Technology

Published: Sep 20, 2022 | Updated at: Sep 20, 2022

YouTube is one of the most incredible repositories of information available to us today. After so many years of uploaded content, the chances of a video existing that covers exactly what you’re looking for is higher than ever. Wanting to download MP4 files from the site so they’re not lost forever makes good sense, but doesn’t come cheap.

Did you know that around 3.7 million new videos are uploaded to YouTube every day? With figures like that, it’s no wonder YouTube has become the place to go for fast and easily digestible content.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t have a free option to directly download files to view offline, but there are ways to get past that!

If you’re curious about how to download YouTube to MP4 files safely, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out more. 

Be Careful When Looking For Options

It makes sense to want to access YouTube videos on the go, but they don’t make it easy. You'll find that there’s no free download option available. You’ve probably found that right-clicking the video doesn’t help matters.

YouTube makes the majority of its money through advertising. If people were able to download their favorite videos to view offline, their revenue would take a hit. They also don’t want people to be able to easily download their videos and reupload them to competitive streaming websites, but this decision has led to a slew of black market opportunists taking advantage of the unwary.

YouTube has made the decision not to allow free direct access to file downloads, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are several ways to download video and audio files directly to your hard drive, but most are far from dependable. A great many options you’ll see after a quick Google search are actively malicious, designed to seem a safe bet but are stuffed with bloatware, data harvesting software, and viruses.

Be careful. When looking for how to save videos on YouTube, there are programs out there written to steal your personal information. Only ever download reputable software after confirming their reputation personally.

The Safe Approach to Download MP4 Files

People have wanted to download YouTube MP4s from YouTube for as long as YouTube has existed. The trouble is finding a solution that’s simple, straightforward, and reliable.

The absolute best way to download files without any worry of having to deal with shady practices or being duped into downloading malicious software is to use YouTube-DL.

YouTube-DL is a command-line program written and distributed through the public domain, meaning it’s constantly being updated, maintained, and policed as a passion project by savvy individuals. It’s a non-profit project maintained by the community and a core development team over at GitHub. YouTube-DL can be modified and redistributed as you see fit, there are no tricky licensing agreements to navigate, and it's completely free.

Using YouTube-DL

YouTube-DL is available on Linux, Windows, and macOS. No matter the operating system you’re using, YouTube-DL has been designed to work without a hitch.

The whole process has been streamlined and made as simple to follow as possible. If you feel daunted at all, don’t fret. It’s much easier than it looks to save YouTube videos!

For UNIX users, it’s as simple as copying and pasting the installation command found on the GitHub installation instruction page. Windows users can download an .exe file which should be placed in their local disc before being accessed through a command prompt. To access the command prompt window, simply hit your Windows Key + R and type CMD, or search for Terminal on macOS.

Once you’ve got the command prompt open (or Terminal for Mac users), type the path of the folder you downloaded the .exe file to, for example; D:\youtube>youtube-dl.exe. Once you’ve got that path selected, it’s as simple as copying and pasting the URL of the video you want to download.

Here's an example: “D:\youtube>youtube-dl.exe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz3d_I1gDh4”. With your chosen URL copied and pasted into the command line, it’s as simple as hitting enter for your download to begin.

YouTube Premium

For a monthly subscription, YouTube does allow the direct download of videos, but at a price. For $11.99 a month, you can download as many videos as you like, but at a reduced quality. The only settings available at the time of writing are either 720p or 480p, leaving a lot to be desired in terms of fidelity.

That’s quite a lot of money to spend if you’re only going to download MP4 from YouTube a couple of times, especially when free options are available. If you want an immediate solution and don’t mind paying for the pleasure, a premium subscription could be the right decision, especially if you don’t want to familiarize yourself with using simple command lines.

This way, you can download directly from the website itself without any need to download files or copy and paste any URLs.

The Choice Is Yours

Whichever YouTube to MP4 converter you choose, make sure you do it safely. The number of shady websites offering a quick and free alternative to the options listed in this article is growing by the day. Steer well clear of predatory applications to download MP4s, and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

If this article has helped you with your YouTube MP4 download needs, feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We'd love to hear from you!

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