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How to download any video on a Mac

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A lot of video these days is distributed by streaming, which means that viewers need a persistent internet connection.

Streaming has its advantages – among other things it removes the need to store hefty files on your own devices – but there are problems too. If your internet connection dies, your viewing pleasure does too, and most parents of small children will know the agony that results when Hey Duggee starts buffering at a key moment; and there is also the danger that videos will be taken offline in the future and you won’t be able to access them at all.

It therefore makes sense to download to your Mac permanent copies (or temporary ones, depending on licensing rights) of the videos you enjoy most online. In this article we outline how to do this, for various popular video sites and services.

Parallels Toolbox

Perhaps the easiest way of downloading videos on Mac is to use Parallels Toolbox. This is a software package that combines a wide range of commonly requested functions – including the ability to download videos from Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and other sites, as shown in this video:

You can read about Toolbox’s various features, and download a seven-day trial, on the company’s website. But we’ll look next at a range of methods that use free software or built-in tools.

YouTube

The tool we recommend for YouTube is iTubeDownloader. Install this program (you can do so for free) and open it.

You’ll find that the software looks just like YouTube, except there’s a Download button positioned just to the left of the URL bar at the top of the window. Navigate to the video you want to download and hit this button, name the video, decide where you want to save it and the quality of the file, and confirm by clicking Download again.

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This is such a common request that we focus on this task in a separate article: How to download YouTube videos on Mac.

Netflix

The method we’d recommend for recording a Netflix film or TV show on a Mac – because the service does not offer a download button when viewed on a Mac, unlike the Windows app – is to use the screen recording feature in QuickTime.

Get your video ready to play, and open QuickTime. Right-click the icon in the dock and choose New Screen Recording.

Click the down arrow in the screen recording window and choose Internal Microphone so you get sound – otherwise the recording will be silent. Now click the record button, and drag to select the video player section of the screen.

(This process is a bit fiddly, and you may find you have to set the video playing before starting the recording, potentially losing the first few seconds. And note that you need to keep quiet while the recording happens or you will record conversation, ambient noises etc too.)

A potentially easier method is to use the free app Apowersoft Mac Screen Recorder. You can download it from the Mac App Store.

This topic too has its own dedicated article: How to download Netflix movies on Mac.

iPlayer

The BBC is more amenable to the idea of you downloading its video to a Mac than YouTube and Netflix, although there are time limits placed on the download being playable, and it can only be played back via a first-party app.

You will need to use the BBC iPlayer Downloads app (note that you may have to uninstall a previous version of this app first); once you’ve got it, you can browse to the programme you want to download and hit the download button.

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Amazon Video

Downloading Amazon Video content directly to a Mac isn’t easy. Amazon allows subscribers to download files (with DRM) to mobile devices and Windows PCs, but not to Mac, so the most effective approach is probably to download on PC, strip off the DRM and transfer to Mac.

If you’d rather not do that – and obviously stripping DRM is fraught with ethical and legal concerns – then you may prefer to use screen recording via QuickTime, as outlined above for Netflix. Open QuickTime, right-click the icon in the dock and select New Screen Recording, turn on the internal microphone, start recording and then do your best to keep quiet.

Vimeo

Some Vimeo videos offer downloads without any faff at all, and this is true when watching on Mac just as on Windows. If this feature is enabled there will be a download button below the player, although the versions available will depend on the video creator’s membership tier – more info here.

If the creator is not a Plus, Pro or Business member, or if they simply don’t want to allow downloads, there won’t be a button. In this case you may like to use one of the third-party download sites such as KeepVid – paste in the URL and click Download.



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