Nearly everyone who uses the Internet, uses YouTube, whether it’s to watch instructional videos on how to repair a bicycle tire, a favorite podcast, or just to watch some funny cat videos. After the Google website itself, YouTube (owned by Google) is the second most visited website in the world. Internet users watch over 5 billion videos on YouTube every day.
We stream literally billions of videos every day from the YouTube service. Yet some people prefer to download a YouTube playlist so they can watch videos while offline rather than stream the video. There are a number of reasons for wanting to do that.
Sometimes we have a fast connection in one place but a slow connection one in others and would like to grab our media while we can from the place where we have good broadband service. Sometimes we have places where we have no Internet service at all.
Whatever the reason, lots of people are searching for a solution that would let them download music and video playlists without having to install a new app.
In this TechJunknie tutorial, I will show you how to download YouTube playlists to view later without an Internet connection.
What Are YouTube Playlists?
A YouTube playlist is just a collection of individual videos linked together by whatever common factor the compiler of the playlist decides makes sense. A playlist could be made up of videos by the same artist, TV shows in the same series, a mix of tracks in the same genre or something completely different. A playlist can be created by whoever published the media online and can be arranged in any way they see fit. You can create a YouTube playlist based on any criteria that you want!
In addition to users watching YouTube playlists on YouTube itself, playlists are immensely popular on streaming services such as Spotify. You can create your own or access to other people’s playlists, providing a way to listen to music for hours without having to interact with the program or search for new music.
Many playlists are created by users, but some services deploy bots to automate the creation of playlists.
Download A Complete YouTube Playlist
Technically, downloading media from YouTube is against their Terms of Service (ToS) and perhaps against the law.
As all kinds of media are published on the platform with all kinds of licensing, we will leave it to you to ensure you’re not breaching copyright by downloading from YouTube.
1. Download A Playlist With The VLC Media Player
Many people out there already have the VLC media player installed as it is one of the best media players out there. VLC is a cross-platform video utility toolbox that you can use on Windows, Mac, Linux, and other operating systems. VLC can play most multimedia formats and even play your DVDs, CDs, and so on. It’s a versatile media player with a lot of tricks up its sleeve!
One of VLC’s tricks is being able to download media from streaming sites to view offline later. The downside to this is that you have to manually save each track but nonetheless, VLC will work through the entire playlist for you. Here’s how to download videos and other media from streaming sites such as YouTube:
- Open the VLC media player then select Media from the top menu.
- Select Network Stream.
- Copy the playlist URL from YouTube, paste it into the Network Stream box and select Play.
- Select Tools and Codec Information. The first video should still be playing in the background.
- Copy the data in the Location box at the bottom.
- Paste that location data into a browser tab and hit Enter. The video should now play in your browser.
- Right-click anywhere in the browser window and select Save As.
Through this process, VLC will download each video in the playlist in turn to your computer. You will have to perform Steps 4-7 for each track but then that’s all you have to do, though you may have to be patient. Depending on how many tracks the playlist contains, the download process could take a while.
Using the VLC Media Player is by far the most reliable way to download a complete YouTube playlist even if you cannot download the whole playlist in one go. Many of us already have VLC. It’s is a known quantity and we know it works.
If you don’t want to use VLC, there is another way to download a playlist without you having to save each individual track, though it’s a bit cumbersome.
2. YouTube Playlist
There is a website called YouTube Playlist that provides a service that does exactly what you’re seeking to do: It will select an entire playlist, line it up and then download the playlist.
It may take a while to download the entire playlist, especially at peak times, but otherwise is a good little tool. Here’s how you use YouTube Playlist:
- Navigate to YouTube Playlist and select the title Download YouTube to get around the ad. Don’t download any software even if prompted, there is no need.
- Paste in the playlist URL from YouTube into the center box and hit Enter.
- Select the audio format you require.
- Let the site collect the playlist data. You should see it load below the blue box with the number of videos in the playlist.
- Select the green download button next to each track.
Originally, this site allowed you to download the entire playlist with the click of a single button. You can no longer do that but you can export the playlist to Spotify if you like. Otherwise, just hit Download MP3/MP4 under each track.
If you’re comfortable using CLI programs to download YouTube videos and already have Homebrew installed on your machine, there’s a super-simple package that you can use to download YouTube playlists directly to your computer. Just keep in mind that it’s going to take a little tech-savviness.
- Assuming you already have Homebrew installed, open your computer’s terminal.
- In the terminal, type: brew install youtube-dl. Homebrew may need to update first, which is ok. The package should only take a minute or two to install.
- Now you can start using youtube-dl right away! To download a single video, just type youtube-dl (video URL), replacing the (video URL) with the actual URL. For example, if you were going to download the Baby Shark song by Pink Fong, you would type youtube-dl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w into your terminal.
- Downloading a playlist works almost exactly the same way, except that you’re going to copy and paste the URL to the playlist of videos instead of a specific video.
For more information on the commands for the youtube-dl package, you can check out the Git page here.
Those are the two ways I know of to download a complete YouTube playlist. They won’t download the entire list for you automatically but they do provide reliable ways to download the list for yourself with the minimum of effort. Plus, you don’t have to download and install any new third-party software which is always a good thing!
If you’re looking for ways to download videos from YouTube, check out this TechJunkie tutorial: YouTube Video Downloader – Easily Download From Your PC, Mac, iPhone or Android.
Do you have any tips or tricks for downloading YouTube playlists to listen to offline? If so, please tell us about them in the comments below!