Downie is a fantastic utility that provides users an option for identifying and downloading media files such as videos from just about any online source. It's incredibly easy to use but the user interface could use a little sprucing up. Some of the icons are a little small and hard to see - especially when viewing Downie's browser window from the menu bar. We also encountered a few odd bug-type errors when using the software, but it didn't distract from the abilities of the app. I love how powerful this app is without being overcomplicated for the user. As far as pricing goes, it seems to be in line with other video downloading tools - but Downie does more than they do.
- EASE OF USE
Downie is the one-stop-shop for internet video downloading
I remember way back when the first video iPod was released way back in 2005. It was a trip to be able to walk around with movies and video clips in my pocket. It was also a PAIN to get any videos downloaded from the internet at that time.
I spent lots of time digging around source code and using crappy shareware apps to scrape videos from websites and it never was a pleasant experience. Nowadays, there are many other options to download videos for offline use. Kids today have it so much easier than we did back then. One of these options is Downie, a Mac app that helps users save videos from the Internet.
Downie is an all-in-one media scraping tool that was specifically designed to identify and download videos from online services such as YouTube. The description from Setapp reads:
Find a video you want to download, then drag and drop the link into the app, or take advantage of a Downie browser extension doing it for you. That’s literally all it takes to get that video on your Mac. Downie lets you download YouTube videos and save video content from hundreds of other websites, including Facebook, Vimeo, and Instagram.
Developer, Charlie Monroe, started programming around 20 years ago with PASCAL and REALbasic in macOS 8. His first paid app was released in 2015-2016 for macOS X. Downie was released in late 2013 and is currently on version 4.5.3.
Downie was originally written in Objective-C, but in the past few years, it’s all been migrated to Swift – except where there are interactions where C++ is required. Monroe has several other projects in-flight including Permute, Eon, and UctoX, which are all existing apps.
- Supports many sites – currently supports over 1,000 different sites (including YouTube, Youku, Bilibili, Vimeo, etc.) and the number is rapidly growing.
- 4K video YouTube support – unlike many other YouTube downloaders, Downie supports HD video on YouTube, up to 4K.
- Postprocessing – need your video in MP4 for iTunes? Or want just the audio track? No problem, Downie can handle this for you automatically!
- History Synchronization – sychronize Downie history over iCloud between your devices.
- Quick support – I respond to emails usually within 24 hours and often add support for requested sites in the next update.
- Frequent updates – Don‘t wait weeks for new sites to be supported, or bugs to be fixed! Downie is updated about once a week with new features, sites supported, etc.
- International – not only that Downie supports country-specific sites, it is localized into various languages. If your language is missing, contact us – we can offer you a free license in exchange for a translation.
Pricing and Availability
Downie is available for purchase through the developer’s web store for $19.99 or through Setapp, which gives subscribers access to more than 200 apps for a monthly fee of $9.99. There is a free trial available through Setapp and the web store. A student discount is also available.
Since there are two different versions of the app (web store and Setapp), my fiancé and I each downloaded one version to test out. I was working with the web store version and she was using the Setapp version. We both noticed that each version was nearly identical. The web store version did have a few additional steps for installation whereas the Setapp install process is very similar to the Mac App Store experience (click install and it installs in the background).
After finishing the installations of both versions and evaluating their preference options and basic functions, the only differences that were obvious were that the web store allows for automatic updates and installation and the Setapp version doesn’t have a dedicated setting for parental controls. The options that are featured on the parental screen on the web store version are available, but they are included with the Advanced settings tab for the Setapp version.
Shortly before I got a copy of Downie, I went on vacation. This honestly would have been the perfect use-case for an app like this because it would have been great to have pre-downloaded videos on the 12-hour long road trip when LTE was not available. Because I didn’t have Downie, I didn’t attempt to download anything because I thought it would take too long.
I actually started using Downie a couple of months ago. I wanted to use it on as many random sites as I could before writing this review to ensure I could say without a doubt that the app can grab just about everything. It’s been a super fast and easy process.
My fiancé used to utilize different downloading apps when she worked as a video editor and she really likes that the preferences allow users to customize certain aspects of the app. For example, she really likes that you can set a specific location to save your downloaded videos as well as set a naming structure for those downloaded files.
One thing that was a little strange was how the app handled being hidden. There is a setting where you can hide the dock icon. When you do that, the icon appears in the menu bar. For an app like this, this is actually my preference. When you do select this option, the finder window for the app shows up connected to the menu bar.
For the most part, this feature worked flawlessly. There was one time when my fiancé encountered a strange error where the Downie Window appeared as connected to the File menu rather than the menu bar. This only happened once and it was after she had the app quit after finishing downloads so we figured it was a strange glitch, but still worth noting. It also seemed a little too difficult to access the main browser window without the dock icon. The menu bar icon would not bring it to the front if you were using the user-guided extraction option.
As far as testing goes, we tried downloading videos from YouTube and Vimeo first. There were zero issues with those services. I also tried Reddit, which ended up being a little problematic only because there are so many resources on that site – more than just video. So, the app stuttered a little with Reddit as a whole. If I selected a specific link, again, Downie had no problem downloading it.
My fiancé did attempt to use the user-guided extraction with Netflix (just to see if it could be done) but was unable to download any usable video content. She was, however, able to download content from social media sites such as Instagram (video and images) as long as she was using the user-guided extraction tool. You end up having to log into your account through that tool’s browser and then it will detect any media files that are available.
Downie isn’t just a great tool for downloading videos, it is a good all-around media slurping tool. If you have a site that you are working with and you want to archive all the media from it, you can use Downie to detect images and audio files, too.
As much as I enjoy using Downie I do have a quirk with the design of the software. It’s easy to use but having more onboarding information at launch would have been nice. Also, some of the buttons and gear icons are small. I would have liked to see the interface be a little bigger for half-blind people like me. Besides that Downie is an excellent piece of software that I can suggest to anyone.