3 ways to download YouTube videos on your computer or phone (2024)

You can stream billions of videos on YouTube, but sometimes, you might just want to download some for offline viewing. Downloading your own videos is easy, of course. But what if you want to save other creators' videos to watch offline later? There's a one-click Download button to do that, but you need to subscribe to YouTube Premium for it to work.

If you don't want to get YouTube Premium, you can also use a third-party app like the VLC media player to download YouTube videos for offline viewing. Here's how to do it all.


How to download YouTube videos using YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is the easiest way to download a YouTube video, as there is a direct Download option. Though YouTube Premium costs $12 a month, it allows you to watch ad-free videos and gives you access to YouTube Music and YouTube Kids. Read our full YouTube Premium review to learn more.

When you download YouTube videos with YouTube Premium, you'll be able to watch that content offline. However, you can only watch the downloaded video on that same device, in the YouTube app.

Here's how to download and watch YouTube videos with YouTube Premium:

1. Start the YouTube app or open YouTube in a browser and make sure you're signed in and subscribed to YouTube Premium.

2. Find the video you want to download and select the three-dot menu under the video. In the dropdown menu, choose Download.

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If you're using the YouTube app on a mobile device, the menu item is labeled Download Video. If you tap the video to start playback, you can tap the Download button under the video as well.

To play the downloaded video:

  • In a browser: In the menu on the left side of the screen, click Downloads, then click the downloaded video to start playing it.
  • On a mobile device: Tap the Library tab at the bottom of the screen, then tap Downloads. Tap the video to start playing it.


How to download audio from videos using YouTube Music

YouTube Music — which comes with YouTube Premium — allows you to download content using the app on your mobile device. This works for most songs and videos you can find on YouTube, including covers and live performances.

Here's how to do it:

1. Start the YouTube Music app on your phone or tablet.

2. Find a song you want to download and tap its three-dot menu.

3. In the drop-down menu, tap Download.

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To play the downloaded song:

1. On YouTube Music's home screen, tap the Library tab at the bottom of the screen.

2. At the top of the screen, tap Library and then choose Downloads from the pop-up menu.

3. Tap Songs.

4. Choose the downloaded song you want to play.

Like downloading a video from YouTube Premium, downloading songs from YouTube Music doesn't store a .mp3 or similar file on your mobile device, so you can't easily use that downloaded music file in a different app. It's stored in the YouTube Music app's cache. There are some ways to convert these music files, though.


How to download YouTube videos with VLC Media player on Windows

You might know the VLC Media Player as a free app that lets you watch videos or play music from your Mac or PC. In addition, you can use it to download any YouTube video, as well as to convert video files you already own.

Install VLC and then follow these steps to download a YouTube video:

1. Find the video you want to download from YouTube and copy the URL from the web browser's address bar.

2. Start the VLC app.

3. If you're on a PC, click Media in the menu bar, then choose Open Network Stream. On a Mac, click File, then Open Network.

4. In the window that appears, select the Network tab and paste the YouTube video's URL in the text box at top. Then click Play or Open at the bottom.

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5. After a moment, the YouTube video should begin playing (longer videos will take longer to start). If the video starts playing, proceed to step seven.

6. If the video doesn't play, try downloading this youtube.lua file from VLC's GitHub page. On a PC, paste the new file into the folder located at C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\lua\playlist and replace any existing file with the same name. You can then try steps 1-5 again.

7. If you're on a PC, once the video starts playing, click Tools in the menu bar, then Media Information. If you're on a Mac, click Window in the menu, then Media Information.

8. In the Current Media Information window, find the Location field at the bottom. Select the URL in this text box and then copy it.

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9. Go back to your web browser and paste that link into the address bar at the top of the screen, and then press Enter.

10. After the video starts playing, click the three dot menu at the bottom right and then choose Download.

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11. The video will be saved on your computer as an .MP4 file. You can name it or move it wherever you like.

Ryan Ariano

Ryan Ariano grew up in Baltimore when the Macintosh was cutting edge, lived in Los Angeles as Blackberries gave way to iPhones, and now lives in Jackson Hole where his life is held together by Bluetooth. He writes on a wide range of topics but especially loves nerding out across the tech spectrum. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.

Dave Johnson

Freelance Writer

Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he's also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.

3 ways to download YouTube videos on your computer or phone (2024)
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