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.
There’s also the scenario where every night you end up streaming exactly the same Blaze and the Monster Machines episodes – you could save a ton of data if you had those episodes saved on your Mac.
It therefore makes sense to download to your Mac permanent copies (or temporary ones, depending on licensing rights) of the videos you (or the kids) enjoy most online. In this article we outline how to do this, for various popular video sites and services.
Save video on your Mac using Mojave
It is possible, in many cases, to record video of whatever is happening on your Mac’s screen. In a way that is similar to taking a screenshot, you can make a screencast of whatever is happening – including any video that happens to be playing.
It is possible to use this inbuilt way of recording what is happening on your screen in order to make video recordings of content you can watch in YouTube and other streaming sites (although it doesn’t always work, so we have specific tips below for the different services).
The way that this works changed in Mojave. Prior to Mojave it was necessary to use QuickTime to record the video. But since Mojave it’s been possible to record video using the simple screenshot key combination: Command + Shift + 5.
Another 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
from the company’s website here. But we’ll look next at a range of methods that use free software or built-in tools.
Download YouTube on the Mac
There are loads of tools available that can download YouTube videos to your Mac. Some of these options are free and some are paid for.
In fact, there is a way of recording a YouTube video, with sound, just using software that is part of macOS and Mac OS X.
If you were hoping to download a copy of a Netflix film or TV show on to your Mac – because the service does not offer a download button when viewed on a Mac, unlike the Windows app – you can use the screen recording feature in Mojave or QuickTime as described in this article about
downloading Netflix on the Mac.
Another, potentially easier method, is to use the free app Apowersoft Mac Screen Recorder. You can download it
from the Mac App Store.
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.
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.
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.
David has loved the iPhone since covering the original 2007 launch; later his obsession expanded to include the iPad and Apple Watch. He offers advice to owners (and prospective owners) of these devices.