YouTube is great… as long as you have an internet connection. There are times when you don’t, and for those times it’s handy to have videos downloaded so you can watch them offline.
Below you’ll find apps for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS so you can download to your laptop, PC or direct to your phone or tablet. You can even use a website to download videos without having to install any software.
For the legality of downloading see Is it legal to download YouTube videos?
4K Video Downloader
There are literally hundreds of YouTube downloader programs for Windows. Some you have to pay for, but since you want a free one, perhaps the best is 4K Video Downloader.
There are several reasons for this. First is that it doesn’t bundle other programs like adware with its installer. The 27MB download won’t put unwanted software on your computer.
Second, the interface is clean and it’s easy to use. You can copy the address of a YouTube video and click the ‘Paste Link’ button to download the video.
It supports – as the name suggests – 4K videos and will also download playlists (the first 25 videos at any rate). If you need to download longer playlists, you’ll need to pay to activate the Pro version.
There’s also support for downloading 360° videos as well.
Usefully, like TubeMate for Android, it can download using multiple streams to speed things up, but this comes with the risk of YouTube blocking your IP address.
As well as Windows versions, you can get 4K Video Downloader for macOS and Ubuntu.
WinX YouTube Downloader
WinX is a completely free YouTube video downloader which has an intuitive interface and gives you a list of resolutions to pick from when downloading a video.
It has limitations: you can't download just the audio, and it will nag you to upgrade to the full (paid-for) version in order to get the ability to convert the downloaded videos to other formats, including MP3.
As well as YouTube, WinX also lets you download from other sites including SoundCloud, DailyMotion, Facebook, Vimeo and more.
FreeGrabApp YouTube Downloader
This is an ultra-basic downloader that lets you download one video at a time and doesn’t support advanced features such as playlists.
However, FreeGrabApp is truly free with no extra features to unlock, no ads and it doesn’t install adware. It will also convert the downloaded file to various formats including MPEG4, AVI and WMV, although we’re unsure why you’d want those last two.
Alternatively, it will just download the original audio and can convert it to MP3, WMA or WAV.
TubeMate - Android
This is one of the best Android downloaders we’ve found, although the interface is a little confusing and unintuitive.
You can’t get it on the Play Store, so you’ll need to follow our guide to TubeMate for installation instructions.
It’s essentially a web browser, so you can use the normal YouTube mobile website. When you start playing a video you tap on the red download button and there’s a choice of resolutions and formats.
Where the interface falls down is that you have to swipe in from the right to show the downloaded videos, which you might well forget if you weren’t paying attention to the tutorial on the first run.
Also confusing is that the app can play all the video and music stored on your phone, and you’ll see lists of video and audio when you tap on the right-hand two icons in the ‘downloaded video’ tray.
It doesn’t support resuming a video where you left off unless you pause it and return to the app without playing any other downloaded videos.
Subtitles are supported, but only if you download a separate companion app.
It will download videos using up to four streams, so even long shows or high resolutions can be saved up to four times faster, assuming your internet connection is quick enough.
So, while not perfect, TubeMate does the job and quickly.
Documents - iOS
Documents works in a similar way to TubeMate, although it does a whole lot more besides and has a nicer interface.
You tap the small purple icon at the bottom right to open the web browser. You can then head to YouTube, find a video and copy the URL from the address bar. Then you head to a downloader site such as en.savefrom.net, paste the URL and choose which quality to download.
Once the video is downloaded, you can watch it from the main Documents interface.
It's no surprise to have to jump through a few hoops in iOS, but it's a quick and free way to get YouTube videos directly on your iPhone or iPad without using a PC or Mac.