How to download and keep YouTube videos on an iPhone

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 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 simple method is completely free.

  • Launch YouTube and find your favorite video.
  • Change the orientation to landscape.
  • Swipe up on the Control Center and tap on the Record button (the circle inside the circle).
  • Wait while the video plays and then tap to stop the recording when it’s done.
  • The video will be saved and stored in your Camera Roll.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

On the face of it, downloading a YouTube creation doesn’t seem like a big deal. But the ethics revolve around the intent of the original video post. Sometimes people (or companies) want to post videos to share content. Other brands focus on generating income: Videographers 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 transaction loses its worth — the video doesn’t earn income for ads. The platform also loses out on multiple views from you, the audience.

To summarize, you shouldn’t download a video for commercial reasons or to distribute it. Personal viewing is generally the only reason to download YouTube videos. That way, you avoid most ethical issues and copyright violations. If you’re in doubt, steer clear of downloading it all together, or stick with YouTube’s official Premium service to skip ads.

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