How to download YouTube videos on an iPhone or iPad

It may seem like a bit of a challenge, but you can learn how to download YouTube videos to your laptop or desktop, or to your iPhone or iPad, 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.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • iPhone or iPad

  • Either a YouTube Premium subscription

  • Or a MacBook, a third-party video downloader app, and AirDrop

  • Or the Screen Recording feature (on iPhone and iPad running iOS 11 or later)

Please note: Some methods below will 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. This will cost you, though, and prices start at $11.99 per month for the individual plan, $17.99 a month for the family plan, and $6.99 a month for the student plan. 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 below 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 videos to your iPhone. While not strictly downloading to your iPhone, it’s still a good way to get downloaded videos 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.

Step 1: After downloading and launching ClipGrab, use the app’s search tab to enter keywords to help you find the videos you want to save.

ClipGrab screenshot Quality.

Step 2: 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.

ClipGrab screenshot Downloads.

Step 3: Make your selection and click Grab This Clip.

Transferring YouTube videos to your iPhone using AirDrop

The app downloads a video to your desktop, and now you have some options on how to proceed in transferring the videos to your iPhone. Apple provides its own built-in system on the Mac that allows you to transfer YouTube videos to your iPhone. Just follow the below steps:

Step 1: AirDrop is the easiest way to get a short clip onto your iPhone; just right-click on the video icon on the desktop and then click Share > AirDrop.

AirDrop YouTube

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: 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 on MacBook.

Transferring YouTube videos to your iPhone using The Finder

You can also use The Finder on your MacBook to transfer videos to your iPhone quickly and easily. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Use the appropriate cable for your Mac, such as a USB to Lightning cable, to connect your iPhone with your Mac.

Step 2: Choose your device from the sidebar.

Step 3: Choose the Movies tab and check Sync.

Step 4: Check all the movies you want to view on your phone and tap Sync.

Step 5: Use the Apple TV app on your iPhone to find your video under Library > Home Videos.

Method three: Record your screen

Since the 2017 release of iOS 11, you can record your iPhone or iPad screen and anything playing on it, including YouTube videos. This method is right on your device, making it free and easy to use.

Step 1: Pull the video up on YouTube.

Step 2: Change the orientation to landscape.

Step 3: Swipe up on the Control Center and tap the Record button (a circle inside a circle).

Screen recording on iOS.

Step 4: When the video finishes, tap the Record button again to stop recording.

Step 5: The video saves to your Camera Roll.

A video recording in camera roll on iOS.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Downloading a video from YouTube doesn’t seem like a big deal at first glance, but it comes with ethical concerns to consider, depending on the original post’s intent. Some people and companies post videos to share content, but other brands are trying to generate income. Videographers, for example, often earn a cut of ad revenue. Ads playing before and after your videos and popping up at the bottom of videos you’re watching is annoying, but that’s how content creators make money. If you download videos to play offline, the video doesn’t earn ad income, so you’re effectively taking money away from that content creator. The creator also loses out on multiple views from you as the audience.

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