I want to record and email an audio recording of myself talking, singing and playing piano to a friend overseas. What’s the easiest way to create the MP3 file or files on my iMac or MacBook Air?
What a nice thing to send to your friend! My children and I like to do voice recordings and send them to friends and family around the world too; it’s lots easier than video, way smaller files, and wonderfully personal to the recipient. Bonus: you can save them and listen months or years later for a laugh or poignant moment. For me, it’s all to play back at my children’s wedding receptions, they just don’t realize it yet! 🙂
There are some built-in ways to record audio on Mac systems, but as someone who has done a lot of audio recording, including recording an entire audio book — for Twitter Power 3.0 — I will say that the free software program Audacity is a splendid choice and as a bonus, it’s also available for PC and works exactly the same, helpful if you’re not a pure Apple family or business.
Start by downloading a copy of Audacity from Audacityteam.org or clicking below, where you indicate which version you want to download and install:
Once it’s downloaded and installed – an easy enough process – then double click on it to launch the program.
There’s a lot going on in the main window, but don’t be intimidated because you only need to use a fraction of the program’s capabilities. Later you can learn all about its editing capabilities (it’s really quite powerful) but for now, just take a deep breath and proceed.
The most important area to pay attention to is smack dab in the middle. See the tiny microphone icon and the adjacent menu Built-in Microph? All you need to do is ensure that it has the correct audio input device selected (likely your built-in microphone, but if you want better quality recordings, external microphones from companies like Blue Microphone can make a substantial difference. If you use an external mic, make sure it’s selected in this menu).
To record, all you need to do is click on the red circle near the top, the record button.
Then talk and watch the waveforms of your voice:
Done recording? Click on the yellow square stop button or click again on the record button, either way.
To review what you recorded, click on the green triangle play button. Can’t hear anything? Check the menu choice adjacent to the tiny speaker — on the above, it’s labeled Built-in Output.
Don’t like the recording and want to redo it? It’s easy to delete a recording in the program, just click on the “X” on the top left of the recording “track”:
There’s no undelete, however, so be careful!
When you’re happy with what you’ve recorded, you need to export it to save it as an MP3 format audio file. You can do that by choosing Export from the File menu:
Now you’ll get a typical Save As window, in which you want to pay close attention to the output format and location of your saved file, along with the name you specify:
Check the bottom portion and make sure you have “MP3 Files” specified as the output format. If you forget, it could be in some other format that is less portable. Remember also that MP3 files work great with iPods and even car audio systems too.
Specify a name, check the file format and destination location and click “Save” and one more window will pop up:
You can see that I’ve filled in some of the fields. You can do so, or you can ignore it all, it won’t affect the recording in any way.
Ready? Click “OK” and it’ll export your audio recording as an MP3 and… you’re done!
Oh, and here’s a sample I recorded using exactly this program and technique. Click to listen:
Not too exciting, but certainly easy enough and after the first or second time trying, you’ll find Audacity really easy to work with. Then you can start to learn about its extraordinary editing capabilities, the ability to create multi-track recordings, fix problems in the audio, boost it, apply weird filters and transforms, and much more. It’s a great app and the fact that it’s free is pretty amazing.
Now go and have some fun!