How to Download Videos From YouTube

Save YouTube Content on Windows and Mac for Free

Man watching YouTube on tablet

 USA-Reiseblogger / Pixabay


Downloading YouTube videos isn't supposed to be a super-easy process. In fact, most videos there don't have download buttons, and YouTube uses HTML5, which complicates the process. Google, the owner of YouTube, would rather keep you on the website, serving ads, than let you consume content on your own hard drive.

To save a YouTube movie, you need to use a separate specialized device or service, most of which are free.

Respect Intellectual Property

Downloading copyrighted videos might be illegal in your country. Use these YouTube video downloaders only with your own content or for videos that are in the public domain.

How to Save YouTube Movies

Use a free or paid online service to get the job done or install a program to your computer that can save the video and convert it to a usable format.

The type of video downloader you choose doesn't really matter all that much; it can be based solely on personal preference because any of them will work.

Subscribe to YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium on iOS

YouTube Premium is not free but it does let you download YouTube videos to your iOS or Android mobile device. This method does not let you save the video to your computer.

This service works through the YouTube app (iOS or Android) or YouTube Music app (iOS YouTube Music or Android Youtube Music).

Other features included in YouTube Premium include the ability to watch YouTube Originals, play music in the background from your phone without the app showing, watch videos without ads, and stream Google Play Music ad-free.

Free Websites for Downloading YouTube Videos

These online YouTube downloaders are free and work in a web browser, so you can use them no matter what operating system you're running. Just go to the site, paste the URL of the YouTube video page, and the service will extract the video and let you download it.

Free Programs for Downloading YouTube Videos

You have to download these programs to your computer in order to save a YouTube video. Some of them only work with Windows, and the last one is for Linux only.

How to Use These YouTube Downloaders

For every website or program listed above, you have to know the URL of the YouTube video. While on the YouTube page of the video you want, just right-click the URL in the navigation bar of your web browser, and choose to copy the text or link.

Then open one of the websites or programs from above and paste the URL into the text field. Some of these methods for downloading YouTube movies let you pick the video format, such as MP4 or AVI, or quality before you download them.

Some of these YouTube downloaders also let you extract the audio from the video, which is useful if you'd rather have just the sound. On the other hand, others won't even let you download the video unless it's free from any music.

Screenshots showing how to use GenYoutube to download a YouTube video

GenYoutube is a unique website for downloading YouTube videos since you can go to the YouTube video and change the URL to immediately redirect the page to GenYoutube. To do this, put the word gen right before the word youtube in the URL, such as

Use a Browser Plugin

Firefox, Opera, and Edge support plugins that extract and download videos from YouTube. Check each browser's plugin store for a list. Pay careful attention to consumer ratings and the plugin's requested permissions, given that any browser plugin could serve as a vector for malware or data leaks.

Plugins such as Flash Video Downloader and Video Downloader Professional usually get the job done.

No Chrome Plugins

Looking for a video download plugin for YouTube in Chrome? You won't find one. Google disallows Chrome plugins unless video-extraction features are explicitly disabled for YouTube. To use a plugin in your browser, you'll need to use Edge, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, or any other browser that supports media download plugins.

How to Convert YouTube Videos

If you'd rather have the video in some other format, like one that your phone or tablet supports, you can always just load it into a free video converter program and save it to a different file format. It's also possible to download the videos directly with your phone or save them to your iPhone's camera roll.

On the other hand, if all you're after is the audio from a YouTube video in a format like MP3, check out a guide on how to convert YouTube videos to MP3 for several ways of doing this.