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How to download YouTube videos

Updated on 08-11-2014 by Brandon Widder: Added a new video explaining how to download YouTube videos.

Since the launch of its first video in 2005 (the riveting “Me at the Zoo”), YouTube has become a phenomenon, bolstered by its passionate community and accessed by hundreds of millions of people each day. But how do you watch YouTube when you leave your network behind?

Maybe you just absolutely need to watch the music video for “Gangnam Style” once last time, or simply ogle tiny hamsters eating tiny burritos while on the go, without eating up all your cell phone data or adhering to staggering video feeds that pause every five seconds without warning. Or maybe, just maybe, you just want to compile those cute, cuddly, can’t-get-enough-of-them cat videos for your personal enjoyment when your Wi-Fi is on the fritz or suffering from poor bandwidth issues. Either way, there’s a handful of Web-based and desktop software specially designed for downloading videos from YouTube — regardless of whether the content owner has made the video available.

Though tempting, is downloading said videos without permission legal? Not necessarily. Nonetheless, here’s everything you need to know to about downloading YouTube videos.

Skip ahead for how to download YouTube videos using Any Video Converter or YTD Video Downloader. Also, see disclaimer at the end of the article for legal issues with downloading.

Related: Best free video convertersBest free media playersHow to convert MP4s to MP3.

How to download YouTube videos using Clip Converter (Web-based)

Now officially out of the beta phase, Clip Converter is an easy solution to 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 your 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. Afterward, select your desired video format for the resulting video from the list of commonplace options — MP4, 3GP, AVI or MOV — to bring up additional output settings. For most users and electronic devices, MP4 or AVI format will suffice considering the sheer level of compatibility each format offers.

Clip Convert Select

Step 2: Check the various conversion options once the expanded settings panel appears. By default, the conversion will encapsulate 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.

Convert 2

Step 3: Check the bubble directly left of your desired output resolution from the resulting list beneath the URL box and name the resulting file in the text box below. Keep in mind that though 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. However, 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.

Convert Save

Step 4: Wait until your conversion is complete, and once done, click the gray Download button near the middle of the resulting page. Afterward, rename the file if desired and select an appropriate save location before click the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the window. Then, simply watch the video on your desktop or upload it to your mobile device as you would normally.

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How to download YouTube videos using Any Video Converter (Windows/Mac OS X)

Besides being one of our go-to choices for extracting audio from a video file, Any Video Converter is also a fantastic tool for downloading and converting videos from popular sites such asYouTube, Nicovideo, and others. The software supports the conversion staples — AVI, WMV, MKV and more than 50 other accessible formats — as well as batch conversion and a customizable output management for tailoring your video for your desired device.

Like Clip Converter, video files can be trimmed to a specified length by inputting the appropriate start and end times, and there is even a function that will allow you to merge multiple videos in varying formats into a single unified file. The added video editing tools for cropping, editing codecs, and the like is also a useful featuring that most YouTube downloaders lack. AVC doesn’t feature any intuitive URL grabber or search function, but copy and pasting your video’s URL in the box is easy enough. Step 1: Navigate to the main Any Video Converter website and click the orange Download button on the right-hand side, directly beneath the software description.

Any Download

Step 2: Once downloaded, launch Any Video Converter and follow the install instructions. The setup file will essentially ask you to click the Next button several times, followed by the Install button. When prompted, check the bubble next to Custom installation to avoid installing the AVG toolbar and other unnecessary items. Afterward, click the Finish button and launch the software.

AVG Install

Step 3: Once open, select your desired video output from the drop-down menu in the top-right corner and click the Add URL(s) button at the top of the application window. Afterward, click the green addition sign in the top-right corner and enter the appropriate URL for the YouTube video you wish to download in the resulting text field before click the blue Start Download button. Unlike Clip Converter, you can also add multiple files to the conversion queue.

Convert Add

Step 4: The video you wish to convert should instantly appear in the application window on the left-hand side. Click the desired video you wish to convert and specify the various output settings — file name, save location, video size, quality, etc. — from the panel in the bottom right of the window. Like Clip Converter, you can also enter specified start and stop times, as well as choose from a variety of available output formats, aspect ratios, and audio facets. Click the blue Convert Now  button at the top of the window once you’re satisfied with your output results. Then, simply watch the video on your desktop or upload it to your mobile device as you would normally.

Basics Convert

How to download YouTube videos using YTD Video Downloader (Windows/Mac OS X)

YTD Video Downloader has come a long way since its early days as the simply-titled, “YouTube Downloader.” The software is quicker and more seamless than it ever was, offering a barrage of quality options for downloading YouTube videos — along with content from Vimeo, Facebook, Blip.TV, and more than 60 other video sites — as sole MP4 files to a designated directory of the user’s choice. Adorned with simple four-tab navigation and a baby-blue exterior, the the equipped interface is incredibly easy to utilize and understand, with additional conversion options housed directly within the application for converting the resulting content as a MOV, AVI, or other commonplace file format.

Download quality varies, but the software can handle multiple downloads in real-time and touts the ability to resume video downloads after a temporary network loss. Check out the following video for an example of downloading YouTube videos with YTD.

Disclaimer: It is generally legal to share and embed YouTube videos on the Internet, but downloading them for your own personal use offline is a different story. Downloading videos or using an external application to download videos that lack an official button or similar link is a violation of the YouTube Terms of Service and the video owner’s copyright. Proceed at your own risk. This article was originally published on 12-03-2012.