How to Download YouTube MP4s Without Any Software

Do you want to download a YouTube video as an MP4 to put on your phone, burn to a DVD, or just store offline in case it gets removed? You can do this from inside your web browser without downloading any add-ons or converter programs, and even without using an online YouTube converter.

The way this works is simple: open the direct link to the video by viewing the source code of the YouTube video page. However, newer browsers download videos a bit differently than older ones, so the first step is to trick YouTube into thinking that you're using an older version of your web browser.

Important: This method of downloading YouTube videos should only be performed on videos that are your own, or videos that explicitly state that they are free to download, or videos that are in the public domain. Do not download videos created and released by other people or you might infringe on their copyright, which is most likely illegal where you live.

How to Get the Direct Link to a YouTube Video

Note: I'm going to show instructions for changing the user agent in the Chrome browser, but you can adapt these steps to use them in a different browser since the steps are pretty similar.
  1. Open the YouTube video you want to download as an MP4.
  2. Hit the Ctrl+Shift+I keyboard shortcut if you're on Windows, or Command+Shift+I on a Mac.
  3. When the developer tools window opens, use the dotted menu at the far upper-right side of that screen to choose More tools > Network conditions.
  4. In that new window that shows at the bottom of the developer tools screen, remove the check next to Select automatically, and from the drop-down menu below it, choose Firefox - iPhone from the list.
  5. Refresh YouTube but don't exit the developer tools window, and then start playing the video.
  6. Hit Ctrl+Shift+C or Command+Shift+C and then click on the video. This shortcut opens the inspect tool so that you can read the code behind the video player.
  7. A blue link should be come highlighted within the developer tools window. This is the link you want to open to get the direct link to the video. To do this, double-click the link, right-click it, and choose to copy it.
  8. Paste that link into the address bar and press Enter to open it. It should be the same video playing, but this time the page won't look anything like YouTube.
  9. Hit the Ctrl+S or Command+S hotkey on your keyboard, or right-click the video and choose to save it to your computer.
  10. The video should save as an MP4, but if not, upload it to a video converter website like FileZigZag to convert it to MP4.
Tip: These steps are also relevant if you want to convert a YouTube video to an MP3 audio file. Instead of choosing the MP4 option at FileZigZag, pick MP3.