How to convert YouTube videos to MP4 files

Grab videos and convert them to a more convenient format

Convert YouTube to MP4

There are lots of good reasons to convert YouTube videos to MP4 format. Firstly, MP4 is one of the most commonly supported video formats, suitable for playback offline on pretty much any device, from smartphones to games consoles. MP4 also offers a good balance of file size and quality, and supports subtitles.

There are dozens of programs around (both free and paid-for) that can convert YouTube videos to MP4, but many are packed with ads, apply watermarks to converted clips, or contain additional software that you might not want, and can prove difficult to uninstall.

Here, we'll show you how to convert videos for free using 4K Video Downloader, which contains no adware or other junk that will spoil your experience. The basic tool is free, but there's also a paid-for version available if you want to convert an entire playlist to MP4 format with a single click.

Before you get started, bear in mind that using third-party apps to download YouTube videos is against Youtube’s terms of service – which state that you are only able to stream videos directly from its servers. It also opens you up to potential copyright infringement unless you have permission from the copyright holder, it’s in the public domain, or you own the video yourself. 

1. Convert a single video

Download and install 4K Video Downloader, then find the YouTube video in your browser and copy the URL from the address bar. Open 4K Video Downloader and click the green ‘Paste link’ button.

4K Video Downloader can convert videos to a handful of different formats, but MP4 is the default so you can leave the top menus  as they are and just select a quality setting. The options available will depend on the quality of the original video, and you have the option of downloading subtitles as well.

Once the video is downloaded, you can play it immediately in your default media player, or right-click the thumbnail and select ‘Show in folder’ to see the MP4 file.

4K Video Downloader

2. Convert videos automatically

To make converting YouTube videos to MP4 even faster, 4K Video Downloader offers a Smart Mode that lets you do the whole thing with just one click. Select ‘Tools’ and choose your preferred download options (format, quality, subtitles and destination). Now, when you click ‘Paste link’, the video will be downloaded and converted automatically.

4K Video Downloader

3. Convert saved videos

If you have a video (or several) that you've already downloaded from YouTube in a format other than MP4, you can easily convert it using free transcoding software HandBrake.

Download and install the software, then choose to either open a single video, or a whole folder using the options on the left. You can also drop files and folders into the main panel to open them.

You can then choose your conversion options, including the format (MP4, in this case), dimensions, video and audio codecs (the default settings will be fine for most purposes), and subtitles. Once you've finished, you can either save your settings as a new preset, add the video to a queue to convert later, or start encoding it immediately.

HandBrake