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9 Best Free YouTube Downloaders for Offline Viewing

There are many users of YouTube, and there is a demand for using it. Many people hope to save videos offline. Offline viewing is growing in popularity. There are several reasons for this growth in popularity. One is spotty internet connections. Another is limited mobile data plans. A third is travel preventing access. There are also other factors driving the growth of offline viewing. Fortunately, there are now several excellent free YouTube downloader apps and sites that allow you to save videos for convenient offline playback later.

This comprehensive guide will cover the benefits of offline viewing, problems with current downloader options, provide detailed reviews of 9 top recommended YouTube downloader apps, troubleshooting tips for common issues, and a FAQ on the legalities surrounding downloading YouTube videos.

Let’s dive in to how you can securely create your own offline YouTube video library with the best tools available today.

Why Offline YouTube Viewing is On the Rise

There are several compelling reasons why downloading YouTube videos for later offline viewing has become so commonplace:

Mobile Rise: As global smartphone and tablet ownership has skyrocketed over the past decade, users now consume media heavily on mobile devices, even exceeding desktop/laptop use in many countries like the US. However, mobile data plans with truly unlimited, unthrottled data are still uncommon or expensive. Video downloads allow offline access that skirts around bandwidth limits.

Poor Connectivity: Frequent travelers and commuters on public transit can often find themselves with limited internet availability. Remote hiking or camping locations similarly suffer from poor cellular and WiFi signals. Downloaders are the only way to watch without buffering in these situations.

Censored Content: In some countries, certain content or entire platforms may be blocked or censored. Downloaders provide a way to view restricted content offline.

Preferred Autonomy: Some users simply prefer the autonomy and assurance provided by locally saved media. Reliance on streaming leaves consumers vulnerable if content is removed or accounts are suspended. Maintaining an offline personal library helps mitigate this risk.

It’s clear there are many good reasons offline downloaded videos are highly desirable despite the rise of streaming. But what are the issues with current YouTube downloader tools?

Limitations of Current YouTube Video Downloaders

Unfortunately, most existing dedicated YouTube video downloader apps and sites come with frustrating limitations:

  • Many tools are only capable of saving the audio portion of videos in MP3 format. This completely discards the original video, which is unacceptable for some seeking offline access.
  • Other downloader apps bombard users with intrusive flashy ads at every turn, force installation of unrelated bundled software, or even infect devices with malware.
  • Certain web-based downloader sites fail to function reliably, often stalling or crashing mid-download for longer or high resolution videos.
  • Most critically from a legal perspective, a large number of downloader apps do not properly license YouTube’s content, circumventing rights holders. This creates ethical concerns.
  • Finally, some tools still have confusing, outdated and difficult-to-use interfaces that ruin the user experience.
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Clearly current options leave much to be desired, but the demand remains for downloaders that avoid these pitfalls. Next we will recommend 9 top free YouTube video grabbers that fit the bill.

9 Highly Recommended YouTube Video Downloaders

1. SaveFrom (Android)

The key highlights of SaveFrom are the ability to download videos in multiple resolutions up to 1080p, save audio in M4A or MP3, queue multiple downloads, extract MP3 even from age-restricted videos, and conveniently download entire playlists or channels. It achieves fast download speeds by utilizing multithreading.

However, SaveFrom is only available on Android, lacks 4K quality options, and has a somewhat dated design. Extensive settings can also overwhelm novice users.

ProsCons
Multiple resolutions up to 1080pAndroid only
Download playlists & channelsNo 4K support
Extract MP3 from any videoDated interface
Multithreading for fast downloadsMany advanced settings

2. Ripyoutube youtube ripper (Windows/Mac)

As its name suggests, Ripyoutube youtube ripper focuses on enabling downloads up to ultra high 4K resolutions. Available on Windows and Mac, it has a clean modern interface supporting many sites beyond just YouTube.

The app excels in conveniently downloading entire YouTube playlists or channels with a single click. Support for subtitles, proxies, scheduling downloads, and extracting MP3s from videos make Ripyoutube youtube ripper a very versatile tool.

However, the simplicity comes at the cost of lack of customization in formats and bitrates. The software also costs $15 for a licensed copy after a 15-day free trial.

ProsCons
Downloads up to 4K resolution$15 license cost after 15 days
One-click playlist/channel savingLimited output format control
Extracts subtitles and MP3No custom bitrates
Supports many sites beyond YouTube

3. aTube Catcher (Android/Windows/Mac)

aTube Catcher markets itself as a “Swiss Army Knife” for video, and the wide range of built-in utilities justify this description. It can download from 1000+ sites in various formats, convert between formats, edit video, burn DVDs, record screen, and more.

The cross-platform support on Android, Mac OS and Windows is a major aTube Catcher advantage. The downloader’s interface is highly intuitive with each feature readily accessible for novice users.

However, the extensive scope comes at the cost of lack of specialization. For specifically downloading YouTube videos, dedicated tools like SaveFrom and Ripyoutube youtube ripper often perform better.

ProsCons
Cross-platform on mobile & desktopJack of all trades, master of none
Very intuitive interfaceNot specialized for YouTube downloading
Numerous built-in media utilitiesSlower than dedicated downloaders
Supports 1000+ sites

4. ClipGrab (Windows/Mac)

ClipGrab markets itself as the “fastest free YouTube downloader” for Windows and macOS. It delivers fast performance thanks to multithreaded downloading that fully utilizes modern multi-core CPUs.

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The tool is focused specifically on saving YouTube videos, offering options to download entire playlists. Users can choose to save video in multiple resolutions up to 4K or just extract the audio as MP3. An integrated video player and browser extensions enhance convenience.

However, ClipGrab lacks support for sites beyond YouTube. There are no advanced settings for bitrates or subtitles. The interface, while clean, looks a bit dated compared to some competitors.

ProsCons
Multi-threaded fast downloadsYouTube only, no other sites
Save video up to 4K resolutionNo subtitle or bitrate settings
Extract MP3 audio filesSlightly dated interface
Integrated player & browser extensionsWindows & Mac only

5. Downie (Windows/Mac)

As the name indicates, Downie is all about fast, no-frills downloads for Windows and macOS. The simple and lightweight app downloads just videos in MP4 format up to 4K resolution.

The minimalism of Downie makes it easy to use while avoiding unnecessary bloat. Videos are saved to a customizable location with sequential numbering. One-click downloads and dragging & dropping URLs keeps the workflow quick.

However, Downie lacks more advanced technical features like manipulating bitrates and subtitles. Support is limited to only YouTube rather than multiple sites. The barebones approach is not for users wanting more customization.

ProsCons
Clean, easy-to-use interfaceLacks advanced settings
Fast downloads up to 4KYouTube only
Sequentially numbered filesMP4 format only
Drag & drop URL downloadingWindows & Mac only

6. VideoHunter (Windows)

VideoHunter distinguishes itself by delivering ad-free HD quality YouTube downloads exclusively for Windows users. The cleaner-than-average interface minimizes distractions for a streamlined downloading experience.

Once installed, downloading videos in resolutions from 1080p to 4K is just a couple clicks away. VideoHunter shines in performance and simplicity for basic high definition YouTube video grabbing.

However, the sole focus on YouTube leaves out other video sites. Formats other than MP4 are not supported either. Finally, the Windows-only support leaves out Mac and mobile users from enjoying VideoHunter.

ProsCons
Ad-free experienceYouTube only
Intuitive interfaceWindows only
HD & 4K video downloadsMP4 format only
Lightweight & fast performanceLacks customization

7. FLVTO (Web)

Once the URL is entered on FLVTO’s website, YouTube videos can be quickly downloaded in MP4 or other standard formats. Multiple quality options ranging up to HD are available. The website is also free of annoying ads.

However, FLVTO lacks the ability to save entire playlists or channels. Users cannot extract just audio either. Those wanting more advanced downloading features would need to utilize a full desktop app instead. But for quick one-off downloads, FLVTO delivers respectable functionality from the convenience of your browser.

ProsCons
No installation requiredCan’t download playlists
Works directly in desktop & mobile browsersNo audio extraction
Multiple quality formats up to HDLimited customization
Clean, ad-free interfaceYouTube only

8. Y2mate (Web)

Distinguishing itself from the YouTube-focused competitors, Y2mate proudly boasts support for downloading from over 1000 streaming sites. This flexibility makes Y2mate a great tool for general video downloading beyond just YouTube purposes.

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After pasting the URL, videos can be saved at resolutions up to 4K as MP4 files. Audio can be extracted in M4A or MP3 as well. The web-based nature means no software install is required for desktop or mobile use.

However, the broad site support means less specialization for the intricacies of downloading YouTube videos specifically. The interface also displays some ads. But for a versatile online downloading option, Y2mate delivers great value.

ProsCons
Downloads from 1000+ streaming sitesLess focused on YouTube
Saves video up to 4KDisplays some ads
Can extract audio to MP3/M4AInterface not as polished
No install requiredLacks ability to save playlists

9. Genyoutube (Web)

Catering to truly dedicated YouTube fans, Genyoutube specializes in enabling downloads of videos in awe-inspiring 8K resolution. This makes it ideal for archiving ultra high definition content.

Simply copying and pasting the YouTube URL downloads the video in resolutions ranging from 144p up to the impressive 7680p. Additional smaller resolution options such as 2160p 4K are also available. Downloads are enabled for mobile and desktop browsers alike without installing any software.

However, 8K videos require significant bandwidth and storage capacity. Lower resolution options max out at 1080p as well – some tools offer greater mid-range flexibility. But for users with the hardware to support 8K viewing, Genyoutube is unrivaled.

ProsCons
Downloads up to 8K resolutionOverkill for most users
Works in any desktop/mobile browserLower resolution capped at 1080p
No installation requiredYouTube only
Very straightforward interfaceLacks advanced options

With top picks spanning mobile, desktop and browser-based tools, all major platforms are covered. But which is right for you?

Comparing the Top YouTube Video Downloader Options

With so many free YouTube downloaders now available, choosing the ideal one depends on your device type, operating system, desired features, and level of technical needs.

For Android mobile users, SaveFrom is likely the premier app choice thanks to its simplicity yet robust feature set. Smooth ad-free downloading right from your smartphone.

On Windows and Mac desktops, Ripyoutube youtube ripper stands out as an excellent option for conveniently archiving entire YouTube channels locally with its full playlist support.

Power users on Windows seeking maximum quality up to 8K resolutions may prefer Genyoutube instead. Despite being browser-based, it delivers incredibly detailed downloads.

For flexible cross-platform support, aTube Catcher fits the bill operating on Windows, Mac OS and Android. The basic editing features are a nice touch.

Ultimately, evaluate each downloader in terms of supported sites, ad-free experience, download formats/resolutions offered, and device compatibility to determine the best match.

Troubleshooting Common YouTube Video and MP3 Downloader Problems

YouTube downloaders, especially MP3 audio converters, frequently stall mid-download or fail with unclear errors. Here are some common fixes:

  • Ensure the original YouTube video actually contains audio – some videos have no sound. MP3 converters will fail gracefully in these cases.
  • For stalled downloads, first simply try again. Restarting often resolves transient network or server issues.
  • Disable captive portal detection on your router if downloads repeatedly fail there. Some hotspots block downloaders.
  • Use a VPN to mask traffic if your ISP restricts YouTube downloaders like Comcast Xfinity.
  • Increase downloader thread counts for very high resolution videos to maximize download speed.

With these tips, many common frustrations when downloading from YouTube can be easily avoided across tools.

FAQ – Legality of Downloading YouTube Videos

Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

YouTube’s terms officially only allow downloading for personal, noncommercial usage. However, questions around copyright, fair use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act make the lawfulness disputed currently in the United States. Users should exercise caution when reusing downloaded content.

Can YouTube Premium subscribers download videos?

Yes, YouTube Premium subscribers can download videos directly through the main YouTube app. This avoids issues of third-party apps but limits resolution quality. Premium downloads are legal and convenient but offer less flexibility than dedicated downloader tools.

Conclusion

As consumer media consumption patterns shift increasingly to mobile, offline access to content is highly desirable. YouTube downloader apps fill this growing need, providing reliable ways to create offline video libraries. By using top recommended downloaders that avoid intrusive ads, malware and audio-only limitations, you can securely access YouTube videos anywhere internet connectivity is limited across your devices.

Remember to compare platforms, resolutions, interface designs and legal compliance to select the best YouTube video downloading solution for your needs. With this guide’s tools and troubleshooting advice, you’ll be prepared to enjoy your favorite YouTube content later without an internet connection.

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