It's easy to spend hours watching new videos on YouTube when you have a reliable internet connection, but if you're going to be offline, you might want to save a collection of clips to watch later on your PC, tablet, games console, or smartphone. That's when you need a free YouTube video converter.
The best YouTube converters include preset profiles to take the guesswork out of choosing the optimum format, resolution, and compression settings for your device. They also let you save and convert clips in batches, and let you choose where they're saved once the download and conversion is complete.
You should only download videos when you have the copyright owner's permission to do so. YouTube's terms of service explicitly prohibit unauthorized downloading.
Grab and save videos in seconds – the best YouTube converter
aTube Catcher is an appropriately named free 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. This part of aTube Catcher's interface isn't as attractive as some other YouTube video converters, but that hardly matters.
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.
aTube Catcher also offers some great bonus tools including a screen recorder, DVD/Blu-Ray/CD creator and audio recorder – all packed with an astonishing number of options and settings.
Convert videos and rip their soundtracks for offline listening
Free YouTube to MP3 Converter (from the superb DVDVideoSoft) is a wonderfully simple YouTube converter for ripping the audio from videos and saving it to your PC in a format of your choice.
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. There's even the option to download an entire channel, though this can be time-consuming so you might prefer to be selective.
If you do decide to go on a downloading spree, look in the options menu for the setting that shuts your PC down automatically once it's finished.
Free YouTube to MP3 Converter is 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 permission, of course.
Convert videos from YouTube or any other source in seconds
Any Video Converter Free can download and convert files from almost any source – CDs, locally stored files, or video sharing sites including YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and LiveLeak.
Any Video Converter Free is packed with options, but still accessible. The interface is well designed, with tooltips to explain each function. You can paste in URLs from your clipboard, as with most free YouTube converters, or drag videos directly from Chrome or Firefox.
While installing Any Video Converter Free, you’ll be prompted to install ByteFence (an anti-malware tool) and a Yahoo browser extension. It’s not immediately obvious, but you can opt out of these using the small text links labelled ‘Click here to customize the installation’ and unchecking the boxes that appear. Or you might choose to leave them selected to support the developers.
Makes it easy to fine-tune clips for playback on your chosen device
Another great tool from DVDVideoSoft, Free YouTube Download comes with a massive 25 video conversion options that can convert your files automatically once they've downloaded for viewing on different devices.
Its interface is almost identical to Free YouTube to MP3 converter – a clean, self-explanatory affair with more advanced settings tucked away in an Options menu. There, you can choose to shut down your PC once the download is finished, download via a proxy, and paste URLs from the clipboard automatically.
Clicking the file format details beside each thumbnails gives you a great choice of export options. Once you've made your selection, click the 'Download' button and your video will begin processing. You can only download and convert one video at a time without upgrading to the premium version of the software, but there's little else to complain about.
Dropped connection mid-rip? No problem – YTD will pick it up
YTD Video Downloader can download and convert videos from some of the most popular video hosting sites, including Facebook, DailyMotion and College Humor and, of course, 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's 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.
The thing keeping YTD from a higher place in our roundup is the WebDiscover browser that comes bundled with the software, and is difficult to avoid if you don't want its search bar welded to your desktop.