Recording videos of yourself on a Mac

Posted on Jul 20, 2014

All modern Mac computers with an up-to-date operating system come with built-in hardware, media applications and capabilities to record video/sound into a digital media file. Below is the hardware and software you will need to successfully make your own recordings.

Hardware Checklist: Skip this if you have a recent Mac laptop from at least 2007.

  • Macbook or Macbook Pro from 2007 or later. These models include a built-in camera and microphone. If you have an older laptop or if you are using a desktop model, you will need to borrow or purchase an external webcam with a standard USB connector. Check your local office supply or electronics store for an inexpensive model that is Mac compatible. You do not need anything fancy, but you will need both video and audio input capability. The costs range from about $35-$50.
  • Recent version of the Mac OS X operating system – 10.6 or higher. You can find out what version you are running by clicking on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your menu and selecting “About this Mac”. The OS version will be displayed in grey under the “Mac OS” heading.
  • If your Mac is running an OS version prior to 10.6, please contact IT Help for further instructions.

Software: Skip this is you have a recent Mac laptop from at least 2007.

snow_leopard_quicktime_smAll modern Mac computers come with QuickTime – an application with the ability to record video/audio without any elaborate setup. Look for the big “Q” in your dock, or look in your Applications folder for it (double-click on your hard drive icon, then look inside the Applications folder).

Older versions of QuickTime are by default playback-only. To find out if your version can record video/audio, look under the File menu. If you have an item listed that is labeled “New Movie Recording“, then you are good to go. If not, you will need to upgrade your QuickTime application (see below). But before you do that, please contact IT Help for further instructions.

Mac 10.6 or higher: QuickTime 10 (built-in, free)
Mac 10.5 and lower: QuickTime 7 – playback only. See below for alternatives.

  • QuickTime Pro (requires a $29.99 upgrade at: http://store.apple.com/us/product/D3380Z/A). Contact IT Help before you do this.
  • iMovie (built-in, free). iMovie requires some extra steps to export a video file. The process is not difficult, but it a less-than-ideal way to work. If you wish to pursue this route, contact IT Help for further instructions.

How to make a video recording:

This section will only explain the technical aspects of making a recording. There is a separate page in this FRC that describes recommended practices, such as preparation and setup.

The steps below also assume you have met the above hardware and software requirements to move into the recording phase.

  1. FaceTimeOpen the QuickTime application.
  2. Under the File menu, select “New Movie Recording
  3. You will see a recording panel appear. Look on the lower right corner of the control bar for a tiny triangle and click on it. It will display a configuration menu (see right).
  4. Select your preferred Camera and Microphone source.
  5. Select “Medium” quality.
  6. At Save to, select “Choose…” and select Desktop (or wherever you prefer to store the media file).

You are now ready to record!

  1. Before you start recording, make sure your audio level is good. Look at the input level signal as you speak to be sure the levels peak somewhere above the middle of the scale.
  2. Click on the RED record button on the control panel and begin your lecture.
  3. When you are done, click on the square STOP button.
  4. The completed video file will open automatically for you to preview.
  5. The video file itself will be wherever you designated it to be in Step #6 above.

If the recording is good, rename it something different than the default name. If it is no good, then just delete it and start over. Don’t worry – this is a common thing to do! No one is born with the ability to make a perfect recording the first time!


Here is a video demonstration of the process (click on the FULLSCREEN button next to the Kaltura logo for a better view):

Creative Commons License
“Recording videos of yourself on a Mac” by Steve Covello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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