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How to clip a YouTube video for download, or for social

Ahh Youtube, the world’s largest library of video. An astonishing collection of humankind’s creativity and knowledge, including everything from how to grow an avocado tree to insanely catchy songs about people who live in the forest and wear tight clothes. If you want it, it’s on YouTube.

Sometimes it can be a little too much though. If all you want is a quick recipe for Pad Thai, sitting through a monologue about a YouTuber’s trip to Bangkok and five minutes of sponcon from a meal-in-a-box vendor is a little annoying. Google recognised this and introduced highlighted clips within their search results to take people straight to the clip they need, wherever their algorithm can identify a helpful video.

An example of a featured snippet video in Google search

But what if you want to save this clip, download it, or remix it for social? Well, you’ve got a few options.

Creating clips

If all you want to do it create some clips for sharing elsewhere, you’ve got plenty of options.

YouTube’s built-in clipping

If it’s enabled on a YouTube video, you can create a quick clip right from the YouTube interface. Hit the “Clip” button, choose your start and finish times (either with timestamps or by dragging the handles), and you’ve got a quick clip ready to go. Here’s a clip I created from Jose’s recent video on humans and AI working together.

However, as with video transcripts on YouTube, you’re a little limited with what you can do with this clip. You can’t download it, you can’t remix it, you can’t edit it any further. Youtube wants you to stay on their platform to watch more delicious advertising.


  • Simple, easy, free
  • Shareable links


  • No editing options
  • Stuck on YouTube
  • Not possible for all videos

Recording from your computer

A more DIY option is to record the clip locally using screen recording software. If you’re on a Mac you can use Quicktime (although you’ll need to use something like BlackHole to record your system audio – good explanation here), and on Windows you have a plethora of options.

This approach is infinitely flexible, and has the advantage of giving you a hard copy of all your clips, but requires a little more fiddling than browser-based solutions.


  • Free
  • Incredibly flexible
  • Keep your recording files


  • More setup required
  • Video resolution limited to your screen resolution
  • Minimal editing options

Recording from your mobile

Another simple and quick option (especially for people who edit videos primarily on their phone for TikTok or Instagram Reels) is to record your clip using your phone’s built-in screen recorder. Both Android and iPhone will let you screen record with audio easily (Android instructions here, iPhone here).

The most important thing to be aware of with this method is, depending on the options you choose and your phone operating system, you may record your entire screen. That means you’re not just creating a clip of your YouTube video, but also your notifications and your battery level, which is probably embarrassingly low.

You can crop the video once you’ve finished recording, but this can take a long time due to the limited processing power available on mobiles.


  • Simple, easy, free
  • Convenient if you edit clips on your phone
  • Keep your recording files


  • Fiddly and slow
  • Need to transfer file to computer for advanced editing

Editing for social

If you want to use your clips in your Tiktoks, Reels, or somewhere else, the next step is to edit them. Most YouTube videos are in horizontal, or 16:9, format. Conversely, most social apps are built for mobile screens and so use vertical, or 9:16 video. So, you need to crop them.

Pro editing software

If you have access to it, something like Adobe Premiere will let you make all the edits you need and them some. Adobe is doing a great job of infusing AI features into Premiere, so you can use the auto-reframe feature to switch you video to landscape and keep the subjects centered.

However, Premiere is a pro tool, built for pro people. So if you’re just getting started with video editing it can be a little (or very) intimidating. A nice middle-ground is Premiere Rush, a stripped-down version of the editor built specifically with creators in mind.


  • Incredibly powerful
  • Super fast, once you know what you’re doing


  • Complex for newbies
  • Monthly subscription fee

Consumer apps

For more basic editing tasks – cutting montages together, adding music etc. – there are plenty of free apps that will get you most of the way there.

iMovie for Mac, Lightworks, and plenty of others are a great way to get started with editing, and won’t cost you a penny. However, each has its limitations and none are built specifically for recutting clips for social channels, so won’t have AI reframing, auto-captions and all the nice features you’ll get in a pro package.


  • Free
  • Good entry point to editing


  • Limitations on usage (resolution, duration etc.)
  • No dedicated reframing support

Dedicated social clipping apps

If you’ll be doing a lot of clipping, cropping and reframing for your social channels, you should check out a dedicated social clipping app. These don’t come with all the bells and whistles of a full editing suite, but have features specifically built for social video. Cropping from horizontal to vertical, AI reframing, captions, and file export in popular formats.

And, as you’ve probably guessed, Imaginario AI is one such platform! In fact, we can handle the whole process of taking a video from YouTube and clipping it either for download or for social channels. Simply import a YouTube video by URL, choose your clip, and reframe. Give it a try, you can create 5 clips per month totally free!

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