How to quickly record audio in OS X

SoundIconXIf you need to record a quick sound bite, or other audio to your Mac, then while you might find yourself looking for a third-party program, or even to programs like Garageband to do the job, you can also look no further than Apple’s included QuickTime Player. In other words, no purchase necessary.

In order to record on your Mac, you can use your Mac’s built-in microphone, or a third-party mic connected to your Mac’s microphone jack. If your Mac does not come with a dedicated mic or line-in jack, then you can use the headphone jack with special microphone hardware such as Apple’s earbuds with its built-in mic, or you can use a third-party USB solution. These can be dedicated USB microphones, or a standalone pre-amp controller that can take a microphone or line-in so you can plug in instruments and other audio devices for recording.

New audio recording in QuickTime Player

The levels shown under the recording indicate the input of each channel. Ensure these are neither saturating nor too low.

Regardless of your setup, with your audio input configured, to quickly record a sound bite, just open QuickTime Player in your Applications folder (do a Spotlight search for even quicker access), and perform the following steps:

1. Create a new Audio recording

Right-click the QuickTime Player icon in the Dock and choose “New Audio Recording.” You can also choose this from the File menu, or by pressing Control-Option-Command-N.

2. Test your input levels

Speak into your Mic, or briefly play your instruments. When you do this, you will see each input channel’s level indicator light up in the audio recording window. If only a few bars show, then you need to drag the input volume (gain) level higher to fill out the full recording range, but if you see them always at their maximum, then you are saturating your input, and to avoid buzz you will need to lower the input gain. If you do not see any input bars, then click the down-arrow next to the record button, and ensure your desired input device is chosen.

Audio recording in QuickTime Player

When your recording is done, you can preview it, but you will still need to save it.

3. Record your sound

With your gain set properly, now simply click the Record button in the middle of the window, and QuickTime will begin recording. When done recording, click the Stop button, and you will see your recording now presented in the same QuickTime window.

From here, you can click the play button to preview your recording, and drag the progress slider around to various times in the recording to preview it. Note that at this point the recording is not yet saved, so be sure to press Command-S or choose Save from the File menu, and then save the recording accordingly.

The saved audio file will be in MPEG-4 format, which will allow it to be opened in many programs, including iTunes, embedded in e-mails, or uploaded to online services for sharing.

One thought on “How to quickly record audio in OS X

  1. Gilbert Plantinga

    That’s very cool! QuickTime Player will also record video from iSight or the screen, and I never knew that. What I would like to know is if there is any way to use recorded audio as a source for OS X’s dictation feature?

Comments are closed.