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You can find just about anything you’d want to watch on YouTube (and a lot that you wouldn’t). And although most of the YouTube videos are done online, there may be times when you want to download a copy of the video to use in a presentation or watch it when traveling without an internet connection. I’ve researched the options to find the easiest and safest ways to do this on your phone or computer, ideally for free.
There are a number of options for downloading YouTube videos. You can download videos with the YouTube app on your phone or tablet if you subscribe to YouTube Premium ($ 11.99 per month), and there are apps for your computer that let you download and record videos. YouTube videos so that you can watch them for free anywhere and anytime. But you have to be careful when selecting a free YouTube downloader. Much like choosing a VPN, you should find out how the app makes money. Some “free” downloader apps can install malware or adware that is hard to remove – and that’s a steep price to pay.
Sticking to an application on your computer from a reputable company is also a better choice than using one of the many websites that help you download YouTube videos. Like the malicious apps mentioned above, many download sites flood you with advertisements (sometimes explicit) or try to trick you into downloading their proprietary software (which may also contain adware or other malware). These sites also have entering and exiting existence due to copyright complaints, so I would stay away.
To determine which YouTube downloader I would recommend as the first choice, I researched the most well-known software options, including Media OOO 4K Video Downloader, Digiarty WinX YouTube Downloader (and the Mac version, MacX YouTube Downloader), VLC Media Player, All Free Video Converter, and YouTube free download. I also took into consideration what other professional site reviews like Cnet, TechRadar, and Tom’s Guide are reliable and malware-free YouTube downloaders.
The two downloaders that have consistently reached the top are 4K Video Downloader and WinX YouTube Downloader. In addition to a good reputation for security, 4K Video Downloader and WinX YouTube Downloader have the key features you would want in a YouTube downloader – support for 4K video downloads (8K for WinX) and the ability to download easily. playlists and channels, in addition to simple videos. And each uses a freemium model, which encourages you to upgrade to the paid version of the software but gives you a lot of features for free.
After testing both of these options extensively, my pick for the best free YouTube downloader is WinX YouTube Downloader/MacX YouTube Downloader for its consistently high download speeds and intuitive interface, even for novice users.
The best free YouTube downloader: WinX YouTube Downloader (MacX YouTube Downloader)
WinX YouTube Downloader (and her sister, MacX YouTube Downloader) takes all the guesswork out of downloading YouTube videos. It’s a simple three-step process to download a single video and if you want to download a playlist or channel, the software walks you through your options.
To download a video, you copy and paste the URL of the video into WinX, check the video format to save (mp4 or webm) and resolution (WinX YouTube Downloader can handle up to 8K), then click the arrow to down to start the download. It is that simple.
WinX YouTube Downloader also makes it easy to download the videos you want from your favorite channels and playlists. When you paste the URL of the playlist or channel, you will be presented with a list of videos for download from which you can make your selection. With other downloaders, it’s all or nothing when it comes to playlists and channels.
You can also subscribe to a playlist or channel with WinX YouTube Downloader, and the software will keep track of the videos you have already downloaded. When you check your subscriptions, you’ll see a “new” tag on any videos you haven’t uploaded. Other YouTube downloaders do not allow you to subscribe to playlists and channels in the free version of the app.
Premium features like recording YouTube Live videos, captioning and making mp3 audio file from videos are highlighted in WinX YouTube Downloader, but require upgrade to VideoProc from Digiarty for $ 37.95.
I have used WinX YouTube Downloader to download various videos, playlists, and channels and found the download times to be fast every time. For example, it only took a few minutes for 1 GB of data (a 5 minute 4K video). Other YouTube downloaders limit your download speed for their free versions, which I think can take up to 10 times longer.
Is downloading YouTube videos legal?
In general, most content on YouTube is copyrighted (including videos on our own Techlicious YouTube channel) and we must respect both the copyright of the creators and YouTube’s ability to monetize that content through ads on the site.
Some argue that laws allow leeway with respect to downloading copyrighted material for personal use or under Fair use – a situation even YouTube acknowledges. However, YouTube Terms of Service expressly prohibits any downloading. “You are not authorized to: access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or in any other way use any part of the service or any content, except: ( a) as expressly authorized by the service; or (b) with the prior written permission of YouTube and, where applicable, the respective rights holders. “Therefore, YouTube may suspend or terminate accounts using automated upload tools for personal use , even when it is done legally, although I have not seen any evidence that they have done so.
[Image credit: YouTube logo on laptop via BigStockPhoto, screenshot via Techlicious]