The year is 2021, and the world is going full digital. Digital entertainment is skyrocketing, with services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus turning into more than just a luxury. Only one of these services remains free, though, and it's YouTube, although there are YouTube Premium and Music subscriptions available.
So what if you want to enjoy YouTube for free and still have access to YouTube videos online? Then this guide of the best YouTube video downloading tools in 2021 is for you. The only thing you will need is a computer and an internet connection.
Read also: How to Make Money on YouTube.
The Best YouTube Video Downloader
The best free YouTube downloader in 2021 is 4K Video Downloader. Firstly, this free program puts many paid-for tools to shame for having no ads, allowing you to save videos in the format of your choice and not placing watermarks on your downloaded clips.
It will even let you extract the audio from a video or download an entire playlist. It's my YouTube video downloader of choice since it allows 4K and 8K resolutions, 3D and 360 videos.
However, if you don't need that much power, there are lots of more streamlined free YouTube downloaders around, which will let you enter the URL of the video you want to grab and do the rest of the work for you.
Also, check our guide on downloading YouTube videos for free on PC, macOS, Android, and iOS.
Is dowloading YouTube videos legal?
Not really. Using third-party apps to download YouTube videos is against YouTube’s terms of service, which state, “You are not allowed to…access, reproduce, download, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, alter, modify or otherwise use any part of the Service or any Content except (a) as expressly authorized by the Service; or (b) with prior written permission from YouTube and, if applicable, the respective rights holders.”
Downloading YouTube videos also opens you up to potential copyright infringement unless you have permission from the copyright holder, it’s in the public domain, or you own the video yourself.
Consequently, you are treading into the questionable territory by downloading YouTube videos unless you use Google's apps. Make sure to use YouTube video downloaders wisely and only for personal purposes to avoid unpleasant surprises. It's one of these cases where you break the law, but most likely, nobody will pursue you as long as you stick to personal use.
Key features in YouTube video downloading tools
- Video Quality: You should be able to manipulate the quality of the video. It may range between low, medium, or high. Ideally, you should be able to manually choose specific a specific resolution like 360p, 720p, 1080p, and more. 4K and 8K resolution support is vital in 2021.
- Subtitles – We all like videos that are in different languages. In such cases, the use of subtitles is essential while playing it on YouTube or YouTube Premium. Logically, you’ll prefer to download those particular videos along with the subtitles.
- Batch Downloading – You can download the files individually or in bulk based on playlists from YouTube channels.
- Multiple File Format Compatibility – You may want to download and save YouTube videos in multiple formats within your file manager. Having various options to choose from, maximizes file size and quality options when using YouTube downloaders; MP4, MKV, FLAC, MP3, or AAC, provides maximum device compatibility too. YouTube video to MP4 is not enough for everyone.
- YouTube Audio Downloader functionality: Ideally, as a buyer you want your video downloader to offer full audio downloader funtionality and MP3, M4A, and OGG support. This will save you money, as you won't have to buy an extra YouTube to MP3 converter to download premium quality YouTube Music audio clips.
- Speed – The tool should be able to download and convert videos fast. The download connection shouldn’t be severely affected by fluctuations in internet and wi-fi connectivity.
- Multi-platform Comptibility: Another vital features for YouTube downloaders; Mac, Linux & PC support provides maximum flexibility.
- Ease of Use: Finally, what we are looking for are apps that make the download process quick and easy. You should only need to paste the video URL to the downloader.
Due to all these requirements, I don't recommend using an online YouTube video downloader. They are very limited in capabilities and show extremely disrupting and disturbing ads.
1. 4K Video Downloader
The best YouTube video downloader for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It scores extremely high in every aspect.
The most versatile YouTube downloader, available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, 4K Video downloader is fast, free, and flexible.
- Vast format selection, including MP3, MP4, MKV, 3GP, M4A
- Can handle music files and audio extraction from videos
- You can download YouTube playlists and even YouTube channels
- Supports resolutions up to 4K and 8K
- 3d and 360-degree video support
- The in-app proxy setup allows you to bypass geographical restrictions
- The tool is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS
- no bloatware.
- Provides a 14-day money-back guarantee on product license purchase
- The free version does not allow you to download playlists longer than 24 videos
- 30 videos per day, 5 videos per channel limit on the free plan
Read also: 4K Video Downloader detailed review
4K Video Downloader is the best free YouTube downloader all around for quick, fuss-free YouTube downloads. It's simple to use, highly customizable, ad-free and doesn't include any bloatware.
There's a great choice of formats – both video and audio – including MP4 downloads and conversions of YouTube videos to MP3. You can download captions for individual videos, and there's support for 3D and 360-degree videos too. Moreover, delving into the properties lets you tweak options like multi-stream downloads (increasing the number of streams will speed up downloads but increases the risk of YouTube banning your IP address) and set up a proxy connection.
Buying a key will let you download longer playlists and playlists with captions, and at $15 for a lifetime license for three PCs, it's a bargain, but the free edition has everything else you could wish for unless you are a mass downloader.
Finally, this is also the best video downloader for Mac and Linux.
2. WinX YouTube Downloader
Clear, powerful, and well designed – a very close runner-up.
- Vast format selection
- Playlist downloads
- Multiple-video download support
- No bloatware.
- No 3d and 360-degree video support
- No Linux support.
Running a very close second, WinX YouTube Downloader can download videos from all the most popular sites, including Facebook, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows and macOS.
WinX is effortless to use. Just paste in a URL, select an output format and quality setting, and the program will add it to the current batch.
Once you've added all the videos you want to download, click the ‘Download' button, and they'll all be processed at once and saved to the destination folder of your preference.
WinX YouTube Downloader can download 4K videos when available. WinX YouTube downloader's only disadvantages compared to 4K Video Downloader are the lack of 3D and 360-degree video support and Linux support. If this isn't a problem for you, this free YouTube downloader is a great choice.
3. Any Video Converter Free
Download and convert videos bundled with a video editor.
- Vast format support
- Built-in video editor
- No multiple-video downloads and bundled extra software
- Lack of Linux support.
Any Video Converter Free is one of the best free YouTube downloaders for Windows and macOS. The only drawback is that this free version limits you to download a single video at a time, but if you're looking for a free solution, this is something you may decide you're happy to put up with.
There are many video formats to choose from, and there's even a basic video editor built into this YouTube downloader. You can use this to crop a video you download, add simple effects such as color adjustment, and add overlay text.
Free YouTube Video Downloader is easy to use, but it doesn't have the best user experience. Regardless, it's a very decent choice for free YouTube video downloads. Avoid the bundled ByteFence and Yahoo software during installation, and you're ready to start using it.
4. Free YouTube Download
The biggest what-if of YouTube video downloaders.
- Multiple-video downloads
- Auto-download option
- Shutdown-pc-when-done option.
- Three-minute time limit.
Free YouTube Download is a straightforward, tightly focused free YouTube downloader, totally on point with what it does. It's available on Windows and macOS.
Just paste in a URL from YouTube, and you can download the video in just a couple of clicks – or no clicks at all if you enable the Auto-Download option.
The formats available to you will depend on the original video's quality, but AVI, MP4, iPhone/iPod, and MKV should be available in most cases. It's also possible to convert to audio-only MP3 if you don’t need the footage as well. You can also download multiple videos at once.
There's only one real drawback, but it's a huge one – you can only use Free YouTube Download to grab clips that are less than three minutes long. That rules out most music videos for a start and is a real shame. The lack of Linux support is also a disadvantage, albeit a much less important one.
5. aTube Catcher
Download, convert and merge videos as they're playing with aTube Catcher.
- Free for the past 14+ years
- Multiple-video downloads
- Supports most popular formats
- Automatic file conversion
- The installation process is full of adware, only available on Windows.
aTube Catcher can save videos from most big video hosting sites, thus the aTube in the name instead of YouTube.
The installation process for aTube Catcher is full of adware, sadly. Make sure to Cancel and Decline every recommendation.
Downloaded videos can be converted automatically to several popular formats, so you can tailor them for their intended use or whatever device you intend to watch them on. If you're looking to download a large number of videos, you can download them all at once, maxing out your bandwidth – something not available in all of the best free YouTube downloaders on this list.
This free YouTube downloader offers plenty of added extras, too, such as the ability to record any on-screen video, video merging, and disc burning. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows.
The best YouTube video downloaders for Android in 2021
Here is the list of best YouTube video downloaders for Android in 2021. I'm going to keep this list short because most of these apps are full of ads, and I'd much rather download a video on a desktop and transfer it to my smartphone, even in 2021.
- 4K resolution support
- Displays Ads
KeepVid is a popular and excellent YouTube video downloader for Android devices.
It is also super fast. Additionally, it can download videos from several video-sharing sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and more. Even better, KeepVid can download videos in 4K quality.
It's a free app, but it displays ads, so you will need the premium version to remove them. You can browse YouTube within KeepVid using the search box and press the download button for the video of your choice.
Finally, KeepVid's app contains a built-in video and audio player and effortlessly converts videos to MP3.
YouTube Video downloader free download: KeepVid is available for free on its official site.
- Cleaner than KeepVid
- No 4K support. Limited to HD video.
TubeMate is a YouTube downloader for Android that lets you grab your favorite videos in MP4, 4GP, MP3, or WAV formats.
Firstly, the tool also comes with a video player and a built-in search feature to conveniently find videos. Just like KeepVide, TubeMate can browse YouTube within the app and provides a download button for you to select the video you want to download.
The Android version of TubeMate is not available on Android, but you can download it from TubeMate's website.
TubeMate YouTube video downloader free download: TubeMate is available for free on its website.
The verdict on YouTube video downloaders in 2021
To conclude, we have a clear winner here, and as the list progresses, there is a distinct downgrade in quality. So, my advice is to stick to 4K Video Downloader for now, as there is no real disadvantage to it, and it's available on all three major operating systems, which is a rarity.
Finally, stay tuned for updates on the best YouTube video downloaders in the 2021 list.