How to download music from YouTube for free

Discover, rip, and convert songs from videos

Okay, so let's assume you've found an artist who's happy for you to download their music. Here's how to do it.

Step 1

1. Install aTube Catcher

When it comes to downloading music from YouTube, it’s hard to beat aTube Catcher – or at least it is once you’ve installed it. As with many free apps, it’s important to watch what you’re agreeing to during installation: at the time of writing, aTube Catcher asks you if you want to install the Teoma app and change your browser settings. The installer is very misleading here, and if you don’t tick one of the two boxes it appears that you can’t continue. You can. Click the Cancel button and you’ll see another software offer; click Decline and you can continue the installation of the app you actually want.

Step 2

2. Find the right music

You’re given multiple options when aTube Catcher launches, but the two you need for music are Find Videos, which enables you to paste the address of a clip you’ve already found, and Music, which you can use to search YouTube for songs. 

In this example we're going to use our own music, and we've given ourselves permission to download it because we're nice like that. If you want to use the Find Videos button, select the video's address in your web browser – it'll be something like – and use [Ctrl]+[C] to copy it. You can then paste it into the URL del Video box. Once you’ve done that, click Output Profile to choose the file format and quality you want. Helpfully, the list is extremely well labeled. Here we’re just going to grab the original file.

Step 3

3. Find the right version

YouTube offers multiple versions of each video to cope with the various different devices that access it: what’s ideal for a 27-inch PC on fast broadband will choke a smartphone on a 3G mobile data connection. You’ll see here we’ve got the choice of MP4, WebM or 3GPPP. Ignore that last one – it’s for really low-spec mobile phones – and go for MP4. There isn’t much difference between it and WebM bar the latter’s smaller file sizes, but the MP4 is likely to be slightly better-sounding.

Step 4

4. Do it the easy way

If you already know what you want and just want to download it right now without any fuss, aTube Catcher enables you to skip all the faff and search YouTube from within the app. On startup, just click on the Music tile, enter a few words to help find the track and then click on the Search button. You can then listen to the track in the app and if you like what you hear, start downloading it by clicking Download Selected.

Step 5

5. Say what you want

You can rename the MP3 file if you wish or change its location, but the important one here is the bitrate: that sets the sound quality for the finished MP3 file. For good quality audio we’d recommend 192Kbps for portability or 256Kbps for future-proofing; there’s not much point in 320Kbps when the original audio probably isn’t of high enough quality to make it worthwhile.

The track will download and after a few seconds, it’ll be ready to play from any music app or transfer to any device. You can repeat the process for as many songs as you like.