Free YouTube downloaders
Download YouTube videos
YouTube’s streaming is superb, offering the best quality for your current connection. But what happens if you’re going somewhere where connectivity is weak or non-existent? Have no fear; with the right YouTube video downloader you can save streams for offline viewing.
Before we proceed it’s important to note that you should only download videos when you have the copyright owner’s permission to do so. YouTube’s terms of service explicitly prohibit unauthorised downloading.
It’s also important to note that many of these programs will install bundled software toolbars, default search engines and so on if you’re not careful with their installers’ ‘Next’ and ‘Accept’ buttons. None of these apps currently include malware or non-removable adware, but many of their rivals do. Be careful out there.
Have we missed any of your favourite YouTube video downloader? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Any Video Converter
A speedy free downloader with format conversion and special effects
Any Video Converter aims to be a kind of Swiss Army Knife for video: not only does it download YouTube videos, but it can burn DVDs and record video, convert audio and video to and from more than 60 different file formats and even add effects.
It’s not the fastest converter around (the free version isn’t optimized for multi-core processors) but it downloads videos quickly.
If you don’t pony up £37 (about US$ 53, AU$ 72) for the Pro version you’re limited to one download at a time, but that’s a minor drawback and it’s a particularly useful program for getting YouTube clips onto devices such as PSPs and smartphones.
2. aTube Catcher
Download, convert, merge and even record videos as they’re playing
Like Any Video Converter, aTube Catcher can do lots of things: in addition to video downloading it can create and convert all kinds of video, find clips you’ve watched from your internet history and merge multiple files together. There’s even a screen recorder which can grab video as it’s playing, which is handy for making screencasts.
It’s very quick and offers a huge range of output options, and it’s nice to have parallel downloading and multi-core processing in a freeware program. Not only that, but its requirements are modest: it works with operating systems as old as Windows 98.
3. Free YouTube Download
Download multiple videos at once, in resolutions up to 8K
The installer is a little too keen on adding bundled software, but Free YouTube Download is very good and completely free. Its focus is on the downloading rather than converting files from one format to another, so you get a good multi-stream download manager for grabbing several clips simultaneously.
It can download files of up to 8K resolution (in MKV) and convert to AVI and MP4. If you’re in a hurry, there’s also an online YouTube to MP3/MP4 converter on the developer’s website.
4. Ummy Video Downloader
A simple, slimline downloader that won’t stress your PC
Ummy Video Downloader is designed to do just one thing, and that’s download YouTube videos and save them as video or audio files. There are no fancy bells or whistles, making it a slim package that puts minimal demands on your PC.
The interface is clean and good-looking, and in a nice touch it grabs the video’s main image to use as a backdrop while the clip downloads. It can save as FLV, MKV, MOV, AVI, MP3 and MPG, it doesn’t gobble up system resources and it’s completely free.
5. YTD Video Downloader
Download videos from more than 60 sites, including YouTube and Vimeo
YTD Video Downloader comes in two flavors: Basic, which is free, and Pro, which costs £18.90 (about AU$ 36, US$ 28) per year. Basic doesn’t get multiple simultaneous downloads, download acceleration or an ad-free interface but it does cover the fundamentals: it downloads from YouTube and more than 60 other video sites, it can convert to WMV, AVI, MP3 and iPhone, and it can resume failed downloads if your connection drops mid-download.
The free version’s installer is very keen on giving you bundled software you almost certainly don’t want, so make sure you read each step carefully and uncheck the boxes beside anything you’d rather not install, but the app itself isn’t too ad-heavy.
6. Clip Converter
Leave this downloader to do its work, and it’ll let you know when it’s done
Clip Converter is a website rather than an app. Simply paste your URL, pick a format – MP4, 3GP, AVI or MOV for video, or MP3, M4A or AAC for audio – and then choose the quality. For YouTube, you can download HD up to 1080p and 4K if it’s available, and the process couldn’t be simpler.
File conversion can be slow at times, so the email notification option is a nice thing to have; it pings you when the conversion is complete and ready for download. If you’re simply looking for a quick, clean, single-video downloader Clip Converter is one to bookmark.
A simple but effective web app for downloading videos and music
Sometimes you don’t want too many options; you just want to paste and go. That’s clearly the thinking behind VideoGrabby, which gives you just two options: download video or download music.
The downloads are MP4 for video and MP3 for music, and if there’s a high quality version of the clip an extra HQ button will appear at the bottom of the page.
It works with other sites too, such as Vimeo and Soundcloud, and it’s very, very fast. If you don’t go for the HQ option, your download appears almost instantly.
A fast online-only downloader, but watch out for the cunningly-placed ads
Another online YouTube downloader, KeepVid is both very good and very bad: good in that it offers a decent range of download options (MP4, 3GP, WebM, audio) and bad because it has those ads with fake download buttons in the centre of the screen in what looks like a deliberate attempt to get you to click on them. We’re not anti-advertising – developers have to eat – but that’s rather deceptive.
Ignore the fake buttons, however, and you’ve got a fast and friendly YouTube downloader that’s useful for grabbing things quickly.
An online-only downloader with an optional browser add-on for convenience
Downloading YouTube videos doesn’t get much simpler than SaveFromNet. Copy your clip’s address, paste it into the box and choose your download format. And that’s pretty much it. It’s nice to see the option to include subtitles (where available), and you can download in MP4, WebM, FLV, 3GP and audio.
If you like the service there’s a browser helper extension that adds a SaveFromNet download button to YouTube itself for even easier downloading. The helper extension also works for Facebook video and various international video sites.
A simple tool, but one that will suit most basic downloading needs
The free version is limited to just two downloads (the full version is US$ 19.95, about £15.24, AU$ 26.79) so you can’t take advantage of the playlist download feature in the free edition, but Airy is a handy tool if you just need to download a clip quickly.
Browser integration is optional, and you can specify the bitrate of your download – so for example you don’t need 1080p if you’ll be playing something back on a tiny screen. You can also use Airy as an audio extractor, saving the soundtrack in MP3 format and ignoring the video altogether.