YouTube has billions of hours of video. Literally. And that’s hardly the most startling statistic for a site that has been used to download and watch videos since 2005. However, sometimes you really want or need to have one of these videos on your computer or phone. But when the topic of downloading YouTube videos comes up, another question should be raised: is it legal?
As far as copyright is concerned, if you download videos for personal offline use, you’re probably fine. It becomes more black and white when you review Google’s YouTube terms of service, which states: “You are not permitted to access, play, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, modify, modify or otherwise. use any part of the Service or any Content other than: (a) explicitly permitted by the Service; or (b) with the prior written permission of YouTube and, if applicable, the respective copyright holders.
Watching YouTube videos offline through unofficial channels requires money from Google and the video creators. There’s a reason YouTube runs ads: people make a living this way.
So, obviously, stealing YouTube videos is a big ban. If you want to share a video, YouTube and most other video sites make it easy, from embedding to emailing and sharing via social media. In most cases, you just don’t need to download the video.
However, you have your reasons. If you need to download a video from YouTube – this is absolutely necessary, only for yourself, and not for distribution and not to be a complete idiot – that’s how. Note. This story is updated frequently as the tools used change regularly. Some of these changes are not always pleasant, for example the software is so full of “add-ons” that antivirus tools flag it as malware. It’s the same with helper websites – changing a site’s ad network can also create malware issues.
To prevent this from becoming a long list of programs and sites that can download YouTube videos, we have developed a few rules to include. Services should:
- 4K upload support even in free version.
- Work with three leading video sites: YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. Download entire playlists or channels at once (on YouTube), at least with the paid version.
- Output audio to MP3 (or suggest companion software to do this).
- Have a good interface.
- Do not collect your personal data outside of your email address.
- Do not contain malware.
- If there is even a little of this in the air, even a puppy, then it is not.
At the time of this writing, all programs, services, and sites are spam / virus / problem free, but be careful. For a long time. Especially if you’re not exactly a vagabond.
Third party software is where you get the best control over your online video download. Usually, you paste the URL of the YouTube video you want into the program and it downloads the highest quality version it can find. For 1080p (HD) high definition video, this is usually an MP4 file. For anything higher quality – 4K and even 8K video – MKV format is usually used.
Previously, YouTube videos were based on Flash, so you downloaded an FLV file, but they tend to be more difficult to play. MP4, short for MPEG-4 Part 14 multimedia format, plays everywhere Please note that an MKV file, also called Matroska, is a container – the file can contain videos using any number of codecs internally. A reliable way to play them all is to use VLC Media Player for Windows, which plays everything. (More on that below.) As far as bootloaders go, here are the best options.
VLC Media Player
I mentioned VLC Media Player above because it is a fantastic tool for Windows users that plays almost any media ever created. It turns out it also has the ability to download YouTube videos, albeit in a convoluted way. (If you run into any problems with it, you may need to do a full reinstall of VLC and clear your cache for this to work.)
Copy URL from YouTube video, then open VLC. From the Media menu, select Open Network Stream (Ctrl + N) and paste the URL. Click Play. When the video plays, go to Tools> Codec Info. At the bottom there is a field called “Source” – copy the URL you find in this field. n Network Stream (Ctrl + N) and paste in the URL. Click Play. When the video is playing, go to Tools> Codec Information. There is a box at the bottom called “Source” —copy the URL you find in that box.
Go back to your browser and paste the URL – this is a temporary web address that will expire – into the address bar and start playing the video. When you view the video in a browser, you will see the option to download the file and save it locally.
However, it looks like VLC will only save your file in 1080p and not higher, even if the original YouTube stream was available in 1440p or 2160p (also known as 4K). It also won’t convert videos to other formats. To get these features, you need the desktop software listed below.
4K Video Downloader
Multi-language 4K Video Downloader (4KVD) is updated frequently and has clear download links on the program website; there are no advertising traps here. The software does what it advertises in a simple interface: captures videos in up to 8K quality and downloads in a variety of formats. Just copy the YouTube URL and click the “Insert Link” button to get started. 4KVD will even capture subtitles, entire playlists, and all videos on the channel you subscribe to. The sites supported are limited to big names like YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and a few others, but cover most of what you need. It displays a large banner ad at the bottom to keep the lights on.
In tests, I had to switch from MP4 to MKV to get my test video to load in 4K. 4KVD caught a 3 minute 229.7 megabytes (MB) file for a movie trailer in about 1 minute 20 seconds. 4KVD falls back to 1080p HD by default, so I made the same switch when loading an Ultra High Definition (8K) playlist. If you enable smart mode and its presets, 4K video downloader can download with one click to your favorite format. If you want to download over 25 videos at a time, or subscribe to YouTube channels to instantly download the latest version, the paid version is required. Playback of the resulting MKV files through VLC Media Player was flawless.
The program itself has the ability to extract audio to MP3 format, so you don’t even need the accompanying 4K YouTube to MP3 software.
WinX YouTube Downloader
Digiarty’s multilingual WinX claims to allow downloads from over 300 sites with user-generated content, including adult sites. Perhaps the biggest selling point is that “there is no malware, adware, spyware, or viruses. 100% pure. ” It has a clean interface, but there is an ad for a premium WinX service during installation.
Copy YouTube url (even for playlist) and run WinX program. The “Analyzer” checks all the options. This tool tried to set the default version 1920 to 1080 in MP4; I chose the 4K version (3840 x 2160 pixels) in WebM format, a subset of MKV format – you can rename the .WEBM file to .MKV and it will work fine. The settings have default options for the highest resolution WebM. You can set up multiple videos to back up even before you hit the download button. It took 2 minutes 19 seconds to download a 4K 226.9 MB file.
There is no way to download subtitles. This is another blow. But WinX makes up for this by supporting so many download sites and having zero cost.