How to Record Audio on Mac

This article will explain how to record audio on your Mac. You can choose to record external audio – like the iPhone’s Voice Memos app does, or record only internal audio – the audio that your Mac is playing back.

How to Record Sound on Mac: External Audio

The easiest way to record sound on a Mac is to use QuickTime Player. This bundled app is typically thought of as a video player, but it also allows us to record audio, screen and video as well.

Here’s how to use QuickTime to record sound on a Mac from a microphone, using either an external microphone or the built-in one.

Step 1: Launch QuickTime Player – Search it via Spotlight Search or find it in the Applications folder in Finder.

Step 2: Click “File”, then click “New Audio Recording”. The Audio Recording window will show up.

New Audio Recording

Step 3: Click the little down arrow next to the big record button. You will be able to choose the sound input and quality.

Step 4: Click the Record button to start recording audio. When you want to finish, just hit the Record button one more time to stop recording.

Step 5: After recording, you can click the Play button to play back the recorded sound.

Step 6: To trim the sound, click EditTrim or press Command+T. The yellow trimming bar will appear, with handles on each end. Drag the handles to select the portion to keep. Finally, click Trim to remove audio outside the trimming bar. To undo the trim, choose EditUndo Trim.

Trim Audio

Step 7: Once you’re satisfied with the audio file, click “File”“Save”, then select the destination folder to store the file.

Save recorded sound

The recorded sound will be exported as an m4a file, so you can easily transfer it to other devices without having to change the file extension. M4A files can be played widely on all the platforms including Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.

For recording voice memos, capturing calls on a Mac, or similar purposes, QuickTime is obviously the perfect solution.

For power users who want more advanced features to control and edit the audio, QuickTime might not be a good option due to its simplicity.

Apple also provides another free voice recording application called GarageBand and it offers a lot more audio editing features. However, using this application might be overly complicated since it’s geared towards music making.

I would recommend using a third-party software called Audacity. It’s a free open source sound recorder available for all platforms including macOS.

With Audacity, you can record multiple tracks, remove background noise, change the speed or pitch of a recording, cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together… It also supports more file formats such as AC3, WMA, M4R,… Audacity is pretty great if you’re looking for a Mac voice recorder that is easy to use and provides more audio control.

How to Record sound-out audio directly on Mac

The above walkthrough is about recording audio from the microphone on Mac. If you need to capture only sound-out audio that your Mac is playing back, then you’ll have to install an additional app for that.

One of the easy ways to record only audio from applications on Mac is to use Piezo. It is a freemium app with 10 minutes of recording per launch for the free version.

After downloading the zip file, you just need to unzip and open the application and start using. It requires no installations. Piezo can capture audio from just about any application playing on your Mac.

Simply choose the application for the audio source and hit the Record button. Recorded sounds will be saved to the default folder at Music/Piezo

You can change the destination folder by clicking Piezo in the menu bar that runs along the top of the screen, then select Preferences. Here you can also enable the option to show the audio file after recording.

There is a free software for Mac that can pass audio between applications called Soundflower. Using this extension, we can pass audio from any application to a voice recorder app like QuickTime and record directly, without using the microphone.

It was popularly used but now installing Soundflower on macOS can be complicated for novice users. If you’re interested in this Soundflower app, you can take a look at this new update.


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