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Pocket your favorite videos with our guide to downloading from YouTube

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.

More: Play any video on any device with the best free video converters

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 the video in question. While we’ve tested the methods listed below, some of them may also 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.

VLC (Windows, MacOS, Linux)

If you have VLC installed on your computer, you already have 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.

Keep in mind that 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 a website or any third-party tools other than the open-source VLC player.

Step 1: Navigate 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?

vlc-youtube-download

Step 2: Right-click the video, click Tools, then select Codec Information from the resulting drop-down menu.

vlc-youtube-download-codec

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 for your video, directly from Google’s own servers. Go ahead and copy the link and paste it in the address bar of your browser.

youtube-downloading-video-url

Step 3: The video will then play within your browser. Right-click the video, click Save As, and wait for the download to complete. That’s it! The video is now on your hard drive.

vlc-youtube-download-file

Clip Converter (web-based)

Clip Converter is an easy solution for all your YouTube downloading needs. The Web-based utility is entirely free, requires no additional software to run and can quickly download videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, IMDB, Metacafe, MySpace, and many others. The tool features all the standard format types — from MP3s to WMVs — and even includes an option to edit embedded ID3 tags. Plus, there is a simple browser add-on for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, as well as a sleek desktop version for most popular operating systems.

Ads are relatively few and far between, no matter which platform you’re using, making it one the least invasive and streamlined tools of any YouTube converter out there. No wonder it’s garnered nearly 600,000 Facebook likes since its initial launch.

Step 1: Navigate to the main Clip Converter website and enter the appropriate URL for the YouTube video you wish to download in the black text field near the top of the page. Select your desired video format options — MP4, 3GP, AVI or MOV. In most cases, choose MP4 or AVI, which are nearly universal video file formats that will likely be compatible with your devices.

Clip Converter File to Download Selection Screen

Step 2: Check the various conversion options once the expanded settings panel appears. By default, the conversion will span the entire duration of the video, but you can always click the check box directly left of Start of Video or End of video to manually enter start and stop times down to the specific second. Next, click the gray Continue button beside the URL box.

Note: Don’t click anything outside the gray Cloud Convert box. I downloaded some unwanted spam browser extensions because I clicked the “download” and “play” buttons that exist outside the Clip Converter’s gray box.

Clip Converter Selecting Start of Video

Step 3: Check the bubble directly left of your desired output resolution from the list below the URL box and name your video file in the text box below. Keep in mind that although resolution is limited based on the particular video in question, many YouTube videos offer 1080p resolution, as well as lower-res options for those looking to save space. We suggest always choosing the highest resolution available unless you’re truly limited on space. Once done, click the gray Start button at the bottom of the page to begin the conversion process.

Selecting Video Quality in Clip Converter

Step 4: Wait until your conversion is complete, this could take a few minutes. Click the gray Download button. Then rename the file and save it with your other videos before clicking the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the window. Then watch the video on your desktop or upload it to your mobile device as you would normally.

Conversion Successfully Completed in Clip Converter
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