As the second most visited site on the Internet – after Google itself – YouTube has around 23 billion visitors per month. Most of them watch videos on the website or through one of the many YouTube apps.
Sometimes, however, you will want to upload a video. Maybe it’s for watching it offline, or maybe you want to save a useful video in case it gets taken down. Whatever your reason, we’ll walk you through different ways to do it. It’s possible – and easy – to download videos to a Windows laptop or PC and Android phones. It’s not quite as easy on an iPhone unless you pay for YouTube Premium, but it’s possible if you’re determined.
Remember, watching videos in the YouTube app (or website) and not skipping 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 lets users in other countries – including the UK and US – upload YouTube content to the app. Premium also has other benefits, such as no ads and the ability to play music in the background so you can use other apps on your phone.
YouTube Premium isn’t cheap at £11.99/$11.99 a month, and if you just want to download the occasional clip, that’s probably too much to justify paying.
The good news is that it’s easy to download YouTube videos using unofficial methods. First of all, we recommend that you read our guide on whether it is legal to download YouTube videos.
Download videos with YouTube Premium
If you’re a YouTube Premium subscriber, downloading videos is easy. There is one big caveat though: you can only do this using 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 a tablet.
To download, simply open the app and head to the video you want to download. Below the player, you should see a “Download” icon – tap it, choose the video quality you want to download, and that’s it.
Once the video is downloaded, the icon below will turn into a blue checkmark – tap it if you want to delete the download. You can find all your downloaded videos in the Library or Account tabs.
Download YouTube Videos on Windows
As with websites, there are plenty of download options with a desktop app. Not all are free, but some are. A paying one that we can recommend is ByClick Downloader. It has an easy to use interface, is regularly updated, and makes downloading videos – or just audio – from YouTube extremely easy.
All you have to do is copy a video URL and a pop-up window will ask you if you want to download the audio or the video. Or you can set a default value and it won’t even ask you: it will automatically download the MP3 or MP4 with the default quality.
It is reasonably priced at $9.99 (around £7.40) and you can try it for free for 24 hours without entering any payment details.
There are plenty of alternatives, but none that we’ve found as good.
They include iTubeGo, which offers a basic interface, but allows downloading playlists and 4K videos. It’s more expensive at $29.95 though.
If you want a free option, try WinX YouTube Downloader. It will prompt you to upgrade to the full version which includes conversion to other formats (including MP3), but if you can handle them, it won’t cost you anything.
The process is virtually identical to using a website: you copy and paste the video URL into the app. Then you choose the options, such as the resolution to download, then click the Download button. Most apps allow you to create a list of videos and then download them all at once. Some even allow you to paste a YouTube playlist and automatically download all the videos.
Download YouTube Videos in Web Browser
If you want to save videos without installing an 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, as they are regularly bombarded with cease and desist notices from copyright owners.
Moreover, these websites tend to redirect you to other sites which may or may not be safe and could pose a risk to your computer. That’s why, firstly, it’s important to use top quality antivirus software and secondly, why we no longer recommend this download method.
Previous sites that we had been using for years, such as SaveFrom, no longer works in the UK or US, and even if you find a “safe” site that will allow you to download videos, there are usually restrictions.
Typically, you’ll be limited to downloading a lower-quality 720p version, even if a video is 1080p or 4K. And not all of them will download audio only (from a video clip, for example).
Sometimes you will find that the videos are downloaded in WebM format. You can convert these videos to MP4 – or any format you like using Freemake and Any Video Converter, or you can download and install VLC, which is a free video player that can play just about any file .
How to Download YouTube Playlists
Sometimes you have to pay for software if you want an easy life. Again, ByClick Downloader is what we recommend.
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 below where you can choose the videos you want from the playlist. A simple click on the Download button is then sufficient.
You get a one-day free trial to see if you like the program, but after that you’ll have to pay $9.99.
How to download music from YouTube?
Sometimes you may want to download audio only from YouTube video. The easiest way to do this is to use one of the above methods and choose MP3 (or whatever audio format is offered). This way you will only download the audio track, without any video footage. This is great if you just want to download music or audio from a YouTube podcast, and not have to open and run YouTube on your phone while you listen.
It is possible to listen to YouTube in the background with this workaround for iPhones and another 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. It will let you download songs and even music videos, but is limited to music – you won’t be able to download other videos like you can with a YouTube Premium subscription.
Download YouTube Videos to Phone or Tablet
There is the official YouTube Premium service that we have already mentioned, but there are other applications that allow you to download videos directly to your Android phone (including free), but it is more difficult on the iPhone. We have written separate guides for the two types of device:
But remember that you can also download videos to your laptop using the above methods and then transfer them to your phone or tablet, or download them to a cloud storage service, where you can then access the videos on any device.
To copy files from Windows to Android phone, connect the two with a USB cable and use Windows File Explorer to copy the video files to the appropriate folder, usually named Movies. Then you can play the video using the Gallery app or another video player on your phone.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, import the file into iTunes, then sync it to your iOS device. You can also drag and drop the file(s) to your iPhone or iPad via the Applications tab when you click on your device in iTunes. All you need is an app, such as Good Reader or another video player app that can transfer files using this method.
If you don’t want to use iTunes and are happy to pay, Waltr 2 is a great little utility for copying videos, music, and other files to your iOS device so they appear in native apps. To learn more, check out our guide to transferring videos to iPad and iPhone.
Finally, here’s how to download any online video – not just YouTube, although almost all of the apps and services mentioned here also download videos from other streaming services and social media platforms, including Facebook and DailyMotion.