos locally on your device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.).
The problem is that YouTube will not really allow you to download the videos. Okay, in some instances it may allow downloading, but not always. So, you will have to fall back on third-party tools.
The problem is that YouTube’s terms and conditions explicitly state that you are only allowed to stream video from their servers. This means that using third-party tools is not permitted. Doing so can lead to potential copyright infringements. If you are the owner of the video, that’s a different story. If you have the permission of the owner to download the video, that too, is a completely different story.
Unfortunately, you cannot be the owner of all the videos of YouTube, and most likely you will not have the permission of all the creators! So, using a third-party tool is the best option. However, if you are downloading any video from YouTube after reading this guide, do that at your own risk. I will repeat – downloading videos from YouTube is not allowed. It is a streaming platform!
Okay, now let’s start with the guide.
Download YouTube Videos for Free Using Third-Party Tools
#1. 4K Video Downloader [Windows Only]
4K Video Downloader is by far the most famous third-party tool that you can get for your Windows PC platform. Millions of people across the world use this application. The good news is that the application is completely free and you can download the application from the official website. It is free of viruses, malwares, and ransomware. So, you can install it safely on your computer.
The application is extremely versatile, and it can not only download the video you want, but also the entire playlist, and even 3D and 360-degree videos. However, you need to note that there is a premium version as well. The free version will allow you to download 30 videos in a single day.
To use the application, you need to install it first and launch the same after the installation is complete. You can then return to YouTube and grab the URL of the video you want to download from the URL bar.
Once you have the URL, return to the 4K Video Downloader application interface. This is how the interface looks like:
Notice the green ‘Paste Link’ button on the top left-hand corner. Click on it. You will immediately notice a popup screen which shows, ‘Parsing…’
This is the screen that you will see:
It won’t take long for the parsing to complete. When parsing is complete, you will see another screen where you can select the video quality you want and the video format. You will also note that you will have the option of selecting whether to download the video or to extract the audio. There will be an option of selecting the download location as well.
This is the screen that you will see:
Once you have selected everything, you need to hit the ‘Download’ button, and the video will start downloading at your preferred location in your preferred format and quality.
Once the video download is complete, you will see this screen:
You can right-click on the video and get various options. Among those options, you will get the option of playing the video. This is what you will see when you right-click on it:
If you hit the play button, the video will start playing on your default media player application (the one installed on your computer).
Clicking on the remove option will remove the video from the list in the application window. It will not delete the downloaded video. However, if you click on the ‘Delete File’ option, the application will delete the downloaded video from the folder where it was downloaded.
If you note carefully, you will see that there is something called Smart Mode right next to the big green Paste Link option you see on the top left-hand corner of the application window. What is that?
In case you download videos in the same format quite often, the Smart Mode comes in handy. When you use this mode, it will automatically save the download preferences that you set, and the next time you try to download a video, it will automatically load your previously set preferences and download your video using those settings.
- It will allow you to download entire playlists (if available).
- It can download maximum 24 videos at a time (if you are trying to download a playlist).
- The free version will allow you to download only 30 videos a day. The limit will be refreshed every 24 hours.
- The paid version will allow you to download as many videos as you want in a day. However, the limit of 24 video downloads at a time (from a playlist) will continue.
- Comes with Smart Mode that will allow you to download videos with previous settings.
#2. YouTube Downloader Site [Online]
No, I am not taking any name here, and that is on purpose. There are several online options that will allow you to download YouTube videos. Some of them will even allow you to rip only the audio out of the video. This is particularly helpful if you want to download only the music (to increase song collection on your local disk).
However, you need to understand that there are several such online resources. Some of these sites may be riddled with malware (even ransomware). So, be careful about which site you are using.
The best way to play safe is to have a complete antivirus suite on your local disk. For instance, Kaspersky has something called Safe Web that will scan the websites you are visiting or intend to visit and let you know whether a particular site is safe to visit or not.
All you need to do is go to Google search and type in YouTube downloader. The search results that you will see are the websites that will allow you to download YouTube Videos. If you have some antivirus suite installed that tells you which website is safe to use, you will also get that notification.
Here is a quick example:
Always try to pick up the first option from the search result, because it is most-likely going to give you a good experience.
In the above example, you can see Viddly. It is an app very similar to 4K Video Downloader. You need to install Viddly. In case you don’t want to install any app, you can move on to the next options available on the search result list.
In this case, I will take the example of y2mate.guru (the third option, which is a safe site according to Kaspersky).
Once on the site, you can just grab the YouTube video URL and paste in the designated area and you will see the options available for download:
Definitely, these types of websites are mostly ad-supported. So, you may see some annoying ads popping up, and worst of all, most of the ads that you see are all adult ads or easy-money-making ads. Don’t fall for those traps. Just close the adds and continue with your download.
Some websites may even tell you that your website has some problem and ask you to download some software program to fix those issues. You can safely ignore those ads and close them.
- Online YouTube video downloaders are often ad-supported and they will show ridiculous ads, some of which are not suitable for children.
- There will be severe limitations as well. Most of them will allow you to download only one video at a time. In most cases, you will not get the option of downloading entire playlists.
#3. 5KPlayer – Video Player & Downloader [Windows and Mac]
Okay, 5KPlayer isn’t your typical YouTube video downloader. It is a multimedia player that is capable of playing up to 8K videos. The best part is that is completely free. Yes, there are other software programs that are offered by the same company that you need to purchase, but the 5KPlayer itself is free.
After VLC media player, 5KPlayer is my most favorite multimedia player, because it is capable of playing almost any video and audio format you can imagine. You don’t get any viruses or malware with the application installer.
What’s best is that it can download YouTube videos and even videos from 300+ other sites. All you need to do is to install the application, allow it to update the URL analysis engine, and you are all set.
On launch, you will see the following screen:
If you want to download YouTube videos, click on the big red YouTube button that you see on the home screen. This will open the screen where you can paste the URL of the YouTube video.
Once you provide the URL, you will have to click on the Paste URL and Analyze button that you see. It will download and update the URL analysis engine and show you the video download option.
If you paste a link to a complete library, the 5KPlayer will list all the videos in the library. You will also notice a small cog icon next to each video thumbnail. Clicking on the cog icon will give you the option of choosing from various video qualities available for download.
Once you are satisfied with everything and you have decided on the quality, you can hit the download button! That’s all! The video will download.
The default location where the downloaded videos are saved is in This PC >> Videos (the default video folder of Windows).
Download speed isn’t bad either. In my case, it managed to download a 197MB MP4 video in less than 2 minutes. What’s good is that there is no limit to the number of videos you can download using 5KPlayer. It will always remain free.
If you want to convert your downloaded videos, you need to either use their premium converter application, or you can get some other video converter software.
Apart from being a downloader, 5KPlayer is also a fantastic audio or video player that can play just about anything you throw at it in any format (codec). The overall interface is also simple and easy to use. Here is a quick example of video player:
However, if you do want to use 5KPlayer, it will require you to register by providing your email ID, your name and your location. That’s all!
- Completely free and a complete media player.
- Download as many YouTube videos as you want.
- Can download entire playlists.
- Saves all videos in the default Videos folder of Windows.
#4. WinX YouTube Downloader [Windows & Mac]
WinX YouTube Downloader is the next great option that you have for downloading YouTube videos for free. Available for both Windows and Mac (MacX YouTube Downloader), does only one job – download videos.
The free version is capable of downloading from 600+ sites, but if you want to download from 1000+ sites, you will need to upgrade. I highly doubt that you will need to upgrade because who on earth scouts through 1000+ sites for videos?
Anyway, what’s special about WinX YouTube Downloader is that it can download videos in batch. You can add up to 300 video URLs at once and hit the download button.
If that is not enough to satiate your greedy mind, WinX also gives you the option of recording live streams. You can even download private videos and watch later lists. This application is capable of downloading even 4K videos, and irrespective of the video resolution, you can get different output formats that include WebM, MP4 and FLV.
What’s great is that you can also rip the audio out of a video and keep or save it in the MP3 format.
WinX YouTube Downloader is multilingual, and it takes a very small footprint when it comes to using system resources.
It is needless to say that this thing is an application that you need to download and install on your computer. Once the installation is complete, you will notice the home screen of the application that looks like this:
The interface will immediately show you the default location where all the videos you download will be saved. You can see the information on the right side of the screen.
To add a video URL, you need to click on the Add URL option you see on top to start adding the YouTube videos that you want to download.
Once you add the URL and click on Paste URL & Analyze button, you will see this screen:
Once the analysis is complete, WinX will show you the various download options available. These options will tell you details like the total download size, format, frame rate, quality, etc.
Select the option that you want and then click on the Download Selection Videos at the bottom. You can also click on the Download Full Playlist button if the URL gives an entire playlist.
The download speed is decent and it manages to grab a 108.25 MB video is less than a minute! Overall, the interface is great and there shouldn’t be any problem in using the application even if you are not a pro at these activities.
- Completely free application available for both Windows and Mac.
- Allows batch download of videos (300+ videos can be downloaded at once).
- Supports downloading entire playlists, private videos, and watch later videos.
- Allows recording live stream.
- Can download from 600+ different sites.
- Low impact on system resources.
- Very easy to use.
#5. TubeMate – Only for Android
If you ask me, I don’t download YouTube videos on my Android device. Heck! The device is too small and I don’t like doing all those complex things on a small screen. But you may not be like me!
While I download everything on my desktop and then transfer them to my SD card on my phone, you may want to download YouTube videos directly on your phone.
That, however, is not so easy! Google Play Store is not particularly happy about YouTube video downloaders and ban such mobile applications from Play Store. The work around is to install an application from outside the Play Store.
This will require you to download the APK file and allow your phone to install and run applications from other locations. This requires fiddling around with your phone’s security settings.
That’s precisely another reason why I don’t like downloading stuff directly on my phone. If you accidentally forget to change back the security setting, you leave your phone vulnerable.
Assuming that you are daredevil that I wish I could be, you can head over to your Android device’s setting and then head over to the Security option. Tap on it and find the option which reads ‘Unknown Sources.’
Okay, honestly speaking, finding this option can become really difficult. Depending on the make and model of your phone or Android device, this option can be hidden deep inside the various options you find. I can’t really say exactly where you will find it on your device. When you find it, flip it “on.” Simply put, you need to allow installation of applications from external and unknown sources.
If you don’t find the option, simply head over to a browser on your device and search for TubeMate apk on Google search. You will get the list of websites from where you cand download the application.
Download it on your mobile device. It will show you a warning that such files may harm your device and that if you want, you can either cancel the download or keep the file.
Go ahead and download the file and tap on it. Depending on your mobile device, it will either allow you to install the application or it will automatically open the settings where you need to allow installation from unknown source.
Once you grant the permissions, the application will start. You will immediately notice that it looks very similar to the YouTube app [I said similar, not identical!].
This is how the app looks like when you first open it:
To download any video, you need to select a video and you will notice a green download button on the top of the screen. This is what you will see:
Tapping on that green download button will give you another screen where you will notice that different options for downloading the video are shown (you can select from different qualities):
Tap on the format that you want and again tap on the green download button. The video will download on your phone or Android device. The application will even allow you to download only the audio in MP3 format, OGG format, or M4A/AAC format.
What’s interesting is that TubeMate isn’t designed to work only with YouTube. It works with a wide range of other websites as well. To find out which websites are supported, tap on the hamburger menu you see on the top left corner of screen. This is pull out a sliding menu showing the list of various websites supported by the application.
Yes, the list isn’t very long, but the number of options it gives should suffice for most of the users.
- Installation can be quite messy.
- Easy to use and gives various download options.
- Supports very popular sites.
- Free to use.
- Not available on Google Play Store
- Ad-supported (you will see ads on the platform).
#6. Documents – For iOS Only
If you are using an iOS device and you want to download YouTube videos on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you will have to rely on something called Documents. That’s a file manager, but a clever one!
This file manager can download YouTube videos quickly. To do that, you need to grab the video URL either from your YouTube app or from Safari. Once the video is open, tap on the share icon and then tap on the ‘Copy Link’ option.
Once you have grabbed the link, you need to open the Documents application and find the web browser icon. The icon will be a small compass icon located at the bottom right corner of the display.
Tap on the compass icon and go to savefrom.net. On that website, paste the link you grabbed into the big input box that you see. You will get to select the quality and the file will download.
The downloaded file will then show up in the downloads section of Documents. Tap, hold and drag the downloaded file to Photos >> Camera Roll. This will ensure that the file is available outside the Documents app.
That doesn’t mean that you will not find other options. They are many more! The reason why most of the third-party tools are not mentioned on this list is that they are not really as powerful as the options you find here. One in particular (VLC media player) is too complex to use, and not really worth the time and effort. Back in the early days when alternatives were not present, people used VLC anyway. But today, there are many options, giving you the scope of ditching the good old boy.
Some of the tools have fallen out of active development, and they can pose a serious security threat if you install them on your device. Many other applications are often riddled with other bundled programs, malware, spyware, and what not!
You should not be putting your device at risk not matter how badly you want to grab a video from YouTube.
Finally, if you are unlike me and you prefer to go the legal way of downloading videos from YouTube, you can always grab their premium subscription. With a premium subscription, you get the option of downloading the videos you watch.
Unfortunately, YouTube premium will only allow you to download videos for offline viewing within the YouTube app. You cannot move them to a different device or use a different player to play them. That sucks YouTube, that totally sucks!