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How to Download MP4 YouTube Videos on a Mac

You don't always have an internet connection, and you can't expect YouTube videos to live online forever. So, naturally, there's a lot of demand for ways to convert YouTube videos to downloadable MP4 videos.

But while YouTube provides a way to do this on mobile devices (YouTube Premium), the site offers no official means for saving YouTube clips on a Mac. So, here we'll turn to the unofficial YouTube downloaders for Macs, including the safest option and two free methods.

Wondering what you risk by going against YouTube's rules? We've got an explanation of that at the bottom of the page.

How can I convert YouTube videos to downloadable MP4 files on a Mac?

The ways of circumventing YouTube's rules are neither simple nor are they particularly safe. However, the easiest YouTube downloader that works on Macs is via the website OnlineVideoConverter. Here's how to do it:

1. Copy the URL of a YouTube video.

2. Open OnlineVideoConverter. You may need to decline a request for notifications.

3. Paste in the YouTube URL that you copied in Step 1.

4. Select a file format. As you see here, it defaults to MP4, the format of choice for many.

5. Click More Settings to find resolution options.

6. Select a preferred resolution (larger means crisper videos and bigger files).

7. Uncheck the Convert From and Convert To boxes, and add start and/or end times if you don't want the whole video.

8. Click Start.

9. Click Download.

10. Close the pop-up windows that open. Yes, they might say you need a Flash update, but it's a scam. Nonsense like this is the price you pay for not wanting to spend money on your downloads.

11. Click Leave, because that pop-up is clever.

Your YouTube video has downloaded to your Mac!

How do I capture video from YouTube on a Mac?

You can also take video (without audio) off of YouTube by using the screen-capture tools built in to macOS. On macOS Mojave, hit Command + Shift + 5 to bring up the screen-portion selector, drag and drop the crosshairs to select the video, click the "Record selected portion button," and then click Record. Next, hit Play on your video, and once that's done playing, click the Stop button in the upper right corner.

Which is the best app for downloading YouTube videos on a Mac?

If I knew someone who needed a YouTube downloader and wanted the most trustworthy option, I'd tell them about Parallels Toolbox. This $19.99-per-year software package may not be free, like that web-based OnlineVideoConverter is, but Parallels is the most trustworthy company offering any solution of this sort.

After you install this app on your Mac, you'll open Toolbox (a whole set of utilities) by clicking the Toolbox Menu bar icon. Then, click Download Video. Toolbox will then prompt you to install its Safari extension, which is a great option for users of the Safari browser, but you can skip that part if you live in Chrome — which most people do, by a wide margin.

1. Copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to grab (click in the URL bar, then click Command + A and Command + C).

2. Open the Toolbox menu from the Menu bar.

3. Click Download Video.

4. Here's the Safari plugin option we talked about; let's click Cancel. If you primarily use Safari, however, feel free to click Install and follow those instructions.

5. For options, click the Settings icon.

6. Here, you'll get options for Video Quality.

7. And file destination.

8. Next, hover over the arrow and click Paste to drop your YouTube URL into the utility and start the download.

What about free apps for downloading YouTube videos on a Mac?

Looking for a free alternative? Well, the best free YouTube downloader app on a Mac is Free YouTube Download. Unfortunately, my endorsement here isn't strong, as I wouldn't use this software regularly. I scrubbed it from my computer once I was done testing.

While this program works, it comes with significant caveats. First off, though the basic app is free, you need to pay — $19 per year, the same as Parallels Toolbox, or $29 for life — to download movies longer than 3 minutes.

Next, this app has a lot of characteristics I classify as red flags for any software. Those begin with the fact that it's a free product that lets you do something you're not supposed to do.

MORE: YouTube Music vs. YouTube Premium vs. YouTube Red

Also, it's from DVDVideoSoft, a company that's not very well-known and is therefore hard to trust. I often discourage people from installing apps from obscure companies, because you never know what else the installer will drop onto your computer. Parallels, on the other hand, is a known developer with a very good reputation that's been making quality products for years upon years.

If you download DVDVideoSoft, you'll find it works simply, just like the other options. You just copy and paste a YouTube address into it, then watch as the video lands on your computer.

Breaking YouTube's terms of service

While many want to download YouTube videos, the only way to do so responsibly is on iOS and Android, by paying the $11.99 for YouTube Premium. Otherwise, you're violating YouTube's terms of service, as explained here:

"You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a 'download' or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content."

If you violate the YouTube TOS, the company may terminate your account, as noted here: "YouTube will terminate a user's access to the Service if, under appropriate circumstances, the user is determined to be a repeat infringer."

We've also got you covered when you're mobile. Check out our guides for YouTube downloaders for iPhones and iPads and YouTube downloaders for Androids.

Credit: Tom's Guide