There’s something so appealing about the idea of saving a YouTube video straight to your camera roll. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Do away with the ads, the comments section, and the suggested videos that come along with sending a link, and simply have the video right there on your iPhone. It’s a nice prospect, but not the most realistic one. After all, there are very few ways to (ethically) download YouTube videos to your iPhone camera roll.
Despite the many benefits that come with the ability to download YouTube videos to your iPhone, there are only a select number of ways to do it. Thankfully, we’ve compiled them all here for your convenience!
However, before we get into it, it’s worth overviewing YouTube’s subscription service: YouTube Premium. Not only does it give you the ability to download YouTube videos, but also has many other added benefits, as well.
After that, we can take a look at some of the other download options available to you.
History of YouTube Premium
First released in 2014 under the short-lived name Music Key, YouTube Premium has undergone a few facelifts over the years since its debut.
Originally intended to bridge the gap between YouTube and Google Play, Music Key initially put all its focus on providing ad-free music videos. Music Key also offered background and offline playback—a key feature that would stick with the subscription streaming service across all three of its names thus far.
YouTube changed the name from Music Key to YouTube Red in 2015, hoping to get in on the original content boom of the mid-2010s by focusing on premium streaming shows and films from the site’s top creators and beyond.
YouTube Red also expanded the ad-free user experience from music videos to all content types on the site. However, after three years of trying to get Red off the ground, it just didn’t stick with users. The subscription streaming service underwent yet another name change in 2018.
Now known as YouTube Premium, the site focuses less on original content and more on that user experience it hoped to deliver with Music Key: ad-free content that can be played in the background and downloaded right to the YouTube app for offline viewing. This remains the best and most practical way to download YouTube videos to your iPhone, even if it’s not necessarily being downloaded to your camera roll.
YouTube Premium Key Specs
|Description||Subscription streaming service|
|Founded||November 14th, 2014|
|Owner||Alphabet, Inc. (Google)|
|Also Known As||Music Key (2014-2015), YouTube Red (2015-2018)|
|Top Features||YouTube Originals, YouTube Music, downloading videos to app, background playback, ad-free content|
Downloading YouTube Videos with YouTube Premium
|The only 100% legal and ethical way to download YouTube videos||Downloaded videos are only available in the YouTube app|
|Downloads can be viewed offline, ad-free, and can play in the background||YouTube Premium costs $11.99 a month|
To download YouTube videos with YouTube Premium, you first need to be a subscriber.
You can sign up for a one-month free trial (if you haven’t already before), then pay $11.99 a month to use the service after that. There are also annual, family, and student plans, and the terms and pricing can be found on the YouTube Premium homepage.
Once you’ve signed up for an account and become a YouTube Premium subscriber, the hardest part is over.
You’re now free to use YouTube as you like, including the ability to download any video that offers the option in the description bar. You’ll typically see a “Download” button next to the “Share” option if a video is able to be downloaded. Tap that, and you’ll be good to go.
Now, remember: these videos will not be downloaded to your camera roll. They will be downloaded to a designated “Downloads” tab on the YouTube app. You can only access your downloads here.
Thankfully, though, you will be able to access them whether you’re connected to the internet or not. Some have a time limit of 30 days, at which point they will be removed from your device. If you still want it in your downloads, you’ll have to go download it again.
Downloading by Screen-Recording YouTube Videos
|Free method that utilizes a feature already included on the iPhone||Might require you to edit, crop, and re-record to get the video looking right|
|It saves right to the iPhone camera roll||It could put you at risk of violating YouTube’s terms of service|
Maybe you’re not interested in becoming a YouTube Premium subscriber. Or, maybe you are a YouTube Premium subscriber, but the video you want to download isn’t available to be downloaded.
When this is the case, there’s another way to get a YouTube video on your camera roll, and it’s one that doesn’t involve YouTube Premium nor using sketchy third-party sites, either. You can just screen-record it.
iPhones offer up a handy screen-recording option to its users, and it can be an excellent tool for saving YouTube videos to your camera roll.
To begin, pull up the video you want to download. Then, swipe down from the top of your iPhone home screen and make sure the screen recording option is among your widgets. (If not, you can place it there in your Control Center settings in the Settings app). After that, tap record and then play the video. Once you’ve recorded what you want to record, either hit the red oval in the top lefthand corner of your screen or simply lock the phone.
Naturally, this option isn’t going to look as crisp or as clean as other (more questionable) alternatives. That’s not to say that you can’t clean things up yourself, though.
In the iPhone camera roll, you can trim the video, crop the frame, and even change the aspect ratio as you please. With enough tinkering around, you can make your screen recording look as good as if you’d actually downloaded the video.
Downloading YouTube Videos via Third Parties
|It saves the YouTube video right to your camera roll with no ads and no editing required||Some sites and apps come with a price|
|It’s easy as copying the link and pasting it into the third-party service||This is in direct violation of YouTube’s terms of service|
In compliance with Google’s terms of service for YouTube, you could face serious consequences for downloading YouTube videos any other way but through YouTube Premium.
Their terms of service state: “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.” That seems like a pretty firm rule with little wiggle room.
Of course, there are still several ways to download YouTube videos through various third-party sites. Some of the most-used apps and sites include Documents by Readdle, 4K Video Downloader, and even VLC Media Player.
Each of these alternative third-party options comes with its own set of dangers and risks, so proceed with caution if you do decide to violate Google’s terms of service and proceed down this road. You might face an account suspension or worse.
With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with downloading YouTube videos that fall under the public domain or Creative Commons licensing. These videos are free to be downloaded, edited, reworked, remixed, and passed around as you please. This is because they don’t belong to any one person—they’re not subject to copyright. (However, some Creative Commons videos still ask to be cited if used in other media).
What’s the Best Way to Download YouTube Videos to Your iPhone Camera Roll?
So, of these three options, what is the best way to download YouTube videos to your iPhone‘s camera roll?
There’s no doubt that YouTube Premium is the safest, screen recording is the best middle ground, and using a third-party site is the riskiest.
But, if you’re downloading public domain or Creative Commons videos, then third-party sites become a lot more appealing. At the end of the day, though, YouTube Premium is the best bet—even if it’s not being downloaded straight to the camera roll.
Even if you decide to do a screen recording or resort to a third-party site, YouTube Premium still has an advantage: it allows you to play the videos in the background while you do other things on your phone. To do this with a screen recording or a third-party site, you’d have to extract the audio from the video using yet another third-party site, then place it on your phone with another series of steps.
As such, YouTube Premium is undoubtedly the best way. It’s the safest, easiest, and most convenient, even if it comes at a cost.