YouTube is one of the best places to find music of all kinds. and it's easy to spend hours just browsing from one video to another. But sometimes, when you're out and about, driving, maybe running, that's just not possible. The solution? Download your favourite videos, convert them to MP3, then burn them to CD or listen to them anywhere with your favourite music app.
There are YouTube to MP3 converter websites, but they're often slow, packed with ads, and only able to download one file at a time. Specialist YouTube to MP3 converters deliver much better results. They're easy to use, just paste your file URL and it's usually downloaded and converted with a single click.
The top programs add support for other video and music-sharing sites, and can download complete playlists as well as individual files, yet still won't cost you anything at all. Isn't freeware great?
Note that you should only download videos when you have the copyright owner's permission. YouTube's terms of service explicitly prohibit unauthorized downloading.
1. YouTube Song Downloader
The best free YouTube to MP3 converter - convert and listen to music with just one program
Despite the name, YouTube Song Downloader isn't just another simple converter. It's a complete YouTube client with everything you need to find, hear and download your favourite tunes.
Smart search tool helps track down the songs you need, both individual tracks and entire albums.
If you're not sure whether you've found the right version, no problem - a built-in player means you can watch the video right now.
Once you're ready, single tracks can be downloaded with a click, or you can select multiple files and grab them all at once.
And if you're still not convinced, YouTube Song Downloader has another big advantage over most of the competition: it can download the source video, as well as a converted MP3.
The free edition does have ads, and a nag screen when you close the program, but they're not too annoying.
2. Free YouTube to MP3 Converter
Download music from YouTube quickly and easily, complete with artwork
Video conversion tools can be complex, but Free YouTube to MP3 Converter shows they don't have to be that way. The program really couldn't be much easier to use.
Copy your source YouTube link to the clipboard, click 'Paste', and the video name, quality and a tiny thumbnail appear to confirm your choice.
Choose a different quality setting if you prefer, otherwise simply click 'Download' and wait as the video is downloaded and converted.
A progress bar keeps you up to date with what's happening, and once it's finished, there are buttons to play the MP3 or open its folder in Windows Explorer.
The file even has its YouTube frame embedded as sort of 'cover art', which means you'll see it in Windows Explorer's preview pane, or when viewing a folder as icons.
3. MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter
Not just YouTube - this downloader works with Vevo, Vimeo and more
At first glance, MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter seems a little basic, limited, too short on features to be really useful. But start to explore and you might be surprised.
Choosing a file can be as easy as dragging and dropping the URL, for instance, or pasting it from the clipboard.
The program doesn't just fetch YouTube files: it also works with Vevo.com, Vimeo, DailyMotion, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Hype Machine.
MP3 tag support enables entering the correct artist and album name from within the program, and you can start the download with a click.
That's good, but the real highlights are hidden away in a tiny toolbar. MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter can also download entire playlists, use a 'speed limit' mode to prevent it hogging your bandwidth, add music to iTunes, or - for really big jobs - automatically sleep or shut down your PC when the downloads have finished.
4. 4K YouTube to MP3
Stress-free MP3 downloading from whole YouTube playlists or channels
4K YouTube to MP3 is a straightforward converter which aims to download your chosen music with the absolute minimum of hassle.
The program works with individual videos, full YouTube playlists or channels (up to 25 videos in the free version), and accepts links from other sites including SoundCloud, Vimeo, Flickr and DailyMotion.
It's all very simple to use. Paste in a link and you don't have to consider options, or click a separate 'Download' button, as with some of the competition. 4K YouTube to MP3 just downloads and converts your files immediately.
But there's also real power in this YouTube to MP3 converter when you need it. You're able to download files using multiple threads, for example, use your preferred quality settings, and choose from several output formats (MP3, M4A, OGG).
And if you're downloading a complete YouTube playlist, good news: M3U file generation means you can use that playlist in most media players immediately, no extra steps required.
4K YouTube to MP3 is also available as a portable app.
Search dozens of video sites to find exactly what you want
If you're tired of adware-infested 'freeware' then Lacey should appeal right away. There's no registration, no sneaky setup program, in fact no installer at all: just unzip the download and run Lacey.exe.
This free YouTube to MP3 converter opens with a simple search box. Type the name of your favourite artist, a song, album, whatever you like, and matches are displayed in seconds.
Other tools do something similar, but Lacey stands out because it's not restricted to YouTube. If you can't find your track there, it's also able to search Baidu, BandCamp, MP3Fusion, VEVO, Vimeo, SoundCloud, XMusic.Me, and a lengthy list of other sites.
There's no detailed preview of your search results, and often all you'll see is the title, artist and duration. But if the program locates songs that others miss then you probably won't care much, and Lacey can download whatever you like in a couple of clicks.
Have we missed your favorite YouTube to MP3 converter? Let us know in the comments below.