The best free YouTube downloaders in 2021

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If you want to grab your videos from a site to watch them later when you might not have the internet, consider one of the best YouTube downloaders for Windows or Mac. These downloaders are very handy for anyone who uses YouTube fairly regularly and wants to save videos locally. And, they’ll help you do just that no matter if you’re using a smartphone, Windows PC, Where Mac.

Whether you’re trying to save personal projects from an account you can no longer access, or trying to upload a video for a presentation, a YouTube downloader can save the day. Using one is much easier and less stressful than trying to awkwardly capture a video using a screen recording app. These downloaders will also do most of the work for you. All you have to do is put in the URL of the video you want to download.

Our current best YouTube downloader is 4K Video Downloader, which allows you to save videos in ad-free format and remove watermarks from downloaded files. You can even download an entire playlist or extract audio from video. It’s better than a lot of paid tools which are supposed to do the same thing.

However, there are a few different options that you can check out. So whatever your needs, there is something here that will help. Read on to see our top picks.

Laptop on desk displaying 4K video downloader

(Image credit: OpenMedia LLC; Shutterstock)

1. 4K video downloader

Fast, free and flexible – the most versatile YouTube downloader

Characteristics

Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux

Reasons to buy

+Large choice of formats+Playlist downloads+Support 3D and 360 degree videos+No additional software provided

Reasons to avoid

Limits on playlist downloads

4K Video Downloader is the best free YouTube downloader for fast and hassle-free YouTube downloads. It is simple to use, highly customizable, ad-free, and does not include any additional bundled software.

To retrieve a video (or an entire playlist, as long as it is no larger than 24 videos), simply copy its URL from your web browser, click “Paste URL” and select an output format, quality and location.

There is a large choice of formats – both video and audio – including MP4 and MP3. You can download captions for individual videos, and 3D and 360 degree videos are also supported.

Browsing the properties allows you to change options such as multi-stream downloads (increasing the number of streams will speed up downloads, but increase the risk of YouTube blocking your IP address) and set up a proxy connection.

Buy a key will let you download longer playlists and playlists with captions, and at £ 7.95 (around US $ 10, AU $ 15) for a lifetime license for three PCs, that’s a good deal , but the free edition has everything you could want.

Read our full review: 4K Video Downloader

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A laptop on a desk displaying the WinX YouTube downloader

(Image credit: Digiarty Software; Shutterstock)

2. WinX YouTube Downloader

Clear, powerful and well designed – a very close finalist

Characteristics

Operating system: Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

+Support over 30 video sites+Can download 4K video+Download multiple videos at once

Reasons to avoid

No 360 degree video support

Running very closely, WinX YouTube Downloader can download videos from all the most popular sites including Facebook, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. It is very easy to use. Just paste a URL, select an output format and a quality setting, and it will be added to the current batch.

Once you have added all the videos you want to download, just click on the “Download” button and they will all be processed at the same time and saved in the destination folder of your choice.

WinX YouTube Downloader can download 4K videos when available, and only loses 4K Video Downloader because it cannot download 3D and 360 degree videos. If that’s not a problem for you, this free YouTube downloader comes highly recommended.

Read our full review: WinX YouTube Downloader

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A laptop on a desk displaying Any Video Converter Free

(Image credit: Anvsoft Inc; Shutterstock)

3. Any free video converter

Download and convert videos and add special effects

Characteristics

Operating system: Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

+Excellent format support+Integrated video editor

Reasons to avoid

No batch downloadsAdditional software provided

At first glance, Any Video Converter Free is one of the best free YouTube downloaders. The only downside is that this free version limits you to downloading one video at a time, but if you are looking for a free solution, you may decide to support it happily.

There are many video formats to choose from, and there is even a basic video editor built into this YouTube downloader. This can be used to crop a video you upload, add simple effects like color adjustment, and add overlay text.

The whole process is quick and easy. The interface of any video converter may not be to everyone’s liking, but it is really finicky; it is a fantastic free YouTube downloader in all other respects. Beware of the ByteFence and Yahoo software provided during installation, and you are good to go.

Read our full review: All Free Video Converter

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YouTube's free downloader displayed on a laptop

(Image credit: DVDVideoSoft; Shutterstock)

4. Free download from YouTube

Capture videos without clicking a single button

Characteristics

Operating system: Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

+Automatic download option+Batch download+Can shut down the PC when finished

Reasons to avoid

Three-minute time limit

There is no price to guess what Free YouTube Download does. This is a very simple and well-targeted free YouTube downloader that eliminates the distractions to get the job done right. Paste a URL from YouTube and you can download the video with just a few clicks – or with no clicks if you enable the automatic download option.

You can download multiple videos at once if you need to, and you can convert them to several different formats on the fly. The formats available will depend on the quality of the original video, but AVI, MP4, iPhone / iPod, and MKV should be available in most cases. It is also possible to convert to audio-only MP3 if you also don’t need the footage.

There’s only one real downside, but it’s a big deal – you can only use the free YouTube downloader to grab clips that are less than three minutes old. That excludes most of the video clips to begin with, and that’s a real shame.

Read our full review: YouTube free download

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The aTube Catcher displayed on a laptop computer sitting on a desk

(Image credit: DsNet Corp; Shutterstock)

5. aTube Catcher

Download, convert and merge videos while they are playing

Characteristics

Operating system: the Windows

Reasons to buy

+Batch download+Converts to popular formats+Automatic file conversion

Reasons to avoid

Adware in the installer

Although the name suggests that it is just a YouTube downloader, aTube Catcher can actually record videos from most major video hosting sites.

First of all, however, a word of warning: sneaky adware abounds during installation. When the first app is offered to you, be sure to press Cancel, and for the second click Decline – then you are 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 any device you intend to watch them on. If you are looking to download a large number of videos, you can download them all at once, maximizing your bandwidth – something that is not available in all of the best free YouTube downloaders on this list.

This free YouTube downloader also offers many additional extras like the ability to record any video on screen, merge videos, and burn disc.

Read our full review: aTube Catcher

Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

Before using a free YouTube downloader, keep in mind that using third party apps to download videos is against YouTube Terms of Service, which says you can only stream videos directly from its servers.

Downloading videos is also potentially a copyright infringement, unless you own the video yourself, have permission from the copyright holder, or it is in the public domain.

What is the difference between online YouTube downloaders and desktop apps?

There are many sites that you can use to download YouTube videos, but we don’t recommend them due to their disadvantages compared to desktop software. First of all, they are slower due to the limitations of the remote server and your data connection. Many such sites also have NSFW type ads or display thumbnails of recently uploaded videos, which may not be appropriate.

Online video converters usually don’t give you much choice (if any) about the video file, in terms of quality or expert format. They only allow you to download one video at a time and you can forget to save entire playlists. 3D and 360-degree videos are also out of the question, and very few can handle 4K.


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