September 16, 2021

The 21 Best YouTube Downloaders for PC

20 min

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YouTube is a brilliant thing, but while it’s great to be able to stream video to your PC sometimes it’d be even better if you had a local copy on your laptop. That’s where the best YouTube downloader for PC comes in – and we’ve rounded up all the key contenders to help you find the one that’s best for you.

Program

Best for

OS

Price

WinX YouTube DownloaderQuickly download­ing lots of videosWindowsFree
Movavi Screen RecorderPretty much every­thing: convert­ing, editing, sharing and moreWindows 7/8/10, macOS 10.10 or laterFree trial / $49.95
Save­from.netLower resolution downloadsWeb browserFree
aTube CatcherCustomis­ing your download profileWindows XP or laterFree
ClipGrabQuick and easy download­ingWindows 7/8/10, macOS 10.12 or later, UbuntuFree
SnaptubeAndroid usersAndroidFree
TubeMateAndroid usersAndroidFree
Any Video ConverterSimple tasksWindows 7/8/10, macOS 10.7 or laterFree / $49.95
4K Video DownloaderSimple 4K rippingWindows 7/8/10, macOS 10.13 or later, UbuntuFree / £13
YTD Video DownloaderPeople who aren’t in a hurryWindows, macOSFree
Allavsoft Video and Music DownloaderDownload­ing musicWindows 2000 or later, macOS 10.4 or laterFree trial then $19.99 / month
AiryMusic fans and playlist downloadersWindows, macOSFree trial then $19.95
Freemake Video DownloaderPeople who need lots of conver­sion optionsWindows Vista or later, macOSFree
Gihosoft TubeGetMore complex download tasksWindows XP or later, macOS 10.8 or laterFree / $29.95
VideoProcVideo processingWindows 7/8/10, macOS 10.6 or later$29.95 per year
iTubeGo YouTube DownloaderBasic download­ingWindows XP or later, macOS 10.10 or later, AndroidFree trial then $34.95
FastestTubeMore experienc­ed web usersWeb browserFree
YT CutterCutting YouTube videosWeb browserFree
YTOfflineSimple downloadsWeb browserFree
Y2MateNon-US/UK onlyWeb browserFree
KeepVidSimple YouTube downloadsWeb browserFree

Our special pick as the best YouTube downloader for PC is the award winning Movavi Screen Recorder, which is available for Windows and macOS. It can capture absolutely anything at resolutions up to Full HD and 4K UHD: not just streaming video and online events but also video instructions and tutorials, webinars and video calls, and even your webcam. You can capture the entire screen or crop a specific section, record audio and video simultaneously and then use the built-in editing tools to get your video downloaded exactly how you like it. You can then save it in whatever file format suits you best.

According to Top Ten reviews, “this screen recorder offers the most comprehensive set of editing tools we’ve ever seen.” The range of export options “stands heads and shoulders above the competition”, the video quality is “excellent” and the software is “extremely easy to learn and use”. You can read the full review on Top Ten Reviews here.

Is downloading YouTube videos legal?

Before we begin it’s very important to remind you to be careful about copyright when downloading videos from YouTube. You should never use YouTube videos without getting permission. To read more about YouTube’s copyright policies, here is a link to YouTube’s official terms of service. Make sure to check them out before downloading.

If you download a YouTube video for personal offline use, it’s unlikely that you will be charged with copyright infringement. So if you need to download a couple of videos to watch during a trip, you are probably okay.

Find the best YouTube video downloader

The best software to download YouTube videos depends very much on what you want to do with the video, so for example, if you want to use any video on a specific device it’s a good idea to look for a downloader that can save all videos in your preferred format.

OS: Windows

Best for: Quickly downloading lots of videos

Price: Free

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Unlike many free YouTube downloaders, WinX YouTube Downloader doesn’t spend more time blasting you with ads than downloading your videos. It’s fast, easy to use and downloads very quickly, and its support for multiple simultaneous downloads means you can queue up lots of clips, click a button and let it get on with the job. There’s also a proxy server you can use to avoid geoblocking, which is when a site such as YouTube tells you that you can’t access a particular video because you’re connecting from somewhere it doesn’t have the copyright owner’s permission to stream video to.

Using WinX YouTube Downloader is really straightforward. All you need to do is paste the link to the video and then click the Analyze button. The app will tell you what formats and resolutions you can download, and you can choose to save in MP4, WebM, or 3GP. That latter option is only for audio. Like many YouTube video downloaders, WinX YouTube Downloader can work with resolutions of up to 4K if the video is available in that resolution.

Key features:

  • Proxy server to get around geoblocking
  • Up to 4K resolution where available
  • Fast downloads

Pros:

  • Multiple simultaneous downloads
  • Simple conversion
  • Good site support

Cons:

  • No MP3-only option for audio

Get WinX YouTube Downloader

OS: Windows XP or later

Best for: Customising your download profile

Price: Free

TechRadar rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

aTube Catcher has lots of useful features that include batch downloading of multiple videos, screen recording, DVD and CD burning (if you have appropriate hardware), movie conversion and audio recording. It includes an automatic updater to ensure that you’ve always got the most recent version installed on your PC and batch processing means you can give it a big list of videos and let it get on with the downloading while you do something else.

aTube Catcher is free, and like some other free apps it will also install additional software on your PC if you don’t uncheck the appropriate boxes during installation so you might want to keep an eye out for that. The app itself is a little dated looking and the interface gets very cluttered sometimes, but it’s a solid solution with good features for more advanced download tasks.

Key features:

  • Batch downloading
  • Screen recorder
  • DVD burner

Pros:

  • Lots of features
  • Multiple downloads
  • You can create custom profiles

Cons:

  • Cluttered interface
  • Confusing installer

Get aTube Catcher

OS: Windows 7/8/10, macOS 10.12 or later, Ubuntu

Best for: Quick and easy downloading

Price: Free

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

ClipGrab doesn’t do much, and that’s by design: it’s been created to give you a fast, fuss-free way to download from YouTube without having to navigate endless options or make sense of lots of icons. It can pull YouTube links from your clipboard automatically so you don’t need to keep switching between your video site and the app – just copy the URL when you’re in your web browser and ClipGrab will do the rest.

You can choose to download video with audio or just the audio. The app supports key file formats, including WMV, MP4, and OGG, and you can also save the audio soundtracks as MP3 files.

Key features:

  • Clipboard monitoring
  • OGG support as well as MP4 and WMV
  • Audio-only option (MP3)

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Clipboard feature is great
  • Quick to set up and use

Cons:

  • Lacks features for power users

Get ClipGrab

OS: Android

Best for: Android phone users

Price: Free

YouTube downloaders such as Snaptube aren’t allowed in the Google Play Store (Google also owns YouTube and isn’t keen on apps that can break its terms and conditions, so you can understand why such apps are excluded), so you’ll need to download and install it yourself. It isn’t complicated to do that – although it does mean that the app hasn’t been quality checked by Google’s app team and you can’t see user reviews because there aren’t any. But to the best of our knowledge Snaptube doesn’t do anything dodgy and doesn’t suffer from any app-breaking problems. It’s a simple, fast and effective downloader with a nice floating video window that means you can watch a video while you’re doing something else, effortless audio conversion and lots of quality options so you can find the sweet spot between video quality and how much space it takes up on your phone. As you’d expect from a mobile app it isn’t quite as comprehensive as a fully-featured desktop app but it covers the essentials very well.

Key features:

  • Lower res options to save space
  • Up to 4K support
  • Video to MP3 conversion

Pros:

  • Simple interface
  • Floating video player
  • Night Mode is a nice touch

Cons:

  • Android only
  • Not in the Google Play Store

Get Snaptube

OS: Android

Best for: Brave Android users

Price: Free

TubeMate is another Android option, and once again Google won’t allow it in the Play Store so you’ll need to install it yourself. That’s always going to be a risk, and we’ve seen some blog posts suggesting that there may be security issues with this particular app – but no security vendors have flagged it as dangerous and we can’t find any evidence of the app being used maliciously. The app itself is designed to have a small footprint so it doesn’t take up lots of space, and it has lots of download options so you can go for small file sizes or high picture quality. It’s no substitute for a top YouTube downloader on desktop but it’s a good option for quickly grabbing things when you’re out and about.

Key features:

  • Adjustable quality settings
  • Audio extraction
  • “Download later” queueing

Pros:

  • Download later is handy if you want to wait till you’re on Wi-Fi
  • Formats include WebM, OGG, and MP4
  • Multiple simultaneous downloads

Cons:

  • Some security concerns

Get TubeMate

Find the best YouTube ripper

The best YouTube ripper apps enable you to rip video into the format of your choice and then do something with it: some even include editing features and other options you can use to completely transform your YouTube or other videos.

OS: Windows 7,8,10; Mac OS Х 10.10 or later

Best for: Pretty much everything: converting, editing, sharing and more

Price: Free trial, premium for $37.95/year or $52.95/lifetime

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 41 positive reviews out of 45

Movavi has a great track record in video, and its Movavi Screen Recorder can do everything: not just grabbing video but also editing it and converting it into other formats so you can easily use it on whatever platform you prefer. It’s really straightforward to use, produces brilliant results and has a free trial so you can put it through its paces.

There are lots of useful features here. Scheduled recording means you can get Movavi Screen Recorder to capture one-off online events without you having to be in front of your PC, and if you’re producing your own video its built-in screencast tools make it easy to combine the on-screen action with your webcam, microphone and system audio. You can even draw on videos to illustrate points or draw people’s attention to a particular part.

One of the very many things we like about Movavi Screen Recorder is how flexible it is. In addition to effortless downloading of online video it’s really great for recording video calls, online presentations, and special events, and anything else you can see on your PC or Mac screen. That means it’s a really useful tool for students and business users too.

Key features:

  • No special hardware required
  • Can capture anything on the screen
  • Full editing with high quality

Pros:

  • Great video quality
  • High-quality audio capture
  • Great free trial

Cons:

  • A little more complicated than a typical YouTube video grabber

Get Movavi Screen Recorder

OS: Windows 7, 8, 10; Mac OS X 10.7 or later

Best for: Simple tasks

Price: Free; Ultimate edition is $49.95

TechRadar rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you’re fed up with free YouTube video grabbers that blast you with ads or demands to upgrade, this is a welcome alternative – although watch out when you install it as you might end up with additional apps you didn’t intend to put on your PC. It’s a straightforward and user-friendly video app but if you want to grab streaming video you need the full-fat Ultimate edition.

The Ultimate Edition is the version we think most people would find the most useful. That’s because it uses hardware acceleration so that your graphics card (NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel) can take on some of the processing load when you convert or record video. That can deliver a serious speed difference: depending on the hardware, the acceleration can make video tasks up to 30 times faster. That’s particularly useful on long videos at higher resolutions, where apps that don’t use acceleration can take what seems like forever to render a single video.

Key features:

  • Includes DVD burning
  • No ads in free version
  • Hardware acceleration

Pros:

  • Straightforward to use
  • Supports the key formats
  • Includes filters and effects

Cons:

  • Comes with bundled software you might not want

Get Any Video Converter

OS: Windows 7/8/10, macOS 10.13 or later, Ubuntu

Best for: Simple 4K ripping

Price: Free / £13 to remove download limits

TechRadar rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

You’ll find that some YouTube downloaders aren’t available for Linux or don’t support 4K video. 4K Video Downloader doesn’t suffer from those drawbacks, and you can download in lower resolutions too if you want to maximise storage space. The core product is free but there is a limit to how many videos you can download from a single playlist; if you also want to download subtitles you’ll need the paid-for version.

4K Video Downloader is part of a wider family of video apps, which also includes 4K Tokkit for TikTok, 4K Stogram for Instagram, 4K Slideshow Maker, 4K Video to MP3, and 4K YouTube to MP3. All of those apps, like 4K Video Downloader, are available for Windows 7 or later, macOS 10.13 or later, and Ubuntu.

Key features:

  • 4K video
  • Can import links from CSV files
  • Audio-only option

Pros:

  • Can download 4K and 360 video
  • Also available for Linux PCs
  • Smart mode for automatic downloads

Cons:

  • Limits on playlist downloads

Get 4K Video Downloader

OS: Windows, macOS

Best for: People who aren’t in a hurry

Price: Free

TechRadar rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

YTD Video Downloader is simple and straightforward if a little bit confusing because the free version also shows features from the paid-for Pro version that aren’t available until or unless you purchase them. But it covers the basics well enough, enabling you to download from YouTube and similar sites with the minimum of fuss. However be aware that the free version only enables you to download a single video at a time, and its download speeds can be very slow. The paid-for Pro version is $7.49 for one month or $2.49 a month if bought as an annual plan. It removes the adverts and offers 4x faster download speeds.

The interface is reasonably straightforward if a little cluttered looking, with four tabs underneath a big banner advert. The tabs make it easy to access the tools you need to download, convert or play videos and the app supports MP3, MKV, M4A, MP3 and AVI file formats.

Key features:

  • Multiple device support
  • Some basic editing options
  • Trim start and end points

Pros:

  • Really simple to use
  • Editing is simple too

Cons:

  • Slow downloads
  • Only one download at a time

Get YTD Video Downloader

OS: Windows 2000 or later; macOS X 10.4 or later

Best for: Downloading music

Price: Free trial then $19.99 for 1 month or $59.99 for lifetime

Allavsoft Video and Music Downloader looks positively ancient but it isn’t: in addition to the likes of YouTube it can also download music from services such as Spotify as 320Kbps MP3 files. It promises one-click downloading in a variety of formats including MP4, mobile formats, WebM, Apple ProRES, and more.

The interface looks like a Windows XP app on PC, with large primary coloured buttons and the standard Windows layout. In the main app there are four tabs: Download, Activity, Convert and Merge. Activity is the progress window for your various video downloads. You can set the app to automatically select the best available video quality, and there’s also an option to automatically convert everything into your favoured format so you don’t end up with a mixed bag of video files.

Key features:

  • Batch download and conversion
  • Built-in player
  • Automatic shutdown after download

Pros:

  • Simple interface
  • Downloads music too
  • Multi-URL support

Cons:

  • Looks quite old

Get Allavsoft Video and Music Downloader

OS: Windows, macOS

Best for: Music fans and playlist downloaders

Price: Free trial then $19.95; family pack for 3 computers is $39.95

A lot of YouTube downloaders for PC look like they’ve been teleported from the days of Windows XP, but Airy doesn’t: it has a clean, uncluttered, modern-looking interface that makes it easy to see what’s going on. We suspect the Mac version may have come first, because the PC version looks very Mac-like.

When you’ve unlocked the paid version you get unlimited downloading and unlimited file sizes: just add a playlist or a bunch of individual videos to its queue and it’ll power through the list until it’s complete or you run out of hard disk space for all that footage.

Like other YouTube downloader apps Airy can’t work miracles: if the original upload was only Full HD then it won’t upscale the video resolution to 4K. But the app will happily download even 8K video in full quality if the selected video is in that resolution, although the massive size of such files means you’ll be really glad you can create a download queue that can get on with the downloads while you do something else.

Key features:

  • Easy to queue lots of videos
  • Attractive interface
  • Browser integration

Pros:

  • No download limits
  • Full playlist downloads
  • Supports up to 8K where available

Cons:

  • Free version limits download length

Get Airy

OS: Windows Vista or later, macOS

Best for: People who want lots of conversion options

Price: Free

PCWorld rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

There’s lots to like about Freemake Video Downloader. It can download up to 500 videos at once if your bandwidth supports it, it can automatically convert video into a wide range of file formats for easy viewing on whatever device you prefer and it includes a proxy that can enable you to access sites blocked by geoblocking or parental control software. If you use the Firefox web browser you can also install an extension that makes it even easier to download from YouTube: you’ll see a little download button immediately below the video so you don’t even need to copy the address. For other browsers, it’s just a matter of copying the URL and clicking on Freemake’s Paste button.

The usual file formats are supported – MP4, WebM, and 3GP, plus the less common FLV – and you can choose the download options before you begin.

Key features:

  • Works with lots of sites
  • Automatic file format conversion
  • Simple interface

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Fast downloads
  • Good file format support

Cons:

  • Limited browser integration

Get Freemake Video Downloader

OS: Windows XP or later, macOS X 10.8 or later

Best for: More complex download tasks

Price: Free / $29.95

G2 rating: 4 out of 5 stars, 11 reviews

Think of the free version here as a trailer: it’s so limited that you’re not going to want to use it for very long. If you don’t buy the Pro version you’re limited to just 1Mbps download speeds – that’s one megabit per second. An hour of 4K video is around 300GB, so at that speed it’d take something close to 700 hours to download. The free version also limits the number of file downloads and conversions you can do: you’re allowed five per day. You can remove all of these limitations by unlocking the Pro version of the app, which gives you the full experience.

With the limitations removed, Gihosoft Tubeget is easy to use: copy the URL, paste it into the app and select the video resolution. It supports resolutions of up to 8K and on YouTube it can also capture playlists, channels, subtitles, thumbnails and 360-degree or VR video. You can also set a default download format so everything’s saved at the same resolution and in the same file format.

Key features:

  • Easy ripping from multiple sites
  • 2K/4K/8K support
  • Subtitles support

Pros:

  • Wide site support
  • Supports up to 8K

Cons:

  • Free version is very limited

Get Gihosoft TubeGet

OS: Windows 7/8/10, macOS 10.6 or later

Best for: Video processing

Price: $29.95 per year

Capterra rating: 4.4 out of five stars, 12 reviews

Hardware acceleration doesn’t sound very exciting but trust us, it matters when you’re dealing with complex or very big video files – and when you’re working with the highest resolution video files, every file is a big file. VideoProc’s hardware acceleration uses your PC’s graphics system to do things faster: up to 47 times faster, in fact. It’s overkill for downloading the odd YouTube video but it’s great if you need to convert or edit very hi-res video. As VideoProc points out, it’s something that isn’t available in nearly 40% of video programmes and if you do a lot of video conversion, it’s definitely something to look out for.

VideoProc’s main focus is on processing downloaded or recorded video. It has tools to cut, merge, crop, rotate and subtitle videos, and it can fix things like shaky video footage or fish-eye lens distortion. It can also address common problems such as inaccurate synchronisation between audio and video tracks, and you can use it to watermark your own videos.

It’s worth keeping an eye on the VideoProc website if you’re considering buying it because the developers often discount it in flash sales: the price we’ve quoted here is one such deal (the licence is usually twice the price).

Key features:

  • Hardware acceleration
  • Integrated DVD burner
  • Screen recorder

Pros:

  • Fast downloads and processing
  • Integrated editing
  • 8K video support

Cons:

  • No free version

Get VideoProc

OS: Windows XP or later, macOS 10.10 or later, Android

Best for: Quick and simple downloading

Price: Free / $34.95 for lifetime

iTubeGo YouTube Downloader is a straightforward and good-looking YouTube downloader that you can also use on other sites and to download music. It supports multiple formats and resolutions of up to 8K, and it can take advantage of multithreading in your PC’s processor to speed everything up. It also has TurboFast for accelerating download speeds. It also includes editing features that you can use to trim videos.

It’s important to note here that the trial version is purely a trailer: you need to buy the app if you want to use it for anything important because the free trial version limits you to a total of three downloads. That’s enough for you to see if it’s the right video downloader app for you but of course it isn’t enough to download even a very small YouTube playlist.

Key features:

  • Hardware acceleration
  • Supports 8K resolution
  • TurboFast to boost download speed

Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • No fuss or frills
  • Good results

Cons:

  • Free trial is limited to 3 downloads

Get iTubeGo YouTube Downloader

Find the best free YouTube downloader online

If you don’t want to download and install a dedicated YouTube video grabber, these are the top YouTube downloader sites that do everything from within your web browser. Most video downloader services are designed to work with the Chrome, Edge, and Firefox browsers, and you may encounter the odd issue using different browsers such as Safari on the Mac.

OS: Web browser

Best for: Lower resolution downloads

Price: Free

SaveFrom.net is really straightforward to use and supports resolutions up to 4K if the original upload is high enough resolution. It’s a simple paste-and-click site that enables you to choose from MP4 and WebM file formats and its browser helper works on lots of different browsers.

Key features:

  • MP4 and WebM downloading
  • Works with many popular sites
  • Up to 4K if available

Pros:

  • It’s really straightforward
  • There’s a useful browser helper app
  • It offers one click downloads

Cons:

  • It’s very basic

OS: Web browser

Best for: More experienced users

Price: Free

FastestTube is browser-based but you install it rather than visit its website when you want to download a YouTube video. That’s because it adds a download section immediately below the video player when you’re on YouTube, and when you click on that download button you’ll see the available options. Because it’s browser-based you can use it on any device, and the supported browser list includes Opera and Safari as well as the more common Chrome and Chromium-based browsers.

When you use FastestTube your videos can be downloaded in FLV or MP4 format, but it’s worth noting that FastestTube downloads MP4 clips as two separate files, one for audio and one for video. You then have to merge them together in a utility such as FFmpeg. That means it’s not an ideal choice for beginners.

Key features:

  • It can remove ads
  • Multiple browser support
  • Works on Linux as well as PC and Mac

Pros:

  • Simple interface
  • Supports all main browsers

Cons:

  • Requires installation
  • You’ll need to combine audio and video

OS: Web browser

Best for: Quickly cutting YouTube videos

Price: Free

YT Cutter is web video cutting software that also doubles as a YouTube downloader, and its design reflects that: instead of the one-button download you’ll find on other YouTube video download sites, it uses a time-based interface that asks you to set the start and end points of your download. That means you can use it to extract short sections from much longer videos, which is useful for things like video reviews or presentations. If you just want the whole thing then it’s just a matter of setting the start and end points to the very beginning and end of the video.

The export options are fairly limited here: you can make a new video file (MP4), extract the audio or create an animated GIF if your selected section is suitably short. You can also take screenshots for use in other apps.

Key features:

  • Clip cutting
  • Export to video, audio, or GIF
  • Take screenshots

Pros:

  • Very fast
  • Very accurate
  • Very easy

Cons:

  • Focus is really on trimming clips

OS: Web browser

Best for: Very basic requirements on PC

Price: Free

YTOffline is a YouTube downloader with a bit of a problem, or at least a bit of a problem on our test computer: it often returned errors when we asked it to download specific YouTube clips, its built-in search didn’t work at all and when we first visited it launched ads featuring fake system messages that wanted us to download the now-discontinued Flash Player software from a site that definitely wasn’t official. That makes it hard to recommend the service unless you have a good ad-blocker installed, which is a shame because when it works it works well, giving you a choice of resolutions and the ability to save video, video without audio, or just the audio. The app enables you to download in MP4, WebM, 3GP, and M4A and there are no limits on file sizes or video length.

Key features:

  • Download in SD or HD
  • Audio-only and video-only options
  • Integrated search (which didn’t work for us)

Pros:

  • Simple, attractive interface
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Misbehaved on our Mac
  • Advertising tries to trick you into downloading an unwanted app

OS: Web browser

Best for: Non-US/UK users

Price: Free

We’ll start with the bad news first: if you’re trying to access Y2Mate from some countries, such as the US or UK, you’ll see a page telling you that the site has been discontinued. If you’re connecting from elsewhere or via a VPN, however, you’ll discover that the site is still there and fully operational. It’s a very straightforward tool: paste the link or use the exceptionally fast search feature to select your video, then choose your download format and resolution. We found that the maximum available quality was 1080p Full HD, even if the source video was available in 4K.

Key features:

  • Integrated search
  • Audio-only option
  • Works with MP4, WebM, FLV, 3GP, and more

Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Good file format support
  • Excellent search engine

Cons:

  • Currently unavailable to US/UK users without VPNs

OS: Web browser

Best for: Simple, effective downloads

Price: Free

KeepVid isn’t going to distract you with bells and whistles: it’s here to do a job, and it’s a job that the site does well. Simply enter the URL in the YouTube Converter or a playlist in the Playlist Downloader and you can then download it in the format of your choice – although if you want 1080p HD or 4K you’ll need to use the desktop app.

The way the KeepVid site has been designed is a little bit confusing. There are two large and prominent links for the YouTube Video Converter and YouTube Playlist Converter, but immediately below them are links to other programs such as Spotify Music Downloader and TikTok Video Downloader. Some of those tools are also hosted on the KeepVid site, but others take you to third-party websites.

Key features:

  • YouTube video downloads
  • YouTube playlist downloads

Pros:

  • Simple and effective
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Cluttered interface
  • Doesn’t do 1080p or 4K

Summary: what to look for in a YouTube video downloader

We hope this article has helped you consider what to look for in a YouTube video downloader. As we’ve discovered, the best software to download YouTube videos very much depends on what you intend to use it for: some downloaders prioritise speed or ease of use, while others offer extensive customisation for more demanding users. These are the things you should think about when you’re considering when you’re looking for the best program to download YouTube videos.

Usability. Downloading YouTube videos shouldn’t be complicated, and an app that offers stacks of features might not be the best one for you: it may have a more complicated interface, or require you to do more things in order to get the YouTube video downloaded to your PC. Some of the best free YouTube downloader apps or websites don’t do very much at all, but what they do is simple, straightforward and effective.

Features. We’re not going to contradict ourselves here: sometimes the best program to download YouTube videos is one with lots of other features. That’s because people who want to download video often want to do something with it, such as screenshot it, trim or edit it, include it in a video review, or convert it into a different format so it can be played on other devices. So it’s important to think about not just what you want to do right now, but what you might want to do later on: what may appear to be the best YouTube video grabber might not be capable of everything you’ll want it to do.

Supported formats. You could always use a third party app such as the excellent HandBrake, but it’s much easier to use an app that converts long videos into your preferred format automatically than have to take that extra step. The most common file formats are MP4 for video and MP3 for audio, but many of the best YouTube video downloader apps support additional formats such as WebM or OGG.

User reviews. Don’t just take our word for it. There are lots of places where you can find reviews of the best software to find YouTube videos, and we think you should pay particular attention to reviews written by actual users of the software as well as reviews by technology sites. That’s because even the best tech sites can’t test every conceivable YouTube video on every kind of PC. Users who’ve experienced problems with their YouTube download program are likely to be very vocal about it.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that Movavi Screen Recorder does not allow capture of copy-protected video and audio streams. Learn more

Frequently asked questions

Why use a YouTube video downloader?

YouTube is of course designed to stream video, and that’s great – or at least, it is when you have a solid internet connection. But what if you want to watch a video when you won’t have a good internet connection? A YouTube video downloader solves that problem for you, enabling you to download the video to watch it offline.

Many YouTube video downloaders also have a queue, which is a list that you can add multiple videos to. That’s handy when you’re out and about and don’t want to download the videos over your mobile data connection or in a place where the Wi-Fi is slow: you can use the queue as a to-do list and grab all the videos when you’re at a place with faster internet.

Another common use for a YouTube video downloader is when you want to critique or comment on a specific part, so for example you might be doing your own video review of something and need to use a clip to illustrate the point that you’re making or the thing you’re talking about. Some YouTube video downloaders include tools that can help you do that.

What are the general features of a video download application?

The core of any YouTube video downloader is the ability to identify and download the video files that would normally stream to your browser. You’d normally give it the YouTube page address and it’ll do the rest, but some video downloaders also enable you to send links from your web browser.

The simplest video downloader will just download the video in the same format it finds, but many video downloaders for PC or Mac also enable you to convert the file into a different format, for example so that you can watch it on a phone or different computer. Some even include editing features that make it easy to trim clips or extract the relevant bits you need.

Is it safe to use a YouTube video downloader?

Provided you respect copyright and don’t download or re-use other people’s work without their permission, yes – but as with any software downloads it’s important to take a few precautions. Make sure you’re downloading from a reputable site and watch out for any attempts to make you install additional software you didn’t ask for. If you’re on a Windows PC we strongly recommend that you have anti-virus software to ensure nothing nasty sneaks onto your system.

Which software can I use to download YouTube videos?

There are plenty of programs made specifically for downloading YouTube videos. You can choose one from our list:

  • Movavi Screen Recorder
  • Any Video Converter
  • 4K Video Downloader
  • YTD Video Downloader
  • Allavsoft
  • Airy
  • Freemake Video Downloader
  • Gihosoft TubeGet
  • VideoProc
  • iTubeGo YouTube Downloader

Which is the best app to download YouTube videos?

That really depends on what you want to do. If you simply want to quickly download a YouTube clip then all of the apps here can do that, but only some of them have advanced features that you can use to edit, convert and share your downloads. We rate Movavi Screen Recorder very highly for its range of features and ease of us.

Which is the best free software to download YouTube videos?

There are video downloaders and web services out there that are absolutely free to use. Here is a list of free YouTube downloaders that we recommend:

  • WinX YouTube Downloader
  • aTube Catcher
  • ClipGrab
  • SaveFrom.net
  • FastestTube
  • YT Cutter
  • YTOffline
  • KeepVid

Carrie Marshall

Carrie Marshall is a writer, broadcaster, podcaster, and musician from Glasgow in Scotland. She has been writing and talking about PCs, Macs, and mobile for magazines, websites, and radio stations for 22 years, and she is the author of more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from PC building to internet safety. She’s a regular contributor to TechRadar, T3, MacFormat, and BBC Radio Scotland.