It’s happened to all of us. Maybe you want to play a video or song in an area where you know you won’t have reliable internet. Maybe you’re afraid of losing access to something. Or maybe you just want an archival copy of certain material. Either way, we’ve got you covered.
Before we get started, be advised that all of these services violate Google’s YouTube TOS and that you’re not supposed to use them.
There are a wide range of options for downloading YouTube videos, to the point that it’d be practically impossible to cover all of them. Instead, we’ve singled out two options that get generally solid reviews and don’t require you to install adware.
First, on the desktop side, there’s the 4K Video Downloader. This utility is free, unless you want the ability to download YouTube playlists with more than 25 videos, want to download entire YouTube channels, or want to manage subscriptions to YouTube channels. In short, the only limitations on the software aren’t limits at all if you want to download the odd video or three.
The process with 4K Video Downloader is simple and straightforward. Paste a link to a video — I went with the mash-up of the “I am the Doctor” theme from the 11th Doctor’s run and the Mass Effect 2 Suicide Mission theme, since the two of them are so damn near identical (it’s one of my all-time favorite examples of two different people who had no way to work together composing something that sounds incredibly similar in the unusual meter of 7/8. See also: The Long Good Friday). You can hear both “I am the Doctor” and “Suicide Mission” on YouTube in many videos, but so far as I’m aware, this is the only one of its type and quality (the only other variant isn’t as strong, IMO). It’s a good example of a unique track I wouldn’t want to lose if something happened to the original audio.
If you want a basic desktop option, this seems to be one of the stronger ones out there, with no ads and minimal restrictions on the free software variant.
Let’s say you’d prefer to go with something browser-based. There are a huge number of utilities that offer this service, but our old go-to recommendation, KeepVid, no longer offers a download option. If you want a simple, point-and-click tool, OnlineVideoConverter is a good choice — it handles both music and video, with variable quality options. It can handle audio samples of up to 320Kbps and 720p video for, well, video. We checked several YouTube video clips and found the audio and visual quality comparable with what those clips offered on YT.
Finally, if you want a service you can append and automatically access with a simple text sequence, VDYouTube offers one with reasonable quality options. Simply insert the letters “vd” in front of any link (as in, vdyoutube.com as opposed to youtube.com) and you’ll land at the site’s main page with the option to download your video or audio.
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