The best free YouTube downloader
YouTube's streaming is superb, offering the best quality for your current connection. But what happens if you're going somewhere where connectivity is weak or non-existent? Have no fear; with the right YouTube video downloader you can save streams for offline viewing.
Before we proceed 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.
It's also important to note that many of these programs will install bundled software toolbars, default search engines and so on if you're not careful with their installers' 'Next' and 'Accept' buttons. None of these apps currently include malware or non-removable adware, but many of their rivals do. Be careful out there.
Have we missed any of your favourite YouTube video downloader? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Any Video Converter Free
Super fast with format conversion and special effects - the best YouTube downloader around
Any Video Converter Free claims to be a kind of Swiss Army Knife for video: not only does it download YouTube videos, but it can burn DVDs and record video, convert audio and video to and from more than 60 different file formats and even add effects.
It's not the fastest converter around (the free version isn't optimized for multi-core processors) but it downloads videos quickly.
If you don't pony up £37 (about US$50, AU$70) for the Pro version you're limited to one download at a time, but that's a minor drawback and it's a particularly useful program for getting YouTube clips onto devices such as PSPs and smartphones.
2. aTube Catcher
Download, convert, merge and even record videos as they're playing with aTube Catcher
Like Any Video Converter, aTube Catcher can do lots of things: in addition to video downloading it can create and convert all kinds of video, find clips you've watched from your internet history and merge multiple files together. There's even a screen recorder which can grab video as it's playing, which is handy for making screencasts.
It's very quick and offers a huge range of output options, and it's nice to have parallel downloading and multi-core processing in a freeware program. Not only that, but its requirements are modest: it works with operating systems as old as Windows 98.
3. Free YouTube Download
Download multiple videos at once, in resolutions up to 8K. Perfect for movies and TV
The installer is a little too keen on adding bundled software, but Free YouTube Download is very good and completely free. Its focus is on the downloading rather than converting files from one format to another, so you get a good multi-stream download manager for grabbing several clips simultaneously.
4. Ummy Video Downloader
A simple, slimline program that won't stress your PC, Ummy is ideal for occasional video downloads
Ummy Video Downloader is designed to do just one thing, and that's download YouTube videos and save them as video or audio files. There are no fancy bells or whistles, making it a slim package that puts minimal demands on your PC.
The interface is clean and good-looking, and in a nice touch it grabs the video's main image to use as a backdrop while the clip downloads. It can save as FLV, MKV, MOV, AVI, MP3 and MPG, it doesn't gobble up system resources and it's completely free.
Ummy doesn't have the extensive file conversion options of some other YouTube download apps, but it covers the basics perfectly well.
5. YTD Video Downloader
Download videos from more than 60 sites, including YouTube and Vimeo, and watch them on any device
YTD Video Downloader comes in two flavors: Basic, which is free, and Pro, which costs £18.90 (about AU$40, US$30) per year. Basic doesn't get multiple simultaneous downloads, download acceleration or an ad-free interface but it does cover the fundamentals: it downloads from YouTube and more than 60 other video sites, it can convert to WMV, AVI, MP3 and iPhone, and it can resume failed downloads if your connection drops mid-download.
The free version's installer is very keen on giving you bundled software you almost certainly don't want, so make sure you read each step carefully and uncheck the boxes beside anything you'd rather not install, but the app itself isn't too ad-heavy.