HD YouTube videos are on tap whenever you have an internet connection available, but there are plenty of occasions – such as when travelling – when you'll be forced to go offline. Thankfully, with a little forward planning and the right software, you can download any videos you are interested in so you can watch them offline.
There are all manner of tools available for downloading videos from YouTube, but here we are interested in those programs that let you download the very best quality.
As well as HD video downloaders, this roundup also includes software that can download 360-degree videos from YouTube.
Of course, it's not just the potential for offline viewing that makes these downloaders interesting. If you are battling with a slow connection, you're probably sick of either enduring video buffering or putting up with lower quality videos. These HD YouTube downloaders could be just what you need.
Are YouTube downloaders legal?
You should only download videos if you have permission from the copyright holder. Unauthorized downloading is against YouTube's terms of service.
The fastest, most convenient way to download HD videos from YouTube
As the name suggests, 4K Video Downloader can be used to download videos from YouTube at up to 4K quality. There are no restrictions on download speed, so you can completely max out your connection, and you can choose between saving in MKV, MP3 or 3GP formats.
Should a video have embedded subtitles, these can be downloaded as well, and there's even support for 3D and 360-degree videos. In fact, you're not even limited to just YouTube – sites such as Vimeo and Daily Motion are also supported, and there are versions of 4K Video Downloader available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
If your needs are a little greater, you might want to consider upgrading to the paid-for version of the program. This enables you to download playlist with subtitles and more than 25 videos, or download entire channels. But for most people, the free version of the software will be just fine, and the limitations are very minor in the grand scheme of things.
Download here: 4K Video Downloader
Make downloading HD YouTube videos effortless, with bonus file conversion
aTube Catcher isn't going to win any beauty contests, but what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in functionality and ease of use.
This is much more than just a video downloader; it also offers the option of converting videos between formats, burning video CDs and DVDs, capturing local video, resizing videos, and batch processing.
But what we're interested in here is the program's ability to download HD content from YouTube – and aTube Catcher does this very well.
Paste in a URL, then use a drop-down menu to choose the format you would like to save the video in. If you're interested in the high definition version, just leave the 'No Conversion (Only get original file)' option selected before hitting Download. You can then choose the precise quality you want.
As well as YouTube, aTube Catcher supports a wide range of other streaming video sites, making it well worth a try.
An HD video downloader that supports several popular hosting sites – not just YouTube, and offers a great choice of download formats
With one of the most impressive and pleasing interface of the bunch, WinX Free YouTube Downloader is an immediate joy to use. You're not limited to just downloading from YouTube, but this is undoubtedly the primary focus of the program, and it makes light work of quickly grabbing high quality videos from a number of sites.
Videos can be saved in formats appropriate for different tasks and devices, including FLV, WebM or MP4, and the ability to queue up a series of videos to download in a batch is a boon if you want to grab a large collection overnight.
There's a built-in video player so you can watch or preview online videos, and you can even grab screenshots while you watch.
With everything being not only quick to complete, but also incredibly well-designed, WinX Free YouTube Downloader is a serious contender for the best YouTube downloader out there.
A simple, but effective way to grab HD YouTube videos, but bear in mind that downloaded clips will be watermarked and speed limits apply
Free YouTube Download, from DVDVideoSoft, is another incredibly simple HD YouTube downloader, but it still gets the job done – this time with no unwanted extras or other messing about.
Having found a YouTube video you want to download, copy the URL, fire up the program and hit the Paste button. Click the video quality that has been automatically selected for you, and you can then choose the quality you'd prefer – all the way up to 8K UHD if you want.
There are a few things missing that you can only do if you upgrade from the free version of the program to the Premium edition. Upgrading not only eliminates the download speed limit, but also gets rid of the video watermark that appears on downloads.
There's also playlist support if you're willing to pay, but for most people – if they're happy to put up with a watermark – will be perfectly catered for by the free version of the program.
The HD YouTube downloader you need when 4K just isn't enough
Seemingly looking to one-up 4K Video Downloader comes 5KPlayer – and things look impressive right from the moment you launch the installer. This is a highly polished program, available for Windows and macOS, that talks the talk and walks the walk. In order to unlock a few features – such as support for more sites and the ability to use AirPlay – you'll need to register the software, but this is free and involves nothing more than handing over your email address.
The dark and slightly gloomy interface is easy to get around, and there are plenty of on-screen tips to help you get started if things are not immediately obvious. Once you've pasted the URL of a video, you can download it at maximum quality if you want, or opt for a space-saving resolution instead. The extra features – such as AirPlay streaming, a radio and video player, etc – are nice touches, but the ease of downloading videos is the real kicker.