How To Download Audio From YouTube On Mac: X Free And Paid Ways

Download audio from YouTube Mac free.” You've probably search this before, wondering if it's possible to download that random YouTube audio file you just heard. 

With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming, however, to figure out what's safe, legal, and effective, especially on a Mac. 

Whether you're a business owner needing audio for marketing materials, a digital marketer crafting the perfect sound for a campaign, or an entrepreneur searching for inspiration, this guide will walk you through the best ways to get that YouTube audio onto your Mac, hassle-free.

Understanding YouTube Downloading

Let's get one thing straight: downloading copyrighted content from YouTube can land you in hot water. I'm not talking about a light drizzle, but a full-on legal storm. 

Copyright law protects the creators of original works, and that includes the music and audio you find on YouTube. Downloading their content without permission can lead to some serious consequences.

However, there is a concept called fair use, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes like criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. 

Fair use

But fair use is a complex area with lots of gray areas, so it's important to be careful and understand the risks involved.

If you really want to play it safe, consider alternatives like YouTube Music Premium, which allows offline listening within their app, or explore royalty-free music libraries for audio that you can use without worry. These options might not be free, but they offer peace of mind and keep you on the right side of the law.

Free Methods for Downloading Audio

Online YouTube downloaders

Now, let's explore the free options to download and convert YouTube audio on your Mac. Online YouTube downloaders are a popular choice, offering a quick and convenient way to download that audio file.

A middle-aged woman listening to music on YouTube Premium

To get started, simply find a reputable website (do your research!) that offers this service. Copy the YouTube video URL, paste it into the downloader's input field, select your preferred audio format (usually MP3), and click the download button. Easy peasy, right?

Just be aware that not all downloaders are created equal. Some might bombard you with ads or even sneak malware onto your Mac. Always choose a trusted site, read reviews, and avoid clicking on suspicious links or pop-ups.

Browser extensions

Another handy option is using browser extensions designed specifically to download YouTube audio. These little tools integrate seamlessly into your browser, usually Chrome or Firefox, and provide a simple download button right on the YouTube video page.

Installing them is usually a breeze, but make sure you choose a reputable extension and check the permissions it requests. Some extensions might ask for access to your browsing data or other sensitive information, so be careful and read the fine print.

Here's how desktop software can streamline YouTube audio downloading on your Mac, along with some important considerations:

Desktop softwares

Do you know that you can also extract a YouTube audio through desktop softwares? Here the advantages if you do it this way:

  • Batch downloading: Download multiple audio tracks simultaneously, saving you time and effort.
  • Format conversion: Easily convert YouTube videos into various audio formats like MP3, WAV, AAC, etc., for compatibility with different devices and players.
  • Offline access: Store downloaded audio files locally for offline listening, perfect for commutes or areas with limited internet access.
  • Customization: Some software allows for adjusting audio quality settings, trimming audio clips, or extracting audio from specific video segments.

Popular free desktop software options for Mac:

  • 4K YouTube to MP3: A user-friendly option with a clean interface specifically designed for extracting audio from downloaded YouTube videos.
  • YTMP3: A simple yet effective online downloader that works well on Mac and can convert YouTube videos into MP3 format.
  • MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter: A versatile converter offering options for both single and batch downloads, format selection, and ID3 tag editing.
The YouTube app opening on a smartphone

You can also indirectly download YouTube audio using VLC Media Player, but it's not a straightforward process and is primarily intended for streaming. Here's how it generally works:

  1. 1
    Obtain the YouTube video URL: Copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to download.
  2. 2
    Open network stream in VLC: In VLC, go to "Media" > "Open Network Stream" and paste the YouTube video URL.
  3. 3
    Start streaming: Click "Play" and VLC will start streaming the video.
  4. 4
    Access codec information: While the video is playing, go to "Window" > "Media Information" and find the "Location" field under the "Codec" tab. This is the direct video stream URL.
  5. 5
    Copy and paste into browser: Copy the direct stream URL and paste it into a new browser tab. The video should start playing.
  6. 6
    Download the video: Right-click on the video and choose "Save Video As..." to download the entire video file.
  7. 7
    Extract audio (optional): If you only want the audio, you can use VLC or other software to extract the audio track from the downloaded video file.

Important Considerations:

  • Changing URLs: YouTube might change its streaming URLs frequently, so this method might not always work reliably.
  • Not for Downloading: VLC is primarily a media player, not a dedicated downloader. This method is a workaround and may not be the most efficient.
  • Copyright: Remember that downloading copyrighted content from YouTube may be illegal in your region.

Software limitations and potential drawbacks:

  • Bloatware: Some free software might come bundled with additional software you might not need. Pay attention during installation and uncheck any unwanted extras.
  • Updates and compatibility: Free software might not be updated as frequently as paid alternatives, potentially leading to compatibility issues with newer macOS versions or YouTube changes.
  • Limited features: Free versions often lack advanced features like high-quality audio extraction, video format conversion, or editing tools.
List of social media apps on a smartphone, including YouTube

Additional tips:

  • Research: Compare different software options, read reviews, and choose one that best suits your needs and preferences.
  • Security: Download software only from reputable sources to avoid malware or potentially harmful programs.
  • Legality: Be aware of copyright laws and download content responsibly, ensuring you have the right to use the audio.

Screen recording

When all else fails, screen recording is an alternative you can follow, although the audio might not be that good compared to the previous free options I shared.

  • Simplicity: While not ideal, screen recording your computer screen while the YouTube video plays is a straightforward method. Most operating systems (including macOS) have built-in screen recording tools, or you can find free screen recording software online.
  • Lower audio quality: The downside is that the audio quality will likely be lower than using dedicated downloaders or software. This is because you're essentially capturing the audio as it plays through your computer's speakers, which can introduce some compression or distortion.
  • Copyright concerns: Keep in mind that if you plan to share or distribute the recorded audio, you could run into copyright issues. This method is generally best for personal use only, where audio quality isn't a top priority.

Through this means, you can record YouTube audios, not just the video easily. 

Choose the perfect free method for you

Whether you prefer the convenience of online downloaders, the seamless integration of browser extensions, or the advanced features of desktop software, you're sure to find an option that suits your needs. 

And hey, if all else fails, there's always the trusty screen recording method. Just remember to stay safe online, respect copyright laws, and enjoy your favorite tunes!

Paid Methods for Downloading Audio

While free methods offer a convenient entry point for downloading YouTube audio on your Mac, paid alternatives can significantly elevate your experience. Let's delve deeper into the advantages, features, and considerations associated with a paid YouTube audio downloader you might choose:

Social media apps focused on audio and music streaming

Advantages of paid options

Superior download speeds

Paid downloaders often boast faster download speeds due to dedicated servers and optimized processes. 

This means you can grab your favorite tunes in a fraction of the time compared to free options, especially when dealing with longer videos or high-quality audio files.

Enhanced audio quality

Many paid downloaders offer higher bitrate options for audio extraction, resulting in crisper, more detailed sound compared to the compressed formats typically available for free. This can be particularly noticeable for music enthusiasts or professionals who require high-fidelity audio.

Expanded format choices

While free downloaders usually stick to MP3, paid options often offer a wider array of formats, including lossless formats like FLAC or WAV, which preserve the original audio quality without compression. This flexibility allows you to tailor your downloads to your specific needs and preferences.

Batch downloading & automation

Paid downloaders typically excel in efficiency, often providing features like batch downloading (grabbing multiple audio tracks simultaneously) and automation options. 

Some even integrate with your music library, automatically adding metadata and album art for a seamless experience.

Additional features

Many paid downloaders go beyond basic audio extraction, offering features like video conversion, playlist downloading, audio editing tools, and even the ability to remove vocals from songs. 

These extra features can be invaluable for content creators, DJs, or anyone seeking more control over their audio files.

Subscription services: YouTube Premium and beyond

YouTube Premium

A popular option for avid YouTube users, YouTube Premium offers ad-free viewing, background playback, offline video downloads, and access to YouTube Music Premium. 

While primarily geared towards video content, YouTube Premium's offline download feature allows you to save videos and extract audio within the YouTube app for convenient offline listening.

Music streaming services

While not strictly audio downloaders, music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal offer a vast library of songs and albums that you can download for offline playback.

Spotify being opened on a tablet

These subscriptions usually come with additional benefits like curated playlists, personalized recommendations, and high-quality audio streaming.

Copyright considerations and legal implications

Some paid services may claim to offer "copyright clearance" for downloaded audio. Always review the licensing terms and conditions of any service you use. 

Downloading copyrighted material without permission is illegal, and relying on vague claims of copyright clearance can lead to legal trouble.

Choosing the right paid option

When considering paid options, weigh the cost against the features and benefits. If you frequently download audio from YouTube and value speed, quality, and advanced features, a paid downloader might be a worthwhile investment. 

If you're already a YouTube enthusiast who enjoys ad-free viewing and offline access to videos, YouTube Premium might be a more suitable choice.

Alternatively, if you primarily listen to music and appreciate curated playlists and high-quality streaming, a music streaming service subscription could be a better fit.

Choosing the Right Method

So, how do you decide which method is right for you? Here's a quick comparison to help you weigh the pros and cons:



Ease of Use 

Audio Quality

Copyright Considerations

Online Downloader (free)




Potentially risky

Browser Extension (free)




Potentially risky

Desktop Software (free)




Potentially risky

Online Converter (paid)




Varies, caution advised

YouTube Premium




Safe within app

If you only need to download audio occasionally and aren't too picky about audio quality, a free online downloader or browser extension might do the trick. But if you need frequent downloads, high-quality audio, or peace of mind regarding copyright, investing in a paid solution or YouTube Premium might be worth considering.

Always remember to prioritize safety and security when downloading from the internet. Stick to reputable websites and software, read reviews, and avoid anything that seems fishy.

A woman listening to music via YouTube

Safety and Security

When it comes to downloading YouTube audio, safety should always be a top priority. Unfortunately, the internet is full of shady websites and software that can infect your Mac with malware or steal your personal information.

To avoid falling victim to these scams, stick to well-known and trusted sources. Look for websites and software with positive user reviews and avoid clicking on suspicious links or pop-ups. If you're unsure about a website, do some research before entering any personal information or downloading anything.

It's also a good idea to use a reliable antivirus program to protect your Mac and keep all your software updated. By taking these precautions, you can download YouTube audio safely and confidently, without putting your computer or data at risk.

Understanding the risks

  1. 1
    Malicious software (Malware): One of the most significant risks associated with downloading software or visiting untrustworthy websites is the potential exposure to malware. This malicious software can take various forms, including viruses, trojans, spyware, and ransomware. These threats can compromise your system, steal sensitive data, or even hold your files hostage for ransom.
  2. 2
    Phishing scams: Some malicious websites masquerade as legitimate downloaders or software providers. These sites often trick users into entering personal information, such as login credentials or credit card details, which can then be used for fraudulent activities.
  3. 3
    Data tracking and privacy concerns: Many free online downloaders and browser extensions rely on advertising to generate revenue. This can involve tracking your online activity, collecting data about your browsing habits, and potentially sharing this information with third parties. While not always malicious, such practices raise privacy concerns and can lead to unwanted targeted advertising.
  4. 4
    Unwanted software bundling: Some free downloaders might come bundled with additional software you didn't intend to install. This can include browser toolbars, adware, or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that can clutter your system, slow down performance, and display intrusive advertisements.
A man watching and listening to a YouTube video on his laptop

Proactive measures for safe downloading

Choose reputable sources

Stick to well-known and trusted websites or software providers with a proven track record. Research online reviews, check independent tech blogs, and avoid obscure sources that lack credibility.

Verify website security

Before entering any personal information or downloading anything, ensure the website is secure. Additionally, check for a padlock icon in the address bar, which signifies that the website's identity has been verified.

Read reviews and comments

Pay attention to user reviews and comments on software download platforms or review websites. This can give you valuable insights into the safety, reliability, and potential issues associated with a particular downloader or software.

Scan downloaded files

Before opening any downloaded files, scan them with your antivirus or anti-malware software. 

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) can encrypt your internet traffic and mask your IP address, making it harder for malicious actors to track your activity or intercept your data.

Be cautious of clickbait

Avoid clicking on suspicious links or pop-up ads, as they can often lead to malicious websites. Exercise caution when clicking on links from unknown sources, even in emails or social media messages.

Install an ad blocker

A reputable ad blocker can help reduce your exposure to intrusive and potentially malicious ads while browsing the internet.

Additional tips for Mac users

Enable gatekeeper

Gatekeeper is a built-in security feature in macOS that helps protect your Mac from malicious software by blocking apps that haven't been signed by a trusted developer.

Understanding Gatekeeper Settings:

  • App Store only: This is the most restrictive setting, only allowing apps downloaded from the Mac App Store.
  • App Store and identified developers: This allows apps from the App Store and developers who have registered with Apple and have their software notarized.
  • Anywhere: This setting allows apps from any source, but Gatekeeper will still check them for known malware.
An illustrated icon of the Gatekeeper app

Customizing Gatekeeper: You can adjust Gatekeeper settings in System Preferences > Security & Privacy. For maximum security, consider using the "App Store and Identified Developers" setting.

Beware of unnecessary permissions: When installing software or browser extensions, pay attention to the permissions they request. Be cautious of extensions that ask for excessive access to your data or browsing activity.

Overriding gatekeeper: If you need to install an app from an unidentified developer, you can temporarily override Gatekeeper by right-clicking the app and selecting "Open." However, exercise caution and only do this for apps you trust from reputable sources.

By adhering to these safety precautions and best practices, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with downloading YouTube audio. Remember, prioritizing security not only protects your Mac and data but also ensures a worry-free experience as you enjoy your favorite music and audio content.

“Download audio from YouTube Mac free”: what’s the perfect option?

If you search, “Download audio from YouTube Mac free” on your browser, you will realize there are many choices available. The "perfect" method to download audio from YouTube on your Mac ultimately depends on your individual needs and priorities:

  • For convenience and simplicity: Online YouTube downloaders or browser extensions are excellent options for quick, one-off downloads. They're easy to use and don't require installing any software.
  • For versatility and features: Desktop software like 4K YouTube to MP3 or MediaHuman YouTube to MP3 Converter offer batch downloading, format conversion, and customization options, making them ideal for frequent users or those with specific requirements.
  • For offline listening within YouTube: If you're already a YouTube Premium subscriber, downloading videos (and extracting audio) directly within the YouTube or YouTube Music app offers a seamless and legal way to enjoy your favorite content offline.
  • For extensive music libraries: Consider music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music if you mainly want access to a vast library of songs and albums for offline listening, along with curated playlists and personalized recommendations.
A man watching a YouTube video

Remember to always prioritize safety and legality when downloading audio from YouTube. Choose reputable sources, be mindful of copyright laws, and enjoy your music responsibly!

Ethical considerations: respecting creators and their work

While navigating the legal aspects of downloading YouTube audio is crucial, ethical considerations are equally important. Remember that behind every video and audio track is a creator who has invested time, effort, and resources into producing that content. 

When you download copyrighted audio without permission, you're essentially taking something valuable without paying for it.

This can have a real impact on creators, particularly smaller independent artists who rely on revenue from their work. By supporting them through legal means, such as purchasing their music or subscribing to platforms like YouTube Premium, you're contributing to a sustainable creative ecosystem.

Alternative legal resources

If you're looking to avoid copyright concerns and ensure legal compliance, explore the vast landscape of royalty-free music and sound effects. 

These resources offer a treasure trove of high-quality audio tracks that you can freely incorporate into your projects, whether it's a YouTube video, podcast, presentation, or any other creative endeavor. 

  1. YouTube Audio Library

Right within YouTube's platform lies a vast and often overlooked resource: the YouTube Audio Library. This extensive collection boasts thousands of free music tracks and sound effects, handpicked by YouTube for creators. 

You'll find a wide range of genres, moods, and instruments, making it easy to find the perfect audio accompaniment for your project. The best part? It's completely free and legal to use, even for commercial purposes.

  1. Free Music Archive

The Free Music Archive (FMA) is a collaborative library of high-quality, legal audio downloads. It features an eclectic mix of music from independent artists across various genres, including electronica, hip-hop, classical, and experimental. 

Most tracks are available under Creative Commons licenses, which means you can use them for free as long as you give credit to the artist. FMA is a great resource for discovering unique and under-the-radar music for your projects.

A logo of the The Free Music Archive
  1. SoundCloud

While primarily known as a music streaming platform, SoundCloud also serves as a hub for independent artists to share their work. Many artists on SoundCloud offer their tracks for free download under specific licenses, such as Creative Commons. 

By browsing through different profiles and tags, you can uncover hidden gems and support up-and-coming musicians while finding the perfect soundtrack for your creations.

  1. Epidemic Sound

Epidemic Sound is a subscription-based platform that caters to content creators, businesses, and filmmakers. It offers a massive library of high-quality music and sound effects, all cleared for commercial use. 

With a user-friendly interface and curated playlists, Epidemic Sound makes it easy to find the right audio for your project, whether it's a corporate video, social media ad, or documentary film.

  1. Other notable options:

In addition to the platforms mentioned above, several other resources offer royalty-free music and sound effects. These include:

  • Bensound: Features a curated collection of modern and upbeat music tracks.
  • Incompetech: Offers a wide range of royalty-free music in various styles.
  • Dig.ccMixter: A community-driven platform where artists share their music under Creative Commons licenses.
  • PremiumBeat: A subscription-based service with a vast library of high-quality music and sound effects.

By exploring these alternative legal sources, you can discover a wealth of audio content that's both high-quality and copyright-free. 

This not only ensures legal compliance but also supports independent artists and fosters a vibrant creative community.

If you really don’t need the audio all the time, can opt to listen to music streaming platforms. For example, Spotify offers a paid version with no ads. 

Staying updated: navigating a changing landscape

The world of online content and downloading tools is constantly evolving. YouTube might update its policies or terms of service, downloaders could become unavailable, or software might require updates for compatibility.

To ensure a seamless and legal downloading experience, it's essential to stay informed. Keep an eye on news and updates regarding YouTube's policies and regularly check for updates to your chosen downloaders or software. This will help you adapt to any changes and avoid potential legal or technical issues.

A woman searching for audio downloaders on her laptop

The takeaway

Download Audio from YouTube Mac Free.” If this question popped off your mind these days, then you’re in the right track. This guide equips you with the knowledge to download audio from YouTube Mac free, while also exploring paid options and emphasizing safety.

Here's a quick recap:

  • Free methods: Online downloaders and browser extensions are convenient, but be cautious of ads and malware. Desktop software offers more features, but watch out for bloatware. Screen recording is a last resort with lower quality.
  • Paid options: Downloaders provide faster speeds, better quality, and more formats. YouTube Premium offers convenience for frequent users. Consider music streaming services for extensive libraries. Always check copyright information!
  • Safety first: Stick to reputable sources, verify website security, read reviews, scan downloads, use a VPN, and keep your software updated.

Remember, balance convenience with caution to enjoy your favorite YouTube audio safely and legally.

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