Why Raycast is the Best FREE YouTube Downloader for Mac

✔︎ Last updated on February 18th, 2024

If you want to know how to download YouTube video and audio on Mac for free (without any annoying ads or pop-ups), read on. You are going to love this.

Once in a while, an app comes along which completely alters the way you think and work. Raycast is one such app. It’s available only for Mac and is completely free to use, (barring some AI features, which cost $10/month).

Recently, for my daughter’s birthday, I was given the responsibility of downloading some birthday songs from YouTube.

Now, I love tech stuff. I know of several websites and tools that can do the job, but all of them involve me going to a new website, pasting the URL of the YouTube video and then downloading it.

The annoying things about this workflow are, one, I am bombarded with the ads and popups, and second, most of the websites can’t download the video in the format that I want. Some of them will not let you download videos in Full HD unless you pay, while videos from others will download without audio.

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If you have ever tried to download a YouTube video from one of these websites, you know what I’m talking about.

That’s when I discovered a cool new extension for the Raycast app.

If you haven’t ever heard of the Raycast app, it is an all-in-one productivity tool that helps you save time and get more done. It’s like a supercharged Spotlight search, with a clipboard manager, built-in calculator, unit converter, code snippets, and more. You can also use Raycast to launch apps, open files, and control your music.

On top of these wonderful features, Raycast has an exploding library of over a thousand (1000!) extensions that can extend its functionality and really take it to the next level.

The extension we are looking at is called ‘YouTube Downloader’ created by Victor Navarro. This extension can download almost any of the formats that a YouTube video exists in. Also, it can download the audio only in MP3 format.

The great thing about this is the streamlined workflow: you just have to have the URL of your YouTube video copied to your clipboard, then you just have to open Raycast → Download video → (press enter).

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If you have a YT URL on your clipboard, it will automatically grab it and fill it in the URL box. It will then fetch the video’s title and formats it is available in, along with their file size for you to choose from.

The great thing about this process is, it makes available all the formats (up to 4k) for you to download. You just have to scroll up or down and hit Cmd + Enter to start downloading the video.

To give you an idea, I copied the link to this 8K video and downloaded it through this extension. See, how fast it fetches the file formats and their sizes:

After selecting your favourite video format, you just have to press Cmd + Enter to start downloading the video. By the way, you can also specify the start time and the end time to be precise about what you’re downloading.

How to get this YouTube downloader extension

First, you will have to download the Raycast app on your Mac. Once downloaded, you will launch Raycast command bar (Cmd + Space) and then type store command, which will open the interface to all the extensions available in the Raycast store.

In this extension store, search for YouTube downloader → Press enter → Press enter. Your extension will be downloaded.

You may also need to download the ffmpeg, a backend tool that many video and audio programs use to manipulate videos. To download ffmpeg, either head over to their website or download it using Homebrew with this command:

brew install ffmpeg

Although your Raycast extension should automatically detect the ffmpeg software in your directory, but if it doesn’t, you many need to point the extension to look in the specific directories manually.

To copy the path at which the ffmpeg and ffprob are installed, run command in your terminal — which ffmpeg and which ffprob respectively and copy the path:

how to set the ffmpeg and ffprobe path in the YouTube downloader extension in Raycast

Then, open Raycast → Extensions → search for ‘YouTube downloader’. Click on it and on the right side, you will see the option to configure your extension and paths.

How to configure the YouTube downloader extension in Raycast

Fill in the details and you are good to go. From now on, you don’t have to shuffle through multiple websites for a smooth YT downloading experience. You have the power to do that at your fingertips!

But what about Downie?

To download YT videos, I have also tried a dedicated video downloader app called Downie (available with. Downie allows you to download videos from over a thousand (1000!) websites, but I couldn’t get it to download the audio file from the YouTube videos.

But this post is not to undermine all the fantastic things Downie can do. It works phenomenal for downloading videos from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other popular ones. If you regularly download videos from any website, I suggest you to give it a try.

Stand alone, it costs $19.99 for a permanent license, but you can get it with the SetApp subscription at just $9.99/month with other 240+ apps. You also get a 7-day free trial with both options.

That’s it for this article. Thanks for reading. Happy downloading!