We’ve all been in a similar situation, we find a YouTube video that’s so good you just need to have it on your hard drive, you go for the download button and… It’s not there. Why? Well, the problem with downloading YouTube videos is that Google doesn’t want you to do it outside of their official Apps, and since the general internet community doesn’t like being tied down to just one solution, there are generally several ways on how to download every video posted on the internet, ever, you just need to know how to do it.
In our guide, we’re going to show you how to download YouTube videos to PC, through websites and add- ons for your browser, but also show you how to download YouTube videos to your iPhone, download YouTube videos to your Android phone, and also how to loop a specific video which you want to listen on repeat for a while. But ,before we begin, let’s check out if this whole venture is actually legal.
Important: Due to the nature of this service, we’re updating this article almost on a monthly basis, so don’t be surprised if some of the services which were popular last year are not anymore on the list. We’re trying to find the best possible and virus free options available, and although we’re trying to be attentive, always try to be mindful of the buttons you click when visiting online YouTube converters.
What does the law say in regards to downloading YouTube videos?
One simple answer: It’s illegal. YouTube’s Terms of Service, which is being updated regularly, has made it clear that downloading YouTube videos through third party apps and unsupported ways, (which, funny enough, we’re going to show you anyway) is against their TOS, and thus, you can find yourself in trouble if you’re using ripped videos or music for your own monetary gain or for public use.
So here are some of the ways on how you could get in to trouble:
- You’re using the ripped song for live sets, mixes and DJ sets, and thus, are presenting it to the public.
- You’re using the ripped song as a background for your own video which is being monetized and with that, you’re earning money.
- You’re selling it for a profit, regardless if you’re the one profiting or someone else, and it also doesn’t matter what type of medium it is (website, app, CD, DVD, USB stick… Floppy drive – doesn’t matter).
- You’re being reported for copyright infringement and your laptop, full of ripped songs and videos from YouTube, is being taken from the law enforcement for a checkup.
What about anything else? Well, I’m not your lawyer, but as of now, everything except the above four points is looked at as “a gray area” of the internet world, similar to emulators. So if you’re using the content for your own personal use, on your own personal computer, which will not be checked by anyone else, then you’re good to go.
Now, to continue with our tutorial, with our first solution, which is downloading YouTube videos through online converters.
Downloading YouTube videos through online converters
This method tends to be our favorite because it’s so easy. These websites are designed for the sole purpose of getting hold of a video in the desired quality – a paste and click is usually all it takes. The downside, however, is that some of them will become less functional as YouTube makes updates to its interface. Furthermore, most won’t be able to download 1080p quality or above, so the best you can hope for is a 30 FPS 720p download. Not the best, but still better than nothing. But, before we continue on with the list, here’s a small caveat emptor:
What you need to watch out with online converters:
As you will start browsing through hundreds of available online converters, you will see that a good portion of them is filled with garbage content, pop-ups and all other DOWNLOAD NOW buttons which you need to pass until you can actually get the video or mp3 for which you came for. Try to always have an ad-blocker enabled on these sites, and have your antivirus software up to date, just so that you don’t get any unpleasant surprises. So, keep that in mind, and let’s continue with our list.
Best YouTube online converters and YouTube download websites in 2018:
Although you actually just need one working online YouTube converter, we listed out two of our favorites, since it’s always good to have a backup in case one of them fails to do the job. Be sure to bookmark both of them:
- y2mate.com: Our top pick, and with good reason. Right now, Y2Mate beats similar websites because of its ease of use and functionality. It doesn’t falter every time YouTube makes an update, and it doesn’t hassle you before letting you click on that sweet download button. Its quality options aren’t absolute, but they’re still decent: 720p and 360p is there, although the middle-ground 480p is conspicuously absent. A big plus is that it lets you download in video or .webm format (think of the latter as better-quality .gif images), as well as just download the audio without any image.
- savefrom.net: While it was our top pick before Y2Mate got popular, we feel it doesn’t work so well anymore. For starters, functionality issues have recently started to occur, where you might find yourself unable to load a video in the opening interface for no apparent reason. Furthermore, the site can feel a bit virus-y, as it tries really hard to get you to download an unrelated Video Downloader app from questionable sources. Yeah, no thanks. On the plus side, it can be used as a Firefox extension for added convenience, and it also features some less commonly found options, such as no-sound 1080p.
And that’s all you need to know in regards to online YouTube convertors, now we can jump over to a lesser known alternative, which is downloading videos through Firefox or Chrome, with the help of the community created add-ons.
Downloading YouTube videos through browser add-ons
Without a doubt, video-downloading add-ons are a more complete method of obtaining video files from YouTube and similar sites. You have more customization options, bulk downloads, resume feature and plenty of other stuff that will have you snatching those videos in no time. The downside is that they can be a bit difficult to set up for a novice user, although it definitely pays off once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
Since most internet users are turning to either Firefox or Chrome for browsing, we’ll list the optimal way of downloading videos through an add-on for Firefox, a way to bypass the restriction for Chrome users, and we’ll also show the few Firefox Quantum users how to get an add-on that works with their weird and buggy browser (yes, some actually use it).
Downloading YouTube videos on Quantum Firefox
Long ago, in a distant land of bytes, a browser was called Firefox was made. It worked pretty well, until Mozilla decided to rename it to Firefox Quantum and break its functionality for no reason. The change crippled most add-ons that made the browser worth using and made it slower and full of clutter. Because of this, most users will stick to the latest non-Quantum version, as the add-ons still work well (and no, you aren’t exposed to any security risks).
If, for some crazy reason, you’re among the penitent few that choose to punish themselves by using Quantum, then the best Quantum add-on for downloading YouTube videos is Easy Youtube Video Downloader Express – it offers similar functionality to UnPlug and DownThemAll!, which we’re going to mention below, but not as extensive as it can be. Also, in order to download 1080p and .mp3 videos, you’ll need to turn to the paid version, as the standard add-on doesn’t use a website for its juice and is therefore unable to handle the more difficult tasks.
Downloading YouTube videos on non-Quantum Firefox
In case you’re running Firefox version 56, or any of the lower editions, then you’re on the non-Quantum engine, and this part is for you. The perfect combination for downloading YouTube videos through non-Quantum Firefox are the add-ons UnPlug and DownTheMall. While each of these add-ons will advertise itself as a downloader, they need the other’s functionality to deliver what they promise.
UnPlug works as a scanner, in that it goes through a given website and finds all possible downloads. As you’ll soon notice, YouTube videos will tend to be oddly labeled and it might take you some trial-and-error to differ between a video and a website artifact on the list. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it and are ready to get your video, UnPlug will open DownTheMall and commence downloading. The second add-on has a much more user-friendly interface where it will be easy to see what’s what. You can configure your default download directory, resume or pause downloads, open the folder through the add-on and a lot more.
The last thing to keep an eye out is the name: YouTube videos downloaded through UnPlug will need to be renamed, as the default handle is “videoplayback”. You can do this before or after the download, but make sure to put .flv or .mp4 at the end – if you forget that, you will not be able to open the file.
Downloading YouTube videos on Chrome
Err… We said that Google doesn’t want you downloading videos from their website, right? Well, since Chrome is issued by Google, it blocks all YouTube downloads in the Chrome store, and there’s no standard way of getting around it. We’d recommend Chrome users turn to one of the websites mentioned above to get this functionality. Alternatively, you can get an app like Youtube By Click that mimics a browser add-on with YouTube download functionality for Chrome. We’re not fans of the shareware model for something so simple, and the free version might make your life difficult with ads and the option to only download low-quality videos, but that’s what you can get on Chrome…
Bonus: Looping videos without downloading them
We don’t know about you, but one of the biggest reasons why we feel compelled to download YouTube videos is the ability to repeat our favorite songs without having to click on the replay button again and again. Yes, YouTube has its own looping option, but it only works start-to-finish – if the beginning or the end of a video have an unnecessary intro, you’re forced to hear it every time the song plays.
Enter infinitelooper.com. This exceedingly simple website will let you loop any part of the video however many times you like with no hassle. There have been quite a few of these websites in the past, but they all tend to break when YouTube makes an update, and Infinite Looper is the top choice for the current interface. No longer will you have to sit through the 2-minute long intro every time you’re trying to play one of LMFAO’s songs. Just drag the pointer on InfiniteLooper to the 2-minute mark, and you’re all set to replay until your ears bleed.
What download-happy users can expect as the web moves forward
As we mentioned quite a few times, add-ons and websites only work for as long as they’re updated. While you’ll occasionally see an outdated add-on work like a charm, most times, an update to the YouTube’s interface or yet another downgrade to Firefox’s functionality will tend to render them useless.
This makes it important to keep track with current standards as you browse. If an ad-don suddenly stops working, you’ll know that a change to Firefox’s back-end likely made it obsolete. While there is a chance that the developer might need some time to bring it up-to-speed, in many cases, obsolete add-ons are simply left behind as new ones take their place.
In the future, we wouldn’t be surprised if downloading YouTube videos becomes even harder due to Google’s policy. They could change their entire website to a flash-streaming models that greatly hinders downloading choices – while it sounds extreme, it wouldn’t surprise us since they were willing to disable a basic functionality in their browser from the get-go.
Bring it on, we say. If that happens, you can count on Gadget Preview to deliver an updated guide with all of the complex steps necessary to topple the giant and download your favorite videos.