As the second-most visited site on the internet - after Google itself - YouTube has around 23 billion visitors per month. Most of them watch videos on the website or via one of the many YouTube apps.

Sometimes, though, you'll want to download a video. Maybe that's to watch it offline, or perhaps you want to save a useful video just in case it's ever taken down. Whatever your reason, we'll explain a few different ways that you can do this. It's possible - and easy - to download videos on a Windows laptop or PC, and on Android phones. It's not as easy on an iPhone, unless you pay for YouTube Premium, but it's possible if you're determined.

Do remember that watching videos in the YouTube app (or website) and not skipping the ads is the best way to support your favourite channels.

There are two official ways to download videos from YouTube. First, there's the YouTube Go app which is available in countries where mobile data is too expensive for streaming them.

Then there's YouTube Premium, a paid-for service that allows users in other countries - including the UK and US - to download YouTube content in the app. There are other benefits of Premium, too, such as no adverts and being able to listen to music in the background so you can use other apps on your phone.

YouTube Premium isn't cheap at £11.99/$11.99 per month, and if you just want to download an occasional clip it's probably too much to justify paying.

The good news is that it's easy to download YouTube videos using unofficial methods. First, we recommend reading our guide to whether it's legal to download YouTube videos

Download videos using YouTube Premium

If you're a YouTube Premium subscriber then downloading videos is easy. There is one big caveat though: you can only do it using the official YouTube or YouTube Gaming apps, which means you can't use Premium to download videos to your computer - only to a phone or tablet.

To download simply open the app and head to the video you want to download. Underneath the player you should see a 'Download' icon - tap that, pick what video quality you want to download, and that's it.

How to download videos YouTube Premium

Once the video has downloaded the icon below it will change to a blue tick - tap this if you want to remove the download. You'll be able to find all your downloaded videos in the Library or Account tabs.

Download YouTube videos in Windows

As with websites, there are lots of options for downloading with a desktop app. Not all are free, but some are. A paid-for one we can recommend is ByClick Downloader. It has an easy-to-use interface, is regularly updated and makes it supremely easy to download video - or just audio - from YouTube.

All you have to do is to copy the URL of a video and a pop-up will ask if you want to download the audio or video. Or you can set a default and it won't even ask: it will automatically download the MP3 or MP4 at the default quality.

It's reasonably priced at $9.99 (around £7.40), and you can try it out for 24 hours for free without entering any payment details.

how to download youtube videos to laptop

There are lots of alternatives, but none that we've found to be as good.

They include iTubeGo, which offers a basic interface, but which can download playlists and 4K videos. It's more expensive at $29.95 though.

how to download youtube videos to laptop

If you want a free option, try WinX YouTube Downloader. This will nag you to upgrade to the full version which includes conversion to other formats (including MP3), but if you can put up with these, it won't cost you anything.

How to download YouTube videos

The process is virtually identical to using a website: you copy and paste the URL of the video into the app. Then you choose any options, such as the resolution to download, then hit the Download button. Most apps allow you to build up a list of videos and then download them in one go. Some even let you paste in a YouTube playlist and automatically download all the videos.

Download YouTube videos in a web browser

If you want to save videos without installing an app, there are many websites where you can paste the URL of the YouTube video and then click on the resolution you want to download. These sites often get shut down, because they're regularly bombarded with cease & desist notices from copyright owners.

Also, these websites tend to redirect you to other sites which may or may not be safe, and could pose a risk to your computer. This is why, firstly, it's important to run top-quality antivirus software and secondly, why we don't recommend this method of downloading any more.

Previous sites we'd used for years, such as SaveFrom, no longer operate in the UK or US, and even if you do find a 'safe' site that will let you download videos, there are usually restrictions.

Typically, you'll be limited to downloading a lower-quality 720p version, even if a video is in 1080p or 4K. And not all will download just the audio (from a music video, for example). 

Sometimes you'll find that videos are downloaded in WebM format. You can convert these videos into MP4 - or whatever format you like using Freemake and Any Video Converter, or you could download and install VLC, which is a free video player that can play just about any file.

How to download YouTube playlists

Sometimes you have to pay for software if you want an easy life. Again, ByClick Downloader is what we'd recommend.

If the video is part of a playlist you can click the 'Download playlist' button and you'll get a pop-up like the one shown below where you can choose which videos you want from the playlist. A single click on the Download button is all you need after that.

You get a day's free trial to see if you like the program, but after that you'll have to pay $9.99.

How to download YouTube Playlists

How do I download music from YouTube?

Sometimes you might want to download only the audio from a video on YouTube. The easiest way to do this is to use one of the methods above and choose MP3 (or whichever audio format is offered). This way you'll only download the audio track, with none of the video footage. That's ideal if you just want to download some music or the audio from a YouTube podcast, and not have to have YouTube open and running on your phone while you listen.

It is possible to listen to YouTube in the background with this workaround for iPhones and a separate one for Android phones.

If you don't mind paying, you can also download music as part of YouTube Music Premium, which is £9.99/$9.99 per month. It will let you download songs and even music videos, but is limited to music - you won't be able to download other videos as you can with a YouTube Premium subscription.

Download YouTube videos to a phone or tablet

There's the official YouTube Premium service which we've mentioned already but there are other apps which allow you to download videos directly on your Android phone (including for free), but it's trickier on the iPhone. We've written separate guides for both types of device:

But don't forget you can also download videos on your laptop using the methods above then transfer them to your phone or tablet, or upload them to a cloud storage service, where you can then access the videos on any device.

To copy files from Windows to an Android phone, connect the two with a USB cable and use Windows File Explorer to copy the video files(s) to the appropriate folder, typically named Movies. Then, you can play the video using the Gallery app or another video player on your phone.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, import the file into iTunes and then sync it to your iOS device. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the file(s) to your iPhone or iPad via the Apps tab when you click on your device in iTunes. All you need is an app, such as Good Reader or another video playback app which can transfer files using this method.

If you don't want to use iTunes and you're happy to pay, Waltr 2 is an excellent little utility for copying videos, music and other files to your iOS device so they appear in the native apps. Find out more in our guide to transferring videos to iPad and iPhone.

Finally, here's how to download any online video - not just YouTube, although almost all of the apps and services mentioned here will also download videos from other streaming services and social media platforms including Facebook and DailyMotion.