Want to download a YouTube video to your iPad, so you can watch it offline or after the video is taken down? The web is full of great video content, after all, but you haven't always got an internet connection on your iPad, and it's incredibly annoying when something good gets removed from YouTube. You'll need to install a third-party app to do the job for you, but there are free options.

Here's how to download YouTube videos directly to your iPad without involving iTunes. And the best part is that it's free, not to mention refreshingly easy. (Just see the section at the end of this tutorial about legal issues.)

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Download video to iPad: Select and install a downloader app

Neither iOS 7's Safari web browser (if you're browsing the YouTube website) or Google's own YouTube app offer a way to download YouTube videos and save them on the iPad’s storage. There are a number of good reasons for this.

So you'll need to find a workaround. Luckily lots of apps offer to help with this, and some of them are free. Of course, they need to make their money somehow, so you're likely to find that they're festooned with adverts. You'll probably get used to them after a while, but if not, you can always pay a small fee and get the paid-for version of the app.

The app we're going to use in this demonstration is called Video Downloader Lite Super - VDownload, which has worked fine for us and is free (there's also a Premium version which costs £2.49). However, from time to time these kinds of apps are removed from the App Store; if you search for 'youtube download' on the App Store you'll find plenty of alternatives, and most will run in essentially the same way. I would advise looking up the name of alternative apps online, however, just in case there are people complaining about it doing something dodgy.

How to download YouTube videos to iPad

Download video to iPad: Select a video, and save it to memory

Start up the VDownload app by tapping the icon that's appeared on your Home screen. The interface looks quite a lot like YouTube itself, and you can search for videos in much the same way. Tap on the magnifying glass icon and type in your search term. (Alternatively, you can select one of the videos listed in the 'top video' charts below.)

How to download YouTube videos to iPad

When you select a video, the app will immediately give you two options: 'Save to Memory' and 'Cancel'. Tap Save to Memory to, well, save the video to your iPad's memory. It will briefly display a 'loading' status. Tap the Downloads tab along the bottom of the interface to view the videos that are being, or have been, saved.

How to download YouTube videos to iPad

Download video to iPad: View saved videos

To view one of the videos you've saved, simply tap on the video in the Downloads tab. Then tap the green play arrow at the top right of the screen.

How to download YouTube videos to iPad

As you can see, our video is now playing happily even though we're in Airplane mode. What is this sorcery!?

How to download YouTube videos to iPad

Download video to iPad: Is it legal to download YouTube videos?

This is all very easy. But bear in mind in that it's legally - and morally - a bit shady. For a start, the people that create videos on YouTube (which includes Macworld, incidentally) have worked hard on their videos and are entitled to place advertising on them and earn some money. By downloading the video and watching it on a third-party app (with the app maker's adverts, instead of YouTube's) you're preventing Google and the video creator from profiting from their work.

And obviously you absolutely must not attempt to profit from any videos you download for which you don't own the copyright - this is for personal use only. For more discussion of this issue, see 'Is it legal to download YouTube videos?'

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