If you’re a Mac user, however, you’ll find the choices much narrower, with most video downloading tools coming with a price tag attached. Thank goodness then, for MacTubes 3.1, which brings YouTube downloading capabilities at no cost to OS X users.
MacTubes is incredibly simple to use – the first thing you should do, however, is enable HD support if you want access to high definition video: select MacTubes > Preferences > HD tab and tick both boxes. Now, not only will HD videos show up in the search results, they’ll be highlighted too.
MacTubes gives you two methods of selecting the video you wish to download. If you’ve already tracked it down in your web browser, simply copy the URL to your clipboard, fire up MacTubes and paste it into the New > Open Video box.
Alternatively, simply enter your search terms into the app’s conveniently situated Search box and a string of results will soon appear, complete with thumbnail and description to help you locate the video you need. Too many irrelevant results? Use the Filter box to help weed out unwanted videos.
Double-click a video to preview it (and check its quality) and once you’re happy with your selection, it’s time to download the video to your Mac. To do this, right-click the video in question and open the Download sub-menu. You’ll see FLV, MP4 and HD options here, but for full control over what you actually download, select Show Files.
This displays all available files. You’ll get a format, plus description of the format, revealing container (FLV, MP4 or WebM), size and codecs. Make your choice from the list and click Download, at which point it’ll start to download in its own download window. You can now locate more videos to download, queuing them up as required.
In an ideal world, all your downloads will be in MP4 format, but the truth is that usually the best quality downloads are on WebM or FLV (Flash video) format. We’d recommend using FLV format where possible, which can be viewed in VLC Media Player or converted to MP4/M4V or MKV formats using Handbrake. Both tools are, of course, completely free.
MacTubes 3.1 is a free, open-source download for both PowerPC and Intel Macs running OS X 10.4.2 or later (we’re currently using it in Lion with no problems for those worried about compatibility).