How To Download YouTube Videos On A Mac

5 Mins read

If the idea of a long car journey or bedtime without a connection to the internet leaves you trembling with fear, there’s a solution. You can download those YouTube videos your kids (or you) love to watch to play back offline. Here’s how to save YouTube videos on your Mac, so they can be watched without an internet connection.

Before we start, we have to point out that you should be aware of copyright issues. Firstly, you shouldn’t download someone else’s video and then, for example, upload it to your own YouTube channel or use it to promote your business. You should also note that downloading YouTube videos goes against YouTube’s terms of service. The company specifies that “You shall not download any Content unless you see a ‘download’ or similar link displayed by YouTube.”

Of course if it’s for your own private use it’s unlikely that YouTube will ever know.

Below we will look at some solutions for downloading YouTube video to your Mac. Join us as we seek the best YouTube downloader for Mac.

YouTube Premium

  • $11.99/£11.99 a month, one-month free trial
  • Get it here

It’s worth mentioning here that YouTube offers its own YouTube Premium service that allows you to download YouTube videos. That service costs $11.99/£11.99 per month and along with being able to download video you can also avoid ads, listen to YouTube Music Premium (and Google Play Music). And you get to watch YouTube Originals, which include movies and series that are only available on the subscription service.

However, if you were hoping that you’d be able to download the video to your Mac you will be disappointed. YouTube Premium only lets subscribers download video and music on to mobile devices, and it will only be available to watch offline for 30 days.

This would be the most legitimate way to download YouTube video. But if you don’t want to pay £143.88/$143.88 a year for the privilege, there are thankfully other solutions.

Best Free YouTube downloader for Mac

There are loads of tools that advertise their ability to save YouTube videos to your Mac. Some of these options are free and some are paid for. In our experience the free apps are usually more trouble than they are worth and potentially dangerous. (If you see a warning that you need to install Flash, for example, it really could be a scam, or at worse malware!)

Luckily there are a couple of ways that you can download YouTube video for free with software that comes with your Mac. You don’t need to download an app at all.

MacOS Mojave: Command + Shift + 5

  • Free
  • Get macOS Mojave here

macOS Mojave has its own in-built screen recording feature and since it’s part of the macOS it’s free to use.

This could be a solution for you if you don’t need the audio because it won’t record the sound.

  1. Press Command + Shift + 5.
  2. Click on Record selected portion.
  3. Drag the crosshairs to select the video.
  4. Click Record.
  5. Now start playing the video.
  6. Wait for it to finish and then stop the video.
  7. Stop the screen recording (you’ll find a stop button in the menu at the top of the screen or in the box as seen in the image below.)

QuickTime Player

Before Apple merged the tools for screen recording with the screen grab tools in macOS Mojave Mac users could use QuickTime to record the screen on their Mac.

QuickTime can still be used in this way – at least for now. Here’s how.

  1. Open QuickTIme Player (press Command + Space and start typing QuickTime).
  2. Go to the menu at the top of the screen and choose File > New Screen Recording.
  3. A Screen Recording pop-up window will appear. Before you move to the next step click on the down arrow beside the red button and make sure that Internal Microphone is selected.
  4. Click on the red button.
  5. Now you will see instructions indicating you can click to record the full screen, or drag to record part of the screen. Drag the cross-hairs over the video.
  6. Now click on Record.
  7. Start the YouTube video playing (make sure the sound is on).
  8. Once the YouTube video has played you can click on the stop button in the menu at the top of the screen.
  9. The video will open so you can check it before saving it.

This is without a doubt the best way to record from YouTube on a Mac. However, a short video can take up a lot of space on your Mac, and obviously it is necessary to wait while the whole video plays through.

How to download YouTube video

There are also some solutions on offer that will download the YouTube video for you, rather than you have to record the screen of your Mac while playing the video. This might be a preferred option if you don’t have the time to sit and wait for an hour of Peppa Pig to play.

As we said above, we don’t recommend the free solutions particularly as there is already a free solution on the Mac, and we’re not sure how much we trust them.


iTubeDownloader charges a fee – it’s $8.99 for the activation code, and students can get 35% off – but there’s a free trial that may be sufficient for your needs.

It looks like a browser, but it automatically directs you to YouTube’s home page. You then browse the site as normal, except that there’s now a big Download button next to the URL bar. Tap this at any point to grab the video you’re currently viewing.

We found it easy to use iTubeDownloader and the resultant download was good-quality. (You get a choice of download quality settings, in fact.) The only downside, really, is that it isn’t free beyond the terms of the trial.

Parallels ToolBox

  • £15.99/$19.99 a year, 7-day trial
  • Download it here

On the basis that going with a well-known company means you are more likely not to end up with at best bad software, at worse malware on your Mac, we’ll look at Parallels ToolBox.

Parallels (the people behind the software that makes it easy to run Windows on your Mac) have come up with 30 tools that can be used to simplify a number of tasks on your Mac. ToolBox is the result of their experience manning a help desk for their customers running Parallels on a Mac. So many customers phoned up asking how to do various things that Parallels thought some easy to use tools might be a good solution. And so Parallels Toolbox was born.

  1. Once you have download and installed Parallels Toolbox you’ll see a toolbox icon in the menu at the top of your screen. Click on that.
  2. You’ll see a number of tools including Airplane Mode, Free Memory, Do Not Disturb, Make Gif, and Download Video. Click on Download Video.
  3. Toolbox will instruct you that you need to enable a Safari extension in order to download video. Click Enable.
  4. Now a Download Video box will open on your screen. Just copy and paste the URL from the YouTube video and paste it into the box, or drag and drop it in. An arrow will indicate that the video is downloading and a box will pop up with the details, e.g. Downloading “Peppa Pig.mp4” and you can watch as the download happens. Ours took about 10 minutes to download 88MB – but note that speed will be determined by your connection.
  5. Once the download has finished you will find the video file in your Downloads folder (which might not be immediately obvious).

The file will be saved as an MPEG-4 movie. It will open and play in QuickTime on your Mac.

If you are looking for an easy way to get the video onto an iPad or iPhone one solution would be to copy the video onto iCloud so you can access it from the Files app. You can then download it from there and play it whenever you want. We have more details about saving a YouTube video to an iPhone or iPad.

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