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How to download a YouTube video

You can find just about anything on YouTube. For one reason or another, you may need to download some of that content and, luckily for you, there are a number of ways to download a video from YouTube based on what you need to do with it.

How to download a YouTube video for offline playback

The most common reason someone may want to download a video from YouTube is to watch the content when they’re not connected to the internet. Years ago, it required sketchy sites and programs to do this, but now it’s built into the YouTube app!

  1. Subscribe to YouTube Premium

    To enable offline playback on Android and iOS apps, you’ll need to be a YouTube Premium subscriber. The service costs $11.99/month. You’ll get more than just downloads, too, as YouTube Premium also delivers an ad-free experience and also unlocks YouTube Music, a streaming service that works with regular music (i.e. Spotify) as well as videos. You can sign up for YouTube Premium here.

  2. Find videos you want to download

    Once you’ve got a YouTube Premium membership, downloading videos for offline use is super simple. Simply visit the video you’d like to download and, underneath the video player, you’ll see a button marked “Download.” You can see this below as shown on an iPad. The process is basically identical on Android smartphones and tablets, and you can also download video from search results by tapping on the three-dot download ipad

How to download a copy of your own YouTube video

If you’re a YouTube creator, it can be handy to keep copies of your work on hand. However, if something gets deleted by mistake, it can be a bit of a nightmare! Luckily, YouTube keeps a copy of every single video you upload — even if it’s set to private — which you can easily download.

Simply log into your YouTube account at, find the video you want to download, and click the three-dot menu button alongside it. From there, you’ll see a button marked Download.” Simply pressing that will download an MP4 copy of your video, although it is limited to 720p resolution.

youtube studio download video

How to download a publicly available YouTube video

If you intend to share a video clip that’s hosted on YouTube, you should do so by just sending a link to someone else. That keeps YouTube happy and keeps creators getting paid. Anything else, such as downloading and redistributing the video yourself, is against YouTube’s Terms of Service and can certainly get you in hot water. However, if for whatever reason you need to download a copy of a video directly from YouTube for yourself, there are ways to do so.

Here are a few tools to get the job done.

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is one of the most flexible media tools available for any device, and it also happens to have the ability to assist download content from online sources. To do that, you’ll need to be using the desktop app, not the Android or iOS counterparts. VLC is available for download on Windows, macOS, and Linux too.

The first step in the process is to go to the YouTube video you’d like to download and copy the URL to your clipboard. Next, open VLC and select Media Menu in the toolbar. Under that section, locate Open Network Stream and then click Play. Next, click Tools on the video stream and find Codec Information. A text field at the bottom of that window will include a URL that you need to paste in your browser.

download youtube videos VLC

From there, simply download the video by pressing the download icon. Do note, though, that this method maxes out the resolution at 1080p.


If you don’t want to download a program just to get a video, there are websites that make the process quick and easy. VidPaw has been a known tool for this for some time, but has recently started tossing download services to “U2Convert.” Regardless of that, the service enables users to simply paste a YouTube link and get download options for MP4, WEBM, and MP3 (audio) formats. You’ll be stuck at 720p unless you’re willing to pay a few dollars or stitch the A/V together yourself, but it works well for being a free tool.

Best of all, it’s not overrun with ads like so many other online conversion tools are.

4K Video Downloader

If you have access to a desktop computer, there’s a very useful utility for downloading videos from YouTube. 4K Video Downloader works on Windows, Mac, and Linux as a free download which can download videos at full resolution from not only YouTube, but also Vimeo, TikTok, Instagram, and many other sources.

The free version of this program does have limits for the number of videos you can download per day, per playlist, and per channel, but there are paid tiers that can remove those restrictions.

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