How to download or save a YouTube video to my computer

Updated: 11/12/2023 by Computer Hope
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YouTube is designed only to allow users to watch and view (stream) videos and movies on their website. Many users want to download or save YouTube videos to their computer to watch offline with their media player, view on other devices, capture a picture or screenshot, or edit them.

YouTube does not allow you to download videos directly from their site. You need to use a third-party service, install software, or get a YouTube subscription service to download a YouTube video. Below are our recommendations for downloading and watching YouTube videos on your computer.
Tip

To download YouTube videos to your smartphone or tablet, see: How to download YouTube video on a smartphone or tablet.

Note

This page only provides recommendations for downloading or saving a video to your computer. For instructions for saving a video as audio, see: How to record sound from YouTube videos.

Download a YouTube video using a website service

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Most websites that offer a service of downloading a YouTube video for free are no longer safe to use. These websites often result in malware being downloaded to your computer, either from the website service itself or through one of their partner sites.

Websites that offered free YouTube video downloading services have now permanently shut down their sites (e.g., Savefrom.net), resorted to malware-related ads, or employ other deceptive tactics.

Due to these reasons, Computer Hope doesn't recommend any website service offering free YouTube video downloads and no longer provides instructions for those websites. Instead, we now recommend youtube-dl, a screen recorder, or a YouTube Premium subscription. These are the best options to keep your computer free of malware.

Download a YouTube video using youtube-dl

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One of the best ways, and our favorite method, to download a YouTube video is with the free program youtube-dl. It's capable of downloading any available YouTube video format to your computer, including the HD version.

However, using youtube-dl is a bit more complex and is designed for more experienced, and advanced, computer users. Youtube-dl utilizes the Windows command line for Windows computers, and the Terminal for macOS and Linux computers.

For help with installing and using youtube-dl on your computer, click the link below to review the instructions.

Saving a YouTube video using a screen recorder

Screen recorders are programs designed to run on a computer, smartphone, or tablet and record anything on the screen. In addition to recording your screen, these programs can also be used to record a video or sections of a video.

Download a YouTube video using YouTube Premium

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Another safe option for downloading YouTube videos is YouTube Premium, a user-friendly service designed for computer and mobile device users at any level of experience.

YouTube Premium requires a monthly subscription, but at $11.99 per month, you're allowed to download as many videos as you want, and watch them offline at any time. Additionally, you can listen to music offline using the YouTube Music app, as well. Like other video streaming services, YouTube Premium provides unlimited access to YouTube videos and music, at a price that's cheaper than other streaming services. Unlike youtube-dl, however, YouTube Premium only allows users to view videos from in the app. After 48 hours in your downloads library, you can no longer access the videos offline until reconnecting to the Internet to prove the validity of your YouTube Premium subscription.
Note With YouTube Premium, you cannot download a video to your computer for watching outside of the YouTube app. The video must be viewed in the YouTube app only, meaning you cannot view it with Windows Media Player or another video playback program.
YouTube offers a one-month free trial for YouTube Premium, so you can try it out and decide if you like it before paying for the service.

What about a private video?

Services and programs designed to record YouTube videos don't have the same rights as your YouTube account, and therefore would not be able to record a private video. However, if you can view the private video, you can use a screen recorder to record anything shown on your screen.