I'm looking for software that would let me download YouTube videos as video files to the hard drive.

  • Don't care much about format being saved as long as Windows VLC can play it out of the box.
  • I'm not an expert on different formats of YouTube videos; if there are different ones, the software must support them all.
  • Must save both video and audio.

I strongly prefer

  • Freeware.
  • Automatic acknowledgement if some video triggers "18+ years only" warning.
  • Ability to download batches (e.g. GUI that accepts a list of URLs, OR command line interface with URL parameter that I can wrap in a loop in batch/Perl/Powershell script).
  • Save all URL links (to different videos or other sites) embedded in the YouTube video. Format doesn't matter - could be just a text file on the side.

Furthermore, it would be nice if the tool also considers the following options

  • Download video sets defined by YouTube, e.g. all uploads from a user; or entire channel.
  • Ability to remember download history, e.g. do "Download all videos from the channel you didn't already download".
  • Skip advertisements. Not an problem if it doesn't.


  • Windows platform (XP 32 bit compatible preferred but not required)
  • All things being equal (e.g. 100% same features and quality) standalone software is preferred over FF/Chrome plugins. But if a given plugin is better than anything standalone, I'm fine with a plugin.
  • 1
    Related: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/750/…
    – DVK
    Feb 10, 2014 at 0:58
  • Keepvid matches the first 4 requirements - I would only provide an answer if it matched at least the first 3 and at least 2 of the strongly preferred Feb 10, 2014 at 7:18
  • 1
    Seems worth mentioning that the YouTube Terms of Service expressly forbids downloading videos in this manner: youtube.com/static?template=terms - Section 5B.
    – user10611
    Dec 31, 2014 at 7:49
  • 2
    Are these kind of questions allowed on SE? Downloading from YouTube is illegal, is it not?
    – BCLC
    Aug 5, 2015 at 13:06
  • 5
    @BCLC It isn't illegal as in breaching a law. It may be illegal as in breaching a contract. If so that's a matter between Youtube, the copyright holder and the user of said software. Note that the Youtube terms of service vary by locale, so it may be allowed in some countries and forbidden in others. Aug 5, 2015 at 16:37

14 Answers 14


I use yt-dlp for downloading videos from YouTube. It's a free console program (public domain licence), written in Python. I've used it on Windows and Linux and it worked well. (According to the official site it should work on Mac OS X too.)

  • By default it downloads the video in the best quality provided by YouTube. If it's not playable with VLC you can get the available formats with

     yt-dlp -F "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=..."

and set it with -f:

    yt-dlp -f <formatId> "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=..."
  • It downloads 18+ videos automatically without manual intervention.

  • You can download multiple videos with one command:

     yt-dlp "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=..." "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=..." ...
  • It supports YouTube channels (and many more).

  • If it finds the downloaded video in the current directory it does not download it again. (If it's not finished it continues the downloading.)

  • 2
    If you just need to download one video manually, you can use dlvyoutube, just add dlv in front of youtube, e.g. youtube.com/watch?v=dtUGQFebWOQ ==> dlvyoutube.com/watch?v=dtUGQFebWOQ Apr 8, 2016 at 11:21
  • 3
    Having extensively tested this, it seems to be a very good solution. Accepting.
    – DVK
    Dec 17, 2016 at 14:13
  • 1
    As YouTube makes changes every few months to break such programs, does it still work? Aug 16, 2018 at 18:29
  • @PeterMortensen: Yes, it still works well. Sometimes I have to update due to incompatilbe changes. Around twice a year, not too often while I use it almost every day.
    – palacsint
    Aug 16, 2018 at 23:06
  • 2
    Update this to yt-dlp
    – endolith
    Jun 7, 2022 at 20:41

JDownloader works great:

  • freeware
  • ads-free (make sure you uncheck/skip the spyware when installing JDownloader)
  • standalone
  • works with Windows/Linux/Mac
  • automatic acknowledgement if some video triggers "18+ years only" warning.
  • ability to download batches (GUI that accepts a list of URLs)
  • can download all video playlists
  • can be configured to download all downloadable URLs in clipboard
  • supports many other websites
  • tons of other features

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 1
    Note that you can also configure a preferred format, for example ignore all the .flv and .webm formats from youtube Oct 17, 2014 at 13:13
  • As YouTube makes changes every few months to break such programs, does it still work? Aug 16, 2018 at 18:32
  • 1
    @PeterMortensen Yes Aug 16, 2018 at 18:33

Two recommendations:

1.DVDSOFT (Stand alone): Their free apps work as modules where you can choose which feature to download & install, they have a full studio program which works as (audio video dvd converter for mobile and iphone devices and video downloader)

As for DVDSOFT youtube downloader module, all what you have to do is to copy the video link, and then paste it into the youtube app. After it completes, you will find the file download in the output folder. You can even choose to convert the file to mp3, mp4 etc. But they display ads on their free version.

full image enter image description here

2.EagleGet (with plugin): It's a free file download manager & download accelerator.

Has a plug in to replace your browser default download and to capture streaming video and prompts you to download it from e.g YouTube website.

If you don't like EagleGet plug in to replace your browsers default download. It has a Video Sniffer, where you can search thru EagleGet for youtube video, and the search result will be listed and you check whatever you want to be downloaded.

Additionally, it can capture the links from clipboard even if your clipboard contains more text.
It works very similarly to IDM (Internet Download Manager) but it's free. I'm very comfortable with it. Moreover, it downloads all my files and YouTube videos quite faster than default Firefox download. But sometimes it doesn't capture my clipboard.

Browser's plug in:

enter image description here

No plugin. Video Sniffer:

enter image description here

  • Aside Note for new readers. I personally use EagleGet and it's my favorite Download manager till the moment. Jan 1, 2015 at 9:34
  • What do you mean by "No plugin. Video Sniffer"? A stand-alone application? Jan 3, 2018 at 19:08
  • @PeterMortensen So the solution I proposed at the time works as both windows program and a browser plugin. The Video Sniffer is what they called the module of the program that detects "sniffs" videos from URLs and prompts the user to download them. I emphasized on that in my answer because the OP specifically asked for that when he/she said: "standalone software is preferred ". Jan 10, 2018 at 8:55
  • @PeterMortensen The OP asked for a solution by saying "standalone software is preferred " that means, for example, a program.exe that can be installed on Windows as opposed to something that is installed in a browser (plugin) Firefox plugins. Plugin means you have to have your browser open and download using it. Standalone will let you download videos without relation to your browser. Jan 10, 2018 at 8:55

Youtube Center is one of the best as it integrates perfectly into the site and gives you a lot of other options to customize your viewing experience. It appends an extra set of options to each video including a download button, you can even only request audio.

enter image description here

It's available for all major browsers as extensions or if you can install it via a userscript.


The default VLC media player should be able to play and record YouTube videos by itself. The steps are as follows:

  1. Go to Views > Advanced Controls

  2. Go to Media > Open Network Stream

  3. Put the YouTube video URL in the box

  4. It should stream. To record, just click on the record button on the bottom left corner

  5. Recorded videos should be available in your Libraries/Video folder if you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8

It may not be as sophisticated as the other downloaders here, but this gets the job done if you prefer to not download anything else.

If you need more help, you can visit the blog. It also shows a variety of other ways of recording videos using the VLC media player.

  • VLC is supposed to be able to capture a video stream, but I never got it to work. Aug 16, 2018 at 18:33

The easy way to download and convert Web videos from hundreds of YouTube-like sites. This works also for audio and picture galleries.

enter image description here


I use the Fast Video Download for Firefox. If you come on a site that displays a video the icon starts flashing and you can select the video to be downloaded (in all its formats). Then you get a "Save As" dialog where you select the place it should go to.

It uses the name of the videofile per default which may not be what you want so you have to insert the name of the video content yourself.

You can see the FVD selection on the top right of this screenshot: Screenshot

So its nice and easy and not in the way and works splendid.


aTube catcher

I always use it to download videos from youtube but if you a day would need it for another video from another site it works. Allows you to use differents format and have various functions.


You can search for videos directly from the application


I never had problems with this and works always.

From site:

More stable, reliable, and faster!
Turbo Downloads up to 600% faster!!!
Now In just 2 steps create and record DVD's!!!
Capture Videos, SWF, and MP3's from any web site using StreamCatcher mode!
Record video from your screen!, yes now you can record Live, Yahoo, etc Messenger video conferences with a few clicks, even video from sites like Hulu, CBS, directly from your Screen!
New Video Converter Mode, convert lots of files easily with one click to any output format!
Introducing new profiles for encoding your videos/audios in MP4,MP3,MPG,3GP,3G2,WMV,AVI,MOV,etc... almost any input/output format supported!
Built-in Profile editor, create, edit and share your custom encoding profiles with the community!
DVD Creator Mode!. Yes now aTube Catcher can directly record DVD's, just drag any video file in almost any input format on the window, they will be converted automatically and recorded to any DVD+/-R/DVD+/-RW Media!. Supports all standard DVD/CD Recorders!
Recorded DVD's can be played on any standard home DVD player!
IE Cache Media Browser, browses the Internet Explorer's cache looking for Video files and SWF's
URL Monitor. Yes, monitor your Web browser's windows to catch your links even if the address bar is hidden.
Download and join multiple videos as a new one. Forget time limitations, you can join all the chapters of the same video.
In Normal mode for direct download, are supported hundred of sites like DailyMotion, FaceBook, Tweetvid, etc...
Multiple languages available!
And my features more!
Warranty, it's a 100% Free and clean software, millions of users can't be wrong!
In the version 2 now you can Create VCD's and Audio CD's too!
Login-in to download full and original files!
Now you can merge existent videos into any format!
New video search tool, helps you to find thousands of videos in a few seconds, display results on your screen with a low memory usage; you can right click over results or double click to open built-in web player !
"Clipboard monitor", helps you to keep a history of the links copied to your clipboard. !
Now aTube Catcher takes advantage of the multi-core CPU's when converting multiple videos simultaneously. Put to work your new powerful multi-core cpu and enjoy its power process!
Our warranty, aTube Catcher is, Safe, Clean, Life time upgrades and the best 100% Freeware without limits!

I can't believe no one suggested 4K Download.

the pros this beside other software is it able to save 60FPS video, smart tracking like JDownloader. Have some ads but not intrusive at all.

  • Why has this answer been down-voted?
    – Bill Bell
    Jan 13, 2017 at 17:56
  • The software is legit. I just tried it and I didn't see any ads. They just have a paywall for some features, which is a fine business practice by me. Mar 24, 2018 at 12:15

KeepVid is a web application that is great for garbing videos from the web.

Can download videos in all popular formats
Even saves only the audio from the video if that's what you want
Totally Free of cost
Notifies the user if the videos are tagged "18+"
Because it is on the web it is not platform specific.
No Advertisements

KeepVid HomePage


SMPlayer has got a GUI tool (smtube) to enable YouTube downloading.

  • Format saved - MPEG4, playable by any half-decent player, including VLC. Also FLV and WEBM.

  • Video and audio - YES.

  • Freeware - YES.

  • Adult video triggers - NOT TESTED.

  • Batch downloading - NO. The workflow centers on searching for videos in the YouTube Browser and then downloading them. The Youtube browser "allows you to browse among the most popular, most viewed and most rated videos. You can search for a video typing a term in the search field at the bottom of the window. To play a video, just double click on it". The program can be launched with one parameter: smtube "A very funny video" to display the result lists.

  • Save all URL links - NO.

  • Download video sets defined by Youtube - NO.

  • Ability to remember download history - NO.

  • Skip advertisements - WHAT ADS? Have not seen any using this tool.

  • Windows - Yes. (Linux also supported).

  • Standalone software - YES.

SMtube browser


This tool does its work for me just fine.

EDIT: As of May 12, 2015, SMTube needs some fixing to download videos (depending on OS and available external file download managers like wget). For more details, have a look at How to download videos with the new SMTube (an archive link just in case).



OS: Linux, Mac, Windows

Graphical Interface: Yes

HD: Yes

Multiple Downloads Same Time: Yes

Description: Video converter compatible of downloading: mp3, avi, mp4, flv, mov, acc, m4a, m4v

  • 4
    Welcome to Software Recommendations! This post does not contain enough information to be considered a high quality answer. Please read our discussion on what makes an answer high quality to see if you can incorporate some of these improvements into your answer. I mean this isn't a bad answer it just could be improved to be a really good answer. Basically best improvement would be talking about your use of it, any extra things that make it the best choice. Mar 8, 2014 at 3:22

SVPtube − plays Youtube videos in your favorite media player or saves to hard drive. Freeware.

Supports most available formats (as seen in the browser's official flash player), 3D, 2k and 4k resolution.

To download video you need to select a custom player by right-clicking the tray icon, switch .exe filter to .wsf and select the svptube-dl.wsf file provided with the app. Then instead of seeing the video play immediately in player, a dialog window will appear. Press NO and the video will start saving to your user's Downloads folder. You can change the target folder if you know how to edit wsf files.


If you have GreaseMonkey add-on in Firefox, then you can run my "Download any YouTube video from anywhere" script to download videos. On YouTube pages, it will display a list box with download options in various formats.

The orange band added to the page by the script contains a list box with download options.

On other pages, it will be able to download whichever video is set currently to play. The orange band provides the YouTube download button.

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