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How to Download MP3s From YouTube

mature woman listening to music
Many applications on the web make it very easy to convert a YouTube file to an MP3. kupicoo/Getty Images

Sometimes it seems like you can find just about anything you want on the internet. Other times it feels like that one song you can't live without is missing from the major music subscription services. And then sometimes there's that situation in between, where the only place you can find the song is in a YouTube video. There are a couple of challenges to overcome, the first of which is how to download the video in the first place. Where do you begin?

Before we even get started, it's important to note that this isn't just a technical challenge. YouTube's Terms of Service explicitly say that you can't download and modify (among other things) content from the service without express consent from YouTube, and possibly the rights holder of that content. If you aren't sure, the safest thing to do legally is to leave it alone.

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The task here is to convert a video file into an audio file. If you were to download a video directly from YouTube, it still wouldn't be in the MP3 format. You might be able to listen to the file with a video app on your smartphone, but if you're creating an audio playlist, for example, your top workout songs, you can't simply drop the downloaded video into an audio app playlist.

Although some YouTube converters are applications you can download and use on a computer or smartphone, others do their magic on a website. Be careful to choose an app that doesn't include any malware or viruses. Do a little research on reputable websites before downloading that converter app, even if you're in a hurry.

Some converter applications can do much more than simply download videos from YouTube. Any Video Converter, available for Windows and Mac computers, can download and convert the tracks to make MP3s, but the free version of the software also lets you edit and save video files, and burn DVDs, too. Paid versions of the software add more features, including screen recording and the ability to convert your DVDs to video files on your computer. But don't forget, copyright laws and software terms of service apply here, too. If you aren't the rights holder or don't have express permission, it's probably not OK to make copies this way.

4K Video Downloader is another application for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux. The free version lets you download up to 30 videos per day, playlists of 10 videos and five videos per channel. Paid versions remove these limits and add more features. The same company offers 4K YouTube to MP3, which offers a similar feature set.

YouTube to MP3 Converter is a well-known website you can use to convert YouTube videos to MP3. Mp3skull is another. Whether it's website- or computer-based, these tools are all simple to use. To convert a single YouTube video to MP3 using the two converters we just mentioned:

  1. Copy the URL for the YouTube video you wish to convert, and begin the next phase of the conversion process.
  2. Choose the save location and file format options, which will depend on the software you're using. This may include format and bit rate, among others.
  3. Once you've told the computer what it needs to know and tell it to continue, it will process your request and convert the file for you. You can now finish your workout playlist!

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