In a few short years YouTube has managed to become the number one site on the internet for video content. Here you can find everything from technology tutorials to subtitled French cats playing patty-cake, sometimes both at the same time. Most of us have our favourites that we like to show friends when they come over, or share on social networks, but always having to be online to do this seems a little restrictive.

Thankfully there are several free apps that allow you to take this content and download it directly to your computer. Of course we wouldn’t want you to fall foul of the ever aggressive copyright protection laws, so to be safe it’s always a good idea to contact the YouTube member who uploaded the video originally and ask for their permission before you plunder the archives.

For more general advice, see How to download any video on a Mac.

First of all you’ll need to download an app, so head over to itubedownloader and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll find the Free Download button. Click this and install the app.

Once this is done go to the Applications menu in Finder and launch iTubedownloader. The app looks exactly the same as the YouTube interface you’d expect to find if you navigated straight to the site, except if you look closely there is a Download button positioned just to the left of the URL bar at the top of the window. To test this out, search for a video you want to download. Why not try the MacworldUK channel for some really rather splendid technoquality entertainment? Or read: Top Ten Apple Spoof Videos

When you have selected a video, click the download button and you’ll see a menu appear. In here you can decide the title of the video, where you want to save it, and the quality of the file.

Remember that although HD is the best to watch, it also takes longer to download, and uses up more storage space. Also, some videos, especially older ones, will only be available in lower definition formats. Those caveats aside you’re now free to store the video on your Mac, just click Download.

Here's a link to the Macworld UK YouTube channel

The length of time the file takes to arrive will depend heavily on the speed of your internet service, but we found that videos downloaded snapily and without issue.

When the transfer is completed, navigate to the folder that you specified and you should see your newly downloaded file sitting there, replete with a preview and the relevant file details such as length and size. Double click on it to check that there are no problems, and that everything is running smoothly. That’s it, you’re done.

Now you can watch young men just failing to leap over swimming pools, or partake in the simple joys of sneezing pandas, whenever, and wherever you want.

One last thought, if you find you use iTubedownloader regularly then it would also be a good manners to return to the site and make a donation to the developers. After all they provide this very useful service completely free of charge.

We have this tutorial on how to download YouTube audio on your Mac.

Read next:

How to play YouTube audio in background on an iPhone or iPad

How to download YouTube videos to your iPad for free