How to Download YouTube Videos to a Computer

By Theodora Pennypacker

Although many users just watch videos on YouTube, it's also possible to download videos from YouTube to your computer using third-party software. Moyea YouTube FLV Downloader is one example of a free program that you can use to download YouTube videos; or you can skip software installation and use a Web browser plugin for this task. Video DownloadHelper is a Firefox add-on, while Chrome YouTube Downloader is a Chrome extension. Although these applications are optimized for different browsers, you can use either to copy YouTube videos to your computer.

Moyea YouTube FLV Downloader

Step 1

Download and install Moyea YouTube FLV Downloader. You can obtain the free software from the developer's website (link in Resources).

Step 2

Launch your Web browser and visit the YouTube page featuring the video you want to download. A "Capture a New URL" window will appear at the bottom of the page when the media loads.

Step 3

Click the “Download” button to open the New Download window.

Step 4

Enter a filename for the downloaded media in the “Save as:” field and choose a storage destination in the “Save to:” field.

Step 5

Click “OK.” The app displays a confirmation message when the download is complete.

Video DownloadHelper

Step 1

Download and install Firefox if you don't already have this Web browser on your computer (link in Resources).

Step 2

Launch Firefox and visit the Video DownloadHelper product page. Click the “+ Add to Firefox” button and follow the on-screen directions to set up the add-on. Click “Re-start” to relaunch Firefox with Video DownloadHelper enabled.

Step 3

Visit the YouTube video page. When Video DownloadHelper recognizes the media, its toolbar icon animates.

Step 4

Click the down-pointing arrow next to the Video DownloadHelper icon to open a drop-down menu. Choose an encoding of the media that you want to download. Select the “Download” option from the fly-out menu.

Step 5

Follow the on-screen directions to download the YouTube video to your computer. Video DownloadHelper shows a confirmation message when the download is complete.

Chrome YouTube Downloader

Step 1

Download and install Chrome if you don't already have it. This free browser is available from the Google Chrome Extensions website (link in Resources).

Step 2

Launch Chrome and navigate to the Chrome YouTube Downloader product page. Click the “Add to Chrome” button and follow the on-screen directions to set up the extension. Chrome shows a confirmation message when the plugin is enabled.

Step 3

Visit the YouTube page with the video you want to download. A “Download” button appears below the video player, next to the “Like,” “Dislike,” “Add to,” “Share” and “Flag” buttons.

Step 4

Click the arrow next to the “Download” button to open a drop-down menu, then choose the media encoding that want to download. The YouTube video will be copied to your default download directory.

Tips & Warnings

  • YouTube permits content creators to upload their videos under the Creative Commons license, which gives users permission to reuse the video. YouTube videos made available under the Creative Commons license are tagged accordingly in search results, and they are the only assets that display a YouTube-sanctioned “Download” button. To access this feature on a YouTube video with a Creative Commons license, expand the video description area, click the “Download” button and follow the on-screen directions to copy the high-quality MP4 encoding to your computer.
  • Before you download a YouTube video using third-party software, you need to make sure that the activity is copyright-compliant with the Fair Use doctrine. Unless you have obtained permission from the content creator, any attempt to monetize and redistribute the media is unlawful if you do not own the rights to it. You may, however, download YouTube videos for your own private, personal use.