4K Video Downloader
- Very easy to use.
- Can download multiple video and audio formats.
- Can automate by syncing to YouTube account.
- Free version offers a lot of functionality.
- Only downloads from the biggest video websites.
- No editing capabilities whatsoever.
For almost as long as there has been home video, people have been finding ways to record it. Starting with the earliest Betamax and VHS tapes, people recorded their favorite shows and movies. VCRs even came with timers so you could schedule a recording in advance. In 1999, TiVo came along and changed the game again. You could record digitally, so you didn’t have to store VHS tapes. You could schedule multiple recordings, weekly recordings, and recordings on different channels. You could even record the same show whenever it came on, regardless of channel. This flexibility made DVRs the new norm, and along with DVD technology, spelled the end of VHS tapes.
But a lot has changed since 1999, including how we consume our media. Nowadays, the top podcasts, vloggers, and YouTube stars get more than many network shows. TV just doesn’t dominate the way it used to. Even the biggest current hits, like The Mandalorian, Stranger Things, and The Handmaid’s Tale aren’t on cable. They’re on Disney+, Netflix, and Hulu respectively. But this has changed the way we think about recording.
Now, we’re not going to tell you how to record shows from major streaming services. There’s got to be a way, but it’s almost certainly illegal, which means you’d be using some shady software. However, the same is not true of platforms like YouTube that feature user-generated content. There, you can freely download many kinds of videos, as well as extract the audio.
We’re about to review the 4K Video Downloader. This is a lightweight, but surprisingly full-featured video downloading software for Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux. It allows you to save files in many formats, and even provides a number of features for free. But how easy is it to use, and how well does it work? More importantly, is it the right choice for your needs? We’re about to take a closer look, and see what there is to learn. Let’s get started!
Understanding YouTube Licensing
Before we get started, let’s address the elephant in the room. Is downloading videos from YouTube even legal? The short answer is that it depends on the license. YouTube actually has two different ways of licensing their videos: Standard and Creative Commons.
As you might expect, the Standard license is the YouTube default. Unless a content creator manually changes the license type, their video will automatically receive the Standard license. This license provides a number of advantages. For one things, it allows users to easily share the video using YouTube’s built-in features. For another thing, it allows creators to monetize their videos. The downside is that YouTube has the exclusive right to distribute the video. Downloading a copy or distributing it on another site would violate the terms of the license.
The Creative Commons License, sometimes called the “CC License,” allows anyone to use the video as they wish. Creative Commons-licensed videos can be freely downloaded, edited, reused, or posted on other platforms. The downside of the Creative Commons license is that it’s more restrictive for the creator. Only 100 percent original content can be uploaded with this license. Even “fair use” content requires a Standard license, in case the copyright holder wants to dispute the fair usage.
For a potential downloader, the implications are clear. Downloading CC-licensed videos is perfectly legal, while downloading Standard videos is not. Now, are you realistically going to get in trouble for downloading clips from your favorite YouTuber for private use? Not likely. But if you edit that content and reupload it, you could find yourself in legal hot water. And if you’re downloading content for any kind of commercial use, using Standard-licensed videos will get you in trouble.
Unfortunately, YouTube makes it difficult to find out what kind of license any given video has. To find out, you have to use the “Search” feature. When your results have loaded, click the “Filters” button, and look in the “Features” column. Click the option that says “Creative Commons,” and the results will reload. Now, you’ll only be seeing Creative Commons-licensed videos. Remember, the options will reset when you run a new search. Make sure to follow these steps every time you’re looking for a video to download.
That said, there are also some legitimate reasons you may want to download Standard-licensed content. For example, suppose you got locked out of your YouTube account. Without access to your account, the only way to get copies of your own videos is to download them “illegally.” You may also work for an organization that uses YouTube to distribute information. In that case, as with not having access to your own account, you’re acting as the copyright holder. Finally, you might be doing a response video. Since that format requires clips of the person you’re responding to, you might need to download their video.
4K Video Downloader Basics
The 4K Video Downloader is a freemium software that’s available on most desktop and laptop platforms. Yes, there are Windows and Mac versions. But you can also download Android and Ubuntu install packages from the same web page. Because this is freemium software, we’ll start by discussing all the basic features. Then, in the last section, we’ll talk about the paid upgrades.
Once you’ve downloaded the install package, open it and follow the instructions. It may need Administrator privileges for installation, so click “Yes” if it asks for permission. Follow the prompts, and it will install in just a few minutes. Inside the software, you’ll see a button at the top left that says “Paste Link.” So, use your browser to go to the video you want to download, copy the link, and click the button. When you click, the link will automatically be pasted, and the downloader will take a minute to analyze the video.
At that point, you’ll see options to download audio or video, and to choose between different formats. You can also choose different video and audio quality options. If the video has subtitles, you’ll be able to download those in whatever languages are available. You can download multiple languages if you want, and all will save as their own separate files. Finally, you can choose the file name and location for your download. When you’re ready, just click “Download,” and the file will start saving. Wait for it to save, and you’ll be ready to go!
With the free version of the 4K downloader, you can download up to 30 videos per day. Of these, only five can come from the same channel, and only 10 can come from the same playlist. So if you’re grabbing one-off videos, you won’t have trouble. But if you’re trying to archive a whole channel, it’s not going to be practical.
You can automate the process by syncing with your YouTube account. In this case, the software will monitor your subscriptions, and automatically download any new videos. It literally works like a DVR for your YouTube account! That said, there are a couple of limitations to this feature. To begin with, subtitle files won’t be saved. They can only be saved when you’re downloading manually, at least with the free version. You may also run into trouble if you have a ton of subscriptions. If you hit the 30 video per day limit, you’ll miss whatever came out next.
Supported Sites, Files, and Formats
We’ve talked a lot about YouTube support, since that’s what most creators are using. That said, you can also download from multiple other sites. These include Dailymotion, Facebook, Flickr, Likee, Metacafe, SoundCloud, TikTok, and Vimeo. You can also record Twitch videos, but not live streams.
When you save your files as a video, you’ll be able to choose between MP4 and MKV format. In both formats, you’ll be able to choose from multiple quality options, ranging from 480p to 4K. Keep in mind that the downloader can only download a 4K video if the original is in 4K. If the original video is in 1080p, you won’t see a 4K download option. There’s also an option to extract the audio only. It uses less storage, and it’s great for people who listen to their favorite YouTubers. Audio can be downloaded in MP3, MP4, or OGG format, in 129K or 64K quality.
Optional Paid Features
There are two paid tiers of the 4K Video Downloader. The first tier, suitable for most people, is the Personal license. This license eliminates all the daily limits on videos. You can download as much as you want, whenever you want. Even better, you can set up subtitles to record automatically. And while the free version of the software only downloads one video at a time, the Personal version downloads three. This makes it easy to archive channels quickly. Finally, the Personal license allows you to download videos without ads, and to download private videos.
The most advanced version of the 4K downloader is the Pro license. In this version, you can download premium content from paid YouTube subscription channels. In addition, for videos that support it, you’ll be able to download 256K YouTube Premium HQ audio. Finally, the Pro version is the only version of the software that’s licensed for commercial use.
One thing we should stress is that this is a video downloader only. If you need to edit the saved video, you’ll need separate editing software. The VideoProc Video Editing Software is an editing program that also allows downloading from some major sites. However, the free version is just a preview, and you’ll have to pay to save any files.
The 4K Video Downloader is a powerful downloading suite for YouTube and many other major sites. For YouTube in particular, it comes with a ton of great features to make downloading quick and painless. For the average person, it works like a DVR for your favorite YouTube channels. And for professional users, the paid versions offer a lot of value at a reasonable price.