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What is a YouTube Downloader?

A YouTube downloader is a general term for any software which facilitates the downloading of videos from YouTube and possibly other video sharing websites. There are several types:

Desktop Software

This type of application requires an install and runs on Windows or Mac. Desktop software generally provides more functionality and power than web applications. For instance, they might allow you to download entire playlists, rather than individual videos one-at-a-time, and converting these to MP3 with a single click of a button. We don’t know of any web-based downloaders which currently allow you to do this.

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions a.k.a. add-ons for Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera, or Microsoft’s Edge are generally slightly more convenient than websites since they might add a button right below a YouTube video, but they’re still web-based and as such, they present the same issues: reduced video quality and other limitations, as well as obnoxious or shady (pop-up) advertisements.

Mobile Applications

Any mobile application for iOS or Android which allows downloads from YouTube will never be allowed into Google’s Play store. Why? Because its main purpose is a violation of YouTube’s Terms Of Service. Remember who owns YouTube? Yup, Google.

There are a few Android APKs available which you can install only after disabling security mechanisms on your phone. We cannot stress enough that this is a very bad idea. Even trustworthy developers such as Epic have introduced a vulnerability which allowed hackers to install malware on Android devices.

You should not trust that any YouTube APK (such as TubeMate, VidMate, and others) that you download outside of the Google Store will not steal your personal information and share your vast collection of dick-picks to your favorite social networks. Don’t do it. It’s not safe. Period.


A web-based YouTube downloader’s main advantage is that it does not require you to install anything. This might be very useful if you’re on a computer that’s not your own for instance. However, there are also some drawbacks. It generally offers the least ease-of-use since it can’t be integrated with your system, usually won’t allow you to set any preferences, nor do any of them support multiple downloads.

Furthermore, since these websites use server resources, which aren’t free, practically all of them will limit the length and/or quality of the videos that are being downloaded. We do not know of any that allow 1080p content to be downloaded in its original quality for example.

To top it off, most of these websites are also completely overloaded with shady or annoying advertisements. Of course, you could use an ad-blocker such as the well-known AdBlock for Google Chrome, but many of the websites are catching on and disabling their services for users who run ad-blockers.

A very prominent example of an online downloader was KeepVid, which we won’t link to since it was recently shut down, and has been replaced with an informational page, albeit a very bad one with broken English. Another popular online downloading and conversion service is OnlineVideoConverter, but it is barely usable due to the excessive ads and restrictions.

Am I legally allowed to download videos from YouTube?

The short answer to this question is: “Yes”. However, there are some nuances as you may be in violation of the terms of service you agree to when using YouTube. Although it is technically a breach of contract, it’s not considered illegal or criminal. As far as we know, nobody has ever gotten into trouble for downloading videos from YouTube in the past, and it’s extremely unlikely to ever happen in the future.

Yet, despite the fact that you as a consumer are unlikely to face any consequences, we do not wish to encourage or condone the practice of breaching YouTube’s TOS. As such, we recommend that you only download videos to which YouTube has added a download-button, and/or to which you personally hold the copyrights.

The historical precedent for the legality of recording copies of copyrighted content for personal use was set by Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984), a.k.a the “Betamax case”. This was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States ruling that the making of individual copies of complete television shows for the purpose of time-shifting does not constitute copyright infringement.

The court stated: “When one considers the nature of a televised copyrighted audiovisual work and that time-shifting merely enables a viewer to see such a work which he had been invited to witness in its entirety free of charge, the fact that the entire work is reproduced does not have its ordinary effect of militating against a finding of fair use.”

Although there is no clear-cut way to apply the logic of this ruling from the VCR-era to today’s video downloading software, the general consensus seems to be that downloading content from YouTube and similar websites for the purpose of personal use only, f.i. watching it at another time or on a different device which may not be connected to the Internet, is not at all different from timeshifting and would in all likelihood be considered fair use.

What happened to the Free YouTube Downloader software?

We have decided not to disclose anything at this time, but if you would like to be notified when more information is available, please subscribe to the mailing list.