I want to record an audio file of me singing happy birthday to my nephew on my Mac, but don’t know what program to use. Is there a download I need to get or is one of the included Mac programs sufficient?
You would think that there would be an easy way to record audio on your Mac, and there is. Well, sort of. You can try using the slick application Voice Memos, but it’s weirdly difficult to export the resultant audio file to include in an email message. For reasons I cannot explain, there’s no “export” or “show in finder” option, so the value of this app is very limited. Instead, I am going to show you how to use the surprisingly powerful QuickTime Player app to record yourself singing. Back in the day, there used to be two programs, QuickTime Player, and QuickTime Pro, the latter including video editing features and other tools more appropriate for creators. A few years back they were merged back into a single program, which then got the unfortunate name of QuickTime Player, rather than just “QuickTime”. An entire generation of Mac users confused by the word “Player”. Imagine. 🙂
Fortunately QuickTime Player has a ton of powerful features, allowing you to record your screen while narrating what you’re doing (handy for showing Aunty Chan how to do something on a Mac!), the video and audio from your Webcam (your nephew could also see you singing!) and audio from your Mac’s built-in microphone.
HOW TO RECORD AUDIO WITH QUICKTIME PLAYER
To start out, fire up the QuickTime Player app…
It opens up a folder of saved QuickTime Player files, but if you’re like me, it’s empty. Confusing. Now what?
Solution: Ignore that file selection window, click on “File” and you’ll see that’s where all the power features are hidden:
There are the three power tools I mentioned earlier: New Movie Recording, New Audio Recording, and New Screen Recording. Since you just want to capture audio, choose “New Audio Recording”.
A small control window will appear with very little information on how to proceed:
Briefly, the top left is a running timer (at –:– because you haven’t started recording yet!), the bars show input volume, the “Zero KB” shows how big the file is getting, the red dot is the REC button, and the slider along the bottom is the monitor volume. If you aren’t using earbuds or similar, you’ll want to leave that off so you don’t get a weird echo effect.
Don’t just press that record button yet, however!
HOW TO ADJUST QUICKTIME PLAYER AUDIO RECORDING SETTINGS
Instead, click on the tiny downward “V” just to the right of the REC button. A small menu appears:
If you have more than one microphone, this is where you’ll choose the one you prefer. Also, notice that the two quality level options on my computer are “High” and “Maximum”. The better the quality, the bigger the output file, but I suggest you choose “Maximum” anyway as audio files aren’t that big unless they’re a long lecture or discussion.
Ready to go? Now click on the red record button and start talking or singing. This is what you’ll see:
Most importantly, notice that the red button has turned into a black square: That’s the STOP button, logically enough. Press it.
A new window pops up with your file ready for playback. It’s called “Untitled” because, well, you haven’t titled it yet:
Press on the PLAY button to listen to your recording. Sound good? Excellent.
HOW TO SAVE A QUICKTIME PLAYER AUDIO RECORDING
If you don’t like the results, just click the red button on the top left to close – and discard – the recording and try again. You can do this dozens of times if you want to capture the perfect recording, no worries at all.
Once you like what you’ve produced, go back to the File menu and choose “Save…“:
The Save window — what’s so noticeably missing from Voice Memos! — lets you easily name your new recording and pick where it should be saved:
Here I’m calling it MyAudioRecording and using the default filename suffix of m4a. What’s m4a? It’s mp3, but with the Apple AAC high-quality audio encoding. If your nephew is on an iPhone, using an iPad, or has a Mac, you can just send it as is. If you aren’t sure, you can use a third-party app to convert it or just do what a lot of people do: Change the filename suffix from .m4a to .mp3. For most folk, that works just fine and they can then playback the audio file without further fuss.
Hope that gets you the audio file you want and happy birthday to your nephew too!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about MacOS since the days of MacOS 9! Please check out my huge Mac help library for hundreds of useful tutorials and how-to guides while you’re visiting. Thanks.