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How to record sound on a mac.

Need to record your voice? What is the easiest and best sound recorder on the Mac? If you come a Windows PC background, you may be familiar with a handy little Sound Recorder application. So what options do we have on Mac OS?

Originally Published April 29, 2011. Updated November 2016. 

QuickTime: The easy option


If your Mac is running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (2009) or later, you can use the built in QuickTime 10 player for audio recording.

  1. Open QuickTime Player from your Applications folder.
  2. Open the File menu and select New Audio Recording.
  3. You will see a very simple user interface with sound recording controls.quick-time-audio-recording-interface
  4. You may click on the Down Arrow next to the record button to select your sound input (microphone) and sound Quality settings.
  5. Microphone volume is adjustable with the slider under the record button.

Older Macs will generally have two input sources: Build-in Microphone and a Line-in from the 3.5mm jack. Newer Macs have only the Microphone available as the audio source.

The High quality setting records M4A files with variable bitrate using the AAC code. This is good balance of quality, file size and file compatibility. The Maximum quality setting saves AIFC files using PCM S24 codec and produces rather large files. This is overkill in most situations, and file compatibility is limited. If in doubt, use the High setting.

Note: QuickTime 7 is also built into earlier versions of Mac OS X. However, audio recording was a paid feature of QuickTime Pro.

Audacity: For power users.


How about a free app for recording as well as editing sound? You can also try the free and open source Audacity sound recorder. It is a powerful recorder, editor, and converter. You can find a version that is backwards compatible with macs running much older versions of OS X. It has a steeper learning curve than QuickTime’s audio recording feature, but it is far more powerful and better suited for longer recordings where editing is needed.

Audacity user interface on a mac.

Refer to Audacity’s documentation for an explanation of it’s advanced features.


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