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How to download YouTube videos (simple, step-by-step guide)

Picture this: 

You’re settling in your seat for a 4 hour flight. There’s no in-flight entertainment and you haven’t brought any books because you don’t need to. You have your phone. 

Your amazing constant companion. 

And then the air hostess reminds you to put your phone on flight mode and you remember…no internet, no YouTube! No YouTube, no viewing content. That 4 hour flight is about to seem a heck of a lot longer…  

If only you could have downloaded YouTube videos beforehand, right? It would certainly solve a lot of problems, not just in-flight boredom.

Now, right off the bat, let’s be clear: there are issues with downloading YouTube videos, both legal and ethical. But there might be circumstances where, if you’re in a pinch, you find yourself facing a spell without an internet connection – and desperately in need of an alternative.

Whatever the reason, if you need to learn how to download YouTube videos then you’ve come to the right place! 

Can I download a YouTube video?

First, it’s important to cover the legalities and ethics around downloading a YouTube video. 

A lot of creators on the platform make money through the ad revenue they receive from people watching their videos on YouTube. And when you download their videos from the platform, they lose out on that revenue. So it’s not something you should do consistently.

And you shouldn’t need to do this often. It’s very easy to watch YouTube videos on any device, and sharing is as easy as copying and pasting a link. 

From a copyright point of view, if you’re downloading videos for your own personal use offline – meaning you’re not sharing them or trying to make money from them yourself – then that’s probably less of an issue…but it’s still technically not allowed byYouTube. 

Here’s what Google has to say (in the terms of service for YouTube): 

“You are not allowed to…access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except: (a) as specifically permitted by the Service; (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders; or (c) as permitted by applicable law.”

So Google does actually specify that you are not allowed to download videos. If you really, really have to then you are doing so at your own risk.

How to download YouTube videos

Despite all of the above, a number of tools have popped up that allow people to download content from YouTube.

In this section, we’ll list a few.

1. For Windows

Windows users can download YouTube videos easily using an app called 4K Downloader.

From the website just click ‘Get 4K Video Downloader’ and download the app to your device. 

Load it up and paste the link of the video you want to download by clicking Paste Link

After that you’ll be asked to choose what quality you want your downloaded video to be: 

And that’s it! All you need to do now is load it up with your chosen video player.

With 4K Downloader you can download up to 30 YouTube videos every single day to be enjoyed offline! 

2. For Mac

If you’re a Mac user, the most straightforward way to download YouTube videos is with the MacX YouTube Downloader.

It’s free to download and super easy to use. 

All you do is copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to download and then click Add URL within the MacX YouTube Downloader. 

From there, just hit Analyze and then the big blue download button. 

3. Using YouTube Premium

Although it says in YouTube’s Terms of Service that users shouldn’t download videos for offline use, there is actually an option to do this if you upgrade to YouTube Premium.

All you need to do is open a video within a YouTube app. You should see a grey download button beneath the video: 

Click on that and you’ll be asked what quality you would like to download the video in:

When you click OK, the download will begin. And the grey download icon will turn blue once the download is complete: 

Downloaded videos are saved to be watched offline for 30 days. If you require the videos after that time then all you need to do is download them again. 

Once your videos are downloaded you can visit your YouTube app without a connection and watch them: 

The important thing to note with this option is that downloaded videos remain within the YouTube app, and must be watched there. 

4. Online Converters

If you don’t want to download an app or pay for YouTube premium, there are other ways to download YouTube videos. 

You could use an online converter or a browser extension. But note that most of these come with restrictions on quality and so on. 

Plus, because of the questionable nature of whether this is ‘allowed’ or not, these sites often change and are sometimes deleted completely – which is why we haven’t linked to any in this article.

If you would like to use an online converter, our best advice would be to search online for one and see which ones work at the time! 

Final thoughts

Remember that YouTube is a business for many people and that – by downloading content rather than watching it – you potentially deprive them of well-deserved payment for their work. 

If you’re in a pinch and need to download videos from YouTube, the tools in this article will do the trick. But, due to the ethics and legalities involved, you should always watch video through YouTube wherever humanly possible! 🙂

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