October 6, 2021

How to Record Audio on a Mac

7 min

7 129

  1. Download the system audio recorder
  2. Adjust the recording parameters
  3. Save the system sounds
  4. Convert tracks to other formats

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Using the voice recorder on a Mac is relatively easy, but you may need a little more functionality than just recording external audio. This article explains how to record audio on a Mac using programs that allow you to accomplish tasks like recording audio from a live stream or video call.

Program

Best for

Our rating

Movavi Screen RecorderCapturing sound from streaming videos, webinars, and online calls5/5
Voice MemosQuick sound recording and sharing3/5
Quicktime Player with SoundflowerEveryday multimedia playback with some editing functions3/5
GarageBandMusic production and full-scale editing4/5

Special pick: Movavi Screen Recorder

Movavi Screen Recorder is our special pick from this pool of audio recording software. With this program you can capture online calls or webinars, record instruction-based videos and tutorials, and grab other streaming videos.

The program has a simple interface anyone can use with some extra functions that enhance the recording process. If you’re recording video, you can also draw on the screen to make notes or show your keyboard to viewers when hosting.

It’s an all-in-one audio and video capture toolkit, and it comes with a free trial.

Reviewers on CNET say the program is very fast and easy to use. You can read the review from the link below.

Review by CNET

How to record sound on a Mac with Movavi Screen Recorder

Best for: capturing sound from streaming videos, webinars, and online calls

G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5, 45 reviews

Movavi Screen Recorder is a great free application for screen recording on your MacBook. It is capable of recording audios and videos either as a combination or independent of each other. You can also use it to make basic and advanced edits to these recordings. As a voice recorder for Mac, Movavi Screen Recorder can record either system sound or sound from the external environment through the system's microphone, independent of the screen recording. While the free version of Movavi Screen Recorder can help you record high-quality audio, you will need to purchase the paid version if you want access to additional features.

Movavi Screen Recorder is best for its ease of use and advanced editing properties. Check the guide below to learn how to record audio on a Mac in a few simple steps.

How to record audio on Mac using Movavi Screen Recorder:

Step 1. Install and run the program

Download and install the audio recorder on a Mac. The app is compatible with Mac OS Х 10.10 and higher.

Step 2. Start recording

To record computer audio on your Mac, run the program and click the Screen recording button on the control panel on the right. During the screen capture, you can record sound as well: voice memos, system audio, music from websites, or microphone input.

Step 3. Adjust the audio capture settings

You will be prompted to choose a screen area to capture. You won't actually need it to do audio recording, so just select a random area.

Make sure the System Audio button is highlighted if you want to record audio from your computer in Mac OS. If you’re going to capture audio from a Mac microphone, enable the Microphone option. You can do both voice recording and record from system audio.

Step 4. Record audio

Get ready to start playing the audio you want to capture and click REC. You can manage the process by clicking the appropriate buttons on the recording panel. You can also use hotkeys: ⌥ ⌘ 1 to pause and ⌥ ⌘ 2 to stop.

After you finish recording, a preview window will appear. Here, you can replay your audio and cut out any unnecessary parts. To remove a section from the middle of your recording, click Cut, set the markers at the beginning and at the end of the section you want to delete, and then click the Delete button. Repeat if needed.

Step 5. Save the result

Your audio track is recorded as well as screen activity, but you can save it as just an audio file. To do this, click Export, select MP3 from the format list, and click Save. Now you know how to record sound on a Mac with Movavi Screen Recorder!

Key features

  • Allows you to schedule your screen recordings with a time limit
  • Recording for audio-only if you want
  • Draw on the videos during recording and make notes
  • Free minor updates

Pros of using Movavi Screen Recorder

  • It is a highly simplified and convenient recording tool
  • It has automatic scheduled recording and shutdown options
  • It has advanced editing features

Cons of using Movavi Screen Recorder

  • You cannot directly access previously recorded videos from the application

How to use Voice Memos as a voice recorder for a Mac

Best for: quick sound recording

Voice Memos is a sound capturing application exclusive to OS X devices – MacBook (Air, Pro), iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. It can record external audio via Bluetooth headset, compatible external microphone, or inbuilt microphone, and it can also record the system's audio. It is also able to edit recordings, share and synchronize your recordings across all your devices. Its added advantage is the ability to play your recording on any device you log into iCloud with the same Apple ID.

The Voice Memos app is best for its synchronicity across all Apple devices. Learn how to record voice on a Mac from the guide below.

How to record audio on Mac with Voice Memos:

  1. Locate the Voice Memos app: Voice Memos app is preinstalled in all MacBooks with Mac OS Mojave 10.14 and higher. To locate the app, search for it using Siri or locate it in your application folder. If you will be using this app quite frequently, it is advisable to dock it by dragging its icon to the dock and selecting the keep in dock option.
  2. Start recording: To initiate a new recording, click on the red button in the app’s lower central part. The click will lead to the interface’s transformation to a waveform that indicates the recording’s pace. During recording sessions, it is possible to pause the recording by clicking on the pause icon on the lower left border. Click on the same button to resume your recording.
  3. Finish recording: To complete the recording, click on the done button on the lower right corner of your system window.
  4. Save your recording: Your recording will be automatically saved and accessible from the folder destination.

It is possible to access recorded files directly by opening the Voice Memos app. You can also add to or edit the recording by clicking on the file menu, then selecting the Edit function at the top-right corner. You can also clip a recording or re-record undesired segments of the clip from within the Voice Memos app.

To share your recording with others, click the Share icon (a box with an arrow pointing up out of it) in the top-right corner and select how you want to send it to your friends and colleagues.

Key features

  • Has some editing functions—trim, replace, enhance, and duplicate
  • Share icon allows you to instantly share recordings with others
  • Saves to iCloud where you can easily replay recordings on multiple devices
  • Can record audio on a Mac from any source

Pros of using Voice Memos

  • You can use it across multiple devices
  • It's pretty simple to use
  • It can utilize multiple sources of connectivity

Cons of using Voice Memos

  • It has limited editing capability

How to record voice on a Mac with QuickTime Player and Soundflower

Best for: everyday multimedia playback

MacUpdate rating: 3.7 out of 5, 68 reviews

Download QuickTime Player

Download Soundflower

QuickTime Player is the inbuilt multimedia application for your MacBook; added to its plethora of functions is its ability to capture your device’s screen via a screenshot or a recording. Since it is an inbuilt application, it does not require a download to work on your device. Beyond its screen recording function, QuickTime Player is also used to record audio and play videos. However, to guard against copyright infringement, QuickTime Player cannot register your device’s internal audio by itself, and it usually requires another application: it usually requires another application: Soundflower, which functions as an add-on. One other drawback of QuickTime is its limited capabilities – it reduces recording's qualities and the lack of any editing feature in the application.

QuickTime is best for its ease of use as an everyday multimedia player on MacBook.

How to record audio on Mac using QuickTime Player:

  1. Download and install Soundflower: Soundflower is free software that allows you to redirect sound from one device to another easily. Once installed, you must restart the computer. Then, in the system preferences of Mac OS, in the sound settings, two new peripherals appeared, in input as in output (Soundflower (2ch) and Soundflower (64ch)). By choosing the Soundflower (2ch) output device instead of the speakers, it is possible to redirect the computer’s sound to an input device. So all you have to do is record the sound of this input device. Once the installation package is downloaded, run it to install the extension.
  2. Change your preferences: Open your device's preferences, click on sound, then output. You notice there are four options: internal speakers, headphones, Soundflower (2ch), and Soundflower (64ch). A little explanation is needed here; before the installation of the Soundflower extension. These options were just limited to the first two, and the installation brought them to four. You need to select Soundflower (2ch). The downside of choosing sunflower is that your device’s speaker won’t as long as the option remains selected. Ensure that the preference is changed back to internal speakers after you have recorded your audio.
  3. Record the audio: Open your QuickTime Player app, click on File, then New Audio Recording. Then click on the Record button to record the audio from your device and click on the dark grey square and select a location to save it once you are done.

PS: Remember to change your device's preference back to internal speakers to listen to your audio.

However, recording your voice or any audio from an external source involves a pretty straightforward process without the need for an extension. The process is as follows:

  1. Confirm your System Settings: To record from an external source, your system output needs to be set to either internal speakers or headphones. It should be confirmed by opening your device's preferences, click on Sound, then Output.
  2. Record your audio: To record your audio, open QuickTime and select a new audio recording from the file menu. Then press the red button to start recording.
  3. Save your recording: Once the recording is complete, stop the recording and save the audio to your computer or upload it to the cloud.

Key features

  • Quickly record your screen with two clicks
  • Has some editing functionality
  • Also acts as a solid multimedia player that works with many file formats
  • Soundflower allows you to channel audio from multiple applications

Pros of QuickTime Player

  • It is readily accessible for MacBook users
  • Its compatibility with iPad and iPhone makes it possible to initiate the recording process on any of these devices
  • It comes at no additional cost to the user

Cons of QuickTime Player

  • Since recordings cannot be tested while recording, it is impossible to confirm if the correct audio is being recorded or if the recording is of adequate quality

How to use the GarageBand audio recorder on a Mac

Best for: music production

PCMag rating: 4.5 out of 5

Download GarageBand

GarageBand is an app that enables you to record, play and share your music wherever you are. Developed by Apple, the application allows for its users to create music or podcasts. It has sophisticated audio recording functions, which makes it ideal for use by podcasters and music creators. Some of these features include auto-filter functions, the ability to record at 16-bit or 24 bit, the ability to simulate auto-tune effects at their highest volume, preset effects to enhance the quality of recording produced.

GarageBand's capabilities range from recording multiple audio tracks with filters that realistically simulate sampled instruments to simple voice recordings. GarageBand files can be exported in various formats and shared in a podcast; with an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, sent via email; or streamed over the Internet.

Its advantage over others is its advanced recording features, making it more suitable for podcasting and music production.

How to record audio on Mac using GarageBand:

  1. Download and install GarageBand: Usually, MacBook is preinstalled with GarageBand. However, if it is missing, you can download it. Install the app by running the installation package.
  2. Start GarageBand: Once fully installed, locate the app on your device using Siri or from your application folder. Once the application is started, you will be required to select from a list of templates, select anyone that suits your purpose. You should also create an empty project and add a new track. Ensure you select the Record option in your track.
  3. Change your preferences: To use a GarageBand to record your system's audio, you have to select the right preferences. You can do this while creating a project or adding a new track. However, this can also be done by clicking on GarageBand, then Preferences, then Audio/Midi. A box is displayed which contains the input device and output device, among other things. Irrespective of the method used, ensure that you change the input device option to built-in input and the output device to built-in output.
  4. Record: To record sound from your computer on a Mac, ensure what you will like to register is playing already. You can increase the input signal using the recording level slider to a reasonable level where it can pick up the sound of adequate quality. Then click on the red circle to start recording.
  5. Save your recording: To stop recording, click on the red square. You can save your recording using the file menu. There are also options to export your recording to iTunes, SoundCloud, AirDrop, and MP3.

Key features

  • Export features allow you to share recordings easily via email or social media
  • Import files into iCloud so you can listen to them on any device
  • Full audio editing capabilities, so you can manipulate the sound however you want
  • Can record sound at 16 or 24 bits for better audio quality

Pros of using GarageBand

  • Easy to learn and use
  • It is completely free
  • It possesses sophisticated audio recording options

Cons of using GarageBand

  • It lacks advanced editing features compared to other software

Conclusion: how to choose the best audio recorder for a Mac

The four application options discussed above for capturing system sounds can be summarized thus:

Voice Memos can record external audio via Bluetooth headset, compatible external microphone, or inbuilt microphone, and it can also record the system's audio. It is also able to edit recordings, share and synchronize your recordings across all your devices. Its added advantage is the ability to play your recording on any device you are logged into iCloud with the same Apple ID.

QuickTime can capture the screen of your device via a screenshot or a recording. Since it is an inbuilt application, it does not require a download to work on your device. Beyond its screen recording function, quick time is also used to record audio and play videos. However, to guard against copyright infringement, QuickTime cannot record your device’s internal audio by itself, and it usually requires another application: Soundflower, which functions as an extension. This makes it a pretty cumbersome application to use.

GarageBand enables its users to create music or podcasts. It has sophisticated audio recording functions, which makes it ideal for use by podcasters and music creators. However, it lacks significant editing functions.

Movavi Screen Recorder records audios and videos either as a combination or independent of each other. It can also be used to make basic and advanced edits to these recordings. For its audio recording purposes, Movavi Screen Recorder is capable of recording either system sound or sound from the external environment through the system's microphone, independent of the screen recording. However, one drawback is that its full functionality is only in a paid version? However, the real question to be answered is it worth its cost? Considering its performance relative to other apps, it's worth its full price, and for the purpose of this review, it will be voted the best among these options.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best recorder for a Mac?

The best recorder is one that can record both internal and external audio without any stress. Voice Memos is capable of recording external audio via Bluetooth headset, compatible external microphone, or inbuilt microphone, and it can also record the system's audio with the added advantage of the ability to play your recording on any device in which you are logged into iCloud with the same Apple ID. QuickTime Player can capture the screen of your device via a screenshot or a recording; however, it usually requires another application: Soundflower, which functions as an extension. GarageBand has sophisticated audio recording functions, which makes it ideal for use by podcasters and music creators. Movavi Screen Recorder records audios and videos either as a combination or independent of each other; it is capable of recording either system sound or sound from the external environment through the system's microphone, independent of the screen recording.

How do I record internal audio on my Mac?

Recording audio from an external source is quite different from trying to record the device's internal audio; while most audio applications can do the former, relatively fewer applications have the capacity to do the latter. The best ways to record internal audio from your system include Movavi Screen Recorder, QuickTime, or OBS. You can read more about recording internal audio on your Mac below.

How do I record audio from Safari on a Mac?

One question on the mind of those who use the Safari web browser regularly on a Mac device is it possible to record audio from the internet through Safari to my Mac device while streaming? The answer is yes. To get started, you will need to download Soundflower. Once installed, restart the computer. Then, select Soundflower (2ch) output device instead of the speakers in the system preferences of Mac OS in the sound settings. Once you have Soundflower set up on your system, open your Safari, hold down the ALT button of your keyboard and simultaneously click the Volume icon on your menu bar. This should be done until a menu is displayed. In the menu, select Soundflower (2ch) as the input and output device of your browsers. Once this is done, you can use your QuickTime or any other audio recording application available on your device to record the audio playing from your Safari.

Movavi Screen Recorder

The perfect way to record from your screen

Disclaimer: Please be aware that Movavi Screen Recorder does not allow capture of copy-protected video and audio streams. Learn more