There may come a time when you want to download YouTube videos to your computer or mobile device to watch offline and if ever wondered how to download a YouTube video or if it’s legal, we’re here to help and walk you through the process.
Some people want to download YouTube videos to their computer to watch offline. For instance, if you have a favorite YouTube series you want to watch while you’re not connected to the Internet, you may want to watch the video on your computer or mobile device. Or, if you’re someone who wants to practice their video editing skills, you might want to download YouTube videos to edit on your computer.
There are several web tools and sites that can be used to download YouTube videos and you might be wondering if they are legal or not. Depending on whether the video creator gives you direct permission to download their content, or explicitly states that their content can be downloaded, it could be illegal to use third-party web tools to download YouTube videos.
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YouTube Terms of Service: Is it legal to download YouTube videos?
According to YouTube’s Terms of Service, there are at least two sections that would describe downloading YouTube videos as an action that violates their Terms of Service rules.
The “General Use of the Service – Permissions and Restrictions section states:
“You agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself, the Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.” This means that if you’ve decided to use a third-party app or web tool to download YouTube videos, it violates YouTube’s Terms of Service agreement.
The “Your Use of Content” section provides further insight into whether it is legal to download YouTube videos. An article in the “Your Use of Content” section states:
“Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content. You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content. YouTube and its licensors reserve all rights not expressly granted in and to the Service and the Content.”
But let’s face it, sometimes you might want to save YouTube videos for personal use only without any intent to redistribute for any reason. While it might not be fully legal in terms of YouTube’s Terms of Service guidelines, it can be done easily with a simple click of a button.
How to download YouTube videos
There are several web tools that allow you to download YouTube videos for free. Some sites may force you to watch an advertisement, or send you into a black hole of ads to click on and never actually let you download the video. Most of the sites work the same. You first copy the URL of the YouTube video and paste it into the address bar on the download website.
Depending on how the video was uploaded to YouTube, you’ll be given the options to download the videos at different sizes. If you know you’re just going to look at the video on your mobile device, you may want to consider downloading a smaller size to save space on your phone. If you’re looking to play the video on your computer or practice video editing, you may want to download the largest size available and then choose to scale the size down.
Here are a few sites that allow you to download YouTube videos quickly and easily.
Beware: You should scan your computer each time you visit these sites, as they can sometimes inject malware into your computer. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. A quick Google search could also lead you to other web tools, browser extensions and standalone apps that will do the same thing.
Legally download YouTube videos
If you’re someone who wants to follow YouTube’s Terms of Service agreement and download content legally, you can download videos if you’re a YouTube Premium (formerly known as YouTube Red). YouTube Premium lets you download video content to watch on your mobile device offline the same way other streaming services such as Spotify. You won’t be able to use the actual downloaded file the same way if you used the third-party sites, but if you’re just looking to watch videos offline without running up your wireless data, or if you want to watch content on the subway when you’re not connected to a network, YouTube Premium might be the better option.
If you're a YouTube Premium (Red) subscriber, you simply have to look for the download button in the video player to download the content and watch it offline. The service will cost $11.99 and you can do a free three-month trial to see if you like it.