How to download a YouTube video to your computer?

Downloading a YouTube video on PC is not easy because the video site does not provide a dedicated button. However, different solutions are available to overcome the problem.

YouTube does not provide a button to download videos to your computer or smartphone. The Terms of Service do not encourage the use of tools to download YouTube videos. Sites that provide this kind of help are sometimes forced to close under pressure from copyright holders.

While YouTube also does not support these sites, there is some debate about the legality of these uploads. In France, due to an exception to copyright, through a mechanism that allows individuals to make a private copy in a family setting, the right to record video clips, as if it were a radio or television recording, is defended.

YouTube is great for watching videos, but when it comes to downloading them, it gets more complicated. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Here are three solutions at your disposal.

Download YouTube videos with a browser extension

The first method consists of populating your web browser, by adding an additional module to it. There are many extensions that are able to detect and download YouTube video on PC. We can mention Video DownloadHelper for Firefox. With regard to Chrome, it is more complicated, due to certain limitations.

As Chrome is a browser owned by Google, which also owns YouTube, it does not make it easy for internet users to retrieve videos. There is certainly a module like Video Downlader Plus for Chrome, Edge, Vivaldi or Brave, but it doesn’t work with Chrome – a warning for YouTube also appears in the extension’s description.

Video Downloader
Video DownloadHelper homepage, on the Mozilla website. // Source: Video DownloadHelper

If you’re having trouble with Chrome, you have three solutions:

  • You can search for another extension on the Chrome Web Store, which is where the company offers all the approved modules;
  • You can temporarily switch to another web browser, such as Firefox;
  • Or you can try another method presented below.

The way these add-ons work can vary, but the general principle is that they detect the video when you start playing in the browser. From there, the download options are basically available to capture the video in any format and quality (720p, 1080, etc.) Conversation may require processing time.

These add-ons are among the most popular – Video DownloadHelper has 2 million users. If the download does not work, you can always try with another extension, but be careful to ensure its good reputation by referring to the reviews of other Internet users and the general rating assigned to it.

Download YouTube videos to your computer using the site

By searching the Internet, it is possible to find websites that specialize only in letting you download YouTube videos, by sending them a suitable link. However, the age of these sites is uncertain, given the pressure from rights holders and YouTube, who have legal action as strong leverage.

Many sites have disappeared from radar screens over time, such as ConvYoutube. Other platforms are still active, such as TubeNinja or KeepVid. Copy/Paste the YouTube video URL, press the button to start the process and choose the format and quality you want your video in.

As in the case of extensions, the use of third-party sites should be done with special care. It’s not always clear who’s behind a particular site, and some of these spaces may encourage you to download the software to your computer instead of offering the file to you directly. If in doubt, move on.

Download YouTube videos to computer with VLC

The last option, use the program. There are many of them, but VLC does the job very well, as long as you follow each step well. VLC is also free and open source software, its source code can be audited at any time, and its reputation is excellent. It is also the most future-proof option for downloading a YouTube video, with minimal risks.

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Source: Nino Barbey for Numerama

All our practical guides are in the “How to” section.

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