Downloading YouTube Videos in macOS

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If you want to save videos from YouTube, there are a plethora of macOS utilities to do so. Here are four of the best.

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I’ve been using “VIdeo Download Helper” with Firefox, and later, with Chrome. Unfortunately, it seems that much content I’m interested in saving locally (even if just temporarily), is no longer in the form of a complete, quickly downloadable media file. Lately finding things being fed in streaming formats, which sequentially send little <100kB chunks. Even if the “helper” app could consolidate those, you’re basically doing a “real-time” recording, much as if you were using a screen capture app. Have not checked to see if any of the suggested apps can get around this.

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I suppose if you have a need to buy the $100 app for some other reason, you could use ScreenFlow to capture them live and have editing/export capabilities afterwards.

You could also use the screen capture features of Mojave. Command-Shift-5, draw a box around the video, choose Record Selected Portion, and click Capture.

Josh, is this the 4K Video Downloader you mention in the article?

There’s no link in the article…



Yes, that’s it. I added a link in the article.

Josh, you haven’t noticed MediaHuman app, it has a lot more features and best of all you can subscribe to playlist updates, not only channels.

I’ve been using 4K Video Downloader for a few years now, and love that I can feed it a track or playlist URL and leave it running in background while I do other stuff, until it pings to let me know it’s finished. I then have Hazel pick up the MP3 files and import them into iTunes.

We were able to download a video as you described, but Quicktime is grayed out when we try to use it to open it. It opens fine with Firefox, but not Quicktime. We used Homebrew to download it.

Are we missing something?

It’s possible that the original is in a format QuickTime can’t read. Try a third-party video player like IINA or VLC, or download it with a utility that lets you change the format to MP4.

I’ve been using JDownloader for more years than I can remember to download Youtube videos. It’s cross-platform, free, multilingual, updated frequently, and offers excellent support. It can also download many other types of media and files. For Youtube, it has the ability to download both playlists and channels, either in their original resolution or one of the user’s choosing. It can also download only the audio track, the cover image, and/or the description text. It can be found at

I’ve been using the free MacX YouTube Downloader for years with good success:

This one is great - thanks for the tip!


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G’day Folks,

I copy the video URL in Safari, open new network source in VLC, paste the URL, open the VLC Media Information window, copy the info in the Location field and finally paste that into Downloads in Safari.

Cheers, Gobit

Josh, thank you for a great article. You didn’t mention online downloader, free to use without any limits. Also, the user can install a browser extension, Savefrom Helper. Here is an instruction for Safari browser:


Josh, can you recommend any Youtube clients / app for macOS? I’d love to have a real dedicated app on the desktop…

Currently I use a Nativeifier site-as-an-app, which works decently, but i’m always looking for something better :wink:



IINA can play YouTube videos. See “Prepare for Apple Dropping Old Media Formats with the IINA Video Player,” 6 May 2019.

It’s possible that YouTube will bring its iPad app to the Mac when Catalina ships.

youtube-dl is my favourite, and if you use the curl command you are up and running in 2 minutes sudo curl -L -o /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl
I use youtube-dl -f mp4 when I want to be able to play it on iPad and iPhone. I would not bother with Homebrew except if I needed other packages.

I use iTube Studio regularly to grab videos for my volunteer class just in case the wi-fi isn’t working that day. Works great.

I use “Download Video” tool from Parallels Toolbox.
Love all the helpful stuff it does for me and they just keep adding more utility as time goes on.