YouTube has been the leader in providing video sharing and video content services since it was first established in 2005. Just a year after it was founded, YouTube was bought by Google, and continues to be the most used and watched video sharing platform on the World Wide Web.

The question which many users have is – is it legal to download videos from YouTube?

The answer is that if you are planning on downloading a video in order to watch it later offline, or for your own personal viewing, then it is most likely OK.

But if you want to upload the video, send it to others, or use it in other ways, this could be an infringement of the copyright laws.

Watching any video or streaming a video on YouTube is perfectly fine.

But then, there are various sites that allow users to stream and download videos on YouTube, and none of them have been prosecuted yet. They may be removed from the Google Ad network so that they cannot make money out of the videos, though.

If you want to be sure that you are not in breach with the terms of services by YouTube and Google, you can check out the official Terms of Service of the video platform.

According to these terms, unless you have authorization or written permission by YouTube or, in some cases, the rights holders, you are not allowed to access, download, reproduce, transmit, distribute, sell, display, broadcast, license, modify or sell any of the content.

The main problem with watching videos offline is that the service and video creators make money through the ads which run with the video content.

If you want to share a certain video, YouTube has made sharing via various channels easier than ever, so if you plan on sharing a video, there is no need to download it.

But, if you are planning to download a video or two from YouTube because you want to watch it later when traveling or when offline, or simply so that you have personal access to it even without an Internet connection, there are several excellent websites, desktop software, browser extensions, mobile apps and more which will make the task easier.

Here are the most trustworthy YouTube download services, programs, and websites, which support 4K downloads, work with YouTube as well as with Vimeo and Facebook, which allow users to download entire channels or playlists, have an output for audio downloading, and which don’t contain malware or collect your personal data.

Software for downloading YouTube videos

There is some excellent third-party video downloading software that is easy to use and will enable you to download online videos in the highest possible quality.

These programs will allow you to download online videos in an MP4 file for HD 1080p format and MKV format for 4K or 8K quality videos.

MP4 is a multimedia format that can be played with any player on any compatible device.

MKV, known as Matroska, is actually a file that contains not only the high-quality video but also the codecs needed for playing it.

The best way to play an MKV video file is via the VLC Player, which you can use on your PC, MAC, Smart TV, phone, or other devices. You can use this player to watch just about any video format, downloads, and streams.

So, how to download the videos from YouTube which you want to watch later? Here is a list of the best programs to use:

VLC Media Player

Key features:

  • It is available for all platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linus, Android, iOS, Unix, and more
  • The player can be used for playing all types of content and media, including files, devices, disks, streams, and more
  • It can be used for playing most media files without the need for additional codecs packs, including MKV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3, WMV, H.264, WebM, and more
  • The software is completely free, without malware, ads, or tracking of your personal data

The VLC Media Player is the best tool to use for watching any kind of media on your computer, phone, Smart TV, or another device.

Apart from being completely free, easy to use, and one of the most versatile of all media players, VLC Media Player also has a somewhat hidden feature allowing for downloading YouTube videos.

The way to do it is to download and install the VLC Media Player on your computer or another device and then go to the YouTube video stream link you would like to open and copy its link.

Open the VLC Media Player and press Ctrl+N or select Open Network Stream. Then paste the link from the YouTube video and click Play.

Once the video starts playing, you should go to the Tools menu and select Codec Information. Find the box which says “Source” on the bottom of the menu and copy the URL which appears in the box.

This URL can be used in any browser temporarily for accessing and watching the video as well as for downloading it. Just copy the URL in the browser address window and then select the download option from your browser to save the video for later.

One problem with this YouTube video download method is that it will allow you to save the video in a resolution of up to 1080p (HD) but not a higher one, even if the original stream on YouTube is in 4K or 8K quality.

Another problem with using the VLC Media Player for downloading YouTube videos is that you don’t get an option to convert the video file into other formats of your choice.

But if you are already using the VLC Media Player and want a program that you can occasionally use for downloading videos from YouTube. In that case, this feature described above is easy to use and will eliminate the need for you to download and install additional software for downloading videos.

4K Video Downloader

Key features:

  • There is a Free Starter version and a personal lifetime subscription for only $15, which can be used on up to 3 computers
  • The software is very easy to use and completely automatized
  • You can download complete playlists and channels 
  • You can create your playlists
  • You can choose the format of the files and can download videos in 4K or 8K quality
  • You can also download and extract subtitles for the videos
  • It works with YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube gaming, Instagram, SoundCloud, TikTok, Twitch, Tumblr, and more
  • Available for Windows, Mac, Ubuntu Linux

The 4K Video Downloader is among the easiest third-party programs you can install and use to download online videos from most video sharing and streaming platforms and social media.

It can be used for free, or you can sign up for a lifetime personal subscription for only $15 or for a business plan for $45 to get access to all of its nifty features.

The program is preferred by thousands of clients because of its user-friendly interface and its ease of use.

All you need to do to download a video is to copy and paste a link of the video via the Paste Link button, and you will get started immediately. The program will allow you to download entire playlists, channels, and even the subtitles from YouTube.

You can also download private YouTube videos that you have access to, as well as 3D and 360-degree videos.

The 4K Video Downloader also has a Smart Mode, which will memorize your preferred settings and will make the downloading experience in the future even faster and easier.

With this program, you can easily convert files from one format to another, and from one resolution to another quickly and hassle-free.

You can also set up the software to automatically download the latest videos on a channel on YouTube, which you are subscribed to so that you never miss a single video from your favorite artist, vlogger, or other.

The 4K Video Downloader also has a built-in option for extracting the downloaded audio into MP3 format so that you can listen to the content on a music player, which eliminates the need for installing a specialized software for this type of conversion, such as the 4K YouTube to MP3 software.

WinX YouTube Downloader

Key features:

  • It works for videos from YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Yahoo, and others
  • Very easy to use, it will download a video with a single click of a button, no complicated settings to toggle
  • It is fast
  • Also available for Mac, for converting, and editing videos
  • It can download videos in all resolutions and in video formats like MP4, FLV, 3GP, WebM
  • You can also convert files into audio MP3 files
  • No ads or plugins

The WinX YouTube Downloader is a program offered by Digiarty Software, which is another easy to use software that allows users to download videos from more than 600 video and other sites.

The program doesn’t contain annoying adware, malware, viruses, and will not spy on you, track your data, or your browsing or downloading history.

The program is very easy to use and will look for the best quality source of any given video. All you need to do is to copy the link for the video of your choice, and the software will search and list all options.

It can download video files in most common video formats and will allow you to convert WebM to MKV format by simply renaming the file.

It works fast and can download multiple files simultaneously.

The program is free but doesn’t allow for downloading subtitles and closed captions.

5KPlayer

Key features:

  • Free to download for Windows and MAC
  • It is a combined media player, DLNA streamer, and a downloader for videos
  • You can use it to download videos and audio from YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and others
  • It will play videos of all resolutions and sources, including 4K, 360-degree videos, IPTV, DVD, and more
  • You can use it to enjoy listening to music, and it works with all music formats, including MP3, FLAC, AAC, APE, and more
  • It is completely free

The 5KPlayer is a multifunctional program that you can download on your Windows PC or MAC computer and use it as a media player, a streaming player, and a downloader for videos and audio files.

It does require registration in order to gain access to all of its features, but all you need to do is enter a name and email address.

The program promises compatibility with over 300 websites, including YouTube. In fact, you can download YouTube videos with the 5KPlayer without the need for registering.

Although downloading 4K or other videos from YouTube with this software is easy and requires only pasting the video URL and running the program, if you want to use the more advanced features like converting the file format and others, you will need to toggle with the different tools. This can be a downside for those of you who are not tech-savvy or don’t have experience with similar programs.

With this program, you will need to adjust the settings of each file separately if you want to download an entire playlist.

The player can be used for watching DLNA server videos and for downloading DLNA streamed videos. It also supports AirPlay to view the downloaded files.

You can also quickly convert any video from your library into an audio file in MPS, ACC, or MP3 format.

Overall, this is an excellent versatile program, especially given its multifunctionality, its price, and its functionality.

YouTubeByClick

Key features:

  • You can use a free trial version, or a premium version for $7.99 for a year, and $9.99 for unlimited lifetime access
  • Easy to use and can download entire playlists and channels of YouTube videos with a single click
  • A built-in file format converter
  • A search for the best video source
  • You can download YouTube and Facebook private videos
  • No ads
  • An integrated editing tool to create MP3 ringtones or add ID3 tags to the files
  • User-friendly interface
  • You will get personal recommendations for videos which may interest you

YouTubeByClick is an intuitive YouTube video download program for Windows, which is easy to use even by newbies.

It has a user-friendly interface with dials to adjust the file format and quality, and you can easily choose where to store your downloaded files and keep track of them.

The free version has a speed limit of 2Mbps, but if you pay for the inexpensive premium version, you can get a faster downloading speed, as well as access to features like downloading entire channels and playlists, subtitles, convert files and ensure your experience is completely ad-free.
The software will automatically detect a new video from the provided YouTube URL and will ask you whether to start the download.

Once you enter your Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube user names and passwords, you will also gain access to private videos and can download them easily as well.

Websites for online downloading of YouTube videos

If you don’t want to be bothered with downloading and installing a specialized program for downloading videos from YouTube, you can use one of the various online websites offering this service.

With websites like this, you don’t need to download or install anything on your computer or another device, and you will still be able to download any video of your choice for offline viewing.

Unfortunately, there are some websites that offer instant YouTube video downloads, which can be suspicious and risky to use.

Thankfully though, there are some which are safe and will not fill your computer with malware, viruses, or track your personal data.

Most of these websites are free to use and require that you paste a URL of the YouTube video you are interested in downloading. They can be slower than when using a dedicated program installed on your computer but are an excellent option for occasional downloading.

The VidPaw Free Online Video Converter

Key features:

  • An online free video downloader for all websites
  • You can download videos and audios in HD, MP4, and MP3
  • No need for registering
  • You can download playlists and batches of videos simultaneously
  • You can use it to record your video conference meetings on Skype, Zoon, Teams, and more, as well as audio from them
  • You can use it to convert and to edit your video and audio files into 300 different formats with various effects and enhancements
  • You can use it to rip Blu-ray and DVDs to more popular formats
  • A fast downloading rate
  • Available for PC, MAC, Android, iOS, and more

VidPaw is one of the best and safest websites that will allow you to download YouTube videos and other online videos directly, without the need to register or to download and install software on your device.

You can use this useful website to easily convert and edit your audio and video files, rip DVDs and Blue-Ray content and record online video or audio chats.

It is very easy to use, completely free, and you can get the service running automatically while using YouTube, by adding “paw” in the URL, as follows: www.youtubepaw.com

You can sign up for its desktop client if you want to have the VidPaw software on your Windows or MAC computer too.

Browser extensions for downloading YouTube videos

Browser extensions can save you tons of time and effort while surfing the internet, working, watching media content, shopping, communicating or others.

There are some excellent browser extensions which will allow you to download YouTube videos without the need to navigate to a specific YouTube downloading website, or without having to open a dedicated program for downloading videos.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that the most popular browser, Chrome, is owned by Google, who also owns YouTube, you will find it hard to find an extension at the official Chrome Web Store, which will allow you to download YouTube videos for Chrome. There are Chrome browser extensions that will enable you to download videos from other websites, though. You can also download extensions for Chrome from other sources. 

Here are some of the best browser extensions for downloading YouTube videos:

Addoncrop’s YouTube Video Downloader

Key features:

  • Available for Chrome, Opera, Edge, Vivaldi, and UCBrowser
  • Does not redirect you to other third-party websites
  • Easy to use automatic YouTube video download function via the press of a button
  • It can also be used to download and convert YouTube videos into MP3 audio files
  • It saves the files in the desired format on your computer
  • It supports downloading videos at resolutions from 144p up to 4K
  • You can use it to download audio streams or dash videos
  • You can use it to download videos from embedded YouTube videos on all sites
  • You can also use the extension to capture screenshots of the video

Video DownloadHelper extension

Key features:

  • Available for Chrome or Firefox (only the Firefox extension works for YouTube videos)
  • It works for hundreds of video sites, social media, and even for adults content
  • It will highlight any embedded videos on any website which can be downloaded
  • You can use the extension to convert video or audio formats
  • You can also use to combine several media files in one
  • There is a premium version which is paid and offers additional features which will make downloading YouTube files, converting them, and editing them even easier

Threelly A.I. Bookmarks For YouTube CRX

Key features:

  • Even though this browser extension does not download YouTube files, it can easily help you bookmark any videos on YouTube
  • Available for Chrome
  • Uses AI and algorithms to analyze videos by key points and features of interest for personalizing your YouTube insights
  • It is free, with added premium features for $33 to $133 per year
  • Excellent for students, tutors, YouTube uploaders, gamers, broadcasters, and other YouTube users

Mobile apps for downloading YouTube videos

For those of you who prefer to use your mobile phones for viewing and possibly downloading videos and audio from YouTube, there is some bad news. 

Since Google is the owner of the Android system, there are minimal options when it comes to Android apps for downloading and converting videos from YouTube at the Google Play Store.

You can download and view YouTube videos offline on your Android phone if you have subscribed to the YouTube Premium service. 

There are also some apps that can be found at other websites, such as the InsTube YouTube Downloader, which will allow you to watch videos and listen to music from YouTube, even without an Internet connection. You will need to download the Android Application Package (APK), enable the “Unknown Sources” security settings, and install it on your Android phone or device in order to use this mobile app. It works for downloading videos from other websites and platforms, such as Vimeo, Vine, DailyMotion, Instagram, Twitter, and more.

Even with an Apple phone, finding a suitable and working app for downloading YouTube videos is not as easy. Most of the available iOS apps will not work with YouTube due to the prohibitions of YouTube’s Terms of Service.

Even if you find an app for iPhone which works, chances are that it will be quickly banned. So, the only way to install and use a YouTube video download app for iOS is to jailbreak your iPhone.

Another way to work around the bans is to use a file manager for iOS like the Documents by Readdle file manager and media player. You can access a YouTube video via your iPhone’s Safari browser and copy the link. Then open the app and paste the URL into its built-in browser. You will then be given download links for the video and can click on them to save it to your device in the Photos folder on your iPhone.

Another way to download videos from YouTube to your iPhone is via the AnyTrans app. Use the app to download the videos you want on your computer, and then you can easily transfer them to your iPhone via a cable connection.

Final words

Hopefully, we have helped you find the best way to download the videos and audio files you want from YouTube.

Remember that distributing, selling, and otherwise tampering with YouTube videos can be illegal, so make sure that you use your downloaded files for your personal viewing and listening offline only.

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