Best free YouTube downloader app of 2024

We list the best free YouTube downloader apps, to make it simple and easy to rip content directly from YouTube for offline use.

Best free YouTube downloader app of 2024: Quick menu

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1. Best overall
2. Best for special effects
3. Best basic
4. Best comprehensive
5. FAQs
6. How we test

The best free YouTube downloader apps are the perfect tool for anyone who wants to watch videos offline or save them for personal use - and, most importantly, doesn't want to pay for YouTube Premium.

With that in mind, we've compiled this short list of easy-to-use apps that can help you get the most out of YouTube without needing you to open your wallet. These tools let you download and save your favorite videos free of charge, using whatever file formats you like.

The process of downloading a video from YouTube is actually surprisingly easy - it mainly involves taking the video's URL, and then simply using one of the tools below. But if you only want the audio, we do have a free YouTube to MP3 converter guide instead.

Currently, our top choice for downloading videos from YouTube is the 4K Video Downloader, which can do the job without leaving a watermark, compared to other apps. However, there are other apps that you can look into that do the same job, which we've highlighted below.

The best free YouTube downloader app of 2024 in full:

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Best overall

Laptop on a desk displaying the 4K Video Downloader

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1. 4K Video Downloader

Fast, free and flexible – the most versatile YouTube downloader


Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux

Reasons to buy

Great choice of formats
Downloads playlists
Supports 3D and 360-degree videos
No bundled extra software

Reasons to avoid

Limits on playlist downloads

4K Video Downloader is the best free YouTube downloader around for quick, fuss-free YouTube downloads. It's simple to use, highly customizable, and doesn't include any bundled extra software.

To grab a video (or a whole playlist, provided it's not longer than 24 videos), simply copy its URL from your web browser, click 'Paste URL' and select an output format, quality, and location. 

There's a great choice of formats – both video and audio – including MP4 and MP3. You can download captions for individual videos, and there's even support for 3D and 360-degree videos too.

Delving into the properties lets you tweak options like multi-stream downloads (increasing the number of streams will speed up downloads, but increases the risk of YouTube blocking your IP address) and set up a proxy connection.

It's worth noting that you'll need to shell out some cash if you want to use this tool's premium features, which include unlimited videos, large playlist downloads, private video downloads, and no ads. If you just want the free version of the tool, though, it's still a powerful and functional option - provided you don't mind a few ads.

Read our full review: 4K Video Downloader.

Best for special effects

A laptop on a desk displaying the Any Video Converter Free

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2. Any Video Converter Free

Download and convert videos, and add special effects


Operating system: Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

Excellent format support
Built-in video editor

Reasons to avoid

No batch downloads
Bundled extra software

At first glance, Any Video Converter Free is one of the best free YouTube downloaders out there. The only drawback is that this free version limits you to download a single video at a time, but if you're looking for a free solution, this is something you may decide you're happy to put up with.

There are lots of video formats to choose from, and there's even a basic video editor built into this YouTube downloader. This can be used to crop a video you download, add simple effects such as color adjustment, and add overlay text.

The whole process is quick and easy. Any Video Converter's interface may not be to everyone's liking, but that's really nitpicking; this is a fantastic free YouTube downloader in all other respects. Watch out for the bundled ByteFence and Yahoo software during installation, and you're good to go.

Read our full review: Any Video Converter Free.

Best basic

The Free YouTube Download tool being displayed on a laptop

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3. Free YouTube Download

Grab videos without clicking a single button


Operating system: Windows, macOS

Reasons to buy

Auto download option
Batch downloading
Can shut down PC when finished

Reasons to avoid

Three-minute time limit

There are no prizes for guessing what Free YouTube Download does. This is a very simple, tightly focused free YouTube downloader that does away with distractions to get the job done well. Paste in a URL from YouTube and you can download the video in just a couple of clicks – or no clicks at all if you enable the Auto Download option.

You can download several videos at once if you need to, and you can convert them to several different formats on the fly. Just which formats are available to you will depend on the quality of the original video, but AVI, MP4, iPhone/iPod and MKV should be available in most cases. It's also possible to convert to audio-only MP3 if you don’t need the footage as well.

There's only one real drawback, but it's a biggie – you can only use Free YouTube Download to grab clips that are less than three minutes long. That rules out most music videos for a start, and is a real shame.

Read our full review: Free YouTube Download.

Best comprehensive

The aTube Catcher being displayed on a laptop sitting on a desk

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4. aTube Catcher

Download, convert and merge videos as they're playing


Operating system: Windows

Reasons to buy

Batch downloading
Converts to popular formats
Automatic file conversion

Reasons to avoid

Adware in installer

Although the name suggests that this is just a YouTube downloader, aTube Catcher can actually save videos from most of the big video hosting sites.

First, however, a word of warning: sneaky adware abounds during the installation. When you're offered the first app, make sure to hit Cancel, and for the second one click Decline – then you'll be free to enjoy aTube Catcher without any unwanted surprises.

Downloaded videos can be converted automatically to a number of popular formats, so you can tailor them for their intended use, or whatever device you intend to watch them on. If you're looking to download a large number of videos, you can download them all at once, maxing out your bandwidth – something not available in all of the best free YouTube downloaders on this list.

This free YouTube downloader offers plenty of added extras too, such as the ability to record any on-screen video, video merging, and disc burning.

Read our full review: aTube Catcher.


Is it legal to downloaded YouTube videos?

Before you use a free YouTube downloader, bear in mind that using third-party apps to download videos is against YouTube's terms of service, which say you can only stream videos directly from its servers. Since YouTube is owned by Google, this could potentially lead to your linked Google account being suspended - you've been warned.

Downloading videos is also potentially a copyright infringement unless you own the video yourself, have permission from the copyright holder, or it's in the public domain.

What's the difference between Online YouTube downloaders and desktop apps?

There are many sites that you can use to download YouTube videos, but we don't recommend them due to their disadvantages over desktop software. First of all, they're slower due to the limitations of the remote server and your data connection. Many such sites also feature ads of an.... unsavory variety, or display thumbnails of recently downloaded videos, which may not be appropriate.

Online video converters typically don't give you much (if any) choice about the video file either, in terms of quality or expert format. They only allow you to download a single video at a time, and you can forget about saving whole playlists. 3D and 360-degree videos are also out of the question, and very few can handle 4K.

How we test

We test the best free YouTube downloader apps by see how reliable the service is, both in terms of availability, download quality, and also ease of use. We also look to see if there are any other useful options and tools to make the download and any conversion of the files more accessible.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Get in touch

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Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.