Can you download YouTube videos as audio?

Downloading YouTube videos as audio refers to converting a YouTube video file into just the audio portion in an audio format like MP3. There are a few key reasons why someone may want to download a YouTube video as audio only:

1. To listen to the audio offline – By downloading just the audio portion of a YouTube video, you can save it and listen offline when you don’t have an internet connection.[1]

2. To save storage space – Audio files take up much less storage space than video files. Downloading the audio only allows you to save the content without taking up as much space.[2]

3. For music playlists – Many people use YouTube to listen to music. Downloading just the audio allows you to create playlists or listen on a music player.

4. For podcasts or audio clips – You may want to extract the audio from videos containing podcasts, speeches, interviews or other audio-focused content.

In summary, downloading the audio from YouTube videos can provide more flexibility in how you listen to and save audio content from the platform offline.

Is It Legal?

Downloading YouTube videos and converting them to audio without permission is generally considered illegal according to YouTube’s terms of service. YouTube explicitly states in their terms that “You shall not download, rip, scrape, encode, or republish any Content unless You are explicitly permitted to do so by the Service or by prior written consent from YouTube” (Source). This means that users are prohibited from downloading videos or extracting the audio from videos without YouTube’s consent. Violating these terms could potentially lead to legal action being taken.

There are some limited exceptions, such as downloading for personal, non-commercial use or “fair use” purposes like education or commentary. However, in general it is advisable to avoid downloading YouTube videos or audio without permission to avoid potential copyright infringement claims. The safest approach is to only download and convert YouTube videos to audio if you have express consent from the copyright holder.

Methods to Download YouTube Videos as Audio

There are several methods available to download YouTube videos as audio MP3 files. The most popular options include:

Online video to MP3 converters – Websites like YtMp3 and ToMP3 allow you to enter a YouTube video URL, convert it to MP3, and download the audio file. These converters are free, easy to use, and fast.

Browser extensions – Extensions like Video DownloadHelper for Firefox and Chrome allow you to download YouTube videos in MP3 format right from your browser. Just install the extension, visit YouTube, and click the download button.

Mobile apps – Apps like Snaptube and Videoder for Android give you the ability to download YouTube videos as MP3 files directly on your phone or tablet. This allows you to listen to YouTube audio offline.

Desktop software – Downloaders like 4K Video Downloader and Freemake Video Converter can be installed on your computer to download YouTube videos and convert them to MP3 audio files.

YouTube subscription services – Paid services like YouTube Music and YouTube Premium let you download YouTube audio tracks for offline listening without video.

While the easiest option is using an online converter, the others provide more flexibility and options for managing your downloaded YouTube audio library.

Pros of Downloading as Audio

There are several benefits to downloading YouTube videos as audio files rather than streaming them or downloading the full video file:

  • Saves storage space – Audio files take up much less storage than video files. This allows you to store more audio tracks on your device compared to video files.
  • Listen offline – Downloaded audio files can be accessed without an internet connection. This makes it easy to listen on the go when you don’t have WiFi or mobile data.
  • Portability – Audio files are small and highly portable. You can easily transfer them between devices or carry lots of audio on a small media player.
  • Better for audio-only listening – You don’t need the video component when listening to music or podcasts. Downloading just the audio saves data usage and battery life.
  • Avoids distractions – Listening to audio avoids the visual distractions of a video. You can focus purely on the sounds.
  • Customizable MP3 tags – Downloaded audio allows you to edit ID3 tag data like artist, album, title. This makes library organization easier.

In summary, downloading YouTube videos as audio has advantages like lower file size, offline playback, portability, less data usage, and better music/podcast listening compared to downloading the full video file.

Cons of Downloading as Audio

While downloading YouTube videos as audio files can be convenient, there are some downsides to be aware of:

Lower audio quality – The audio from YouTube videos is often compressed and may not be as high quality as the original audio file. Converting to MP3 can further reduce audio quality.

Missing visuals – When you download just the audio, you lose the video imagery that often enhances the viewing experience. This is especially relevant for music videos, performances, tutorials, and other visual content.

Potential copyright issues – Downloading audio from YouTube videos without permission can violate copyright law. YouTube’s terms of service prohibit downloading videos.

No subtitles or captions – Any subtitles, captions, or text embedded in the original video will not be included when downloading just the audio. This reduces accessibility.

Difficult to cite sources – When sharing information or quotes from downloaded audio, it can be challenging to properly cite the original video source.

Use of storage space – Audio files can quickly consume device storage space, especially if downloading many YouTube videos.

Time consuming – It takes time to find the appropriate audio conversion software, download the video, and convert to the desired audio format.

Risk of viruses or malware – Downloading from unreputable sites raises the risk of infecting your device with viruses or malware.

How to Download from YouTube

There are a few different methods to download YouTube videos as audio files. Here are step-by-step instructions for some popular options:

Using an online converter:

  1. Go to a YouTube to MP3 conversion site like
  2. Copy and paste the URL of the YouTube video you want to download
  3. Select MP3 as the desired format
  4. Click the “Convert” or “Download” button to start the process
  5. When finished, download the MP3 file to your computer

Using desktop software:

  1. Install a YouTube to MP3 converter program like Freemake Video Downloader
  2. Copy and paste the YouTube video URL into the program
  3. Choose MP3 as the output format
  4. Click the “Download” or “Convert” button
  5. Find the downloaded MP3 file on your computer

Using VLC Media Player:

  1. Install VLC Media Player on your computer
  2. Copy the YouTube video URL and open it in VLC
  3. Under Media, click Convert/Save
  4. Select MP3 as the profile
  5. Click Start to begin the conversion
  6. Find the MP3 file in your designated save folder

Tips for Downloading

Here are some tips for getting the highest quality audio when downloading YouTube videos:

Choose a high-quality video source. Look for videos that are 720p or 1080p resolution to ensure the best audio quality. Avoid lower resolutions like 480p.

Opt for a lossless audio format like FLAC or WAV if you want the full quality audio. Lossy formats like MP3 will be smaller files but slightly lower quality.

Use a dedicated YouTube downloader tool rather than an online converter. Software like 4K Video Downloader will give you more format options and higher quality results.

Organize your downloads into folders by artist, album, or genre. This will make it easier to find and manage your audio files later.

Add proper ID3 tags to each file including title, artist, album, year, and other metadata. This will ensure your music library is properly organized.

Consider downloading the description or subtitles as well. This can provide useful tracklists, lyrics, or notes to complement the audio.

Alternatives to Downloading

Instead of downloading YouTube videos as audio files, there are other ways to listen to YouTube audio content without actually downloading the videos. Here are some alternatives to consider:

Use YouTube’s built-in music streaming application, YouTube Music. This allows you to stream full songs, albums, playlists, and music videos from YouTube without ads. You can also download songs for offline listening with a YouTube Music Premium subscription.

Create playlists of your favorite YouTube music videos or channels so you can easily stream them anytime. YouTube allows you to make public playlists to share or private playlists just for your own streaming.

Use third party apps and services that allow streaming of YouTube audio content. Options like Spotify, Pandora, and have integration with YouTube so you can access audio content without downloading videos.

Subscribe to YouTube channels featuring music content you like. This makes it easy to access new music uploads from those channels through your YouTube subscriptions feed.

Streaming options allow you to listen to YouTube audio content on-demand without actually having to download audio files. Playlists and subscriptions also help you organize and access your favorite YouTube music videos without downloading them.

Copyright & Fair Use

Downloading videos from YouTube raises important questions around copyright law and fair use. In general, YouTube videos are protected by copyright and downloading them directly violates that copyright according to YouTube’s policies. However, there are some exceptions.

Under the doctrine of fair use, limited portions of copyrighted works may be used for purposes like criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, and research without permission from the copyright holder. Personal, noncommercial uses like downloading a YouTube video for your own offline viewing may qualify as fair use depending on the specific facts of the situation. But systematic downloading of full YouTube videos just to avoid ads or having to stream them is not likely to be considered fair use.

The legality of third-party YouTube downloaders and converters is questionable. While their creators may claim fair use, many legal experts argue they enable copyright infringement on a mass scale. Before using any third-party YouTube downloading tool, it’s important to carefully consider copyright law and fair use.


In summary, there are a number of benefits as well as drawbacks to downloading YouTube videos as audio files. The main advantages are being able to listen to audio content offline, save audio from videos you want to preserve, and avoid wasting mobile data or bandwidth streaming videos for the audio. However, it does raise copyright concerns, can be time consuming, and you lose the video component. Overall, downloading YouTube as audio can be a useful option for music, podcasts, audiobooks and other audio-focused content – but be sure to do so legally and ethically.

The key reasons one may want to download YouTube audio include building an offline music collection, listening to podcasts or audiobooks without video, and saving audio from videos they want to keep. However, it’s critical to avoid copyright infringement, properly credit creators, and follow fair use guidelines. With the right methods and intent, downloading YouTube as audio can provide benefits – but be an informed and respectful user.

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