Downloading video from YouTube on an Android phone or tablet is easy, whether or not you pay for the privilege.
The official way to download YouTube is to subscribe to YouTube Premium, which is actually not yet available in the UK but should be arriving imminently at the cost of £11.99 per month. We hope that it will also offer a free trial. Once it’s available, YouTube Premium will let you use the Download icon that appears below any video currently playing to download it to your device for later offline watching.
In the meantime there is also a free, slightly more sneaky way of downloading YouTube video, which involves the use of a free third-party app such as TubeMate. As long as you’re not using the video for commercial purposes or redistributing it then it’s not illegal, but it is against Google’s Terms of Service, so don’t expect it to be happy about it.
How to download YouTube video without subscribing to YouTube Premium
Google naturally frowns on you downloading video from YouTube, so TubeMate is not allowed in the Google Play store. Instead you can download it from tubemate.net, using your phone or tablet’s browser. Click any of the download links offered to get the latest version.
Chrome will prompt you for access to your phone’s storage before it can download the file, so click Continue. Then click Allow when it asks to access photos, media and files on your device.
At the bottom of the screen you should see a pop-up warning that APK files can harm your device. This is because when you are sideloading apps outside Google Play you don’t always know what you’re installing (sometimes it pays to have an antivirus app installed that can scan the downloaded files for malware). We’ve used TubeMate before and are confident it’s okay, so if you are happy to go ahead tap Ok.
This pop-up will now confirm that the APK file has been downloaded. Click Open to begin the installation of the file.
If this is the first time you have sideloaded an app on your Android phone you will be warned that by default your phone is not allowed to install unknown apps from this source. Click the Settings link offered in the pop-up, then toggle on the slider beside ‘Allow from this source’.
Frustratingly when you exit out of this screen you may not be taken back to the installer, but you should find there is still a notification in the pull-down bar at the top of the screen, or you’ll find the APK itself in your Downloads folder. Tap either of these to continue with the installation.
Having completed setup, you have two options: download YouTube video within the TubeMate app; or access TubeMate from within the YouTube app.
How to download YouTube video in TubeMate
At the top of the window is a magnifying glass icon, which you can use to search for a particular YouTube video, or you can scroll down the page to see recommended videos and tap the Trending tab to see what’s hot.
Select a video you want to download, and as it begins to play you’ll see a red Download button appear onscreen. Tap this, then chose your preferred export quality and tap the red Download icon to begin the download.
You’ll get a notification at the top of the screen when it has finished downloading, and tapping this will take you to the Download list (also accessible via the small white Download icon in the blue bar at the bottom of the screen). Tap the three dots next to any video to access options to play the video or move it to another folder on your device.
How to download YouTube video in the YouTube app
Launch the YouTube app and browse to a video you wish to download. Tap Share, then choose TubeMate from the list. This will open the video in TubeMate and offer you various export options. Choose your desired resolution and tap the red Download icon. As before, this video will then download to your Downloads list, where it can be played or moved to another folder on your phone.
Read next: Is it legal to download YouTube?