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 YouTube video 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. As such, I won’t be covering anything that violates YouTubes terms of service. All the methods here are above board.
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.
Once the video is converted you can download it to your desktop or phone.
3. 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.
How to Download YouTube videos – Conclusion
So there are all your options for downloading YouTube videos that are within the TOS for YouTube. If you have access to download videos I suggest doing that. Screen recording videos is also a useful way if you want to save videos for reference later.