YouTube is home to thousands of videos (such as vlogs and music videos) that would make perfect audio files for offline listening. You could use a standard downloader to save the videos and then use a separate tool to extract the audio, but why go to such lengths when a free YouTube to MP3 converter can perform both tasks with a single click?
There are lots of websites that can strip the audio from YouTube videos and send you the audio file to download, but here we've chosen to focus mainly on desktop software.
These programs have several advantages: they're faster than browser-based tools, they don't require you to submit your email address (and therefore leave yourself open to spam), and they often allows you to rip the audio from multiple videos at once.
Here, we've rounded up the very best tools for extracting audio from YouTube videos and downloading it as an MP3 – or any other audio format you prefer.
You should only download content when you have the copyright owner's permission. YouTube's terms of service explicitly prohibit unauthorized downloading.
The best converter – just paste an URL to convert and save
You would be forgiven for judging Any Video Converter Free by its name and believing it to be a tool for converting from one video format to another. While this is part of what it can do, it can also be used to download videos from YouTube and save them as MP3s – exactly what we’re looking for!
As downloading as MP3s is not the sole purpose of the program, it is rather larger than you might expect, but this should not put you off (but take care not to install the optional adware during setup).
It seems almost overkill to use what is a powerful and versatile piece of software for just one task, but downloading MP3s is as simple as pasting in the URL of a YouTube video and waiting for the download to complete. You can then select MP3 as the output format, and hit the Convert Now button. It's a shame there's no one-click option, but it's hardly a major hardship.
aTube Catcher gives you three MP3 quality options to choose from
aTube Catcher is another superb tool for ripping the audio from YouTube videos and converting it to MP3 format.
The first time you install the software you'll be presented with a Windows 8-style menu showing you all the options available. There's a video to MP3 converter icon on the left, but this only works with files already on your PC. To download and convert a video to MP3 format in one step, select the YouTube downloader and paste its URL into the box labelled 'URL del video'.
Next, take your pick from the dozens of possible output profiles. There are three MP3 quality options, so you can choose the right balance of file size and fidelity.
Your video will then be downloaded to your chosen folder and encoded, ready to watch on your desktop or mobile device, or burn to disc.
Download and convert music, complete with album artwork
Free YouTube to MP3 Converter does exactly what you'd expect, and it's perfectly safe to judge it by its name. Unfortunately, like Any Video Converter Free, there is bundled adware from ByteFence to avoid, so be watchful during the installation and uncheck any additional bits and pieces you don't want.
Once installed, however, you're in for a treat. There's no need to fiddle about with options, you can just get on with downloading the music you're interested in immediately. Use a simple drop-down menu to choose the quality and format you would like to save your audio file, paste the URL, and click Download. Files are saved and converted in one fell swoop.
The beauty of Free YouTube to MP3 Converter is that there's no messing about, nothing superfluous, and nothing confusing. It has one purpose in mind, and it has been designed to do it as efficiently as possible. Definitely worth a try – we're sure you'll love it!
Save audio from YouTube videos in MP3, M4A or OGG format
It might not be the most stylish software around, but 4K Video Downloader is brilliant. Just copy the URL of a video from your web browser (it supports YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr and DailyMotion) or the address of a whole YouTube playlist and click 'Paste URL'. Select 'Extract audio' and pick MP3, OGG or M4A, then click 'Extract' and the audio will be converted and saved to the destination of your choice.
The free version of 4K Video Downloader lets you download up to 24 videos in a playlists, which is particularly useful for grabbing several songs by a particular artist. You can download and convert longer playlists to MP3 format if you buy a license key, but the software's free features are very impressive.
Just copy a YouTube video URL and ClipGrab will handle the rest
An utter delight of a program, ClipGrab keeps things nice and simple – aside from the bundling of the Opera browser, which is easy to skip if you'd rather avoid it.
The wonderfully simple interface gives you a pleasing hint of just how easy things are going to be, right from the word go. Copy a YouTube URL to the clipboard and ClipGrab will spring into action, offering to download the related video for you.
Even if this doesn’t happen – you might not yet have the program running, for instance – a quick paste into the relevant field is all it takes. You can then indicate that you are interested in downloading the audio as an MP3 before you click the 'Grab this clip!' button to do just that. The MP3 you seek will be yours in next to no time.