How to download free music from YouTube?

YouTube has become one of the most popular platforms for streaming music online. With over 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube offers access to official music videos, live performances, covers, remixes and more. However, the rights of music streaming on YouTube can sometimes be unclear.

While users are free to access music content uploaded to YouTube, downloading audio or video files directly may infringe copyright in some cases. YouTube provides licenses that allow rights holders to monetize or remove content containing their music if unauthorized. Understanding the line between fair use and copyright infringement is important when considering how to download and use YouTube audio legally.

Is it Legal?

The legality of downloading YouTube videos for personal use is a bit of a gray area. Technically speaking, YouTube’s Terms of Service prohibit downloading videos from the platform. However, many legal experts argue that downloading videos for personal, non-commercial use should fall under fair use copyright principles. According to one analysis, “It is typically acceptable to download YouTube videos for personal use or with the intent to remix or transform the content under fair use” [1]. The key factors are that the downloads are for private home use, not public distribution or commercial profit. There are also reasonable arguments that simply downloading a video constitutes fair personal use, similar to recording a TV show for later viewing.

That said, YouTube may still object to downloading based on its Terms of Service. The risk of legal action is low, but YouTube could potentially block a user account if it detects excessive downloading activity through its servers. Many copyright holders also petition YouTube to take down videos they feel infringe on their rights. So while a reasonable case can be made for personal downloads being legal, there are no absolute guarantees and users proceed at their own discretion.

Methods to Download YouTube Videos

There are several methods you can use to download videos from YouTube for free:

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions or plugins allow you to download YouTube videos directly from the YouTube site. Some popular browser extensions include VideoHunter, AceThinker, and Leawo. These extensions add a “Download” button to YouTube, allowing you to easily save videos in MP4 or other formats.

Online Converters

Online video converters let you paste in a YouTube URL and convert the video to a downloadable file. Some recommended online converters are OnlineVideoConverter, VideoProc, and ClipConverter. These sites convert to common formats like MP3, MP4, AVI, and more.

Desktop Apps

Desktop apps provide robust options for downloading YouTube videos. Top options include 4K Video Downloader, WinX YouTube Downloader, and Freemake Video Downloader. These tools let you customize resolution, format, playlists and more.

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions, also called add-ons, are a convenient way to download audio from YouTube videos directly in your web browser. Extensions add extra functionality to browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Edge. There are several good extensions specifically designed for downloading media from YouTube and other sites.

To use a browser extension, you first need to install it to your browser. The installation process is quick and easy. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Chrome Web Store, Firefox Add-ons site or other browser extension library.
  2. Search for “YouTube downloader” extensions. Look at ratings and reviews to find a reputable one.
  3. Click “Add to Chrome”, “Add to Firefox” or the equivalent installation button.
  4. A dialog will appear, click “Add Extension” to confirm installing it.
  5. That’s it! The extension is now installed and ready to use.

Once installed, you’ll see a new icon added to the top right of your browser window. When on YouTube, find the video you want to download from. Click the extension’s button, choose your audio format and quality, and click “Download”. The extension will extract just the audio and save it to your computer.

Browser extensions provide a quick and easy way to download audio from YouTube. They integrate right into your browser, so no separate apps to install. Extensions like YouTube MP3, VideoDownloadHelper, and AudioOnly YouTube Downloader are some good options to check out.

Online Converters

Online YouTube converters allow you to paste a YouTube URL and convert the video to MP3 audio files. Some popular sites include Y2Mate, OnlineVideoConverter, FLVTO, etc. While convenient, using these free online converters does come with some risks:


  • Easy and fast way to download YouTube audio
  • Works on any device with an internet browser
  • No need to install any software


  • Questionable legality (may violate YouTube’s Terms of Service)
  • Lower audio quality than the original video
  • Potential security/malware risks from untrustworthy sites (according to this Medium article)
  • Limited control over file format and metadata

Overall, online YouTube converters provide a quick and easy way to download audio from YouTube videos. However, the legal uncertainty, security risks, and quality issues may make them a less than ideal solution for many users.

Desktop Apps

Some of the most popular and easy to use YouTube downloaders are desktop applications you can install on your Windows or Mac computer. They provide a simple interface to find, download, and convert YouTube videos in high quality formats like MP4. Some good options include:

4K Video Downloader ( is a free open source app that makes it easy to download videos, playlists, channels, and subtitles from YouTube and other sites. It has advanced options like downloading entire YouTube playlists and channels in bulk. 4K Video Downloader works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Free YouTube Download ( is another free desktop app for Windows and Mac. It can download HD, 4K, and 8K videos from 1000+ sites. You can convert downloads to MP3 and download entire playlists or channels. It also has options for scheduling and automating downloads.

Desktop apps like these offer an ad-free way to download videos from YouTube and other streaming sites. They give you more control over quality, format, and organization than browser extensions and online converters.

Downloading Playlists

YouTube offers the ability to create playlists, which allow you to organize and save groups of videos to watch later. If you want to download an entire YouTube playlist to watch offline, there are a few different methods you can use.

One option is to use a free online YouTube playlist downloader like Y2Down. These sites allow you to simply copy and paste the URL of any public YouTube playlist and download the full list of videos with just a couple clicks. The videos can be saved in different formats like MP3 audio or MP4 video.

There are also desktop apps like Aimersoft YouTube Downloader that let you paste in multiple playlist URLs and batch download all the videos. These types of apps give you more control over video formats and quality options.

Some YouTube playlist downloader browser extensions like Easy YouTube Video Downloader also offer the ability to download full playlists from YouTube. After installing the extension, you can go to any playlist page and click the extension icon to download all the videos.

When downloading full YouTube playlists, be mindful of copyrights. It’s generally recommended to avoid re-uploading or distributing the downloaded videos without permission. Downloading for personal offline viewing is considered more acceptable under fair use.

Converting Downloads

Once you have downloaded YouTube videos to your computer, you may want to convert them to other formats for convenience. One popular format is MP3, which allows you to listen to just the audio track on your mobile devices.

There are many free online converters and desktop apps that can convert your YouTube downloads to MP3. For example, offers an easy to use online tool to convert videos to MP3. You simply upload your video file, select MP3 as the output, and download the converted file.

To move the MP3 files to your mobile device, connect it to your computer via USB and use the file manager to transfer the files over. You can then listen to the audio offline on your phone or tablet. Some apps like Wondershare UniConverter also allow you to convert and transfer YouTube downloads directly to mobile devices.

Converting to MP3 can reduce file sizes and make it easier to listen to YouTube audio on the go. Just be sure to only download and convert videos you have the rights to use.

Quality and Format

When downloading videos from YouTube, you can choose the quality and format of the downloaded files. This allows you to balance file size with quality. For example, a 720p video will look decent but take up much less space than a 4K version of the same video.

Most YouTube downloaders let you select the quality, like 720p, 1080p, 4K etc. Some tools like 4K Video Downloader even let you download the highest available quality, so you always get the best version. This is useful to avoid re-downloading videos in higher resolution later if your original file was low quality (Reference: Source).

As for file formats, YouTube videos are usually available as MP4 videos and MP3 audio files. MP4 offers good quality while keeping file sizes manageable. MP3 compresses audio into a small file but loses some quality. Some apps like Freemake Video Downloader also allow downloading files in other formats like AVI, MOV, and MKV (Reference: Source).

The optimal download settings depend on your specific needs. For casual viewing on phones or tablets, 720p or 1080p MP4 files work well. For archiving or watching on a TV or monitor, 4K quality ensures maximum detail. Testing different settings can help identify the best combination of quality and file size.


While it’s easy to download music from YouTube, it’s important to be mindful of copyright law and licensing restrictions around that content. There are options to download YouTube music through browser extensions, online converters, or desktop apps, which allow you to get audio in MP3 or other formats. Downloading full playlists is possible too. Just remember that the audio quality may vary, so consider adjusting settings as needed or doing some conversions to get the best results.

In the end, make sure to use any downloaded content legally and ethically. Support artists when possible by purchasing or streaming their music through official channels. Be selective when downloading from YouTube, focusing on content that is free to use or where you have permission from the rights holder. With a thoughtful approach, you can enjoy YouTube music downloads while still respecting creative work.

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