There are lots of ways to download YouTube videos, but what if you want to do it right on your iPhone or iPad without using a laptop or any other device? It’s certainly possible in 2023, with the most obvious method being to use the official YouTube app.
Unfortunately, although this the simplest way – you’ll see a download option below the video you’re watching – it’s locked behind a subscription in many countries. If you’re lucky and can use it in your country, then you already have your answer.
For everyone else, including in the US, UK, Canada and other Western countries, you can either pay the money for a YouTube Premium subscription and download videos the easy way. Or you can read on for the free way.
We’ll get to the specifics in a second, but the process relies on finding a website that can download YouTube videos. Over the years we’ve lost count of the number of downloader websites that have been taken down for breaching YouTube’s Ts & Cs – and copyright in general.
And that’s the biggest problem: YouTube doesn’t want you downloading videos outside of the official app because it makes money from YouTube Premium.
At the time of writing in early 2023, we were able to successfully download videos using the steps below. But if you find the website we mention has been taken down, you’ll need to search around for an alternative.
If you care, you can read about whether it is legal to download YouTube videos.
Install the Documents app
On your device, go to the App Store and search for “Documents by Readdle”. This is a free file management app that’ll let you download YouTube videos.
Go to Documents’ Browser
Once installed, launch Documents, tap through the introductory screens, then tap the bottom-right icon labelled Browser.
This will display a web browser where you should see a YouTube shortcut. Tap it. If you don’t see it, just search for YouTube in the search bar.
Find a YouTube video
Search YouTube for a video you want to download and tap on it so it starts playing. If you can’t think of one, then try Le Flex’s Since You Left Me Lonely. Now tap the Share button below the video and tap Copy in the share options to copy the link to the video.
Paste the video link
This is the step that may not work for you. At the time of writing, it did work. Tap on the URL bar at the top of the screen and delete what’s there. Now type ytload.com and press return on the keyboard.
Tap in the box, then tap a second time to bring up the menu and tap Paste.
The link you copied from YouTube should appear in the box. Now tap Start.
Choose resolution – or just audio
You will see a list that offers various resolutions, so you can choose the quality you want. Resolution may be limited to 1080p, so you might not be able to download the original quality if the video is in 4K. But for watching on an iPhone screen, 1080p is acceptable.
Tap the Download button next to the resolution you want. If you only want the audio – because you’re downloading music – then tap MP3 above the list.
Download the video
After a short wait, a message should tell you the file is ready to download. Now tap Download.
Name the file
You can keep the default name, or choose your own. Shorter names are easier to read later. If you prefer, turn off the Ask me every time toggle and, next time, the file will be downloaded straight away.
Wait for the download
Finally, the video will download to your iPhone or iPad. It’s best to do this via Wi-Fi, not on mobile data as videos can quickly use up your monthly data allowance.
Watch the video
When you want to watch or listen to downloaded videos or music, tap the My Files icon at the bottom left of the Documents app. You’ll see everything you’ve downloaded. Simply tap on the one you want to watch.
One of the real benefits of using the Documents app is that you can swipe down after you start a video playing, and it will continue to play.
You can turn your iPhone off (not completely off – just in standby) and the audio from the video will carry on playing so you can listen to music or podcasts downloaded from YouTube in the background.
Download via PC or Mac
If you can’t use the method above because you can’t track down a working website for downloading YouTube videos, there is an alternative if you have a PC (or a Mac).
Head to the YouTube Converter website and download the version you want – Windows or Mac. The downside is that this app isn’t free – it costs $19.95.
Now only will it download videos from YouTube, it also supports many other sources and can transfer what you download to your iPhone or iPad over Wi-Fi.
Yet another alternative is to use ByClick Downloader which is a bit cheaper. This won’t transfer videos directly to your iPhone or iPad, so you’ll have to do that via iTunes or other software.
To download a video using YouTube Converter 2 or YouTubeByClick, head to a web browser and copy the URL of a YouTube video you want to download. The video will automatically appear in the app and you can copy more URLs and build up a list of videos to download.
You then need to choose the quality for the videos. Although you can select 4K, it’s more sensible to choose 720p or 1080p as no iPhone or iPad yet has a 4K screen, and your chosen video may not even be 4K.
In YouTube Converter 2, click the Convert and Transfer to iPhone button and the videos will be downloaded and transferred to your iPhone’s Videos app. It can take a while, so do this well in advance of needing the videos.
If you download with YouTubeByClick you’ll need to use iTunes or another app that can sync video to your iPhone or iPad.
Apple, Personal Software, Streaming Media