Mac Tip: Screen Recording (with system audio)

Lately, I have been doing a number of screen recordings for work for tutorials using Camtasia (which is a very nice program)…but I’ve kept my eye out for other alternatives (especially cheap ones) for users to take advantage of.

A few months ago, I came across a great way for Mac users to create their own screen recordings using Apple’s Quicktime X software.  The software is free to download.  I created a few tutorials using Quicktime X’s Screen Recording function and a headset microphone.  Unfortuately, I noticed that one of the drawbacks to the software was the inability to capture the system audio (i.e. any audio played by movies, music, apps, etc.).  The only workaround at the time was to set up a microphone close to a speaker and record the audio that way. The obvious drawbacks would be a degradation of audio quality and the risk of background audio pollution from the surrounding environment (such as heating/air, computer fans, screaming kids, barking dogs, cars passing by, etc.).

So I accepted the sacrifice and moved on.  Then the other day, I came across a video which showed me how to capture system audio in Quicktime X using a third-party freeware app.  The application is called Soundflower.  Soundflower for Mac is a free audio system extension that allows applications to pass audio to other applications.

Soundflower emulates the interface of an audio device but allows any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed. It opens as one of two audio devices (2ch/16ch). For most people and needs, the 2-channel device is sufficient.

I installed the software and it worked like a charm!

To use Soundflower with Quicktime X Screen Recording:

Launch Soundflower

Set Soundflower (2ch) to Built-In Output

Go to your Mac’s System Preferences > Sound

Change your Output setting to Soundflower (2ch)


Launch Quicktime X Player

Select File > Screen Recording

Click the drop-down arrow on the right side of the player to change your audio input.

Change the audio input to Soundflower (2ch)

Start Recording!

Conceivably, you can use this same software to be able to record just system audio if you have the need.

One of the benefits to this process would be that you could record streaming content (with a fast reliable internet connection), whether it is audio or video.  Of course, it could bring up a host of issues regarding copyrighted content…so for the record, be wary!

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