How to download YouTube videos on an iPhone or iPad

It may be a bit of a challenge, but you can download YouTube videos directly to your iPhone for viewing anytime, even when you are offline. From YouTube’s own subscription options to third-party apps, there are several ways to save your YouTube favorites to your iOS device. Never again will you return to a favorite video and find it missing. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the easiest methods for downloading and converting YouTube media to MP4 video.

Please note: Some of the below methods will also require the use of a MacBook to download the video.

Method one: Subscribe to YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is a subscription service that lets you download videos to your smartphone for $16 per month. The downloaded videos can be fairly low resolution — as low as 360 pixels — but at least you can watch them as opposed to losing track of them forever. That way, even if the poster takes that video offline, you can still view it. A one-month free trial is available, and you can find it through the link before, or just through the iOS YouTube app.

YouTube Premium

Method two: Use a third-party app on a computer

There are various apps, both free and paid, that you can use to download YouTube videos on a computer. Once downloaded, you’ll need to transfer the video to your iPhone. While not strictly downloading to your iPhone, it’s still a good way to get a downloaded video onto your iPhone, so we’ve included it here. We chose the free ClipGrab as one example, but any number of downloaders and video converters will download YouTube videos to your desktop, and the following steps will work mostly the same way.

  • After downloading and launching ClipGrab, use the app’s search tab to enter keywords to help you find the videos you want to save.
  • Choose an item from the results and use the pulldown menu to convert it to MPEG4 format so you can view it on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Make your selection and click Grab This Clip.

The app places a video on your desktop, and now you have some choices on how to proceed in putting your video on your iPhone. Apple provides its own built-in system resources on the Mac that allow you to transfer YouTube videos to your iPhone.

AirDrop

  • AirDrop is the easiest way to get a short clip onto your iPhone; just right-click on the video icon on the desktop and choosing Share > AirDrop.
  • Make sure to enable Airdrop both on the desktop and in the iPhone’s Control Center. You do not need a wired connection between your Mac and your iPhone.
  • Click the AirDrop icon or drag and drop the video icon on the Mac’s AirDrop icon and the file will be sent directly to your Camera Roll as a video for viewing whenever you want.

The Finder

YouTube video
  • Use the appropriate cable for your Mac, such as a USB to Lightning cable, to connect your iPhone with your Mac.
  • Choose your device from the sidebar.
  • Choose the Movies tab and check Sync.
  • Check all the movies you want to view on your phone and tap Sync.
  • Use the Apple TV app on your iPhone to find your video under Library > Home Videos.

Method three: Record your screen

Beginning with iOS 11, released in 2017, you can record your iPhone or iPad screen and anything that may be playing, including YouTube videos. This method is simple and completely free.

  • Find your favorite video on YouTube.
  • Change the orientation to landscape.
  • Swipe up on the Control Center and tap on the Record button (the circle inside the circle).
  • When the video’s finished playing, tap again to stop the recording.
  • The video will be saved and stored in your Camera Roll.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

At first glance, downloading a YouTube creation doesn’t seem like a big deal. But depending on the original post’s intent, there can be an issue of ethics to contend with. Some people (or companies) post videos just for the sake of sharing content, but other brands post to generate income. Videographers, for example, often earn a cut of ad revenue. Sure, advertisements are annoying, but YouTube (and content creators) pay their bills with that money. If you download videos to play offline, the video doesn’t earn income for ads, effectively taking money from that content creator. The platform also loses out on multiple views from you, the audience.

No matter what the intention of the original post, downloading a video for commercial reasons or to distribute it is never okay. Personal viewing is generally the only reason to download YouTube videos if you want to avoid most ethical issues and copyright violations. If you’re unsure, skip downloading it all together, or stick with YouTube’s official Premium service to skip ads.

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