Download and convert videos in seconds
The best free YouTube video converters
YouTube is a great resource for watching videos, but at some point you might want to download them to a computer or mobile device. You might want to watch them offline, burn them to a DVD for archiving, or convert the audio to an MP3 for entertainment while driving.
So what's the answer? Hunting down a YouTube converter would be a good start, and luckily there are plenty around that won't cost you a penny - such is the magic of freeware.
Are YouTube converters legal?
It's important to note that you should only download videos when you have the copyright owner's permission to do so. YouTube's terms of service explicitly prohibit unauthorised downloading.
1. aTube Catcher
Download and save videos in any format in the blink of an eye – the best YouTube converter
aTube Catcher is an appropriately named YouTube converter that will catch any video downloads you throw its way before converting them to your chosen format.
It supports AVI, FLV, MOV, WMV, MPG and MP4, in addition to less common formats such as PSP, which is used for Sony's handheld games console.
The installation process is speedy, and once up and running you'll be presented with a colourful Windows 10-like grid that clearly presents the available options. From there you can dive straight into aTune Catcher's video conversion utility for converting to another file format, or convert the soundtrack to an MP3 for audio playback.
Once you've chosen a format, drag in the files you want to convert and right-click 'Start' to set them going. You can prioritize certain clips to have them converted first, or simply leave it to work on the queued files from top to bottom.
Download here: aTube Catcher
2. Free YouTube to MP3 Converter
Convert YouTube videos and rip soundtracks to MP3 format ready for offline listening
Free YouTube to MP3 Converter is a free YouTube converter that converts videos from YouTube to other popular video formats - including WMV and AVI - in addition to audio ones formats such as MP3. The program lets you queue up multiple files for conversion and features a clean interface that clearly displays what files are waiting to be converted.
It's a particularly useful tool for musicians who may want to download guitar backing tracks to jam along to, or similarly you could grab a karaoke backing track to burn to a CD ready for that weekend party - provided you have the copyright holder's permisison.
Download here: Free YouTube to MP3 Converter
3. Freemake Video Converter
Freemake offers super-speedy conversion into almost any video format you care to name
Freemake Video Converter features an attractive design and supports more file formats than you can shake a USB stick at. You can convert your downloaded video into more than 200 formats - including AVI, MP4, WKV, WMV, DV, RM, QT, TS and MTS - and you can choose to rip and convert audio to MP3 if you just want the soundtrack.
Freemake claims that a few of its features are unique - including integrated CUDA and DXVA technology that apparently converts videos faster while using less CPU resources. It's certainly one of the fastest YouTube converters on our list, but its speed will ultimately depend on the power of your PC.
Download here: Freemake Video Converter
4. Free Studio
Free Studio makes it easy to tweak downloaded clips for perfect playback on your chosen device
Developed by DVDVideoSoft, Free Studio comes with a massive 25 video conversion options that can convert your files automatically once they've downloaded for viewing on different devices.
It's particularly useful because it bundles multiple converters into a single program, saving you hunting for several solutions when converting to different formats.
It's a flexible YouTube converter that allows you to work with HD video file types in addition to high quality MP4 video. It also comes with an advanced screen capture tool that allows you to record a section of the screen, flip it and rotate it before saving the edited output to disk with the option of saving to another device.
Download here: Free Studio
5. YTD (YouTube Downloader)
Dropped connection mid-rip? No problem – YTD will pick it back up and carry on
YTD (formerly known as YouTube Downloader) can download and convert videos from some of the most popular video websites - including Facebook, DailyMotion and College Humor - in addition to YouTube. It features the ability to convert videos into most popular video formats - from MP3 and MP4 to WNV, FLV, MOV, 3GP and AVI.
This YouTube downloader' makers claim that the latest version is faster and more stable than previous releases. It also has the handy feature of resuming downloads automatically if your internet connection goes down temporarily.
Download here: YTD (YouTube Downloader)
What makes a great YouTube converter
A good free YouTube video converter should enable you to download, convert and save videos with a single click. Batch-processing is a huge time-saver as well, meaning you don't have to encode groups of videos one at a time.
For mobile devices, a wide range of ready-made profiles will take the guesswork out of converting videos, though if you only want to play videos back on your PC, this kind of choice might be overkill; MP4 will be fine for most applications.
The ability to convert the audio from YouTube videos to MP3 format is extremely useful for music videos – especially if you can add metadata to the converted tracks from within the program (such as track name, artist, and genre).
Finally, watch out for potentially unwanted software bundled together with the converter itself. Always read each step of the installer carefully and decline any offers you aren't interested in.