How to Download YouTube Videos Without Software (for Free)

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How to Download YouTube Videos Without Software (for Free)

Key Points

  • Downloading videos from YouTube is against YouTube’s terms of service, which is why it is difficult to find a working download method.
  • Video Downloader Pro is the best overall YouTube download site, with a clean interface and fast download times.
  • 10downloader.com is a good option for quick downloads, but it has annoying popups.
  • Ace Thinker is a premium service that takes a long time to download videos and requires a subscription for high-resolution downloads.
  • Many Chrome downloader extensions no longer work due to Google’s ban on extensions that can download YouTube videos.

YouTube is a great place to view a wide range of content, whether it is for entertainment or to learn a new skill. The only problem is that there is no download button to save a YouTube video to your device. While YouTube Premium does allow storing videos locally, it does not provide access to the raw video file.

Having a copy of the video file is not only convenient for viewing later, but it can also help out other video projects. In short, downloading videos is against YouTube’s terms of service, which is why it is so difficult to find a working download method.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to download YouTube videos without software.

How to Download YouTube Videos: Step-by-Step Guide

Downloading videos entirely in a web browser is super easy with the five steps below. Using a download website, you get a video file that you can watch anywhere or import into video editing software. Best of all, the only thing required is the URL for the YouTube video.

Now, let’s get downloading!

Step 1: Find a Video to Download

The first thing you need to do is find a video on YouTube. There are millions of videos on YouTube, but you can only select one at a time to download with this method.

When you find a video to download, highlight the URL at the top of the page. Then, copy the URL by right-clicking on it and selecting Copy.

Step 2: Navigate to a Browser Video Downloader

Next, navigate to the Video Downloader Pro website here. This is the site we recommend using to download your video. It provides a number of options, such as the ability to pick the resolution you want to download. Of course, you can also choose from any of the other sites covered below.

Step 3: Paste the Video URL in the Downloader

Once you are on the Video Downloader Pro website, paste the URL from step one in the open box.

Do this by right-clicking on the open field and pressing the Paste option. Click the search button to the right of the box to look up the video.

Step 4: Choose a Download Resolution

It may take a moment for the site to locate and load the video. When it is finished, your video will have several download options. You should choose the highest resolution available to get the best video quality.

Once you’ve decided on a resolution, click the Download button to start the process.

In our testing, the video sometimes started downloading automatically, but other times opened a video window. If a video window opens, click on the three vertical dots to open the menu and click the Download option.

Step 5: Wait for the Video to Download

After choosing a resolution and clicking the download button, the only thing left to do is wait for the video to finish downloading.

When the download is complete, you can find the file in your Downloads folder and move it where it needs to go. You can also watch the video with your preferred video player.

YouTube on smartphone and laptop
It’s possible to download a YouTube video using a YouTube video download site for free!

©Worawee Meepian/Shutterstock.com

YouTube Video Download Sites

Now it’s time to take an in-depth look at several of the most popular YouTube download sites. Many of these sites share similar functions. In addition to covering all of the features each site offers, we will also look at how long a download takes.

To do that, we will use one of our favorite speedrun videos that clocks in at six and a half minutes long.

#1 Best Overall: Video Downloader Pro

Our top choice to download YouTube videos is Video Downloader Pro.

Out of dozens of sites checked, this one had the best interface and was the most intuitive to use. The site’s homepage even has a step-by-step guide that explains how to download your first video. Additionally, you can download videos from other sites like Facebook and Twitter.

After pasting our video into the URL, Video Downloader Pro quickly finds the video and pulls up a number of download options. One of the great features is that you can choose between different video formats. Alternatively, you can download just the video’s audio as a file. We downloaded the video at 720p in MP4 format for our test, which took just over four seconds.

The site’s ease of use is what really put Video Downloader Pro in our top spot. So many of the other options tested were bogged down with ads, popups, or they didn’t work properly. Video Downloader Pro did not have these annoyances and worked flawlessly through a number of different tests. Plus, there are no premium subscriptions or upcharges for high-resolution downloads.

The site has a clean interface.There could be more file formats available for download.
A short download time of four secondsSometimes the site sends you to another window with a video player to start the download.

Best For a Quick Download: 10downloader.com

Coming in at number two is 10downloader — this barebones download tool resembles many other YouTube download sites.

However, it was one of the few that we found working without throwing up a red flag on antivirus software. While the website is pretty basic, it offers some nice features that aren’t available on other sites.

Most notably, you can download YouTube shorts, thumbnails, or entire channels and playlists with the click of a button. Instead of copying the YouTube video’s URL, there is also an option to replace the “you” in YouTube’s URL with “000” while on the video’s page. Doing this will automatically bring you to 10downloader with the video already loaded.

The download options are pretty similar to Video Downloader Pro, but the downside of 10downloader is a lot of annoying popups. Sometimes clicking the download button brings you straight to the next page; other times, it just opens ads. Once you’ve waded through the popups, you will eventually reach a video window where you must click on a menu and choose download.

We found that there was frequently a delay before the download actually started. This led to several downloads starting several seconds later. Overall, the process is a little complicated, but it still works. Once the download started, it only took four seconds to complete.

While the download was fast and the site works, you should probably stick with Video Downloader Pro.

Supports full-HD without having to signup for an accountThe site looks very outdated.
Had a fast download time of four secondsWe encountered lots of annoying popups.

Best Premium Service: Ace Thinker

Ace Thinker does a lot more than just maintaining a YouTube video downloader; they have an entire range of media software.

Despite the site looking very nice, it wasn’t the absolute best experience. Although it did work, Ace Thinker took the longest to download the 10.5MB video, at two minutes and 45 seconds.

To be sure this wasn’t a fluke, we tried the test again a couple of hours later and got the same result. That is quite poor compared to the other options, which took under five seconds. Even worse, Ace Thinker requires a premium subscription for high-resolution downloads, so this was for the same six-minute speedrun video at 480p.

We checked the file size and ran a virus check to see if there was something else in the download that caused it to take so long. Strangely, the file size actually matched what is expected for a video of its length and resolution. So, there was an obvious problem on Ace Thinker’s end that caused the slowdown.

On a positive note, you can download MP3 audio files with Ace Thinker. However, the inability to download in HD, annoying popups, and the three-video per day limit are certainly downsides.

Unless you plan to upgrade to the Pro Version, skipping Ace Thinker is probably a good idea.

A very professional-looking and easy-to-use websiteHigher-resolution downloads require a subscription
The download worked without any annoying ads or popups.The test download took a long time, nearly three minutes.

YouTube Video Download Sites to Avoid

Below is a list of sites we tried that either did not work properly, tried to download a virus, or were outright scams. You will find hundreds of sites claiming to provide YouTube video downloads, but many of them are no longer working or have a range of security problems.

Please avoid these and any other sites that seem sketchy and instead use one of the sites listed above.

  • Y2Mate
  • Youtubemp4
  • Ummy
  • Online Downloader
  • YT5S
  • ddownr

What About Chrome Downloader Extensions?

One of the most popular and easy ways to download YouTube videos was through a browser extension. Chrome was a popular choice since it has a vast array of extensions. But you may have noticed most video downloaders no longer work. These were great options because they did not have to be installed on your computer and downloading a video only took a couple of clicks.

Unfortunately, Google banned extensions that can download YouTube videos. This is unfortunate but expected since Google owns both Chrome and YouTube. Even the open-source browser Firefox banned many of its downloader plugins for fear of copyright litigation from YouTube.

Why Use a YouTube Video Downloader?

YouTube downloaders are a great option to quickly save a video. But there are a number of other options, like JDownloader, that require installation on a computer.

However, not everyone wants to waste valuable space on an app they won’t use very often. Using a browser downloader is a quick solution to download videos without adding an extra program to your computer.

In addition, some download programs only work on Windows, which poses a major problem for Mac users. Just like some of the troubled websites mentioned above, installed video downloaders can also have viruses attached that pose a threat to your computer. However, there are still plugins and workarounds to use common software such as VLC to download YouTube videos.

Wrapping Up

Although online downloaders used to be much more plentiful, there are still numerous ways to download a YouTube video without downloading any software. Just remember that things change rapidly on the web, so new options will assuredly show up.

Whether you want to download a how-to video to watch offline or your favorite music video, downloading YouTube videos with a browser is still a great option.

Summary Table

Video Downloader ProClean interface, short download time of four seconds, no premium subscriptions or upcharges for high-resolution downloads.Could have more file formats available for download, sometimes the site sends you to another window with a video player to start the download.
10downloader.comSupports full-HD without having to signup for an account, fast download time of four seconds.Outdated site, lots of annoying popups.
Ace ThinkerProfessional-looking and easy-to-use website, download worked without any annoying ads or popups.Higher-resolution downloads require a subscription, test download took a long time, nearly three minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online downloaders safe?

Some download sites are completely safe but there are others that do not work or contain viruses. Be extremely careful when choosing a YouTube video downloader to ensure it is safe.

Does YouTube have a way to download videos?

YouTube does not have an official method to download video files. While YouTube Premium has a method to watch videos offline, it does not provide you with the raw video file.

Can you share a video downloaded from YouTube?

Whether or not you can share a video downloaded from YouTube comes down to the license that the creator chose. In general, you cannot use someone’s video without their permission, and certainly not for commercial use.

What is the best file format to save a video?

The most popular video file format is MP4 because it is recognized by nearly every software. In contrast, other formats may offer better quality, but they may not be recognized by video editing and playback software.

Can you download your own YouTube videos?

Yes, you can download your own YouTube videos by going to YouTube Studio and selecting Download from a video’s menu.

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