Since its first video was uploaded twelve years ago, YouTube has become one of the world’s most visited websites. With 1.3 billion users, and 400 hours of new content uploaded per minute, this video streaming service has become an indispensable part of modern society.
Of course, user statistics like these have given YouTube immense appeal among corporate audiences. It’s easy to create a dedicated channel filled with proprietary content, attracting regular subscribers and giving your brand a global profile. Sixty per cent of American enterprise companies already use YouTube, and entrepreneurs from Bristol to Brisbane are falling over themselves to create engaging and original content.
Making your own movies or film clips quickly becomes a fiddly process, typically involving editing software, semi-professional camera equipment and a photogenic actor or presenter. It’s often easier to feature or share someone else’s content from YouTube. Even if you’ve created your own mini-movie and uploaded it, YouTube’s immensely powerful global servers make it an optimal distributor of streamed content.
YouTube offers a hugely popular service where it hosts a particular video that can then be displayed on a third-party website. Content will play through this external website as though the file was integrated into the site, with YouTube’s servers handling issues like buffering and variable bit rates. However, embedding YouTube material in your own website involves relying on a third-party provider, and maintaining a respectably fast internet connection at any given moment. What if you want to download YouTube videos and display them directly in your own website, or make them available to view offline?
It’s important to ensure that the owner of any content you’re seeking to download has given permission for third parties to download it. Doing so without stated approval represents a violation of YouTube’s terms of service, whereas embedding a link is usually acceptable without the need to do this.
If the content is available for download (or yours to begin with), there are a number of platforms that can be used to scrape YouTube content and deliver it to your hard drive:
Clip Converter. Platforms: All. Cost: Free.
Clip Converter is a free online tool that requires no file installations or access privileges. It’s compatible with YouTube and many other platforms including IMDB and Dailymotion. A straightforward interface accepts URL pasting before presenting a choice of conversion formats including Apple’s AAC and RealPlayer’s MOV. The ubiquitous MP3 and MP4 formats are the most common options, though AVI is also available. It’s also possible to download a clip from a video rather than the entire file, by specifying start and end points.
AVC. Platforms: Windows, Mac OS. Cost: Free (basic version).
An acronym for Any Video Converter, AVC is a powerful tool for batch conversion. It offers HTML5 output, accepting input media in 60 different file formats. Standard features like codec editing aren’t normally included in programs or applications used to download YouTube videos, though some people have reported issues with popups on the free version. The basic AVC is free, but a paid-for version supplies additional tools including DVD and Blu-ray burning plus DVD menu templates.
4K Video Downloader. Platforms: Linux, Windows, Mac OS. Cost: Free.
An executable program rather than a web-based tool, 4K Video Downloader is capable of grabbing files of any quality. It offers subtitle downloads, with capabilities to save entire playlists or YouTube channels. Another intriguing feature is the ability to subscribe to specific channels, which enables the software to automatically download new content as it becomes available Pre-selected settings can be applied to every future download, and it’s even possible to capture 360-degree or 3D video clips.
VLC. Platforms: Linux, Windows, Mac OS. Cost: Free.
Some readers might be familiar with VLC, since it’s already installed on many computers as a media player. Its familiar traffic-cone logo symbolises a software application developed over twenty years ago, following a modular design that allows various plugins to be installed. While it can’t convert files to alternative formats, VLC provides powerful and fast capture of files. Despite displaying considerable information about each file, capture is as simple as clicking the time-honoured “save as” button as content plays in your browser.
Freemake. Platforms: Windows. Cost: Free.
Windows-only platform Freemake Video Downloader claims to be the leading YouTube downloader since 2011, with over 83 million customers. It can download YouTube videos in MP4, FLV and WedM formats, before converting them to file types including WMV and 3GP. A two-hour HD movie can be grabbed in just four minutes via a high-speed internet connection, and Freemake is also capable of downloading more than one file at once.
KeepVid. Platforms: Linux, Windows, Mac OS. Cost: Free (basic version).
A highly professional homepage heralds KeepVid Video Downloader, a free web app aimed at anyone wishing to download YouTube videos. The basic version is compatible with dozens of content platforms, while the paid-for desktop Pro version claims to support 10,000 sites. Any version of KeepVid will accommodate batch downloads and 4K files, with MP3 audio among 150 supported formats. An entire YouTube channel can be downloaded with a single mouse-click, with up to 5,000 tasks supported at a time.
Ummy Video Downloader. Platforms: Windows, Mac OS. Cost: Free (trial).
With over 1.7 million downloads and Norton approval, Ummy Video Downloader offers a straightforward copy-and-paste approach to downloading YouTube content. A wide variety of different resolutions are offered, while it’s possible to extract MP4 from a video or download an MP3. A software installation rather than a browser extension, Ummy has been highly rated by a number of reputable download sites and their customers. Like the software itself, Ummy’s website majors on simplicity rather than features.