DISCLAIMER: As some of you have pointed out in the comments, downloading personal copies of YouTube videos is not supported by the YouTube Terms of Service, which states:
“You may access User Submissions for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the YouTube Website. You shall not copy or download any User Submission unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the YouTube Website for that User Submission.”
We want to stress that most of these tools do violate the ToS and that if you use them, you do so at your own risk. Also , if you’ve been tempted to download for a better browsing experience on the big screen, don’t forget YouTube has already got you covered on that with YouTube XL.
youtube logoIt’s been a while since we looked at ways to download YouTube videos to get local copies of your favorite vids, and we thought it might be time to take a look at which options are still left standing and what new apps are worth checking out.
For those of you new to the concept, you’ll need to know a couple of things. Many of these sites and tools simply grab YouTube (YouTube) videos in their native Flash format (FLV). To watch these files on your desktop, you’ll either need to get yourself an FLV player or convert the files into another format you can watch in your media player of choice (or on your iPod/iPhone, cell phone, or wherever the videos will ultimately end up).
Some of the listed tools include FLV players or file format converters along with the video download functions. Choose your poison according to your needs and patience level — if you do a lot of downloading it might be worth your while to check out the more full-featured apps.
And now, on with the list!
Downloader9 – This plain and simple free site lets you paste in a video URL from YouTube, Metacafe, DailyMotion or Myspace (MySpace) and generates a download link for the FLV file. As with many of these bare bones options, you’ll have to rename the file to something.FLV and have your own FLV player to watch the vids.
KeepVid – KeepVid is a simple and free utility that’s not quite as slathered with ads as some in the free downloader playing field. Just paste the URL of the video (works with YouTube as well as several other video sites) and you’ll get an option to download it in either FLV or MP4 formats — the extra format option is a nice touch here, too.
Vixy – Vixy offers YouTube downloads in the following formats: AVI (DivX + MP3), MOV, MP4, 3GP and MP3. It’s easy to use and not as obnoxiously ad-laden as some of the options further down this list (it’s also survived since our previous feature on the subject).
Easy YouTube Video Downloader (Easy YouTube Video Downloader) – This one’s actually a Firefox (Firefox) extension that adds a download button option to the YouTube interface itself. Conversions are available to MP4 and 3GP, with HD quality options displayed where available.
iDesktop.tv – This freemium service supports YouTube downloads in the following formats: AVI, MP4, MOV, 3PG, 3PG2, WMV, FLV, EXE, ZIP and MP3 (paid plans only for MP3). You have a limited number of daily download credits under the free plan, with unlimited downloads and more file formats available under the $7 a month Downloader plan. They also provide a white label custom player service as well, which we reviewed back in February.
VideoDownloadX – This site made our last list and is still around. The plus side is it’s completely free. The downside is it’s so heavily ad-supported you have to tread carefully to avoid accidentally clicking on an ad, and you have to manually rename the files with a .FLV extension. You’ll also have to provide your own Flash FLV player to watch the downloaded videos.
SaveTube – Another simple paste and download tool in the vein of Downloader9 or KeepVid, SaveTube works fine but, like VideoDownloadX, is a minefield of ads to navigate.
VideoGetting – This one is free and supports conversion into multiple formats (WMV, MP3, MP4, MOV, 3GP, AVI, MPG, MPEG), but you’ll have to tolerate annoying pop-ups and ad traps to use it.
Orbit Downloader – This desktop app downloads videos from several sites including YouTube, plus offers downloading from streaming music sites like Pandora (Pandora), imeem, Myspace, etc., giving it a unique edge over some of the rest of the pack.
Moyea YouTube FLV Downloader – The free version of this app simply downloads YouTube vids as FLV files, while the paid app lets you convert them to MP4, 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG, MKV, FLV, MP3, MKA, WAV, AC3, and M4A.
Vixy – The online tool Vixy we mentioned above in the web section also has a client available for download if you want to go the desktop app route.
VDownloder – Another survivor from our first round look at YouTube downloaders, VDownloder is a free app with support for a number of online video sites including a handful of (ahem) adult sites. It supports video search right from within the app and can save to AVI, MPG, MP$ (iPod/iPhone), PSP, 3GP, Nokia, VCD, SVCD, FLV and MP3.
Videoslurp – This attractively-named free app includes a built-in browser to find the YouTube vids you like and download them in one click. There’s a web-based online downloader version of Videoslurp also, but we couldn’t get it to work (if anyone else has luck with it, let us know in the comments).
Desktop YouTube Downloader – This $10 app has a 15-day free trial and comes with a bunch of features, including a built-in FLV player so you can watch videos without needing a separate Flash player or waiting for a file conversion. If you want the file conversion, this app covers that too, and can save the video to MPEG, WMV, iPod/iPhone or 3GP cell phone-typical file formats. It can also extract the audio track and save it as an MP3 or WAV file.
Mac OS X Applications
TubeSock – This cross-platform app can both play YouTube videos and download them. Conversions are available to MP4, H.264 and MP3 formats, targeting the iPod/iPhone and Sony PlayStation Portable specifically. It also features a bookmarklet script for Safari (Safari) or Firefox that can automagically queue videos to TubeSock as you browse. The app is $15 and will only convert the first 30 seconds of video in the trial.
Vixy – The online tool Vixy we mentioned above in the web section also has a client available for download if you want to go the desktop app route. This one will work with both Intel and PowerPC Macs.
TubeTV – This freeware app provides search and browse tools as well as downloads and conversions. You’ll need to install the excellent Perian open source component to handle the conversions. If you’re a Mac user and don’t already know about Perian, it’s a great Swiss army knife-like codec utility that can also help solve a lot of compatibility problems trying to play back video files with Quicktime.
This is by no means a comprehensive list — we left out a number of sites and apps with nearly identical features to the items on this list. And though we included a few freemium and paid apps, we avoided some of the more costly tools in favor of the free and cheap in this set.
There’s also sure to be some apps and sites we just don’t know about yet — so if you have a favorite tool for downloading YouTube videos to your desktop, let us know in the comments! If you’re listing a paid app, be sure and tell us why it’s worth paying for.