There are hundreds of billions of hours of videos on Youtube. It would take a shocking 57,000 years to watch all of the videos on the platform, and this number increases every minute.
That said, sometimes we need to have one of these videos saved locally, either in a video format or as an MP3 file. This article will discuss different ways to download a video to your device locally and how to convert YouTube to MP3. Read on to find out which method suits your needs best.
Download YouTube MP3 – Legal Warning
Depending on the video you wish to download, you could traverse some risky legal grounds. Public domain and non-copyright videos are safe to download, and you can look these up through the search function in YouTube by searching up keywords like “public domain” or “non-copyright.” However, you can’t legally download copyright videos such as movies or music videos without the owner’s permission.
A spokesperson for Google said that their Terms of Service prohibit users from downloading or copying videos from YouTube without the explicit consent of the original copyright holder. Once notified of this, YouTube does take appropriate action against these tools and services.
Google is mainly an advertising company, and they lose money when people access their videos using unofficial channels as this means that Google won’t be able to show ads. Trust us. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of tech giants.
YouTube to MP3 vs Downloading Videos
Yes, you can still convert YouTube video to MP3, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The thing about MP3 files is that they’re actually a very outdated file format. If you want to maintain the highest quality audio, you can download the video in its original format and listen offline by following some of these methods.
As most devices have ample storage, this shouldn’t be an issue. If you still just want audio, you could convert the video to AAC, DDS, or FLAC defending on your device. Yet, most of these methods can still end in an MP3 file if you so choose.
YouTube Premium and YouTube Music
$11.95 a month – iOS, Android
Youtube does offer a video download feature for its users, but it only exists on mobile versions of the youtube application, and the functionality is far from perfect.
Step 1: On the YouTube application, click on the video you wish to download. As it starts playing, click on the download button beneath the video’s title.
Step 2: You will see a menu pop out from the bottom, which allows you to select the resolution of the video you wish to download. Simply choose the resolution of the video you want to download and click on the Download button.
Step 3: To go to your downloads section, click on the Library button in the bottom right of the screen. This will take you to your library section, where you can see your History, watch later list as well as your playlists.
Step 4: Simply click on Downloads to open the tab that shows your downloaded videos in this section. Here, you will be able to see the status of the videos you’re downloading. You can also play the videos as they download, which makes this feature very handy if you’re low on data and want to watch the video while it downloads.
Note: These videos aren’t downloaded to your device to access through third-party apps or your native video player. They are merely saved akin to the download feature offered by media apps like Hulu and Netflix. You can’t view these videos outside of the YouTube application, and you need to have an active internet connection at least once every 30 days.
Although handy for some, this feature isn’t the ideal way to listen to the audio as it’s technically a video. Again, you’ll need to buy a YouTube premium subscription that gives you access to some neat features like an ad-free experience and background video playing.
The method is the same for the YouTube Music app too which is part of a YouTube premium subscription. While this isn’t technically getting an MP3 from YouTube, it’s the safest and best way to listen to YouTube audio offline.
If this isn’t something that fits your needs, don’t worry. You can look at the other options we discuss below.
VLC Media Player
Free – Windows, macOS, Linux
This fantastic tool on Windows, macOS, and Linux platforms allows its users to play just about any media ever created. You can utilize it to download YouTube videos for free, but it is a bit convoluted.
Even though this method is a little tricky, it’s worth learning as many of the online video converter pages are dodgy phishing sites. The reliable ones are also constantly at risk of being taken offline by Google or your countries legal system. So, once you learn how to do this, it will be the most reliable free method.
Here is how to do this:
Step 1: Download VLC Media Player on your device. On their website, you will see a large orange icon that says Download VLC. Beside that, click on the arrow to see the versions of VLC for your specific device. Click on your preferred version to start downloading.
Step 2: Once downloaded, click on the installation file to start the installation process. The installer should be pretty simple to follow. Once installed, click on the VLC icon to open the application.
Step 3: Now go to YouTube and click on the video you wish to download. On the top bar, click on the address of the video and copy it by either right-clicking it or by using Ctrl + C.
Step 4: Go to the VLC Media Player application and click on Media on the top bar. There, click on Open Network Stream. Alternatively, you can use Ctrl + N to do this.
Step 5: Paste in the URL in the text box on the screen. After pasting the URL, click on the Play button, and the video should start playing.
Step 6: While the video is playing, click on Tools in the top bar and Codec Information. Alternately, you can do this using the shortcut Ctrl + J.
Step 7: A window should show up with information about the playing video. At the bottom of the window, you should see the Location textbox. This contains the temporary web address that expires eventually. Paste this address into your browser to start playing the video there.
Step 8: In the bottom right, click on the three dots. There click on download to start downloading the video locally to your PC.
Note: This method will only save your video file as 1080p even if the original YouTube video is available in higher resolutions.
Also, the video won’t be converted to other formats like MP3. To do this, you either need:
- Video editing software
- Specialized software to convert the videos to MP3
- Or simply listen to the music in the video as VLC can run in the background, unlike YouTube.
This option is far better than using Youtube Premium for downloads as you can save the files locally, and you don’t need to have an internet connection at all to play your videos. However, this method can prove to be a bit tedious for many as it has a lot of steps to follow before you can download your video.
If you’re looking for less trustworthy alternatives but ones that remove all the hassle, you can check out the options discussed below.
YouTube Download MP3 With a 4K Video Downloader
Free / $15 (Lifetime) – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
4K Video Downloader is a feature-rich, frequently updated software with no obvious intrusive ad traps or shady surveys. The software has a simple interface that allows you to download videos up to 8K in quality and choose from several formats, including MP3 or other audio formats.
You simply need to copy the link to the video and paste it into the software to get started. 4K Video Downloader will even download subtitles, entire playlists, and videos in the subscribed channel.
Aside from YouTube, 4K Video Downloader also works on big-name sites like Vimeo, Facebook, TikTok, etc. There’s a download limit of 30 per day on the free version, but that should be enough for many users.
The software also allows you to convert YouTube video to MP3 directly in the program without the hassle of downloading it first and converting it later as VLC does.
Free (mostly) – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
If you’re looking for an option to download audio from Youtube but don’t want the hassle of going through installation processes or lengthy setups when converting YouTube to MP3, you can download from a helper website instead.
These websites work essentially by putting in the URL of the video you wish to download. The website then parses the URL and gives you options to choose the format and resolution of the video you want to download. Once selected, the website provides you a link to download your file directly to your device.
The websites can work basically on anything with an internet browser which can be a huge convenience for people who dont want to install an application just to download a few videos as audio files like MP3. These websites also allow users to download MP3 from YouTube by converting the format and downloading it in one neat package.
Note: Anyone with some coding knowledge can set up these YouTube MP3 download websites, meaning some may make these for malicious intent. So, you can’t trust these websites blindly. One Google search proves that there are hundreds upon hundreds of these websites.
Some of these sites may add sexually explicit ads, some add malware to your downloads, while some simply stop working dues to changes in the Youtube API.
We don’t recommend these sites, but you can try them out at your own risk.
Free (mostly) – Chrome, Opera, Edge
Another way you can download YouTube video MP3 is by using browser extensions, and they can save you some of the hassles of the above methods. However, just like the websites in the previous section, extensions can be unreliable when downloading videos from YouTube, especially if you’re using the Google Chrome browser.
The Chrome Web Store is controlled by YouTube’s owner, Google, who removes these extensions as soon as they pop up. This is because Chrome Extensions do not allow streaming or downloading any RTMP protocol videos. You can use them with other websites but not with YouTube.
You can download and install an extension that doesn’t come from the Chrome Web Store to get around this. Some of the previously mentioned methods offer an extension without the need to use the Chrome Web Store.
This can be unreliable like the helper websites, as extension functionality can be broken easily with updates to the Youtube API.
Which Should You Use?
When looking for a YouTube MP3 downloader, the first thing to consider is the number of videos you wish to convert. If you’re just looking to download a funny cat video, then an online tool should be more than enough. However, anything more than that, you should use one of the other solutions mentioned in this article.
We recommend using desktop software like 4K Video Downloader as they are faster and allow you to download videos in the format you like. We have some more alternatives in our article focusing on downloading videos on YouTube here.
If you have a YouTube premium account, there’s no reason not to use the download function in the YouTube Music app. It’s the safest and most widely supported option as YouTube’swill always keep it updated with its API.
Once you’ve got your videos and audio working offline, you’ll be able to listen to your favorite music while you work offline and manage your time better without online distractions.
Jake is a spreadsheet expert and content writer from New Zealand. He has a double Bachelor's Degree in Teaching and has been working in the education industry for over 11 years. His experience makes him adept at breaking down complex topics so that everyone is able to understand.