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Can You Download YouTube Videos to Watch Offline?

In our increasingly digital world, we seemingly have access to high-speed internet everywhere we go. But of course there are some exceptions – plane travel, train travel, or those fun road trips out to the middle of nowhere.  

When you’re in those spaces, with seemingly nothing else to do, sometimes you want to be able to watch a video. If you’re used to downloading YouTube videos, then you’re likely wondering if you can download YouTube videos to watch offline in those cases where you have no internet.  

While the short answer is yes, there are a few more in-depth areas to dig into and a few steps to take to get it done right.  

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Why Would Anyone Want to Download YouTube Videos? 

Maybe you’re just curious why anyone would even want to download YouTube videos.  

Why Would Anyone Want to Download YouTube Videos?

Maybe you never go into remote areas, or you’re not on a plane often, or you’ve never taken a train and don’t plan to.  

But there are actually other reasons to download YouTube videos, like being able to avoid the annoying buffering process you have to endure when the internet is kind of shoddy or avoiding those annoying ads that pop up just when you get to the good part of a video. Those reasons are good enough to want to just download the video and enjoy it.  

Avoiding YouTube Buffering 

Buffering is probably more irritating than having no internet at all.  

When you download the video directly to your device, it stores the video there in its entirety, and you never have to worry about slow internet, and by extension, buffering.  

Skipping Past YouTube Ads 

The other bonus to downloading a YouTube video is you can skip forward and backward at your leisure at any point. This means you can skip past those ads you’d rather not see.  

Saving a Video that Could Be Deleted by the Publisher 

Finally, it is helpful to know that anyone who posts a YouTube video to the platform can also delete it at anytime, which means you will lose access to it online.  

So, if you have found a video on YouTube that you love and keep coming back to, and it’s a legal copy, you can download it and have access to it for as long as you store it on your device.   

You never have to worry about the publisher pulling the proverbial rug out from under you.  

Steps for Legally Downloading YouTube Videos to Watch Later 

Note before you continue that this article addresses legal ways to download YouTube videos that comply with the platform’s conditions and federal law. 

Steps for Legally Downloading YouTube Videos to Watch Later 

There are of course illegal hacks and tricks to downloading YouTube videos that violate these terms, but you won’t find them here. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the wrong place.  

To download YouTube videos legally, you need to be sure you have a YouTube Premium account.  

To set up YouTube Premium:  

  1. Open the YouTube app on your computer or device. 
  2. Sign in to your Google Account. 
  3. Select your profile picture. 
  4. If you’re eligible, you can get started with a trial membership. If not, simply tap Get YouTube Premium. 

Note that there are obviously costs involved with having a YouTube Premium account. The general membership runs $119.99 for a year. You can also get a student account for $6.99 a month, but you have to be able to prove you’re a student.  

Those costs are totally worth it, though, if you’re a regular YouTube user, especially if you plan to download videos. You also get access to YouTube music, so if you’re one who listens to a lot of tunes, it is likely well worth it.  

Once you have opened a premium account, you can download any video you watch that has been legally uploaded.  

Watching a Downloaded YouTube Video 

Downloading a video from YouTube is easy. You just click on the download button while watching the video.  

Watching your downloaded YouTube video can be tricky if you’ve never done it, but if you follow these steps, you should have no trouble.  

  1. Go to your YouTube account. 
  2. Click on your Library. 
  3. Select Downloads from your list of options.  
  4. Choose your downloaded video to watch.  

What About Downloading YouTube Videos Using Apps Like VNC? 

This is a great question. The VNC app does make it easy to download videos, but it is worthy of its own article, so we won’t be covering it in this one.  

Is It Legal to Download YouTube Videos to Watch Later? 

As of the publication of this article, downloading articles on YouTube to watch offline later is not illegal. There have been no court cases that explicitly forbid it, and YouTube allows it.   

Is It Legal to Download YouTube Videos to Watch Later?

Is Downloading YouTube Videos to Watch Later a Breach of Terms of Service? 

Obviously, downloading YouTube videos to watch later offline is not a breach of terms of service. It is the entire purpose of their premium account.  

Essentially, what their agreement says is that you are allowed to download YouTube videos to watch later offline as long as you are using their site and have a YouTube Premium account.  

Makes sense.   

You can access their full terms of service here 

What About Just Downloading a YouTube Video for Personal Use? 

So many people think the way around breaching terms of service is the argument that they are doing what they are doing (like downloading a video to watch offline) for “personal use” rather than commercial use.  

What About Just Downloading a YouTube Video for Personal Use?

The bottom line is that no matter why you are doing it, if you are not doing it through the premium account, you are violating the terms of service. 

There is no way around it.  

So, What’s the Answer? Can I Download YouTube Videos to Watch Offline? 

Yes. The ultimate answer to whether you can download YouTube videos is yes.  


To do it according to the terms of service, you must have a YouTube premium account.  

Are there other, less above-board ways to download YouTube videos? Surely.  

Should you go that route? That is entirely up to you.  

Just know that when you do, you are doing it at your own risk.  

Thank you for reading this article. Please take the time to share your own thoughts and experiences on the YouTube video download issue in the comments section below.