Best Ways to Play YouTube Videos Offline

Top methods to get YouTube music videos into MP3 and MP4 files

Happy audience enjoying watching entertaining video on website using computer as movie theatre
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YouTube is a great place to watch your favorite music videos as well as discovering new artists and bands. The digital audio and video from this popular site is streamed, but what if you want to enjoy some of this content offline? Luckily there are several ways you can download and convert streaming media from YouTube to popular formats such as MP3 and MP4. In this article, we highlight some of the best ways you can do this using a mixture and offline and online techniques.

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YouTube Downloaders / Recorders

Third-party software is perhaps the most popular way that people use for downloading or recording YouTube videos to their computers and portable devices. There is an abundance of free applications that can take media streams from websites like YouTube and turn them into video files to use offline. Some software applications also have the ability to extract just the audio part from a YouTube video -- typically creating audio files in the MP3 format which can then be synced to your portable player.

As well as software that is designed specifically to download and convert YouTube videos, more generic applications are sometimes used too. Some download managers (like Free Download Manager for example) can have built-in facilities to download videos from streaming websites.

Two examples of free standalone software programs that can be used for YouTube include:

  • MP3jam can be used to create audio-only files in the MP3 format which can then be used on portable players, etc.
  • Audials Lite is an application that has the facility to record media streams from YouTube (and elsewhere) so you can watch the videos while not on the Internet.
  • YouTube-dl is a command line utility written in the Python programming language that lets you automatically download any video from YouTube via its URL. Since it's written in Python, you can use it on Windows, Mac, and Linux as long as Python's already installed.
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Offline Converters / Extractors

If you've already downloaded quite a few YouTube videos in the .FLV format and want to play them on portable devices that don't support this video format then you'll want to use an offline converter. This type of software often has wide support for different formats in order for you to convert to one that your smartphone, PMP, tablet, etc., can play.

Again, there are a plethora of apps (many of them free) on the Internet you can download which will transcode your collection of .FLV files to more compatible video formats such as MP4, MPG, and WMV.

If you want to create MP3s from YouTube videos, then there are also applications that can extract digital audio information. This is ideal if you have a portable that can't play video, but you want to listen to the soundtrack that accompanies the video stream.

Free applications that can be used for offline conversion / extraction include:

  • AoA Audio Extractor can extract the digital audio from video clips and convert to popular audio formats like MP3, AC3, and WAV.
  • Handbrake is a free software program available for multiple operating systems that can convert between many different video formats including FLV.
  • VLC Media Player -- some software media players also have built-in tools for converting between video and audio formats. To see how to use this software program for your downloaded YouTube videos, consult our guide on converting FLV to MP4.
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Online Converters

If you prefer to use cloud-based software to do the conversion for you, then there are many websites on the Internet now that support YouTube URLs. The main advantage of this is that you don't have to install any third-party software on your computer or portable device. Online converters that can handle video URLs usually have limited features compared to downloaded tools, but they often give you enough options to convert to several video formats.

Just like software utilities that can be downloaded and installed on your computer, some web-based converters can also extract audio from a video -- thus giving you a quick way to download just the soundtrack as an MP3 rather than the whole video.