How to Download YouTube Videos to Your iPhone

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Watching YouTube videos on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch means pointing your web browser to or downloading the free YouTube app from the App Store, finding a video, and viewing. But what about your favorite YouTube videos? What if you want to watch them over and over again — even when you're not connected to the internet? This is especially important on the iPod Touch since it only has a Wi-Fi connection and not an always-on cellular connection like the iPhone.

In that case, you need to download YouTube videos to your iPhone or iPod Touch. A number of tools can help you do this.

Software for Downloading YouTube Videos to iPhone

Several tools are available that can save YouTube videos. Some are websites, some are programs that run on your computer, and others are apps that run directly on your iPhone. While this list is far from comprehensive, here are some options to look into.

Read reviews before you pay for an app or service.

  • ClipGrab (software for Windows, Mac, and Linux; free)
  • KeepVid (a web-based tool with a desktop version available; free)
  • Replay Media Catcher (software for Windows and Mac; paid)
  • Zamzar (web-based tool; free).

How to Download YouTube Videos

The exact steps required to download videos depend on which program you're using. These instructions roughly apply to most tools to download videos.

  1. Choose a tool from the list above or by searching for another option at the App Store or online.

  2. Once you have the tool installed and opened, go to YouTube (either in the app or in your web browser) and find the video you want to download.

    You'll probably need to copy and paste the URL of the video into the download app.

  3. When you're saving a video, choose the MP4 video format. Some tools won't give you this choice but offer the option to create a video for iPhone/iPod. That works, too.

  4. After the video downloads, it will either be on your iOS device or computer (depending on which platform the download app uses). If it's on your computer, you'll need to transfer it to your phone or tablet through iTunes.

  5. Find the video file, drag it into iTunes, and then sync your iPhone with your computer. In the Movies tab of the iTunes syncing screen, check the box next to the video you just downloaded from YouTube. Click the Sync button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    With that, the YouTube video has been downloaded to your device just like any other video—and you can watch it whenever, and wherever, you want. You can view it in the pre-installed Videos app.

  6. If you saved the video using an app, it might be in the app you used to download it. If so, you should be able to watch it there.

If the app didn't save the video, check the pre-installed TV (or, on older versions of the iOS, Videos) app. In it, you'll see all of the videos on your device, including the one you just added. Tap it to watch the video.

Should You Download YouTube Videos?

When people or companies post videos to YouTube, they want to share their content, but they may also want to make money. Many video creators get a share of the ad revenue generated by their videos. Some people, in fact, make videos as their full-time jobs and depend on ad revenue to live. When you save videos offline, those ads can't play, and the creators of the video can't earn money.

Besides the video creators, YouTube itself makes money from the ads. It has employees and expenses and both are paid, at least in part, with ad revenue.

You should only download videos for personal and private use. Otherwise, you risk violating the creator's copyright and could risk penalties under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Dealing With YouTube Videos on Older iPods

Some older iPods can play video, but none of them can connect to the Internet or run iOS apps. If you want to watch video on those models, you'll need to use a web-based tool or desktop software to download YouTube videos to your computer and then sync them to your iPod. The older iPod models that can play video are:

YouTube isn't the only place you can download video from. You can watch Netflix offline by downloading videos there.