Software, Technology

Review: Free YouTube Downloader


HOW's Free YouTube DownloaderYou want to save a bit of YouTube video, but can’t work out where it caches the flash video played on your browser – not since YouTube changed the way it embeds video on the site, anyway.

So you want a YouTube downloader. There are many, free and paid, offering convenience and utility; grab and save video from YouTube’s vast archives.

HOW’s Free YouTube Downloader not only downloads videos from YouTube but also converts and saves them in a variety of common file formats. But the installer should come with a health warning.

Danger, Will Robinson!
As is increasingly common, you download a small stub installer file to your machine, which you then run and which will then proceed to download the rest of the installer.

The downside is the amount of Ad-ware that it will side-load unless you un-tick EVERY licence agreement and option box other than the main one for the Downloader. Thanks to the additional three optional license checks in the version I installed, covering various toolbars and other desktop ‘utilities’, this downloader has a reputation for Malware, Trojan’s and Viruses.

I’ve scanned it with virus checkers and found no such thing; what you will get if you accept all the licenses is a lot of crapware installed that is a pig to remove; between the browser toolbars and extra desktop shortcuts, quick launch icons and several folders full of ad-ware, it’s not tidy. But stay alert, read all the installed screens, un-check the relevant boxes to reject the add-ons and you can get a clean install that doesn’t violate your privacy, litter your desktop, hi-jack your browser and generally annoy you.

The Downloader
Minus the ad-ware, HOW’s Free YouTube Downloader is a great free utility. It converts at several quality levels, including HD quality – but don’t expect it to add HD quality if the source file was captured from VHS! It doesn’t perform miracles.

HOW's Free YouTube Downloader settingsFree YouTube Downloader’s has a simple set of options and a minimal user interface by which to quickly configure downloads.

Browse to a YouTube page, copy the URL and pasted it into Free YouTube Downloader’s entry field. You can then select the output format, from standard and high quality up to HD and Full HD. You can also browse, select and add your own files to convert.

Under Settings, you can select the always-on-top option to keep an eye on things. You will probably need this, since the program can’t give you an estimated time to complete; it’s far too complex an operation to calculate actual download and conversion time given the variables of Internet connection, input and output formats. You can set default output folder, simultaneous download and conversion, and language options.

The browser-based Help file provides screenshots should you not understand how to use it, although any user with half a brain should be able to work it out.

Selection made, press Download and the program will begin. If you selected ‘view when complete’ it will attempt to play it; if you have the codecs to write the file formats, you should have a player that can play them; although not necessarily the one you expected – you may need to change your player defaults.

It’s simple, it’s easy and it works – just be watchful of ALL the installer screens and don’t side-load any garbage you don’t want. AJS

Free YouTube Downloader
Version: 3.5.134
File size: 143.37K
Date added: January 16, 2013
Price: Free
Operating system: Windows Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8
Total downloads running at 24,352,459

Related: How-to: Get Public Domain Images Free

About Allan J. Smithie

Allan J. Smithie is a journalist and commentator based in Dubai.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Review: Free YouTube Downloader

  1. Does it need the codecs installed on your machine or does it use a resource online somewhere?

    Posted by Chamma 1989 | February 5, 2013, 6:39 pm
  2. Thank you. All the old methods for saving YouTube directly have now stopped thanks to YT or to changes in browsers. I was always dubious about the downloader apps, provenance, & didn’t know a reliable one, but this works.

    Posted by Newberry | February 8, 2013, 4:19 pm
  3. interesting. thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Cells Hop | February 9, 2013, 1:44 am

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