How to Use the Screen Recorder on a Mac

screen recorder mac

If you need to record screen activity on a Mac, you don’t need to download any additional software because the functionality is built directly into Mac OS X with the QuickTime app. Yes, the same QuickTime video player app that lets you watch videos also lets you record the screen of the Mac, and it’s remarkably simple to use. This is a great solution for most use cases since it’s free and bundled right into all versions of OS X.

Using the Screen Recorder in Mac OS X

The screen recorder function is included with QuickTime Player in Mac OS X 10.6 – 10.9 and later. Here’s how to use it to capture a video of the Mac screen in action:

  • Launch QuickTime Player (located in /Applications/)
  • Pull down the File menu and select “New Screen Recording”
screen recording mac
  • Press the Red button to start recording the screen activity
  • To stop recording, either press the Stop Recording button in the menubar, or hit Command+Control+Escape
  • Once the recording is stopped, the capture is automatically opened in QuickTime Player as “Screen” which you can then save and use as you’d like

QuickTime Player gets out of the way when you are recording the screen so that the activity is not obstructed by the application, this is also why it’s best to just use the keyboard shortcut to halt the screen recorder. Note that newer versions of the screen recorder will just hide the player completely, making it entirely invisible regardless of how it’s activated or deactivated.

There are options to have mouse clicks shown in the recording as well, which is an optional feature but if you’re using the record screen feature for demonstration purposes it’s a good one to enable since it makes clicks much more obvious by placing the circle around them. You can also record audio if you have a microphone, or set it to ‘line-in’ if you want to direct audio from the Mac to the recorded activity on display. To access those additional features, just click the little downward pointing arrow to reveal a menu that includes Microphone options, Quality options, whether to show mouse clicks or not in the recording, and also where to default to saving the file to.

Screen Recording in Mac OS X options

If there is a check next to the menu option it is enabled, selecting them again would disable the given feature. You will want to choose specific options before recording screen activity for them to apply to the saved video.

The default file type is .mov but you can export it as other formats as well using “Export” or “Save As”. So what do the results look like? There are plenty of examples on our OSXDaily YouTube page, here’s one of several:

A quick note for users of 10.5 or below: instead of paying for recording software, it’s often cheaper to just buy the Snow Leopard upgrade, or better yet, just jump ahead to Mountain Lion or OS X Mavericks if your Mac supports it. The newest versions of QuickTime Player include more Screen Recorder features making it worth it.

Enjoy this? Don’t miss more great Mac OS X tips.


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