How to Download YouTube Videos as MP4 [+ best legal alternative!]


Whether you’re into watching gaming videos or if you watch YouTube for other reasons, you might want to download the videos.

However, before you consider downloading YouTube videos, you should know that YouTube doesn’t want you to do this because it will cut into the ad revenue of YouTube and the creator of the video.

However, if you’ve created some videos yourself, and lost the original files as well as the login to an old account, downloading your videos as MP4 might be the only way to retrieve your old videos or live stream again for a local backup.

In this article, I’ll show you how to download YouTube videos MP4, but also why you should consider YouTube Premium as an alternative.

You’ll Need a Third-Party Tool

To download Youtube videos as MP4 files, it’s necessary to use a third-party tool. You’ll need to download some type of software or use a website that has a built-in tool.

The tool is essentially going to convert YouTube videos into the MP4 format and then allow you to download them. It’s really easy to do and it’s not going to take much time either. 

To get started, you need to go to the page for the video that you wish to download.

When you click share, it’ll allow you to copy the URL of the video. Copy the URL and then go to one of the many websites on the internet that will allow you to convert YouTube videos to the MP4 format.

Once you’ve arrived at the website, you’ll need to paste the URL into the appropriate place.

These websites that do this generally have a simple box where you can paste the URL.

There might be a few settings that you can mess around with. Once you’re ready, you can begin the conversion process. The website will download the video in MP4 format. 

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Why and How Does This Work?

You might be wondering how exactly this works. If YouTube wanted you to be able to download videos, then why can’t you do so directly from the website?

Simply put, YouTube doesn’t want you to download the videos that are uploaded to the site. They don’t intend for anyone to rip the videos since they just want you to stream them as normal. 

The websites mentioned earlier are using simple tools that can pull the video from the URL.

Every video on YouTube is hosted somewhere and third-party tools can use a script to rip the video from the host and convert it to the MP4 format.

It allows you to download YouTube videos so that you can watch them whenever you please. Many people like to do this to make watching certain videos more convenient. 

Using such tools will be easy even if you aren’t a tech-savvy person. This isn’t a complicated process.

If you understand enough to be able to copy a link and paste it into a box, then you’re all set. It allows anyone to rip YouTube videos and watch them at their leisure offline. 

What’s the Point of Doing This?

Some might wonder what the point of downloading YouTube videos is. That’s fair since YouTube videos are free except for the movies that you can rent on the platform.

If all of the videos are free, then why wouldn’t you watch them on YouTube? Some say it’s more convenient to download the videos and watch them offline.

If you download the videos, then you won’t have to be online to watch them. You can watch them on your computer or smartphone whenever you want.

Also, some people find the ads on YouTube annoying. If you don’t want to pay for a premium subscription to get rid of the ads, then downloading the videos will make it simple to get rid of them. 

You can cut out ads completely when using the right set of third-party tools.

However, please consider that when you download a video from your favorite creator you’ll take away their livelihood! Creating good content on YouTube for you to enjoy take hours and it isn’t free. Consider if it isn’t better to support the creator instead.

Downloading as backup

Another thing to consider is that you might want to download YouTube videos for posterity.

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Some YouTube videos might get taken down for one reason or another. Content creators might remove content if they decide that it isn’t right for the channel any longer. 

Downloading your favorite videos can be a way to ensure that you always have access to them.

For many, this is going to be an appealing option. You should know that doing this is a bit shady, though.

But as I said in the introduction, downloading your own videos as MP4 to create a local backup can be the only way to retrieve them, if you’ve lost your login.

It’s Illegal to Do This

Understand that downloading YouTube videos for your own personal use is illegal. Doing this breaches the terms of service for the YouTube website.

If you choose to move forward, then you’re technically breaking the law. Many people download YouTube videos using the methods laid out above, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. 

Unless you’re the person who made the content, that content doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the creator of the content and it is only meant to be uploaded to YouTube.

If you wish to support your favorite content creators on the platform, then it’d be better to watch their videos on YouTube itself. This ensures that they will receive payment due to the videos being monetized on the platform. 

It’s possible that YouTube could choose to sue you if you download their videos and have them converted into MP4 format.

Consider YouTube Premium Instead

If you’re not comfortable with breaking the law to enjoy YouTube videos more conveniently, then there might be another option.

You could always sign up for YouTube Premium.

One of the perks of signing up for YouTube Premium is that you can download videos to watch them offline. 

Perhaps you have a trip coming up and you’d like to watch videos on the plane. If you’re a YouTube Premium member, then you’ll easily be able to do this.

You can save videos and they’ll download to your phone or laptop. This allows you to watch them even though you’re in airplane mode. 

How to Download Videos Using YouTube Premium

To download videos using YouTube Premium, just start watching a video. Tap “download” below the video player. You’ll be able to select the quality of the video as well. Once the video has been downloaded, you’ll be able to watch it. 

You can find downloaded videos in the downloads folder of either your smartphone or your laptop. It’s easy to navigate to the videos and start enjoying them offline.

Having a YouTube Premium membership is very convenient when you’re going on a trip. Other streaming services offer downloads like this as well. 

Note that these videos aren’t true downloads that you can keep forever. It’s more like a rental that you can use for a certain period of time. The video won’t play for you after a certain amount of time has passed.

That’s why the only true way to download the videos and keep them forever is to use the illegal option. 

The Cost and Benefits of YouTube Premium

You’ll have to pay to get YouTube Premium. As of the time of writing, YouTube Premium costs $11.99 US.

It might be possible to get a free one-month trial to see how you like the service.

If you’re an avid YouTube viewer, then it’s likely going to be worthwhile to have a YouTube Premium membership. 

It makes it possible to download videos to view them offline as mentioned above. There are other reasons why it’s convenient to have as well.

Also, you won’t see any ads during videos.

You also get YouTube Premium music so that you can play all of your favorite songs while on the go.

Many people use this service instead of Spotify or Apple Music. If you’re a music lover, then it’ll be another great benefit of having a YouTube Premium membership.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide whether it is worth the price. 

In Closing

You’ve learned how to download YouTube videos as MP4 files. It’s surprisingly easy to do, but it’s also not technically legal.

YouTube doesn’t seem to go after people who download their videos using third-party tools. It’s up to you whether you want to download the videos illegally or not. 

If you’d rather keep things on the up and up, then you can sign up for a YouTube Premium membership. This allows you to download videos and watch them offline.

However, the videos are temporary and you’ll lose access to them eventually.

Regardless, it’s a convenient option for anyone who wants to be able to watch videos on airplanes while also enjoying an ad-free YouTube experience.