How to Download YouTube Videos on Mac

The easiest ways to save YouTube clips to Mac

YouTube is a fantastic source of entertainment when you have an internet connection. There's also no guarantee your favorite video will be available tomorrow, so it pays to know how to download YouTube videos on Mac. But, there is no official way to download YouTube videos on a Mac, which leaves a sometimes confusing world of unofficial solutions.

A woman saves a YouTube video on her Mac.
 TravelCouples / Moment / Getty

Why Can't You Download YouTube Videos on a Mac?

Unless you're willing to pay for YouTube Premium, YouTube doesn't provide any official way to download videos. And even then, only iOS and Android users are provided with the option to download YouTube videos for offline viewing. YouTube puts these policies in place to help fight piracy, but what if you just want to watch some YouTube videos in the car, or in bed where the Wi-Fi is spotty?

There are a number of unofficial ways to download YouTube videos on a Mac, each of which has some benefits and drawbacks:

  • Use the built-in Mac screen recording feature: This is the easiest method because it uses the screen recording feature that's been built into every version of macOS since Mojave. The drawback is it doesn't record sound.
  • Use a third-party app: YouTube doesn't provide an app to download videos on Mac, but third parties have stepped in to offer that service. Some of these apps are a little suspect, so stick with trusted names.
  • Use a third-party downloading website: This method is easy as well, but it's potentially dangerous. Never visit a third-party downloading website without installing a strong ad blocker and antivirus software.

How to Download YouTube Videos on a Mac Using the Screen Recorder

Every version of macOS since Mojave has come with a built-in screen recorder that you can access at any time by pressing an easy key combination. This tool is capable of recording the entire screen or just a portion of the screen, and you can also use it to capture static screenshots.

The catch here is that when you use this tool, you don't capture sound. The result is a silent YouTube video that you can watch any time, even if you don't have an internet connection.

Consider pressing the CC (closed captioning) icon on your YouTube video before you record it. Doing so will result in a silent video with subtitles if the video supports closed captioning.

  1. Navigate to a YouTube video that you want to download using the web browser of your choice.

    A screenshot of YouTube.
  2. Press Shift + Command + 5 to bring up the screen recording interface.

    The screenshot controls in macOS.
  3. Resize the selection to fit the web player, and click Record.

    A screenshot of the macOS screen recording feature.
  4. When the video finishes, click the stop recording icon (square inside a circle) located at the top of the screen on the menu bar.

    A screenshot of recording a video with the stop recording button highlighted on macOS.
  5. Your video will be available in your Documents folder, unless you have selected a custom destination.

How to Download YouTube Videos on a Mac Using an App

If closed captions just won't do it, and you need to download YouTube videos with sound, then the most reliable way to get the job done is to use an app like Parallels Toolbox.

There are a lot of apps that can accomplish this task, but Parallels has been around a long time, so you don't have to worry about accidentally installing malicious software on your Mac. The catch is that Parallels isn't free, but it does have a free trial to check it out.

If you opt to use a free app instead, make sure to research the reputation of the developer and consider installing a good antivirus suite first just in case.

Here's how to download YouTube videos on Mac using Parallels Toolbox:

  1. Launch Parallels Toolbox, and click Download Video.

    A screenshot of Parallels Toolbox.
  2. If prompted to install the Safari extension, click Cancel. You can always install it later if you like.

  3. Locate the YouTube video that you want to download.

    A screenshot of a YouTube video.
  4. Select the YouTube Video URL, and drag it to the Parallels window.

    A screenshot of dragging a YouTube video to Parallels.

    You can also paste the URL to your video into the Parallels window to initiate download.

  5. Click Download or Download Selected.

    A screenshot of downloading a YouTube video with Parallels Toolbox.

    If you paste or drag a YouTube playlist, you can download multiple videos at once.

  6. Parallels Toolbox will download your video or videos.

How to Download YouTube Videos on a Mac Using a Website

If you don't want to install an app, you can also download your YouTube videos using a web converter. These tools come and go, and they tend to be supported by invasive pop up ads, so this isn't the most reliable method. It is very easy though, so just be sure to either use an ad blocker or a browser like Brave that blocks ads natively to avoid any problems from invasive or misleading ads.

Here's how to use the Y2Mate web converter to download YouTube videos on your Mac:

  1. Locate the YouTube video you want to download.

    A screenshot of a YouTube video.
  2. Alter the URL of the video by inserting "pp" immediately before ".com" so that it looks like youtubepp.com/watch?v=xyz, and hit enter.

    A screenshot of a YouTube video.
  3. Wait for the website to load, and then click Download.

    A screenshot of y2mate.com.

    If you don't see the download link, click Start and wait for the download link to appear. Alternately, you can navigate directly to this webpage and paste the URL for your YouTube video in the indicated field.

  4. Click Save.

    A screenshot of saving a YouTube video.
  5. Your YouTube video will save in the indicated folder.