Using third-party apps to download YouTube videos is against YouTube’s terms of service, which say you can only stream videos directly from its servers. Downloading videos is also a potential copyright infringement unless you own the video yourself, have permission from the copyright holder, or it’s in the public domain.

That said, YouTube does offer some ways to download videos through its web service and its own apps. In this feature we’ll explain how to do this, and guide you through the other options available for iPhone, Android, Mac and PC.

1. Get 4K Video Downloader

To download YouTube videos to a Windows PC, start by downloading and installing 4K Video Downloader. This versatile software is completely free, and can download whole playlists, as well as 360-degree and 3D videos. When it’s done, check the box marked ‘Launch’ and click ‘Finish’.


4k video downloader

Once you’ve copied the video’s URL from your browser, click the green ‘Paste’ button in 4K Video Downloader

2. Copy and paste the video URL

Open your web browser, find the video you want to download from YouTube and copy its URL from the address bar. Then return to 4K Video Downloader and click the green ‘Paste Link’ button at the top left.

The software will retrieve information about the video and give you a choice of quality options. These will vary depending on the quality of the original video, but the software can download YouTube videos in 4K if it’s available.


The download options will vary depending on the quality of the original video on YouTube

3. Choose the quality and format

4K Video Downloader lets you download the whole YouTube video or just rip the audio. Choose your preferred option using the drop-down menu on the left, then choose a format using the menu on the right. MP4 is our preferred format for videos because it gives a good balance of quality and file size, and will play on almost any device.

Then choose a quality setting. For playing back video on a PC or TV, we recommend choosing the highest option, but bear in mind that this will take longer and the downloaded file will be larger. Check the estimated file size on the left to see how much space it will need.

You can also choose where the downloaded video should be saved using the ‘Browse’ button at the bottom. Once you’re happy, click ‘Download’.

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Download a whole YouTube channel

When you download an individual video, 4K Video Downloader will give you the option of downloading the entire channel

4. Download the YouTube video

The YouTube video will now be downloaded for you. If there are other videos in the creator’s channel, 4K Video Downloader will ask whether you want to download those as well. It can download up to 24 videos at once.

Once the video has finished downloading, you can find it in the destination folder, or right-click it in 4K Video Downloader and select ‘Play’. Unless you adjust the settings, the video will stay in this list until you choose to remove it – even if you close and restart the software.

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Set Smart Mode to download YouTube videos with one click

With Smart Mode, you can download YouTube Videos with a single click. It saves your settings so you don’t have to re-enter them each time

5. Try Smart Mode

If you often download videos in the same format, check out Smart Mode. This saves your download preferences and loads them automatically. Click the lightbulb icon at the top right and next time you paste a URL into 4K Video Downloader, it will be downloaded instantly with the last settings you used.

Read on to find out how to download YouTube videos to an Android device or iPhone.