Make a screencast or audio recording with QuickTime Player 10

Make a screencast or audio recording with QuickTime Player 10
Mac Tip #474, 16 February 2011

QuickTime Player 10 means anyone can record audio, such as their own spoken words, or a video of what’s happening on their computer, with just one click. Here’s how.

QuickTime Player 10

QuickTime Player 10 can record screencasts and audio for you. Earlier versions of QuickTime Player probably cannot. Please read Star in your own short movies for information about locating QuickTime Player 10, checking the version, setting options, seeing file information, and recording a video of yourself. It will help explain details I’ve glossed over below.

Record audio

QuickTime Player 10 audio recording window, showing options.

QuickTime Player 10 audio recording window, showing options.

Go to QuickTime Player 10′s File Menu and choose New Audio Recording. A recording window opens, with a Movie Controller near the bottom of the window.

To start recording press the round red Record button in the Controller.

Speak loudly and clearly, so the built-in microphone will pick up what you say.

When you’ve finished, press the square black Stop Recording button in the Controller. The recording is automatically saved in your Movies folder, with a name like: Audio

Choose audio options

Click the white triangle at top right of the Movie Controller to see recording options. Choose to use the built-in microphone, or a microphone you plug in, the quality of the recording and where it should be saved.

I made two tiny recordings (6 seconds), one at High quality and one at Maximum. The High quality recording was 115 Kb, while the Maximum quality recording was 1.1 Mb.

If you plan on emailing your recording you may prefer High quality, with its much smaller file sizes.

Audio recording tips

While recording audio be aware of sounds around you: dogs barking, car horns outside, the TV in the background. You may be so used to them you automatically block them out. The microphone will pick them up and may make it very hard for people to listen to your recording. Try to record in a quiet environment.

Clear your throat and sit up straight before recording. Try to speak very slightly slower than usual, or to pause slightly longer between ‘chunks’ of speech.

Screen Recordings are valuable

Screen Recordings are wonderful things. If you look back through my MacTips since July 2009 you’ll see many include a Screen Recording showing you exactly what to do. I actually use a sophisticated and powerful piece of software called Screenflow as it lets me add titles, move things around, zoom in and so on.

But even a basic screen recording can be invaluable. I recently took over a small job maintaining a mailing list. The friend I took it over from gave me a training session showing me what to do and recording the screen and her voice while she did it. That recording is now a valuable reference when I have queries.

You may like to record your screen to show someone else how you did something, if reporting a software bug to a developer, or even when seeking help for a computer problem. Here’s how.

Make a Screen Recording

QuickTime Player 10 screen recording confirmation window.

QuickTime Player 10 screen recording confirmation window.

Go to QuickTime Player 10′s File Menu and choose New Screen Recording. A recording window opens, with a Movie Controller near the bottom of the window. Select recording options as explained above.

To start recording press the round red Record button in the Controller. An interim window appears with advice about how to stop recording. Press the blue Start Recording button to start recording your screen.

Speak loudly and clearly, so the built-in microphone picks up what you say.

When you’ve finished, press the square black Stop Recording button in the Menu Bar. The recording is automatically saved in your Movies folder, with a name like: Screen

My 12 second medium quality screen recording with voiceover was around 10 Mb. I’ve embedded it below.

Update: something in the whole YouTube process has caused the first few seconds to show only a blank grey screen. I’ve discovered this moments before publication. I’ll investigate and replace the video at some point.

See 5 secrets of QuickTime Player 10 and Share a movie from QuickTime Player 10 for Tips on trimming the movie, checking its file size and sharing it with others.


Please subscribe to the MacTips channel. Or just visit this video on YouTube, leave comments and rate it, as that helps spread the word about the MacTips.

I made a demo screen recording with QuickTime 10 and uploaded it to YouTube. The sound disappeared. The same thing happened with another demo I made. I searched for help and came across others with this problem. One suggestion led me to try Exporting my movie for web (see the File menu). That created several movies, one with an m4v file extension. I uploaded the m4v version and had success — it’s the movie you see above. If you use QuickTime Player 10 to make a screen recording with an audio track check the uploaded version carefully before sharing the link.

Screen recording tips

Get set up before you start recording: clear away windows and programs you don’t need, quit irrelevant programs that put alerts on screen or make alert sounds, such as your email program.

Beware recording private or personal information. For example, you may need to look up a password — don’t accidentally record that password on screen for all the world to see.

If you’re aiming to show how to do something, or the steps you took use menus or click on buttons rather than using keystrokes. For example, choose Edit — Copy rather than Command (⌘) C as the keystroke is ‘invisible’ on a screen recording.

It’s helpful to add a narration or voiceover to explain what you’re doing and why. Silent screen recordings are often a bit confusing.

While QuickTime Player 10 is good for casual screen recording use — to grab a quick illustration of some problem you’re having, for example it’s not very suitable for regular use. If you often need to record your screen then give Screenflow a try. It’s the software I use for all my MacTips screen recordings. It’s powerful, easy to use, flexible and effective. If ylou buy through my link I receive a small commission that helps support MacTips.

Tell us in the Comments at the website how you’re using audio or screen recordings made with Quicktime Player.

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    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Graham, I’m glad you got the screencast recording working. Thanks for the tips about installing items selectively from the install DVD.

  1. Graham Oliver said:

    Kia Ora Miraz
    I have been trying to get this to work this morning to help record a bug in gnucash.
    I have Snow Leopard and for some reason I had QuickTime 7 installed so I needed to uninstall that and install QuickTime X.
    After dragging QuickTime 7 to the recycle bin I then followed this process

    If you ever had to reinstall something on Snow Leopard such as Quick Time X, here is how:

    (1) Dowload and install Pacifist
    (2) Insert your Snow Leopard install DVD
    (3) Run Pacifist and choose “Open Apple Install Disks” (takes a bit)
    (4) Search for “Quicktime”
    (5) Select “Quicktime” (in Essentials.pkg/Applications) and choose “Install to Default Location”

    which I got from

    If I get it to work I will post a link to the soon to be viral youtube clip

    Go well

  2. Alina said:

    Hi, I was wondering how it works to combine a screencast with an audio recording. For whatever reason no sound comes out when I create a screencast, yet an audio recording picks up my voice just fine. So I was hoping I could just combine the two, is that a possibility?

  3. Eduard said:

    The QuickTime player recording has a bug. When recording stops, in about 10% of cases (totally random) is can’t finish recording. “New screen recording” is disabled when this happens. Stop button seems disabled too. Little Screen Recording window remains on the screen. QT does not play back the recording (normally it does). Everything else in QT works fine. I can watch videos and do other thing while this is happening. I did wait for tens of minutes several times. It never finished recording. The file has size 0. The only way to get out of this is to kill QT process. I do have plenty of fee space on my harddrive (like 40G left). My macBook pro is pretty new (previous model). When recording finishes normally in only takes about a second before QT starts playing it back. My QT version is 10.0 (128). Mac OS X version is 10.6.8. If this could be fixes, I’d really appreciate this.

    • scott said:

      I have the same problem only it won’t let me quit QT at all, but i can still like watch videos and stuff, but i really want to record again and want to know if there is a way to fix it or wait it out (it has said finishing for about 5-6 hours now and i don’y know if i will be able to use it again)

  4. Bryan said:

    Is there a way to have QT start and stop screen recording at a certain time and day?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Sure, various scripts should be able to do it: Applescript, Shell script, or take a look at Keyboard Maestro which can take actions at prescribed times.

      • Bryan said:

        Thanks Miraz. But, do you know of any or where to get them. I don’t have how to create Applescript. I have search google but keep coming up empty for a solution. Any help would be great.

        • Miraz Jordan said:

          Your best bet then would be to get Keyboard Maestro – a couple of clicks and you’re all set up.

  5. tony wang said:

    hello, you seemed familiar with screen shot, I would like to ask you a favor if you don’t mind. I used quicktime player 10 to capture my screen recording ( I used Imac), it looks fine on playback but it becomes so blurry on youtube. I use Excel to demonstrate my lessons and I need to make sure they are clear to see on youtube. Can you tell me how to improve video playback quality on youtube. Thanks.


    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Tony.

      Quite honestly QuickTime Pro is great for casual recordings – for example to send a Hello to a family member.

      For the more professional use you mention you absolutely need ScreenFlow. It’s the one I use for my MacTips videos.

  6. Steven Charles said:

    I wish you mentioned whether it’s possible to pause the recording, as I’ve found that stopping automatically ends the recording. Also, I’m trying to record some streaming audi0, & using Soundflower to do so. However, no matter how I set it up, I keep getting an echo when I play it back. I’m setting the output in System Preferences to Soundflower, and again in the drop-down menu of the QT Player recording window, which is what other articles have said to do. However, when I play it back, changing the output in System Preferences to headphones out, I hear the echo. Any ideas of how to avoid this?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Steven,

      QuickTime Player is pretty unsophisticated in these things and doesn’t seem to be able to pause.

      I use it each week to record a kind of diary entry that’s only for my personal use. If you’re doing anything that needs any kind of complexity I’d utterly recommend ScreenFlow, which is what I use for the MacTips videos. It’s very powerful – my videos are only using a fraction of its capabilities.

      As for grabbing sound – I use and recommend Audio Hijack Pro. Give it a try to see if it solves the echo problems.

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