How to Watch and Download TikToks Without the App

September 21, 2020 • Shannon Flynn

The past couple of months have been a wild ride for TikTok users. After weeks of rumors, signs and speculation, it seems that the U.S. will remove the app after all. Issues of internet freedom aside, the situation leaves many wondering how they’ll watch TikTok videos.

In August, President Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok if its Chinese parent company didn’t sell it by September 20. This action comes out of growing fears about how the Chinese government uses app data. Since TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is Chinese, the Chinese government could theoretically use it to spy on American users.

TikTok says that its data centers aren’t in China, so the Chinese government wouldn’t have jurisdiction over their data. The Department of Commerce is also talking with ByteDance and Oracle, an American company, about a new ownership plan. Still, the order will go forward, and users will be unable to download the TikTok app by Sunday.

Despite these developments, you may still be able to watch TikToks. Here’s how you can download TikTok videos and watch them without the app.

How to Download TikToks

If you already have TikTok downloaded, you can likely keep using it, but some features may not work. Even if you aren’t able to, you can start downloading TikToks before it goes away. First, open TikTok and go to the video you want to download.

Look at the menu on the right for the “Share” icon and tap it. Your phone will then present a list of sharing options, one of which will say “Save” or “Save Video.” Tap this option, and if TikTok asks for permission to access your photos, grant it.

After you follow these steps, you can watch the TikTok in your phone’s video library. Keep in mind that they’ll have a watermark on them for copyright reasons. Some users may also block downloads, so you may not be able to download everything.

How to Watch TikToks Without the App

After the TikTok app leaves app stores, you still have some options to watch TikToks. While the executive order will remove the app, TikTok still has a website. On your computer or mobile browser, you can watch TikTok videos on this site.

TikTok’s website doesn’t offer all the same features as the app, but it’s better than nothing. For instance, there’s no search option on the web version, so it may be harder to find specific TikToks. Still, the official website is your best bet for watching TikToks without the app.

If the government’s actions do take down the website, you can still watch TikToks. A lot of users upload TikToks to YouTube, so you may be able to see them there. Unfortunately, not everything will be on YouTube, and it could take longer to find what you’re after.

You may be able to use a VPN to download and use the TikTok app. VPNs can change the location of your IP address, giving you access to regionally restricted websites and apps. Find a VPN that fits your needs and budget, turn it on, make sure it routs you through another country and enjoy TikTok.

Depending on how the ban works, though, VPNs may not work. The ban could block TikTok through your internet service provider (ISP), which a VPN wouldn’t be able to work around.

An Uncertain Future for TikTok

It’s still unclear if this ban will last forever. The talks with Oracle could work out, and TikTok could come back to American app stores. For now, though, the future remains uncertain.

As long as the ban is in effect, you’ll have to get creative to watch TikToks. Even if you can’t download TikTok, you can follow these steps to watch your favorite videos another way. 

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