How To Download YouTube Videos For Desktop and Mobile (8 Ways)

David Utke •  Updated: December 27, 2022 •  Website Tutorials

I love YouTube. Not only is it the largest on demand video platform in the world that can provide endless entertainment and a college level education for free. It has also changed the lives of countless creators by allowing them to develop a profitable online business.

With multiple channels with over 100 million subscribers, it is quite clear that YouTube is only going to continue to grow massively as it eats into TV’s market share. With so many great channel providing helpful tutorials, how-to content and education, I know it’s valuable to be able to download content.

You may also be a YouTuber yourself and have lost a video you created. Well, if you uploaded it to YouTube you can download it again (though only at 720P however).

How to download YouTube videos

To download YouTube videos to watch later is simple and easy. There are a few legal ways and a few ways that are against the TOS. In this post I’ll cover all your options. I personally don’t condone or recommend violating the TOS of YouTube, but to make this content honest and complete I’ll include all options.

1. YouTube download feature

Note: This is only available in select regions and/or with YouTube premium.

First, YouTube does provide a free download service in select regions where users can save videos to watch later. Videos can be saved to 480p max and this feature intended for personal use to watch later.

To get started, see if you have the download option available. If your in the United States you will need YouTube Premium to unlock the download, save for later feature. You may need to click the three dot icon to reveal the download button. Once you do, you’ll see a “download” option. Go ahead and click it.

If this is available in your region, or if you have YouTube Premium simply click on the download button and you’ll be prompted to decide on the video quality of your download:

You can choose between standard and low. The choice depends really on the device you’re saving videos to. If you’re on your phone with a smaller screen and less storage, the 144p is ideal as it won’t take up space.

To find the videos you downloaded, simply navigate to the your main menu on the YouTube homepage and find the button that says downloads:

I’m currently writing this from Thailand where I’m a digital nomad, in this country you can download videos to watch later.

2. How to download your own YouTube videos

Alright, I’ve been here and had this problem. Say you created a YouTube video and you swear you saved it to cloud storage or an external hard drive but find out that the video you created is gone.

Well, if you uploaded it to your YouTube account you can download your own videos that you created. All you have to do is log into your YouTube account and navigate to the the YouTube studio dashboard:

Here you can click on the three dot ellipsis icon menu and you’ll see an option to download your YouTube video. Please note that the quality is degraded and you’ll only be able to download to 720p. So if you’re upload 4k videos, make sure to get a proper, high quality external storage device.

3. Use a hosted video converter

Note: This is against YouTube’s terms of service.

Y2Mate is currently the most popular, free option for downloading YouTube videos to your desktop. Please note that using this website is against the TOS of YouTube and I don’t recommend or condone using it.

To get started simply visit Y2Mate.com or Y2Mate.is and you’ll be presented with YouTube downloader field. Copy and paste in the URL of the video you want to download. It will then convert the video into multiple formats from 1080P and lower.

Once the video is converted you can download it to your desktop or phone.

4. Use a web browser extension

Note: This is against YouTube’s terms of service.

There are a few web browsers that enable you to download YouTube videos up to 1080P. First, you need to download the Firefox web browser. Once downloaded and installed, click on the hamburger menu and click on “themes and add-ons.”

In the themes and add-ons section, simply type in “download YouTube videos” and you’ll see multiple extensions you can install. These extensions will add a button when your on YouTube that will enable you to download the video to your desktop.

5. Screen record YouTube videos

Note: Not intended for commercial purposes.

Another often over looked method is to just record your screen and play the video you want to download. While technically not downloading the video so it does not violate any YouTube terms of service, videos on YouTube are copyrighted so you can’t do this for commercial purposes.

The best screen recorders are OBS Studio for Windows (free and awesome) and QuickTime player for Mac IOS. I also like using Snagit for quick screen recordings. It’s not free, but it’s also not particularly expensive. One great thing about Snagit is is uses a variable frame rate so files are small and efficient.

With any screen recorder please make sure you are recording your “system audio” and not the on-board, built in microphone of your laptop. You want to record the audio of the video, not of the ambient noise of the room you happen to be in.

6. 4k Video downloader – The best software tool

Note: This is against YouTube’s terms of service.

Another option available are the numerous paid, software tools that allow you to download video in up to 4k. These tools are helpful because it’s really the only way you can download a video in 4k that was uploaded in 4k.

The current, and most popular software tool is 4k video downloader found at 4kdownload.com. With this tool, you can purchase an unlimited license, can download videos in 4k, subtitles as well as private YouTube content like private playlists. You can even set it to download the video content from an entire channel.

Last, you get access to batch downloading, multiple file format compatibility (FLAC, AAC, MP4 or MP3) and a basic, built in video editor that’s good enough for clipping and cutting sections out.

7. VLC Media Player

Note: This is against YouTube’s terms of service.

The VLC Media player is a must have if you’re on Windows, simply due to it’s compatibility with multiple codecs. Once unique thing about this player however is it’s ability to download videos, which most people are surprised you can even do. Here’s how it works.

Copy the video URL

Visit YouTube and copy the URL of the video you wish to download.

Open the VLC Media Player

Open up the VLC media player, in the menu find where it says “open network stream” and paste in the URL. Click the play button and your YouTube video should begin playing within the VLC media player.

Hit “ctrl I” for media information

Once you open up the “current media information” box for the video that is playing, you’ll notice a “location” box. This location box will have a long URL. Copy and paste this URL into your web browser. For Mac users you’ll need to use the “open URL” option.

Save and download the video

You now have the raw video file playing in your browser. From here click on the ellipse icon. You should see a download option. You can now download the video in an MP4 format.

8. How to download videos on mobile

Note: This is against YouTube’s terms of service.

With mobile, you a bit more limited than you are on desktop but there are few quick and easy ways to download YouTube videos.

Android

If you’re on an Android device, there are numerous apps you can download that enable you to download YouTube videos to your phone. These apps are usually slow and ad heavy, but they do allow you to download videos.

IOS

On IOS there are no apps that allow you to download videos. Your only option is to use YouTube premium or to be in a country or region that allows you to download videos to save for later.

One alternative you can leverage is the ability to screen record on IOS. All iPhones come with an excellent, under-rated built in screen recorder. So if there is a specific video you want to watch later, you could record your screen.

Conclusion and executive summary

So there are all your options for downloading YouTube videos. In general, I suggest using YouTube premium to download videos to save for later. It’s easy, already built into the YouTube mobile app and it’s the best way to legally download YouTube videos in a compliant way.

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!

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