YouTube has become as an important source of music as any these days. It just so happens that the songs all have to have a visual component to them as well - whether you actually watch them or not.

Of course, if you'd rather not have to navigate to the video sharing site every time you want to listen to that song, then there is a way around that too. The audio quality is only ever going to be as good as the source you got it from, so it's not a route for the purists, but, it's quite possible and very easy to convert online YouTube videos to desktop MP3s

Option 1
Probably the simplest way to get MP3s out of YouTube and other internet video sites is by using a web application to do it for you. There's plenty about but the one that seems to give the best results is TuneNabber. All you have to do is copy and paste the URL of the video clip you're looking at into the obvious field at the top of the site and hit the Nab MP3 button. You don't even need to tick the box that binds you to agreeing to the copyright laws if you don't wish to. It seems to work all the same.

You then get taken to a second page where you get a progress bar of your video to MP3 conversion which will take a matter of minutes at the most. If there appears to be no progress at all, then just refresh the page and that seems to get things kick started. Once the process is complete, you can click through to a new page where you'll see a large bar saying "Download MP3". Do like the sign says, and you'll get the file you're after in perfect playable condition arriving on your desktop for you to do with as you wish.

As we say, there are other sites that allow you to do this but TuneNabber seems to have less in the way of annoying ads and holding pages, there's no pop ups involved, no tricks to get you to download or pay for something that you don't need to and the whole process is clean too.

Option 2
Some people aren't such big believers in web apps and would rather use a piece of desktop software instead. If that sounds like you, then the best place to head is where you can find the Free YouTube to MP3 converter. It's a 17MB install and offers a bare, grey interface with a series of drop down menus to help you get the files saved where you want them while keeping them named as you like too. Do watch out on installation though as, unless you untick a few boxes, you will end up with an toolbar in your browser.

The program works very well. You don't have to worry about any nasties that it might be downloading onto your machine each time it performs a conversion and you can even set it to download the music straight to your iTunes library too. The only issue is that every now and then, YouTube changes the way it does things and your software will cease to work, but then, that's what updates are for. Just remember to perform them.

Option 1
Of course, the other thing you might want to do with YouTube videos is to download them and watch them back on your portable media player, mobile phone or just on your desktop whenever you choose. As with MP3 conversion, there are a number of different web apps that offer the service. The trouble is that very few of them seem either that clean or that good. - curiously enough - seems the best of the bunch even if it only offers conversion to MP4 for iPhone/iPod and 3GP standard mobiles.

It's the same paste in the URL format as before, only this time you need to select the file type you're after and do your best to avoid the largest download button on the page which is in fact an advert for something else rather than the button you're after. It's the part that says "Convert Video" first and then "Download Audio" in quite small type once that process is over which are the ones that you need.

Option 2
If there's one particular video conversion you do more than others - ie for your iPhone or PSP or such - then a better way to go this time is with your own desktop application. The site offers a list of different applications for the exact process which meets your needs, and it's a lot tidier than some of the websites offering similar services which can sometimes be of a more erratic quality.

Pick the appropriate one for you and, if you're not sure which you'll be using, then you can always download the entire free studio suite instead - the 39MB program at the top of the page. Again, just remember to check for updates.

If there are any better methods, genius converter apps or ways to clean up files after, then let us know in the comments.