How to Download YouTube Videos for Desktop and Mobile in 2021

YouTube is the most extensive video sharing and on-demand video platform in the world, with over 2 billion logged-in users per month and with more than 30 million visitors per day.

If you are a fan of YouTube but want to find a way to download YouTube videos so that you can enjoy watching them or listening to their audio without the need of connecting to the Internet or visiting and signing up for the platform, then here is a complete guide which will help you do so.

There are tools, online sites, and other methods which you can use to download YouTube videos and to convert them into different video and audio formats, including MP3, MP4, MPEG, AVI, and many more.

Here are some of the best ways to download YouTube videos for 2021.

Steps for downloading YouTube videos

The downloading of a video from YouTube is generally pretty straightforward and quick.

You can use one of the following methods and tools for easy and fast downloading of video and audio content from YouTube:

Using a video downloading tool to download YouTube videos

Using a specialized YouTube downloader or converter is the fastest and the easiest way to download the videos of your choice from the video-sharing platform.

Here is a step-by-step guide for downloading YouTube videos using a video downloading tool:

1. Choose the most suitable YouTube downloading software or service

There is a wide variety of tools for downloading videos from YouTube, one of the best ones being 4K Download.

4K Download is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux computers and is easy to use and multiple built-in functionalities.

You can use 4K Download to download a whole batch of videos and entire playlists and channels simultaneously. You can also use it to create and save playlists, extract subtitles in 50+ languages, and download videos of all resolutions, including 4K and 8K and even 3D and 360-degree videos.

You can use the tool to access and download private playlists and videos on YouTube with this tool without signing in.

The tool is easy to use and comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee so that you can try it out right away here.

There are other online downloaders and other tools for downloading videos from YouTube, some of which are completely free, but the premium paid versions usually offer more features and higher quality.

2. How to choose the best YouTube downloading tool or service

Here are the main features to keep in mind when choosing the most suitable YouTube downloading tool for your needs:

The video quality – the best downloading tools and apps offer an option for choosing the quality and resolution of the video. Pick a tool that will enable you to download the video of your choice in the same or better quality than the original.

The availability of subtitles – if you want to download videos that are in another language and you need subtitles for them, then you should pick a tool or app that can download the subtitles in the languages of your choice.

Batch simultaneous downloading – if you are going to be downloading a lot of videos, or want to download whole playlists or channels at once, then this feature will save you a lot of time and energy. There are YouTube downloading tools that will allow you to queue and download multiple videos at once with a single click. This will save the time and hassle of having to select and download them one by one manually.

Compatibility with different file formats – the downloading tool should provide you with the flexibility and choice to download and save the videos from and to more types of file formats, including MP3, MP4, FLAC, AAC, and more. Some of the tools offer compatibility and conversion from and to more than 100 different file formats and types.

An integrated video editor – if you are planning on cutting and editing videos or saving just parts of YouTube videos, then a downloading tool with a built-in editor will make this task much easier, instead of downloading the entire video and using another program to edit it and save it again.

The downloading and conversion speed – it is advisable to choose a program or service which can download and convert the videos as quickly as possible so as not to affect the performance of your computer or another device or to not be affected by your internet connection speed.

The compatibility with other video sharing and streaming platforms – many of the tools offer the ability to download videos from other sites such as Facebook, TikTok, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and many others. The more versatile the tool – the better.

3. Copy the URL of the video of your choice from the address bar of the browser

For the online video downloading tools and many standalone programs for YouTube video downloading, you will need to open the video which you want to download and copy the URL of the video. Then you have to paste it into the text box of the downloading tool.

After you are done, you simply need to press Convert, Download, Go or Start (depending on the tool or website you are using), and the video will start downloading.

4. Choose the format of the file and the quality of the video

Some tools offer the ability to choose the file format of the downloaded file, as well as the quality and resolution, and size of the downloaded file.

So, before clicking Download, you should pick the format of your choice (MP3, WMV, AVI, MP4, MPG, 3GP, FLAC, OGG, MKV, or other) and the size and resolution of the file.

You may be prompted to choose the directory and folder on the computer where you want the file or files to be downloaded to.

Be sure to check the location settings of your downloaded files, especially if you are using a VPN, because the tools may mistakenly download them to another location when a VPN is in use.

When the video has been downloaded, you are set and ready to watch it or play it on any device you want at any time.

Directly downloading the videos from YouTube – a step-by-step guide

You may not be aware that there is a method for downloading videos from YouTube directly and without the use of a dedicated downloading tool, app, or add-on.

Here are the steps for downloading videos directly from YouTube:

1. Go to the video of your choice

Open the video you want to download in your internet browser.

2. Add “ss” in the URL of the video

Add the two letters to the URL of the video in the address bar of the browser. Make sure to add the “ss” right after “www” and before “youtube” in the address.

When you are done, press Enter on the keyboard to refresh the address and to get redirected to a site for free downloading.

3. You will be redirected to the free downloading site

Once you have added the two letters and have hit Enter, your browser will redirect you to the free downloading website.

The free downloading tool will already have the URL of the video pasted in the text box, so there is no need to copy and paste it again.

Then all you will need to do is choose the quality and format of the downloaded video and then press “download.”

The video will be downloaded in a matter of seconds.

Using a video downloading add-on in your browser to download YouTube videos – a step-by-step guide

Suppose you want to be able to download YouTube videos without having to open a new tab with the online downloading tool or without opening your standalone video downloading app or program. In that case, you can install and use an add-on directly from your Internet browser.

Here is how to download YouTube videos using a browser add-on:

1. Choose a suitable add-on for your preferred internet browser

There are many add-ons available for downloading YouTube and other videos, which you can install for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, and for other browsers.

Choose the one which suits your browser and needs.

2. Download and install the add-on

Download the add-on or extension of your choice, and once it is downloaded, proceed to install it. You may need to restart your browser or your computer after installation.

3. Go to the video of your choice on YouTube

If you are using the abovementioned add-on for Opera, once you open a video on YouTube, you will see an icon available on the top right side of the browser.

You will be able to pick from the different options, including Quick Download, Conversion Tool, Download Panel, and Settings.

For the fastest results, click on Quick Download, and the video will be downloaded automatically to your computer or another device.

This will save you the time and hassle of using a separate downloading tool or an online downloader every time you want to download a YouTube video.

4. Choose the format you prefer

Most video downloading extensions and add-ons offer users an option to choose the format of the file that will be saved and the resolution and quality of the downloaded video or audio file. Pick the file format and quality you prefer before downloading the video of your choice.

Using a virtual desktop to download YouTube videos – a step-by-step guide

You can also use a Virtual Desktop for downloading YouTube videos. Here is how to do it:

1. Find the video on YouTube

Go to the video which you want to download on YouTube, and then hit Enter so that it starts playing.

2. Add “vd” into the URL of the video

Add the letters “vd” right after www and right before “youtube” in the address bar of your browser. Then press Enter. This will redirect you to the download website

3. Pick the format and quality of the video

Select the format and the quality of the video on the VDYouTube website, according to your preferences.

4. Download the video

Once you have chosen the format and the quality of the YouTube video on the site, you just need to click on the Download button, and then the video will automatically be downloaded to your computer.

Using VLC Player to download YouTube videos – a step-by-step guide

You can use the VLC Player, which you already have on your computer, or you can download it if you want to use it to download videos from YouTube.

Here is how to use VLC Player for downloading YouTube videos:

1. Open the video in your browser and copy the URL from the address bar

Find the video you want to download using your browser and copy the URL.

2. Open VLC Player

Open the VLC Player, or simply keep it open in your taskbar for faster downloading of videos at any time.

3. Open Network Stream

In the VLC Player, choose the “Media” option in the menu. Then select “Open Network Stream” if you are using a Windows computer.

If using macOS, choose the “File” option from the VLC Player, and select “Open Network.”

4. Open the media in the text editor

A new text editor window will open in the VLC Player. Paste the URL of the video which you copied earlier in the text editor.

5. Select “Play”

When you choose the Play option on the VLC Player, the video will start playing immediately.

6. Select “Codec Information”

Go to the “Tools” option in the menu, located on the top right corner of the player. Then select “Codec Information, or you can use a keyboard shortcut to open it by pressing “CTRL + J.”

When you press it, a new window will open up.

7. Choose the Location

Copy the information available in the location text box at the bottom of the window – this is easy when using a Windows computer.

If you are a Mac user, right-click on the text box and then select the “Open URL” option from the menu.

8. Copy and Paste the URL

If you are using a Windows computer, you need to paste the URL which you copied into the browser’s address bar and then click Enter. You don’t need to do this if you are using a macOS.

9. Download the video

The selected video should be playing in the browser. All you need to do is to right-click on it and choose the “Save video as” option.

Now, the YouTube video will begin downloading in an MP4 format and with the name “video playback.”

You can rename it and save it with your other videos once the downloading is done.

While this method for downloading videos from YouTube using VLC Player may sound complicated, it is actually quite straightforward once you have learned the steps.

Downloading YouTube videos on your mobile phone

Using your mobile for downloading videos from YouTube can be a tad trickier than doing it on your computer.
Still, there are several simple ways to download YouTube videos directly to your mobile device:

1. For Android phones, you can download and install the InsTube app from the Google Play Store. It is free and very easy to use.

2. For iPhones, the easiest way to download videos from YouTube is to pay for YouTube Premium. This service will allow you to download videos directly to your iPhone and then to watch them via the YouTube app. If you want a free method for downloading videos from YouTube to your iPhone, then you can use Apple AirDrop and transfer the downloaded videos from your computer to your iPhone. But you will need to download the videos from YouTube on your computer first, using one of the abovementioned methods.

Is it legal to download videos from YouTube?

According to the Terms of Service of the video-sharing platform, downloading, selling, and otherwise infringing the copyrights of videos is a violation of the terms.

But while downloading videos is not permitted according to the Terms of Service of YouTube, the platform does not penalize its users. Some videos on YouTube are royalty-free and can be downloaded without repercussions or worries of infringement of their copyrights.

Plus, if you will only be using the downloaded video for your personal use and not sharing, selling, or otherwise distributing it, then it is legal to do so.

The exact wording of the Terms of Service of YouTube is:

“You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content.”

While this means that you cannot download licensed videos from YouTube, there are multiple tools, websites, and other methods allowing users to download as many videos as they like from the video-sharing platform.

So, you can download the videos you want and watch them offline or without signing into YouTube in the future, when you are going to be using them for personal use only.

FAQs about downloading YouTube videos

Can YouTube videos be downloaded?

Yes, all videos available on YouTube can be downloaded by using one of the abovementioned methods for downloading videos. You can download a video directly by using a downloading tool, a browser extension, a Virtual Desktop, your VLC Player, and an Android app.

Is it free to download videos from YouTube?

Yes, but if you want to have a fast, safe, and easy-to-use tool for downloading as many videos as you want, then you may want to consider paying for the excellent 4K Video Downloader.

What is the best method for downloading videos from YouTube?

Our recommendation is that you use 4K Download if you are using a computer, a browser extension, or InsTube if you are using an Android phone or device.

Is there an easy way to download videos from YouTube directly to my Android phone?

Yes, there are free and easy-to-use apps available for Android, like InsTube, which you can download and install on your phone.

Final words

As you can see, there are various methods and options for downloading YouTube videos so that you can watch them again without signing in to YouTube and even without an Internet connection.

Our personal favorite method to download YouTube videos is by installing and using 4K Download.

Whichever method you have picked, we hope that you enjoy the convenience of being able to download and enjoy watching or listening to your favorite YouTube videos and audio files on any device and whenever you feel like it.

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