How to Download YouTube Videos on Your Phone

How to Download YouTube Videos on Your Phone
Photo: photobyphotoboy, Shutterstock

Want to watch YouTube videos offline on your smartphone? There are plenty of ways to do so, but it can get a bit confusing to find the right one. Even YouTube’s official download methods vary from region to region, and third-party video download methods keep changing. Here’s how to download YouTube videos on your smartphone.

Should you download YouTube videos from third-party sites?

A word of caution before you proceed: YouTube’s official apps are the only reliable methods for you to download the videos you need. All other methods can stop working at any time, or be taken over by people who don’t care much about your experience (or security).

While we can safely say that you won’t face any issues downloading videos if you’re using YouTube’s apps, the same guarantee doesn’t apply to any of the third-party sites or apps in this article. That said, a good rule of thumb is to expect pop-ups, NSFW ads, and unrelated tabs full of ads opening when you’re downloading YouTube videos from third-party sites.

The most reliable methods to download videos involve using desktop apps such as the excellent 4K Video Downloader, which we’ve recommended before. However, we’re going to focus on ways to download YouTube videos using your smartphone.

How to download videos with YouTube Premium

The best and most reliable way to download YouTube videos for offline viewing is the official one. YouTube Premium is a subscription that also removes ads from YouTube and it gives you the ability to download videos. If these features are valuable to you, then you can subscribe for $14.99 per month.

If you live outside of the U.S., you may be able to download YouTube videos without paying for premium. Check this list to find out where downloading videos works without paying for YouTube Premium. Even if you’re in these regions, it’s worth noting that you may still need YouTube Premium to download some videos that restrict downloads.

To download videos using the official YouTube app, open any video first and tap the Download button below the title of the video. YouTube will ask you about the download quality, so just select the quality you want and tap Download again to save it for offline viewing.

The Download button on the YouTube app. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab) The Download button on the YouTube app. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab)

You can check all downloaded videos quickly by going to the Library tab in the YouTube app and tapping Downloads.

How to download videos with YouTube Go

In some regions, YouTube has released an app called YouTube Go, which also allows you to download videos. This app has been purpose built for affordable Android phones being used in countries with poor connectivity or expensive cellular data plans.

YouTube Go lets you download videos directly to your Android phone’s microSD card too. You can check out the app’s features on Google Play (the link may not work on your device or in your region). Before you download, remember that this is a stripped down version of YouTube. You may not be able to watch live videos and high-resolution clips on this app.

How to download YouTube videos with Apple Shortcuts (iPhone only)

If you have an iPhone, Apple’s Shortcuts app is the Swiss Army knife you should download. The community of iPhone automation enthusiasts has made many great shortcuts, and one of them is called JAYD, short for Just Another YouTube Downloader. Here’s how to download videos using this shortcut.

  1. Download Shortcuts on your iPhone. To be able to run third-party (aka community-made) shortcuts, you need to run any shortcut once.
  2. If you’re not sure how to do that, open the app and go to the Gallery tab.
  3. Scroll down till you see different shortcuts categories such as Essentials.
  4. Tap any shortcut here and select Add Shortcut.
  5. Now go to the My Shortcuts tab in the app and tap the shortcut you just downloaded to run it.
  6. With this done, go to Settings > Shortcuts on your iPhone and enable Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.
  7. You can now download JAYD from RoutineHub (which is a third-party gallery for shortcuts). Be sure to open the website on your iPhone and tap Get Shortcut once on RoutineHub and again on the iCloud.com download page.
  8. This will open the Shortcuts app, where you can scroll to the bottom and select Add Untrusted Shortcut. If you have the know-how, remember to check the steps in the shortcut to verify that it’s safe.
  9. The final step in the setup involves downloading Scriptable, an app that lets you run JavaScript on an iPhone.
  10. With the setup complete, open the YouTube app on your iPhone and go to any video. Now hit the Share button below the video’s title to open a list of apps to share to. Scroll to the right and select More.
  11. This will open the share sheet on your iPhone. Scroll down and select JAYD from the list. It’ll ask if you want to download video or just the audio. You can select Download Video.
  12. You can choose to save the video in your camera roll or in the Files app. Select one, and once the shortcut has run, it’ll open the video for you to view offline.
The JAYD shortcut lets you download YouTube videos on an iPhone. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab) The JAYD shortcut lets you download YouTube videos on an iPhone. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab)

JAYD will periodically ask for permission to access certain websites (to access the video), Scriptable (to finish the download process), and your photo gallery (to save the video). Just allow it permission to access these things as and when it asks.

How to download videos with an online YouTube downloader

The final option to download YouTube videos on your smartphone is by using an online video downloader. Web-based downloaders usually don’t have the full gamut of resolutions for video download. You may often be stuck with a low-resolution video to watch online–but it’s still better than nothing.

I tried a few of these and liked YouTubeVideoDownloader.site. You can open the site, paste the video URL, and tap the orange download button. The site will show you a bunch of resolutions to download the video, but the only useful ones are the blue blocks with the camera icon. Tap any blue block to download the video with audio.

An online YouTube video downloader. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab) An online YouTube video downloader. (Screenshot: Pranay Parab)

The orange blocks have the video minus the sound, and the green blocks will let you download the audio alone.

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