So you want to download YouTube videos? It’s not surprising; after all, in our increasingly mobile world, you might want to watch a new music video or viral sensation, only to find yourself thwarted by a lack of Wi-Fi or a restrictive data plan. Thankfully, if you want to store your favorite videos, there’s no shortage of web-based and desktop software specially designed for downloading videos from YouTube.
Here’s everything you need to know to download YouTube videos. But first, a quick disclaimer: It is generally legal to share and embed YouTube videos on the internet, but downloading them for your own offline use isn’t always permitted. Downloading videos is a violation of the YouTube Terms of Service, unless YouTube has explicitly given permission to download. While we’ve tested the methods listed below, some of them may have ads that link to shady websites or even download adware. As with any website, be cautious when clicking on links and installing new software.
If you have VLC installed on your computer, you’ve already got a great tool for downloading videos from YouTube. It’s not as straightforward as other methods, but it still allows you to bypass ad-riddled websites and other third-party software that you might otherwise seek out. And if you don’t have it, you can download it here.
Step 1: Head to the YouTube video you’d like to download in your browser, and copy the URL. Then, launch VLC as you would normally, and click “Open Network Stream.” Then, paste your YouTube URL in the box housed within the Network tab. Your video will automatically start playing in VLC. Neat, right?
Step 2: Right-click the video, then click “Codec Information” from the resulting drop-down menu.
This will bring up a screen with all sorts of information about the video, but we’re only interested in the “Location” bar at the bottom of the window. This will showcase the exact URL of the video, direct from Google’s own servers. Go ahead and copy this location, then head back to your browser and paste it in the address bar.
Step 3: The video will then play directly in your browser. Right-click the video, then click “Save As.” That’s it! The video is now on your hard drive.
There are downsides to using VLC, however. You can’t convert the video to another format, for instance, or choose which resolution you prefer. But the software still gives you access to your videos faster than other tools, mostly because it downloads straight from Google’s servers. Best of all, this method doesn’t require any third-party tool or website, other than the open-source VLC player.