How to Download YouTube Videos in 4K for Free

How to Download YouTube Videos in 4K for Free


Image for article titled How to Download YouTube Videos in 4K for Free

We’re rapidly entering the era of 4K as the standard resolution, and new 4K content is available on YouTube every day. Unfortunately, you can’t watch these videos offline in full resolution using YouTube’s standard options.

Youtube Premium members ($12/month) can save videos and music to play offline on their phones, but only at a maximum 1080p resolution. YouTube creators can download MP4 versions of their uploaded videos, but only at 720p resolution, max.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to download 4K YouTube videos to watch offline, though. There happen to be several third-party apps that let you download YouTube videos, in full, at their highest resolution possible—including 4K and 8K.

The most reliable of these apps that I’ve come across is 4K Video Downloader for desktop.

4K Video Downloader for Windows 10

4K Video Downloader for Windows 10
Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

It’s free to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is verified virus-free. All versions can download videos at up to 8K resolution (depending on the video’s native resolution, of course), and can extract subtitles for closed-captioned videos. You can even queue up full playlists to download.

The free version has a few limitations to be aware of, however. You can only download 30 videos per day total, only five videos per day from the same channel, and just 10 videos per playlist. It’s also ad-supported. The ads aren’t obstructive, but you’ll see constant banners for other products in the app.

Premium users unlock the ad-free app with unlimited daily downloads and can download up to three videos simultaneously for $15/month. There’s also a “Pro” tier for $45/month that increases the simultaneous download limit to seven and adds in several other features tailored for businesses. However, unless you absolutely need the increased daily allowances, I would suggest sticking with the free version of the app.

Wait, is it legal to download YouTube videos?

Before we show you how the app works, we need to mention the legality of ripping YouTube videos. While YouTube can’t necessarily tell if someone is downloading videos, it’s technically against YouTube’s terms of service to do so.

However, if you’re just making an offline backup to watch privately, you probably won’t get in trouble. YouTube and Google have yet to crack down on YouTube downloader apps and websites, and have never reprimanded or threatened legal action against the apps’ users.

What will get you in trouble is broadcasting or re-uploading a downloaded video without proper consent or proper credit, or stealing copyrighted content. The severity depends on a video’s license.

Most YouTube content is uploaded under the Standard YouTube License, which means the video is only allowed to be viewed on YouTube via the website or mobile app. You’re not allowed to download, re-upload, or rebroadcast the vast majority of YouTube content without the uploader’s consent. This applies to the vast majority of content on YouTube. However, using a short clip for someone else’s upload as footage for your own video can fall within the bounds of fair use. It’s best to ask for permission first, and, at the least, give them full credit. The original creator can still legally ask you to take down the video, however, especially if you’re monetizing a video that contains their footage.

Some YouTube channels upload their videos under the Creative Commons license that allows people to freely access, broadcast, and reproduce their content without crediting the original uploader. These videos are the safest to download. YouTube’s search filters include a Creative Commons option if you need help finding videos.

This guide has even more explanation on YouTube’s Standard license, Creative Commons, and the differences between them.

Finally, there’s a selection of premium content available on YouTube. It’s illegal to download paid copyrighted material you haven’t purchased, such as music, movies, or even YouTube Premium content—and it’s super illegal to re-upload or broadcast this content. In fact, many of these videos cannot be downloaded by third-party apps in the first place.

So, bottom line: Downloading YouTube videos to watch privately is technically against the rules, but as long as you’re not re-uploading or sharing content without consent—and you’re not stealing premium videos and music—you’re probably in the clear. Okay, with all that info covered, here’s how to use 4K Video Downloader.

How to download YouTube videos with 4K Video Downloader

Image for article titled How to Download YouTube Videos in 4K for Free

Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

  1. First, download and install 4K Video Downloader to your computer.
  2. Open YouTube in a browser. The YouTube PWA also works.
  3. Find the video you want to download.
  4. Copy the video’s link from the URL bar, or from the “Share” button on the video player controls.
  5. Open 4K Video Downloader and click “Paste Link.”
  6. The app will parse the video’s data. This usually takes just a few seconds, but can take longer depending on the size of the video.
  7. Select “Download Video” from the first drop-down box. You can also select “Extract audio” to download just the audio from the video.
  8. Select the video format and quality you want (available video quality options depend on the video’s native resolution).
  9. Use the “Download Subtitles” drop-down box to select subtitles if you want them.
  10. Click “Download.”
  11. Wait for the download to complete. Just like the data parsing in step 6, download time will vary on the size of the video and your internet speed. Most 1080p videos will only take a few minutes to download (depending on length), but 4K videos can require 30 minutes or longer.

Once the video is downloaded, you can click it from the download history feed to watch it. If you want to find and move the file itself, 4K Video Downloader’s download folder is located in This PC > Videos by default.

 



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