[Guide]How to Convert YouTube Videos to MP4 Format for Free

Cheryl Bennett
November 08, 2023 Preview 54 Preview 0
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When it comes to downloading YouTube videos, converting to MP4 format is always the top request. MP4 is not only easy to play with your computer's default players (such as WMP and QuickTime), but also compatible with mobile phones, TVs and any other digital devices, thus can be freely transferred.

So how can we convert YouTube videos to MP4 and save them on the computer? This guide will show you four effective solutions to convert YouTube to MP4 on PC.

 

Ways to Convert YouTube Videos to MP4

MP4 is a common format used on YouTube, so we can use a download tool to directly grab the MP4 file without conversion. However, YouTube offers higher quality formats - like 1080p and above - as separate audio and video streams, and most free tools can only output YouTube MP4 with sound up to 720p HD. So if you desire a full HD resolution or higher, a dedicated YouTube downloader equipped with advanced features is the way to go.

Besides that, each method has its own pros and cons. You’ll learn how to use the download software, open source tools, online converters sites and browser extensions to convert YouTube to MP4 format. You can try with one or several methods to find the best tool for your needs:

Method 1. Use The Best YouTube to MP4 Converter

Desktop software is the optimal choice for converting YouTube to MP4. It offers more quality options when downloading YouTube videos and supports batch process.

iFunia YouTube Downloader is my go to convert YouTube to MP4 on both Windows and Mac. Its copy-n-paste download is as easy as a download site, but much safer and more efficient.

Key features:

  • Download YouTube videos to MP4 with lossless quality up to 8K UHD
  • Convert multiple videos in one click at a high speed
  • Also convert YouTube to WebM and audio-only formats
  • Support 1,000+ YouTube-like websites
  • Clean and simple interface

Follows the steps below to convert YouTube videos to MP4 in high quality:

1. Download and launch iFunia YouTube Downloader on your computer.

Free Download Windows 11/10/8/7 Free Download macOS 10.11 or later

2. Copy the URL of the YouTube video you would like to save from the address bar.

3. Paste the video URL into iFunia, press Enter to parse the link. The video information will be loaded in a few seconds.

paste youtube url

4. Choose a desired video format and resolution from the “Format” drop-down menu, where all available output formats and qualities are displayed, e.g. MP4(AVC) - 1920x1080. The brackets indicate the video codec.

convert youtube to mp4 in bulk

5. Click “Save to” on the bottom to set a save path for the converted files.

6. Finally, click the Download icon on the bottom right corner to start converting YouTube to MP4 in bulk.

 

Method 2. Use Free and Open Source Programs 

Open source programs like VLC media player and command-line tools are also safe and effective options for converting YouTube videos to MP4.

2.1 VLC media player

VLC media player is a popular free and open source player that can stream and convert YouTube videos. But due to its limited capabilities and YouTube restrictions, VLC can only download YouTube videos in 720p or lower.

Follow the step-by-step guide to convert YouTube to MP4 with VLC:

  1. Install VLC if you don’t have it on your computer. It’s available on the official website. Make sure you have the latest version of VLC to avoid problems.
  2. Open VLC, click “Media” on the toolbar and select the “Open Network Stream” option.
  3. Copy and paste the YouTube video link into the empty bar, then click the Play button.stream youtube video in VLC
  4. When playing, go to Tools > Media Information to check the current video information.
  5. In the new window that pops up, find the “Location” URL at the bottom and copy it. You can switch to the Codec tab to find the video resolution.copy url from VLC
  6. Open a browser and paste the copied long URL to the address bar. Press Enter and the video will play in the browser.
  7. Right-click on the video and select a save option such as “Save video as”. Then you can set a filename and download the YouTube video to MP4 file.save youtube to mp4

 Tip: It’s easy to convert local YouTube videos to MP4 or other formats using VLC. Just open VLC, press Ctrl+R, add local file(s) and click “Convert/Save" button to proceed.

Advantages:

  1. Free, open, and secure.
  2. Convert YouTube videos to MP4, MP3, WebM and other popular formats.
  3. Play YouTube videos and songs.

Disadvantages:

  1. Unable to select video output quality.
  2. Require a learning curve.
  3. Convert up to 720p MP4.

 

2.2 Yt-dlp (command-line tool)

Yt-dlp is the upgraded version of the famous open source download project youtube-dl. It’s a command line tool designed to download videos from YouTube and hundreds of other video sites.

Unlike commercial software, yt-dlp doesn’t come with the ability to aggregate audio and video tracks, it can only help convert YouTube to MP4 in 720p or lower resolution. Or you need to install another command line tool FFmpeg to merge audio and video to output higher quality YouTube videos.

Here is how to convert YouTube to MP4 using yt-dlp:

  1. Install yt-dlp from github (https://github.com/yt-dlp/yt-dlp/wiki/Installation). It’s compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux.
  2. Press Win+R to open the “Run” dialog box, type “cmd” and hit Enter to open the Command Prompt.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, Type “cd downloads” and press Enter to navigate to the Downloads folder where you put the yt-dlp.exe.
  4. Type “yt-dlp URL” to automatically download the video in the best quality available. Replace URL with the link address of the YouTube video you want to convert.convert YouTube to MP4 with yt-dlp

 Above is the basic usage of this YouTube converter, and here are some tips and techniques you can use.

  1. Type “yt-dlp -F URL” to see all the formats available for download.
  2. Type “yt-dlp -f format-id URL” to convert the YouTube video to a selected format you want. For example, to download YouTube to MP4 in 720p, just type: yt-dlp -f 22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxxxxxxxxYouTube to 720p MP4 with yt-dlp

Advantages:

  1. Offer a high speed.
  2. Download videos from many video sites other than YouTube.

Disadvantages:

  1. Can’t download YouTube in higher quality on its own.
  2. Difficult to master the command-line prompts for beginners.

Method 3: Use Online YouTube Converter Websites

Browser-based tools enable you to convert YouTube to MP4 online without any software. These websites are much the same and simple to use - just paste the URL and choose a format to save. The downside is that most of them contain annoying ads and are not safe to use. Also, you can’t batch download videos online. If you want to try online method, I would recommend a rather special one called Dirpy.

Dirpy is a famous internet DVR (digital video recorder) service that downloads videos from YouTube and other files to MP4. It’s pretty clean, with no ads or malicious redirects. It allows users to download YouTube videos to MP4 or MP3 for free, or upgrade to premium to access more advanced features like 4K resolution.

Steps to convert YouTube to MP4 online with Dirpy:

  1. Visit www.dirpy.com in any browser.
  2. Enter the URL of the YouTube video you want to convert, click the “dirpy!” button to gather information.
  3. In the Record Video section, select the video resolution and format from the drop-down lists. Options marked with * require premium.
  4. Click the “Record Video” button to start converting YouTube to MP4 online.

convert YouTube to MP4 online

Advantages:

  1. Clean and ad-free.
  2. Easy ID3 tag editor.
  3. Also convert YouTube to MP3.

Disadvantages:

  1. Require premium subscription to convert videos longer than 20 minutes and unlock higher quality downloads above HD.
  2. Unable to convert copyrighted YouTube videos.

Other online YouTube to MP4 converters that works:

  1. Catchvideo.net
  2. Loader.to
  3. Youtube4kdownloader.com
  4. Onlinevideoconverter.pro
  5. Y2mate.com
  6. Savefrom.net
  7. Keepvid.to
  8. Videograbber.cc

 

Method 4. Use Browser Extensions

Is it possible to download and convert YouTube to MP4 with a Chrome extension? Yes, but there aren’t many options. Google owns both YouTube and Chrome and has banned extensions in the Chrome Web Store from offering YouTube conversion. Still, we can install a browser extension outside of the store or use another browser, such as Firefox.

4.1 Addoncrop YouTube Video Downloader

YouTube Video Downloader is a free browser extension offered by Addoncrop. It allows you to convert YouTube videos to MP4 in different qualities from 360p to 720p.

Steps to convert YouTube to MP4 on Chrome:

  1. Get YouTube Video Downloader extension from Addoncrop official website. Follow the instructions to install it through Foxified.
  2. Surf to YouTube and open a video you want to convert, a toolbar will be added below the YouTube video player.
  3. Hit the first icon from the toolbar to view all the download options. Select an MP4 format and click on it. The download process will start within the browser.Convert YouTube to MP4 in Chrome

Advantages:

  1. Support Chrome, Firefox, Edge and other popular browsers.
  2. Also convert YouTube to MP3 and download video thumbnails and subtitle files.

Disadvantages:

  1. Higher privacy risk, not reviewed by the Chrome Web Store.
  2. No full HD support.

4.2 Video DownloadHelper

Video DownloadHelper is a powerful Firefox add-on that allows you to convert YouTube videos to MP4 up to 1080p. It supports many video sharing sites and different streaming protocols. It’s also very easy to use.

  1. Install Video DownloadHelper from Firefox Add-on store. This extension has nearly two million users.
  2. Open a new tab and go to a YouTube video, and the extension icon should turn colored when it detects the video.
  3. Click on the extension icon and choose a video format from the list. It will start converting the YouTube video to MP4.

Note: Format options marked “ADP” means the audio and video are separate and the add-on needs to aggregate to a single MP4 file.

convert youtube to mp4 in Firefox

Advantages:

  1. Support a wide range of video sharing sites.
  2. Download YouTube videos in high quality and support many formats.

Disadvantages:

  1. It can take really long time to aggregate YouTube videos.
  2. No batch downloads.

Conclusion on YouTube to MP4

With a variety of options covered in this article, you should know how to easily convert YouTube to MP4 on Windows regardless of your technical skills.

In summary, a dedicated software provides the best MP4 conversion quality and ease of use. Open source tools like VLC and yt-dlp are also free and safe options, but at the cost of a steep learning curve for beginners. Converter websites and browser extensions work as well, but need to be used with caution. Now you can save your favorite YouTube videos as MP4 files for easy playback and archiving at your convenience.

Finally, it is important to respect the video creators’ copyright, that we should only save public domain videos and not use other people's videos without permission.

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Cheryl Bennett
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Cheryl has been writing tutorials, reviews, and how-to articles on consumer apps since 2016. She specializes in multimedia products and is always testing on Mac, PC, and various devices.

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