When the topic of downloading YouTube videos comes up, there’s a side subject that must be broached: Is it legal?

When it comes to copyright, as long as you’re downloading a video for your own personal offline use, you’re probably okay. It’s more black and white when you consider Google’s terms of service for YouTube, which reads: “You shall not download any Content unless you see a ‘download’ or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content.”

After all, watching YouTube videos offline through unofficial channels takes money out of Google’s pocket and the wallets of the video creators. There’s a reason YouTube runs pre-roll ads: people make a living that way.

So, let’s be clear, taking video from YouTube is a big no-no. If you want to share a video, YouTube makes it pretty damn easy to do, from embedding to emailing to sharing via social networks. You don’t really need to download a video most of the time. But maybe you have your reasons. We won’t judge. If you must download a YouTube video—absolutely need to, just for yourself, and not for dissemination, and not to be a total douche-nozzle—here’s how.

[Note: This story is updated frequently as the tools involved change regularly. Some of those changes are not always pleasant, such as software so full of “extras” it gets flagged as malware by antivirus tools. The same goes for the helper websites—a change in the advertising network used by the site can also create issues with malware. The programs, services, and sites in this story are all working spam/virus/problem free as of this writing, but caveat emptor. Big time….

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