20 ways to download YouTube videos.

Thousands of videos are being uploaded on YouTube every second. What do you do if you want to download a footage? Here's the ultimate guide.

Whenever the topic of downloading videos from YouTube comes up, something else rears its head - is it legal? Well, that depends. It is OK to download the video for personal and offline use. Anything contrary to that contravenes the copyright. In fact, Google's TOS (Tends of Service) for YouTube reads something like this: "You shall not download any content unless there's a download link being displayed".

Come to think of it, downloading videos from YouTube takes money from them as well as from the creators. There is a reason as to why they (YouTube) run pre-roll advertisements. Somebody is earning a living this way. If you like a video, you can share the link via email or embed it on your social media network or website. You actually don't have to download the video most of the time. But if you do, here are ways to do so.

1. YouTube Downloader Software

This is actually the most preferred way of downloading videos from YouTube. They give you the best control. Here's how it works: you identify the video you wish to download, copy the link address on the app, and it automatically downloads the chosen format usually mp4. A few years back, YouTube videos would be in flv format as back then all videos were flash-based. Fast forward to today and mp4 is king. Why? Videos in mp4 can be played on any device.

Here are the best options:

4k video downloader

This software or rather app, is constantly being updated to feature clear download links, no ads plus YouTube into mp3 conversions. It does what the developers say it does. No fluff. You can download videos with up to 4k resolution in any format. Better yet, you are at liberty to download an entire YouTube channel as long as you've subscribed to the content. 4k video downloader supports YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook downloads. To use the app, you don't have to pay even a single cent.

Freemake Video Downloader

This app is also free to use, and it comes with caveats. Do a quick survey of the software, and you're bound to bump into a review where Freemaker boasts of being capable of downloading videos from more than 10000 websites. In fact, they brag about being loved by about 83 million users and still counting. Anyway, the app will allow you to save links and download multiple videos at a go. If you have a very fast broadband, then you can download a 2-hour HD video in less than five minutes. All the same, you have to put up with some ads. Don't worry if you wish to convert a video into an audio track; Freemake YouTube to Mp3 Boom will take care of that for you.

The caveats - Freemake will throw in some extras when you install it. For a start, you can opt to have a third party antivirus software installed and/ or make Yahoo the default browser. Whether should trust Freemaker enough to install the antivirus software or not is a story for another day. As it is, Freemaker does a good job of downloading videos from YouTube.

Gihosoft TubeGet

Just like the two previous YouTube video downloaders, Gihosoft is free to use. You can use it to grab SD, 4k or HD videos not only from YouTube but also from thousands of other video hosting websites including Netflix. The app also has an in built video to mp3 converter which can work on as many as 5 videos at the same time.

Airy ($19.95)

To download a footage from YouTube, simply copy the link and paste it in Airy. It does the rest for you. It will even work for your YouTube playlist. The app once installed integrates into the browser so that downloads are easier to initiate. A click and voila, your download starts. There's one downside of using Airy: it only works for YouTube and no other video hosting website. Anyway, to make up for this, they'll give you a 50% discount if you prove that you're migrating from another paid product.

YTD Video Downloader

Available for $29.9 per year. Unlike Airy, YTD works for 50 different video hosting sites. By paying the annual subscription fee, YTD allows you to enjoy more functions such as multiple downloads, download acceleration, zero ads and so much more. You can download the YTD on your android or iOS device though it's only on Android that it downloads YouTube videos. Funny enough, you cannot download the app from app store. Get the app file and install it as per the instructions then you are good to go.

YouTubeByClick ($14.99 per year or $40 lifetime use)

Here is an interesting fact: the developer of YouTubeByClick claims that he got inspiration from YTD. So don't be surprised by the striking resemblance/ features the two apps share. The app can be integrated into any web browser making it easy to download your videos, in any preferred format.

Any Video Converter ($49.95)

The most unique thing about this app other than the odd name is this: it not only allows you to grab videos from YouTube, Facebook or those streaming on Netflix, it can rip DVDs. In addition to this, Any Video Converter allows you to do some editing.

DLNow Video Downloader

Also a freebie. Ideal for grabbing videos from 570 different video hosting websites. Like its predecessors, this app can be used to convert the videos into an audio format.

Softorino YouTube converter

It's available for use either as a free software or you can subscribe to a fee for more features. For instance, Softorino has a product (Waltr 2) for which subscribers pay $39.95 so that they can convert videos playing only on iOS (iPhone, iPad). In this case, the user doesn't have to jailbreak their device or use iTunes. Cool, right?

2. YouTube Downloader Helper sites

Sometimes you don't feel like installing an app for whatever reason you may harbor. Perhaps your device has many installed apps, and there's no room for more. In this case, a helper site can come in handy. These sites do the work for you - they convert and provide a download link.

There are dozens of these websites out there. In fact, it seems that anybody with a knack for coding is setting up a video download website. From Videograbber.net, GrabClip, SaveFrom, TubeOffline, FLVto and other colorful names. With so much at stake, there is need to be suspicious. Don't ignore if your antivirus or browser flags the website.

Many of these websites try to get extra mileage by using a sly tactic. They allow you to copy the link of your favorite videos from YouTube then add a prefix so that the service takes over. Case in point: change link.youtube.com to vdlink.youtube.com. In this case, VDYoutube.com takes over. This is just one example, some websites apply the same tactic in a different manner. For smooth downloads, avoid ad traps that look like a download link but aren't.

Here are some of the best helper sites.

KeepVid

KeepVid supports downloads from 28 different video hosting websites as well as providing an ideal platform for saving audio files from SoundCloud. To save a video, copy its link then paste the same on KeepVid. A download tab shows up. Click on it. A slew of download options become available. Select the one you want, right click on it and choose 'save link as' to download. You'll require a java enabled the web browser to do this. KeepVid Pro is available for desktop devices for a subscription of $19 for a year or $29 for lifetime use. If you don't like this arrangement, then an android version or a web browser extension should do.

TubeNinja

TubeNinja is not new in the game. If you have read about YouTube Downloader, then you should be updated with new developments. It rebranded into TubeNinja. The website (TubeNinja) sports a very easy to use interface with no ad traps showing up. It supports many video hosting websites including those with adult content, different languages and more functionality. You can simply add a 'dl' to a URL before the website's name for a quick download.

ConvertToAudio.com

If simple is what you need, then ConvertToAudio.com is what you should go for. Like its predecessor before, ConvertToAudio.com allows you to choose a file which is then downloaded in mp3 format

ClipConverter.cc

ClipConverter.cc works based on the now familiar pattern - go to a video hosting website say YouTube, copy the link of the video and paste it on ClipConverter. There is an added advantage though: ClipConverter allows you to change the start and/or the end of the video being downloaded. Chrome, Safari and Mozilla Firefox support a ClipConverter extension. However, there is a filter to prevent people from downloading copyrighted material.

VIDFB.com

Ideal for downloading videos from Facebook.

3. YouTube Downloader Browser extensions

After apps and helper sites, browser extensions come third in the preference for downloading videos from YouTube and other video hosting websites. However, with Chrome, you can have some issues. YouTube, Chrome, and Chrome store are all Google's products. As such, you cannot download some videos if they infringe copyright.

Video Downloader Professional ($9.99) allows you to make downloads from Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, etc. The same applies to other web browser extensions like VGet and Free Video Downloader.

FastestTube

It's free to use and available for download from Safari, Chrome, Mozilla, and other web browsers. If properly installed, you'll see a 'download this video' on all videos you'll be watching. The video formats will be displayed as well. All you have to do is select whichever you want.

Video DownloadHelper

Available for free or as a subscription of $28.50. It supports a dozen websites including those with adult content. This browser extension is added to your Tools menu. Anytime you watch videos on YouTube, Video DownloadHelper will display a download icon if the video is downloadable. Get an upgrade if you wish to convert video files to other formats. There is a catch though - this only works on Mozilla.

Mobile

If you thought Google had a strong grip on what extensions can do then wait until you want to download videos from YouTube using an app. Thanks to the advent of Android, you can download videos without going through Google. Just go to the website if the developer, download the app file and install it by allowing your android device to 'install from untrusted sources'. YTD, KeepVid and WonTube have apps for this.

Apple is more strict on this matter. It's tougher here to bypass the TOS than it is on Android. Think of it this way, anytime a smart geek comes up with an app to bypass iTunes then it gets banned before it starts making inroads. Anyhow, there are workarounds to help you download your favorite YouTube videos. A perfect example would be an iOS file manager called Documents 5. This tool links you to the helper sites mentioned earlier in the article. Other apps used to work around the iOS operating system are AnyTrans and Video Downloaded Pro for Dropbox. All the same, you may be forced to go old school vis a vis; using iTunes to synchronize videos on your Mac or windows desktop. It may not offer the same satisfaction as a direct download, but it's something nonetheless.

That's how you download your favorite videos on YouTube or Facebook or Vimeo or any other video hosting website. Choose the appropriate mode of download and enjoy the video clips. Note that you can share the videos to your social media network rather than download the same but if you must, use the above tried and tested ways.

Note that what has been listed above is not conclusive. There are hundreds of other apps, browser extensions, helper sites and file managers you can use to grab your videos. You're spoilt for choice. Choose wisely.