For many of us, YouTube is a one-stop shop for entertainment and education—but it can also be a data hog. Downloading the videos is one way to get multiple video replays without constantly using streaming data.
When you download videos from YouTube, they become available for offline viewing, allowing you to watch them even if you don’t have access to the internet. It’s a great workaround if you’re traveling somewhere with spotty internet or you’re limited by data caps.
Prerequisites Before You Download YouTube Videos
Before we look at how to save YouTube videos, remember that many of them are copyrighted, meaning it’s illegal to download them without paying the creator. Elsewhere, we’ve explained how to check if a video is copyrighted on YouTube.
A slew of third-party apps allow users to download YouTube videos to their devices, but these “YouTube downloaders” are against the law and YouTube’s Terms of Service. To keep you on the straight and narrow, here are the conditions under which it is legal to download YouTube videos with third-party apps.
To combat intellectual property theft and other forms of piracy, YouTube offers a pseudo-downloading feature that allows you to download videos to your smartphone and watch them offline. This is the only way to download YouTube videos that is completely legal.
Downloaded YouTube videos are only stored in the YouTube app and not on your device’s storage, but you still need to have enough space on your device to be able to download YouTube videos.
This is because offline YouTube videos are kept in encrypted form on your device’s internal storage, even though they aren’t saved as local media files. If you’re short on storage, you might need to free up space on your iPhone, Android, Mac, or PC.
In some regions, only YouTube Premium subscribers have access to this download feature. On YouTube Help, you can see a list of regions where YouTube Premium is available. It used to be available to all users in the app’s free version, but that is no longer the case.
Another caveat is that the download feature is limited to specific content and regions. Again, YouTube Help has a list of all the countries where YouTube permits downloading certain content for watching offline.
Finally, not all YouTube videos are available for download. Creators on YouTube have the option of making their videos downloadable or not.
How to Download YouTube Videos for Offline Viewing
Now that all the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s get into why you’re here: how to download YouTube videos.
To get started:
- Launch YouTube Premium. If you’re considering the investment, here’s a guide to help you decide whether YouTube Premium is worth it.
- Find the video you want to download using the search bar.
- Tap the video to play, then hit the download button in the menu tab just under the video.
- Select the quality you want to download, then tap Download to start. Don’t worry if your device loses connection while you’re downloading a video; your download will automatically resume when you reconnect to the internet.
- Since this is your first time, check the Remember my settings box, so you won’t have to repeat this process the next time you want to download a YouTube video. Heads up, you won’t be able to change video resolution after you’ve downloaded it, so make sure you select a default resolution that you won’t hate when you have to watch your downloads.
- You’ll see a Video downloaded pop-up at the bottom of your YouTube video once it’s finished downloading. In addition, the Download button will now display the word Downloaded. That means you can now watch the video without an internet connection.
If you open the YouTube app without an internet connection, you’ll see a Go to Downloads button, which you can tap to access your downloads right away.
Repeat the process for as many videos as you want. Open Library > Downloads to access your downloaded videos. Note that you’ll only be able to access downloaded videos with the same account you downloaded them with in the first place. You cannot transfer, copy, or edit a downloaded YouTube video.
To maintain access to your downloaded videos, YouTube requires that you reconnect your phone to the internet at least once every 48 hours. This is to ensure that the video library remains up-to-date with its online version.
If any information changes about the videos you’ve downloaded, they’ll be updated when you reconnect to the internet. Also, if a creator takes down a video you’ve already downloaded, it will no longer be available for viewing.
Remember, you can also use third-party download tools like 4K Video Downloader, but again, be sure you understand the ethical implications of using YouTube content outside of the platform without the creator’s express permission.
Watch YouTube Videos Offline
The download feature on YouTube is useful, especially for those who live in areas with limited internet access. It’s also a great way to reduce data usage on YouTube and a prudent way to rewatch videos with high replay value.