Free YouTube downloaders make it easy to save videos from YouTube in a format of your choice, so we’ve rounded up the very best in one convenient place. And, don’t worry – while these YouTube downloaders are always changing, we update this guide frequently so you’re always getting up to date advice.
The best free YouTube downloader right now is 4K Video Downloader. This free program puts many paid-for tools to shame for having no ads, allowing you to save videos in the format of your choice, and not placing watermarks on your downloaded clips. It’ll even let you extract the audio from a video, or download an entire playlist.
However, if you don’t need that much power then there are lots of more streamlined free YouTube downloaders around, which will let you simply enter the URL of the video you want to grab, and do the rest of the work for you.
If you’re specifically interested in saving music from YouTube, our guide to the best free YouTube to MP3 320kbps online software might serve you better. We’ve also rounded up the best free video converters if you want to play videos offline on a different device, like a phone or tablet, as well as the best free video editing software for clipping and cropping your saved videos. For more detailed instructions, check out our full guide: how to download YouTube videos for free.
Is downloading YouTube videos legal?
Before you use a free YouTube downloader, bear in mind that using third-party apps to download 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.
Although the name suggests that this is just a YouTube downloader, aTube Catcher can actually save videos from most of the big video hosting sites.
First, however, a word of warning: sneaky adware abounds during the installation. When you’re offered the first app, make sure to hit Cancel, and for the second one click Decline – then you’ll be free to enjoy aTube Catcher without any unwanted surprises.
Downloaded videos can be converted automatically to a number of popular formats, so you can tailor them for their intended use, or whatever device you intend to watch them on. If you’re looking to download a large number of videos, you can download them all at once, maxing out your bandwidth – something not available in all of the best free YouTube downloaders on this list.
This free YouTube downloader offers plenty of added extras too, such as the ability to record any on-screen video, video merging, and disc burning.
Read our full review: aTube Catcher
Online YouTube downloaders vs desktop software
There are many sites that you can use to download YouTube videos, but we don’t recommend them due to their disadvantages over desktop software. First of all, they’re slower due to the limitations of the remote server and your data connection. Many such sites also feature ads of a NSFW variety, or display thumbnails of recently downloaded videos, which may not be appropriate. Online video converters typically don’t give you much (if any) choice about the video file either, in terms of quality or expert format. They only allow you to download a single video at a time, and you can forget about saving whole playlists. 3D and 360-degree videos are also out of the question, and very few can handle 4K.