YouTube is one of the most visited sites in the world in the last two decades, its growth since its founding in 2005 has been frightening and always at a rapid pace, so much so that it is currently the second most visited site in the world after Google. It is therefore logical that many users ask us “how to download videos from youtube?” and “is it really legal?” In this article we will answer both questions and much more.
This web platform enables network sharing and display of multimedia content, virtually any kind. On this very popular site we can find video clips, trailers, short films, live streaming, movie clips, TV series episodes, slideshows and other content such as video blogs, original videos, instructional videos and more.
The evolution of this platform has also allowed users to interact with content creators by voting, commenting, adding to favorites, and sometimes even bookmarking videos. The majority of its videos are free and free to view, but in recent years, premium channels based on subscriptions, movie rentals, and even YouTube Premium and YouTube Music have sprung up, giving access to exclusive content.
In short, this site is one of the most loved and used in the world, and for this very reason, we find anything and everything within it, and often, we also come across videos so beautiful that we will want to have them with us, in our PC. To meet this need, in this article we are going to look at many different methods to understand how to perform YouTube video downloading. We will focus in particular on ways to do this for free, while also analyzing the risks involved in doing so.
If you want to know how to download videos from Twitter, you will find everything you need in our article: Download Videos from Twitter.
Is it possible to download videos from YouTube for free and legally?
This question comes to mind for many people when they want to find a way to download a video for free from this site. Let’s start with the fairly obvious fact that there are plenty of methods to transfer YouTube videos to our PC for free, and it is legal to be able to do so, but under certain circumstances clearly.
Taking a video from YouTube and saving it to one’s hard disk is very easy, we can also extract just theaudio present on YouTube to get an mp3 file and if we want, listen to it in the car stereo or in our media player with headphones, while doing other activities. In such cases, we should know that it is permissible to download a video from YouTube even if it was not produced and published by us. This is also true in special cases, such as if we decide to download an official video clip from a very famous record company or a creative video from a user who wants to self-promote on the web, but always depending on the circumstances.
The circumstances under which downloading music or video files from the Internet is lawful depend on the use we make of the file we download; to make a long story short, this operation is lawful from the point of view of the law when the use is one’s own and has no commercial purpose.
However, one must consider, in addition to the point of view of the law, YouTube’s contractual conditions and licenses to use the platform. All users upon registration must agree to these rules, and in these rules, however, we find that downloading is prohibited. There are also many protected videos that should not be downloaded, among them are videos that have special conditions contracted with YouTube, such as those of major record companies.
To see what we can do with videos, we need to look at the disclaimers that are sometimes placed at the bottom of video descriptions and check the type of license provided for the individual video. Usually when there is no disclaimer there should be no problem using a video, but otherwise, even by violating these rules established by YouTube, you are committing at most a civil offense and not a crime.
On the other hand, if you download a video with a disclaimer and after downloading, the user somehow puts the downloaded file back on the network even sharing it, it can be considered a crime in some cases.
To sum it up, we can simply say that it is legal to download a video, at least as long as we do not use it for profit and repost or share it on the Web.
Methods of downloading videos from YouTube
Now that we have cleared some doubts on the matter, let us see what options we have for proceeding to download one or more videos from this very famous web platform.
We should know that there are a lot of online services and programs that give us the ability to accomplish this task by saving Google-owned movies in different formats and resolutions. Most of these solutions are completely free and allow us to watch our favorite videos again at any time and on any device.
In fact, we can download videos not only from PCs but also from smartphones, tablets, and Smart TVs, and then watch them on any device we want. If what we want to do is to download songs, we find fertile ground here as well, since we can download only the audio part of the videos and save it in different formats, even as light as MP3 format to then listen to the tracks where we prefer.
In this section we will look at most of the methods that can be used to make a download quickly and easily. The first method we will see will be the official YouTube method, while the other methods we will see will be completely free even though they go against some official agreements of Google’s media files site.
Performing a video download with Google Premium
Let’s start with the basics, and take a look at YouTube’s official method for downloading videos, which recommends using YouTube Premium to perform this task.
YouTube Premium is a subscription service costing €11.99 per month, which provides access to the YouTube Music Premium music service and the ability to watch classic YouTube content without ads. This service can be tried for free for one month with no obligation to renew, it allows us to watch videos without ads while using other apps and download the videos to watch them wherever we like.
In addition, in smartphone and tablet apps, it allows us to continue video playback in the background and when the screen is locked, as well as providing us with offline downloading of videos.
Subscribing to this service is very simple, first we need to have a Youtube account or register if we don’t have one, then once in the home page of our channel from PC or other device, we need to click on the top right to open the menu and select the Purchases and subscriptions item. Having done that, a page will open that will present us with the available offers with some information, only of Youtube Premium and Youtube Music that will provide us with a free month trial.
To activate one of these subscriptions, we need to click on more information and then on Start Trial, at which point we only need to enter our prepaid card information and the subscription will be active. After a free month a monthly payment will be triggered, which we can deactivate whenever we want, even before the end of the trial month.
Once we are subscribed to this service, downloading a video becomes very easy, let’s see how to do it. If we are from a PC, we will need to use a compatible web browser, such as Google Chrome. Whenever we are faced with a video we want to download, we only need to press theDownload button found below the YouTube video playback player, after which we select the quality and format. Once a video is downloaded, we can find and manage it in the Downloads section, which we will find in a sidebar on the left side of the screen.
If we want to download movies directly from smartphones or tablets, we need to make sure we have the YouTube app on the device, and if not, download it from the Play Store on Android devices or the App Store on Apple devices. Once we own the app, we need to open it and register if we do not have an account or log in if we already have one. If we have subscribed to YouTube Premium, we can download to any video we are interested in. Once we are in front of a movie that we want to save to our device, we can tap on the Download button located below the player, select the quality and format of the file, and start the download by tapping on the OK button.
Download Youtube videos for free from websites
On the web you can find a lot of services that allow us to quickly download videos from YouTube for free, in this paragraph we will look at some of them.
Many of these sites allow us to download videos directly by copying and pasting the URL of a video, but also to download video Shorts and Playlists of whole videos. Some services even give us the option of converting files by switching between different formats or downloading only the audio part or the video part without audio of a movie.
These sites are also often blacked out by Google after a certain period of time since they go against YouTube’s guidelines, but new ones are always popping up, and to find them on the Web all you have to do is search with a Web browser for searches such as “online youtube downloader” or “video url download.”
Let’s take a look at the top three sites among those that currently exist.
YTGram is a website that allows downloading videos from YouTube for free and is very easy to use, it is one of the most interesting because it has many different formats and qualities to choose from. All we have to do to use it is to copy the link of the YouTube video we want to download into the search bar provided on the site. Once this is done, we need to press the button with the download symbol, and at this point, we will find a list of the same video but in different formats, quality and size.
We will then be able to download the video in MP4, WEBM, M4A formats with and without sound at the minimum resolution of 144p up to the maximum resolution of 1440p 60 Hz. Or we will be able to download only the sound part of the video without the images in MP3, M4A, and WEBM formats. Clearly depending on the format and quality of the images the file size will be more or less heavy.
Once we have chosen and clicked on the format and quality of the file, a window will open that will allow us to view and listen to the file. We will be able to download it by right-clicking and choosing the option “Save video as…” to put it in a folder on our PC or in the Download folder on our smartphone or tablet.
Another among the best sites for downloading videos from YouTube is VIDDownloader. Using this web platform, videos available on both YouTube and other video streaming platforms can be downloaded incredibly quickly and for free. Even with this choice we can select different formats and resolutions, and we can also get only the audio track from a video.
To use VIDDownloader, we need to open the service’s home page, copy the link of the video we want to download to the clipboard, paste it into the search bar in the center of the site, and click the Download button located below the search bar.
After a short processing, we will be provided with different formats and resolutions of the chosen video, and at this point we can download it in the form and quality we are most interested in. Formats supported by this site include MP4, 3GP, M4A, and WEBM; video resolutions start from a minimum of 144p to a maximum of 1080p. Also in this platform we can choose to download the videos without the audio part and vice versa. Once we choose the format with the desired quality, we have to click on it and it will appear in a new window, where we can download it by right-clicking and choosing the option “Save video as…” to put it in a folder on our PC or in the Download folder of our smartphone or tablet.
Let’s now look at Online Video Converter, which seems to be currently the best site for free video downloads from YouTube. The reason why in our opinion it is the best is the presence of a large number of options that allow us to choose numerous formats, video and audio quality, and even the possibility of downloading only a portion of the video, choosing the start and end time of the clip.
As with the previous sites, in this web platform all we need is the URL of the YouTube video we are interested in, which is entered into the search bar. Once this is done, we can choose the format in which to download the file, among which we find MP3, AAC, OGG, M4A, FLAC, WAV and MP4. In audio formats we will have as many as 6 different options for sound quality: 64 kbps, 96 kbps, 128 kbps, 192 kbps, 256 kbps and 320 kbps. As for video formats, we will be able to choose from 6 different resolutions: 240p, 360p, 480p, HD 720p, HD 1080p and Automatic.
Once we have decided what format and quality is right for us, if we are interested, we can choose a start and end point for the video, so that we only download a clip of a segment of video that we are interested in. To select a part of the video, we will have to enter the time when the clip starts in “Convert From:”, for example 00:02:00 if we want to start from the second minute, and then we will have to enter the time when we end the clip in “Convert To:”, for example 00:04:30 if we want the clip to end in the middle of the fourth minute.
After entering the settings to our liking, we will only have to press the Start button and wait for the file download to begin.
Download Youtube videos for free through PC programs
After we have seen the web platforms with which to download videos from YouTube, in this section we will look at software that gives us the ability to download videos without going through a web browser.
Many of these programs, somewhat like the sites, allow you to download videos directly by copying and pasting the URL of a video, but also to download video Shorts and Playlists of entire videos. Some services even give us the ability to convert files to different formats and download only the audio part without the video part of a movie or vice versa.
We will take care to point out the operating systems that support each of the software we are going to find; in addition, all the programs we will evaluate will have at least the basic version completely free.
Let’s take a look at the best free programs among those that currently exist.
4K Video Downloader (Windows/macOS/Linux)
This software for Windows and macOS allows us to download videos from YouTube and also from other Internet sites, very easily and with lots of additional options.
This software is one of the most comprehensive found on the web, allowing us to choose from various formats and different resolutions, supports subtitles, and allows us to download entire playlists. It has a few different subscription plans, but fortunately there is also a free basic plan with which we can download up to a maximum of 25 videos at a time.
To download this program to our Windows PC , we need to connect to the official website and click on the green button that says “Download 4K Video Downloader.” At this point it will start downloading the file that we need to install on our PC, we will just have to accept the terms of service and finish the setup by pressing the Next and Finish buttons. On macOS, on the other hand, once the file is downloaded, we will have to drag theprogram icon to the “Applications” folder.
Once the program is started and the plan to be used is chosen, we will only have to paste the URL of the video or playlist to be downloaded into the program. At this point we have a choice of many formats via the Format drop-down menu, and then select one of the resolutions, choose the location on the computer where to save the file taken from the video, and then click the “Download” button.
One of the most interesting things about this application is the ability to download videos in HD 1080p, HD 720p, 4K, and even 8K resolutions. This allows us to enjoy images in ultra HD definition on our TV, iPad, iPhone, tablet and even other devices. If we want, we can also download annotations and subtitles along with YouTube videos. Save them in different formats including SRT, selecting over 50 languages. Subtitles can be obtained not only from a single video, but from an entire YouTube playlist or even an entire channel.
Among the most useful features, this program allows you to extract video and audio from other platforms besides YouTube, such as: Vimeo, TikTok, SoundCloud, Bilibili, Twitch, Niconico, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, DailyMotion, Naver TV, Likee, Tumblr, and many others. 3D and 360-degree videos can also be downloaded.
JDownloader 2 (Windows/macOS/Linux and others)
This program is one of the most widely used download software in the world, is compatible with all major operating systems and is completely open source.
JDownloader is a free download management tool that makes downloading fast and easy with a huge community. Users have the power to start, stop or pause downloads, set bandwidth limitations, automatically extract archives and more. It is an easy-to-extend framework that saves download time.
This free download manager Is able to obtain media content from any web platform and can download files from major hosting services as well such as MEGA, RapidGator, Cloudzilla, etc. It is also very intuitive even for novice users who have no experience with this type of operation.
To download it on PC, we need to go to the official website of JDownloader and click on Download, then select the item according to the operating system of our PC. When the download is complete, you need to launch the installation file and complete the setup. During this installation some components necessary for the proper functioning of the program will be downloaded from the Internet. On macOS, once the file is downloaded, we will need to drag the program icon to the Applications folder to complete the installation.
Once the installation process is finished, we can start JDownloader, and copy the address of the web page containing the movie we want to download into the appropriate tab of the program. Now, from the main window of the software, go to the “Capture Links” tab and press the play button to start downloading the selected videos. Clearly, there are different formats and resolutions in this program as well, in addition to many options that allow us to customize its use.
Freemake Video Downloader (Windows/macOS)
The last program we see for PC is Freemake, one of the best video downloaders for Windows and Mac, which supports free downloading of videos from YouTube and many, many other sites.
Freemake Video Downloader allows us to download in many formats such as: MP4, WebM, 3GP, Flash, FLV, WMV, 3GP, PSP, MKV etc. It also allows us to download videos and shorts as audio files in sound formats such as MP3. It has no length limit for movies, so we can download audio clips, movies, TV shows, series, films and more to the PC in minutes.
With this program we can download media files from YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Twitch, LiveLeak, Veoh, and even many adult sites. The list is constantly being updated, and we can find a list on the site that lets us know which platforms are supported.
To download this program to our PC, we need to connect to the official website of Freemake.com and click on the free download button according to the operating system we use, Windows or macOS. At this point it will start downloading the file that we will have to install on our PC, we will just have to accept the terms of service and finish the setup by pressing the Next and Finish buttons. On macOS, on the other hand, once the file is downloaded, we will have to drag theprogram icon to the “Applications” folder.
Once the program is installed, we can start downloading content from sites such as YouTube in different formats such as MP4, FLV, 3GP, WMV, MP3, etc. As for resolutions, we can get files in 360p, 480p, HD 720p, Full HD 1080p and UHD 4K. The video downloader will show us the size of the video file before downloading, and allows multiple videos to be downloaded at once. Downloading a movie is very easy, as in the other programs we have seen, you just need to copy and paste the URL where the movie is and add it to the downloads.
Download Youtube videos for free through Android or iOS smartphone apps
Now that we know the software that gives us the ability to perform video downloading through a PC program, let’s look at the apps that allow us to perform the same operation from our cell phone or tablet.
Many of these programs, allow us to download videos directly by copying and pasting the URL of a video, but also to download video Shorts and Playlists of whole videos. Some services even give us the ability to convert files to different formats and download only the audio part without the video part of a movie or vice versa.
We will see some Android apps and some iPhone apps so, in addition, all the software we will evaluate will have at least the basic version completely free.
Let’s see what are the most valuable free apps in the Play Store and App Store.
Total is a very unique app; it is a web browser that allows you to download and manage files locally and on the clouds. Some time ago this web browser had the name Total Downloader, it works with automatic detection of URLs with which it downloads any file from the web. Very interestingly, it can be used on both Android and Apple devices, making it one of the most loved and used apps ever for this purpose.
To download this app we need to open the store included with our phone, Play Store for Android devices and App Store for iPhones and iPads, search for the app called Total and click on Install to proceed with the download.
Now that we have properly installed Total, let’s open it and take a look at the brief tutorial on using it. To start using it, we have to press the browser button and start surfing the Internet, going to the web pages where there is a movie or other file we want to download by starting its playback.
Once the playback of a media file begins, an alert should appear confirming that the content we are watching can be downloaded. At this point we need to tap on the button with the down arrow if we are using an Android device, while we will have to click on the button with the tick or check mark if we are using an Apple device. Click the button, choose a name to give the file and the folder where to save it, and start the download by clicking on the eponymous item. We will find all the downloaded files in the location we have chosen for saving, alternatively, we can open the app menu and click the “Archive” or “Folder” item found at the bottom left depending on the device we use.
AZ Video Downloader (Android)
Let’s look at a very interesting app that you can get on all Android devices. We are talking about AZ Video Downloader, an app that allows us to download videos from YouTube in a very fast, free and intuitive way.
This app allows us to download virtually any video, the video downloader automatically detects movies that can be downloaded. Its special features include a great download speed, the ability to download multiple videos at once, and the choice of many different resolutions. In addition, there is a web browser that allows us to find videos, get them, and share them with our friends. Compared to similar apps this is one that has less invasive advertising, usually an ad appears as soon as the app is opened but then there are no further ads.
To download this app we need to open the Play Store, search for the app called Video Downloader and click on Install to proceed with the download. Once installed we can immediately start downloading the videos we are most interested in and saving them in some audio and video formats.
Using this app is really very easy, once opened, we only have to search for videos in the search bar, and once we find the video we are interested in we can play and download it. Just before downloading we have to choose the quality and then press the download button, this way we can also choose the format and wait for the very fast download. Inside the app there is a folder where we can see all the downloaded videos, share them and delete them.
Since we have seen an Android-only app, let’s look at an iOS-only app. Documents is a very complex and feature-packed file manager, it is one of the most interesting and useful apps for managing and downloading any kind of files using its built-in web browser.
Documents is an app created by Readdle that allows you to read, listen to, view, and annotate files such as documents, books, and other media files, and is also a great program for downloading videos from any website and web platform.
To download this app we need to open the App Store, search for the app called Documents and click on Install to proceed with the download. Once installed we can immediately start downloading the videos we are most interested in and saving them in some audio and video formats.
Once we have it installed, let’s start it. When we first start up, we will be asked some questions and prompts to set the settings; in addition, there will be a short tutorial on the operation and features of the program. When we are asked what we want to use the app for, we should select the option “Download files from the web,” so that the app is prepared for this type of use.
Now that the app is ready for use, go to the home page and tap the blue compass icon in the lower right to open the browser built into Documents. We now open the page from which we want to download music or video and click the link or button to download the file we are interested in. We can rename the file and select the folder where to save it. Basically, Documents saves files in a dedicated Downloads folder; when a download starts, we can open the download manager at the bottom to manage all active downloads.
After the song or video is saved, we will find it in the Downloads folder or in a folder we choose or create, we can share the downloaded files with other apps and move them to other folders or programs. Documents is also a media player, this allows us to play any type of file we have downloaded, we can also create playlists, watch videos with subtitles and change the playback speed.
Unlike its predecessor, this app is available for both Android and Apple devices, is one of the most popular of its kind, and is used by millions of people around the world.
Amerigo is an advanced web browser that has a File Manager and supports a lot of cloud services such as Google Drive and DropBox. This browser is integrated with major cloud providers, which allows us to save lots of files in the cloud to free up space on the device and to access files in any situation.
Key features include.: a multitab browser, the ability to view downloaded files without the use of Wi-Fi, the presence of a browser history and favorites, support for file transfers to and from cloud services, support for multiple cloud accounts from the same provider, universal search among all cloud services and local files, and a file manager with multiple layouts and advanced sorting capabilities.
To download this app we need to open the store included with our phone, Play Store for Android devices and App Store for iPhones and iPads, search for the app called Amerigo and click on Install to proceed with the download.
As for how to use it, once the application is opened, you will need to click the menu in the top left corner and then tap on Browser. Now that we are within the browser, we will need to search for the platform or site on which the video we want to download is located. Once we are on the video page, let’s start playback, at which point, a notice will appear asking if we want to download the video and we press on the button with the tick or down arrow. Now an app window will open asking us for a name and destination where to save the file. We can find all the files we have downloaded in the local archive folder, we can also decide to change their format or move them to a cloud.