How to Download YouTube Songs Into iTunes

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The easiest way to download songs from YouTube, either in video or audio file format, is to use a browser extension or a converter website. Either method can generate both video and audio files in formats that are supported by iTunes, so adding the songs to your library once you've saved them to your hard drive is simply a matter of importing them as you normally would.


  • Downloading copyrighted music without the permission of the copyright owner is against the law. You may, of course, download your own content from YouTube if you've lost the original files, or save music that is in the public domain; in all other cases, however -- including fair use -- seek legal ways of acquiring the music, such as purchasing it from the iTunes store or requesting it from the copyright owner.

Helper Websites

(Image: Image courtesy of ClipConverter.)

Paste the URL for a YouTube video into a helper website, and the website will return a series of links to download the video in various formats. Depending on the website, getting the type and quality of file you want may be more or less easy.

ClipConverter specializes in YouTube downloads; it is the only website that allows you to save high-definition 1080p video without embedding a watermark in it or forcing you to install converting software.

  • To save a full copy of the video, just select the desired quality using the radio buttons and click Start -- avoid the video option labeled Mobile Version (3GP), as it won't work with iTunes. Alternatively, click the MP4 button to reveal additional options allowing you to choose a start and end time for the video, resulting in a trimmed version containing only the part you are interested in.
  • To save an audio-only version of the video, click the button corresponding to your preferred format and then click Start -- all three work with iTunes, but only the MP3 format allows you to manually adjust the audio quality. For all three formats, you can also adjust the start and end time for the video to save only the part of it you are interested in. supports a wide variety of websites, in addition to YouTube. The site offers MP4 files in 360p and, for high-definition video, 720p quality; avoid the 480p and 1080p links with the speaker icon by them, as they result in video-only files, with no accompanying audio. The only audio readily available is 128 kb/s AAC, which works fine with iTunes. To get 1080p video or MP3 audio from, you need to install external software.

Like, KeepVid also supports other websites. It offers MP4 files with sound in 360p and, where possible, 720p quality, as well as video-only files running the gamut of quality from 144p to 1080p. As far as audio is concerned, KeepVid offers 128 kb/s M4A and 64/128 kb/s MP3, both of which work with iTunes. The site relies on Java to function, so depending on your computer setup, it may not work at all.

Browser Extensions

(Image: Image courtesy of Flash Video Downloader.)

If you are using Chrome, you won't find any browser extensions that enable YouTube downloading in the Chrome Web Store, since its developer terms of use explicitly prohibit this kind of extension. This leaves extensions for the Firefox browser, such as YouTube Downloader 4K, Video DownloadHelper or Easy YouTube Video Downloader Express. These extensions add a button either to the Firefox toolbar or to the video description on YouTube; clicking this button unfolds a drop-down menu with a list of available download options. Different extensions display different video file types, but only MP4 files are compatible with iTunes, so those are the ones you should choose. These extensions function by checking for the streaming video and providing direct links to it so you can download the file; audio-only MP3, M4A or AAC files, however, require a conversion, which browser extensions can't perform without piggybacking onto an external service. If they do so, these downloads are usually limited to people who donate to the author of the extension or pay to unlock a full version -- when you click the link to download the audio-only file, an error message appears.


  • If helper websites and browser extensions are both unsuccessful at recording the video you need, you can also use screen-recording software to essentially recreate the video file from scratch. You can then trim the recording and save it in your desired video format or extract the audio from it using video editing software. However, helper websites and browser extensions usually never fail at downloading a video, unless it's protected -- so this should never be necessary.


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