Download YouTube videos the super simple way

Wouldn’t it be great if the YouTube site had a big Download Video button? It’s actually very simple to make the official site do this.

You can easily download YouTube videos in MP4 format (for playback on iPad, iPhone and other iOS devices). Super easy, super quick, without relying on 3rd party sites or conversion programs. The only requirement is that you use the free Safari browser (which comes standard on your Mac) and an open source Safari Extension. It also works perfectly fine for the Windows version of Safari.

Step 1) Go to:

Step 2) At the bottom of that page, click the Download link in Jonathan’s Readme section.

Step 3) Go to Window > Downloads and double click the YouTube-video-downloader safariextz file. (There will be a version number in the filename. I haven’t bothered adding it here as it’ll probably get updated from time to time.) Click “Install” to confirm.

Step 4) Now go to a YouTube page. Try this Felicity from Thin Air page.

Notice that above the video is a new “Download Video” button? Click it and you’ll be shown a range of options. Click the link for the MP4 file you wish (some videos may have a HD version) and the video will automagically download straight to your computer. (Some very old videos may be provided only in the Flash FLV format, which will require some additional conversion with Handbrake if you need it as a MP4.)

Tip: If you’re seeing a video on a YouTube channel page, you’ll need to jump to the specific video page before the Download Video button shows up.


  • @techieang

    Thanks for the instructions. It will be helpful when doing a presentation.
    My question is about copywrite. Can you download and save a video without breaking copywriter issues?
    I prefer to stream and then I’m not copying a file. I rely on sites like Discovery Education and Learn 360.
    Our board has licensing for these sites and I can download and save videos to use in the classroom.


  • Anonymous

    Hi Angie,

    Copyright is a slippery thing. First of all, there are plenty of YouTube videos that are freely reusable under a Creative Commons licence. I’m assuming you’re not talking about those.

    Now the technical, slippery slope. (-;

    You may not be aware of this, but to stream a video – you ARE actually downloading it. There are two basic types of streaming. One loads the video into the browser and then plays – the other loads bits and pieces of the video and plays as it’s loading. Often the video is downloaded into your browser’s cache (which is on your hard drive), sometimes it’s not.

    So – I don’t have a simple answer for you. It’s technically illegal in terms of copyright in many countries to record a song off the radio as well. Taping a TV show in Australia is technically breaking copyright, but that’s never stopped all the stores selling DVRs and VHS decks for years.

    I regard copyright as basically broken in the 21st century. But that’s a much longer conversation. As someone who is creating a publishing business from scratch, I think it’s smarter to focus on creating value from something else *other* than the intellectual property within content – instead, build ongoing value from community – this attitude is anathema to most publishers, but I think it’s the right way to go in a world where most content is digital and the default attitude people have is to share.

    I don’t have any good general advice for how you should approach it in general. It’s more complicated when you have to consider your school board’s attitude to content that is licensed for specific use. In terms of how copyright holders view such things, in general – they’re concerned about people *up*loading content, rather than downloading content. But of course, when lawyers become involved – it can become very silly. 🙁

    – Ian