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How to download videos from YouTube

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The easy way to download 4K and HD videos using the free 4K Video Downloader app

You can stream YouTube videos on a huge range of devices, from smartphones to tablets, and laptops to smart TVs. Yet there are times when streaming is not enough. Maybe you want to set up a bunch of videos to watch on your smartphone while you’re on the move – or out of wireless range while you’re sitting in the garden. Perhaps you want a local copy you can watch when you like, particularly when some YouTube videos might not be available for longer than a few days.

There’s also a chance that you may want to capture and edit some videos into your own videos, for purposes of criticism or review. What’s more, if your internet connection is at all shakey, streaming 4K video – or even HD video – can leave you struggling with constant pauses while YouTube’s buffer fills. Who wants to put up with that?

Can you download video within YouTube?

In all of these cases, you want a way to turn those streams into downloads, but this isn’t something you can do within YouTube itself. The service is understandably anxious to protect the rights of its content creators, and of the Hollywood studios, channels and distributors who make their content available through YouTube for purchase, rental or subscription. There are some pretty good reasons why downloads are often equated with piracy and file-sharing, even if it makes things tricky for those of us who want to download streams for a legitimate purpose.

Luckily, there’s a free tool that makes downloading video from YouTube easy. 4K Video Downloader is a deliberately simple app, but one that comes packing some useful advanced features that can help you download videos with a click.

How to download video from YouTube

Download the app from the 4K Downloader website and install it, and you’re ready to get your videos downloading.

First, head to YouTube in your browser and find the video you want to download. Click and drag in the address bar, or click and press Ctrl+A, then either right-click and select Copy or press Ctrl+C to copy the URL.

Now launch 4K Video Downloader and press the Paste Link button in the top-left corner.

You’ll now get an options menu where you can select the format of your downloaded video, the resolution and whether you want to download any subtitles. If you want to download a 4K video, set the format to MKV and you should see options for High Definition 2K video (with a 1440p resolution) and Ultra High Definition 4K video (with a 2160p resolution). Just be warned: the higher the resolution, the more storage space the video will take up and the longer it’s going to take to download and convert.

Now select the Subtitles language (if you want subtitles), then select where you want the video to be stored on your PC. By default, it stores the output in your Videos folder, but you can always select another location, like a folder on the desktop, if you prefer.

Now all you need to do is click Download, and your video will start downloading. You can download several videos at the same time if you want; they’ll be added to the list and the app will do its best to download and convert as many as it can simultaneously. What’s more, the app will also work with YouTube playlists. Paste in the URL of your playlist when you click the Paste Link button, and it will spot that it’s a playlist and ask if you want to download all the videos enclosed.

One-click downloads

Sounds easy? It is, but you can make it even easier – not to mention faster. For one thing, 4K Video Downloader has a Smart Mode, where it’ll download any new videos you request using a single set of settings. To engage it, just click on the Smart Mode lightbulb icon in the toolbar at the top of the app window.

Now click the Enable Smart Mode box. You can select the Format from a wide range of popular video file formats, then your quality. 4K Video Downloader will output anything from tiny, low-resolution QCIF files to next-generation 8K videos, and at HD to 8K resolutions you also have the option of regular 30fps output (which is roughly what we’re used to on TV) and 60fps output, which will look smoother and more detailed on many devices and displays.

Don’t worry if any videos you want to download stop at 1080p or even 720p. 4K Video Downloader will intelligently select the next best available quality setting. Pick a Subtitles language, if you want to preserve any subtitles encoded with the video, and select the Directory, and you’re good to go.

From here on in, any videos you copy and paste into the app will use these settings, until you click the lightbulb icon again and un-check Enable Smart Mode.

Faster downloads

Downloading and converting video takes time, even with a fast internet connection. However, if you have a fast CPU then you can speed the process up. Click on the Preferences icon in the Toolbar, look in the General tab, and find the Intensity dropdown. This allows you to select how many processor threads the app can use to download and convert your video.

By default, it picks the Stable, 3 threads option, but you can comfortably ramp this up to the Optimal, 5 threads, setting particularly if you have a six-core or eight-core CPU, or even a quad-core CPU that supports hyper-threading. There’s also a Risky, 7 threads option, but you probably want to try this with a short clip first, just to make sure your PC can handle the workload.

Advanced features

The free version of 4K Video Download gives you enough features and power for most people, but the paid-for version gives you even more. The biggest is Subscriptions. Subscribe to a YouTube channel and any new videos uploaded to that channel will be downloaded automatically, meaning you always get the latest content, ready to watch as soon as it’s available. The paid-for version also supports unlimited playlists, subtitles and channels, so it might be worth getting if you have a fast PC and internet connection, a lot of storage space and an insatiable appetite for video.

If you’re looking to download an entire YouTube playlist, visit this handy guide.

To get 4K Video Downloader and find out more, visit the 4K Video Downloader website.

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