How To Record Your Screen on Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Having trouble screen recording on your Mac? Learn how to record audio and video using macOS built-in tools like the screenshot toolbar and QuickTime Player, as well as the best compatible third-party apps for Mac screen recording.
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Are you a Mac user who is familiar with taking screenshots but doesn’t know how to record your screen on Mac? If this is you, the good news is that learning how to record your screen with audio doesn’t have to be hard.

There are many reasons to record a video from your screen with audio on. Some of the most common include capturing a lecture or tutorial, creating an instructional video, recording a game session, or keeping memories of FaceTime sessions with your loved ones. Sound like something you’re aiming to do?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we provide a walkthrough on how to record your Mac screen using built-in tools and third-party software. But hold your horses — before you install any third-party software, check out our recommendations on the best antivirus software for Mac to ensure top-notch protection. Now, let’s dive into the tutorial!

In this article
How to use Mac’s screenshot toolbar to record your screen with audio
How to record your Mac screen with audio using QuickTime Player
Common screen recording issues on macOS
Third-party apps to screen record on macOS
Tips for better screen recording on macOS
Bottom line: Savor screen captures with Mac n' cheese smiles

How to use Mac’s screenshot toolbar to record your screen with audio

Recording your Mac screen with audio using the built-in screenshot toolbar on macOS can be simple.

  • Press Command + Shift + 5 on your keyboard or open the Screenshot tool from Launchpad to bring up the screenshot toolbar to get started.
  • As soon as the pop-up toolbar appears, you may choose to record the whole screen or a selected portion.
  • Click on Options to access a dropdown menu that allows you to select the microphone you want to use for recording audio, adjust your countdown timer settings, and where to save your video file.
  • Once you start recording your screen on a Mac, click the Stop button or press the Esc key after you’ve finished recording so that the video file will automatically save on your Mac in .MOV format.
  • Video editing can be done using the built-in tools in the QuickTime Player app or other third-party apps if you want to get creative or add finishing touches.

In the next sections, we cover a step-by-step tutorial on using the screenshot toolbar to record your screen with audio.

Accessing the Screenshot Toolbar

To enable screen recording on a Mac’s screen, use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + 5. This will instantly bring up the screenshot toolbar, which offers various options for capturing images and videos. You can capture images of the entire screen, a specific window, or a particular portion of the screen.

Additionally, these options allow you to record videos of the entire screen or a selected portion. Alternatively, you can access the Screenshot tool from Launchpad to record screen videos with just a few mouse clicks.

Capture selected portion to screen record on macOS

Setting up your Recording Countdown

Select Options from the screenshot toolbar and navigate to the dropdown list. Look for Timer to set a timer countdown of none, 5 seconds, or 10 seconds before recording. This feature is particularly useful for preparing your screen and ensuring everything is in order before clicking on the record button.

macOS screen capture options

Recording the Entire Screen or a Specific Window

To begin recording with the screenshot toolbar, you have two primary options to specify what part of your screen you'd like to record.

  • Record Entire Screen: Selecting this option changes your cursor into a camera icon. Simply click anywhere on your screen to start recording everything visible on the display.
  • Record Selected Portion: If you only want to record a specific area of your screen, this option allows you to manually select the area you want to begin recording for each new video. Click and drag the highlighted box to adjust its size and position to fit the portion of the screen you wish to record. Once you're satisfied with the selected area, click Record to start capturing only that segment.

Enabling Audio Recording

To enable audio recording, access the screenshot toolbar and select Options, then navigate to Microphone. Here, you may select your audio source from the audio options displayed. Options include the Mac’s built-in microphone for internal audio, an external microphone, or other audio from conferencing tools. You may also choose None as an option if you don’t want to record audio. This flexibility ensures your recording captures the necessary sound, be it for presentations, meetings, or other purposes.

Using the Recording Toolbar

After you hit Record, a stop button appears in the menu bar at the top of your screen. Click the Stop button with your mouse after you’ve finished recording, or press Command + Control + Esc.

Saving Recordings

After you stop your screen recording, it will automatically save to your desktop or the chosen location. You can then use QuickTime Player for basic video editing (such as trimming clips) or other third-party apps that offer advanced video editing features.

How to record your Mac screen with audio using QuickTime Player

QuickTime Player is an Apple multimedia player, and it comes pre-installed on macOS. You can use QuickTime Player to create, edit, and share multimedia files like screen recordings and movies.

Accessing QuickTime Player

Go to Finder, navigate to your Applications folder, and click on the QuickTime Player app. You may also open the app from Launchpad on your toolbar.

Starting a New Screen Recording

To initiate recording, click the Record button. Choose to record the entire screen by clicking on it or select a specific portion by dragging the cursor.

Enabling Audio Recording

In the options menu, select your preferred audio source under the Microphone section. This feature allows you to include audio in your screen recordings.

Using the Recording Toolbar

QuickTime provides a toolbar for controlling the recording. To end your session, use the stop button in the menu bar.

Saving Recordings

QuickTime automatically saves the recording upon completion. You can then edit or share the file as needed.

Common screen recording issues on macOS

Here are tips on how to resolve the common screen recording issues on macOS.

  • Insufficient storage error: Restart your Mac and verify available storage. Check for any additional software that may be taking up valuable storage space.
  • File accessibility issue: Ensure that QuickTime or the screen recording app is fully closed and restart your Mac. Try clicking the file while pressing the shift key or the down arrow key to bypass any pre-installed application that may be causing the issue.
  • QuickTime Player recording failures: Check system preferences for screen recording permissions and ensure your macOS is up to date to avoid permission issues or software bugs. Adjust the system settings or seek help from online tutorials or support forums if you experience any issues.
  • Restricted screen recording permissions: Navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Screen Recording, and ensure the app you're using is checked. Check for third-party options that provide webcam footage recording functionalities.
  • System compatibility and updates: Checking for and installing any available software updates can enhance system performance and fix bugs affecting screen recording. Seek help from online tutorials or support forums if you're struggling with the steep learning curve.
  • Restarting your Mac: Many minor bugs and issues, including those affecting screen recording, can be resolved by simply restarting your Mac. To record the screen on a Mac, click the circle icon to open the pop-up window, then click the red Record button to start recording.

Third-party apps to screen record on macOS

Third-party apps like OBS Studio, Snagit, Loom, Apowersoft Screen Recorder, ScreenFlow, Camtasia, VMaker, and Movavi Screen Recorder are alternatives to built-in macOS tools that offer unique features.

OBS Studio

Installation is straightforward, and it offers rich customization for users interested in recording and streaming. It boasts advanced features like custom scenes over Mac's native tools but be ready for a learning curve.

  • Free and open-source
  • Highly customizable
  • Supports live streaming
  • Complex for beginners
  • Requires decent system resources


With an easy setup, Snagit excels in quick captures and video recordings. It stands out from Mac’s default tools by offering robust editing features and GIF creation wrapped in a more user-friendly package.

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Advanced editing tools
  • Syncs to Google Drive, OneDrive, and more
  • Not free
  • May be more than needed for simple tasks


Installing Loom is a breeze, and this platform emphasizes simplicity and rapid sharing. It makes sharing videos faster and easier than Mac’s built-in options, although it skips the more advanced editing features.

  • Free version offered
  • Fast video sharing, user-friendly
  • Drawing tools for annotations
  • Limited editing capabilities
  • Advanced features require a subscription

Apowersoft Screen Recorder

This app offers versatility with both downloadable and web-based versions. It enables scheduled recordings — a step up from Mac's built-in tools — though the web version does require an internet connection.

  • No download required for web version
  • Schedule recordings
  • Various recording modes
  • Free version limitations
  • Web version depends on internet


ScreenFlow is tailored for Mac users. The setup is straightforward, and the platform provides a comprehensive suite for video editing. It surpasses QuickTime with more advanced features, like animated graphics and closed caption support, albeit at a premium.

  • High-quality recording
  • Extensive editing suite
  • Records iOS devices
  • Mac only
  • Costly


Camtasia offers an intuitive setup for those seeking sophisticated video editing capabilities that help them finish their projects faster, like editing their video as they edit their audio. Its professional-grade features greatly outshine Mac's built-in tools, catering to users needing a wide range of editing options.

  • Professional editing tools
  • Interactive content creation
  • Multi-track timeline
  • Expensive
  • Overwhelming for novices


VMaker’s user-friendly approach requires minimal setup, and it even offers a Chrome extension for quick access. It lets you collaborate in workspaces and outperforms Mac's default by offering unlimited recording time without watermarks, though it does ask for account creation.

  • Unlimited recording time
  • Blurs sensitive data
  • Screen annotation
  • Sign-up required
  • Free version limitations

Movavi Screen Recorder

Installation is simple. Movavi is designed for users who want swift screen recording and basic editing. It offers a more intuitive and feature-rich experience than Mac's native solutions, enhancing user recording tasks.

  • Scrolling screenshots
  • Scheduling feature
  • Drawing on videos
  • Free version is limited
  • Paid for full features

Tips for better screen recording on macOS

Take a look at the recommended tips below to enhance the overall quality of your screen recordings on macOS.

  • Tweak your system settings. To optimize your Mac's performance, adjust its system settings in the Apple menu. This allows you to fine-tune various options to help your Mac run smoothly and efficiently.
  • Invest in an external microphone. For casual use, the pre-installed microphone on your Mac may suffice. However, consider using an external microphone to improve audio quality by reducing background noise and enhancing the clarity of your voice.
  • Minimize interruptions. Avoid distractions like pop-up windows during recording. Enable Do Not Disturb mode and record in a quiet place to get the best audio and screen recording experience.
  • Organize your recordings. Organize screen recordings within the Applications folder or a dedicated directory to make them easy to access, especially when using multiple video files for advanced editing. Organizing your recordings also helps you preserve content and prevent file loss.
  • Stay protected with antivirus software. When downloading third-party video editing apps to edit your screen recordings, use antivirus software to protect your system from malware. This will safeguard your system from potentially infected apps or files.

Top antivirus software for macOS

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Does Mac allow screen recording?

Yes, Mac devices allow screen recording with its built-in screenshot toolbar or QuickTime Player.


Can you screen record on Macbook with sound?

Absolutely! It’s easy to screen record on a Macbook and other Mac devices with sound.


How do I record my Mac screen with sound?

To quickly do this, press Command + Shift + 5 and click on Options > Microphone > your audio source of choice. Alternatively, open the QuickTime Player app, select New Screen Recording, and choose your sound source.


How do I record my Mac screen with the keyboard?

Press Command + Shift + 5 until the screenshot toolbar pops up, select Record Entire Screen or Record Selected Portion, and click on the Record button.


How do you record video on a Mac?

Use the built-in screenshot toolbar or QuickTime Player app to record video on Mac. You may also use third-party apps like OBS Studio, Snagit, Loom, Apowersoft Screen Recorder, ScreenFlow, Camtasia, VMaker, and Movavi Screen Recorder.


What is the shortcut for screen recording on Mac?

Command + Shift + 5 is the keyboard shortcut for screen recording on Mac.

Bottom line: Savor screen captures with Mac n' cheese smiles

For Mac users, screen recording might seem a bit puzzling if you're only accustomed to taking screenshots. Thankfully, the process of capturing both video and audio on your Mac is straightforward. Whether it's for saving a memorable FaceTime chat, creating a tutorial, or recording gameplay, screen recording serves various essential purposes.

You can screen record using Mac's native tools and QuickTime Player, or you can use third-party apps that cater to more advanced video editing needs. But before embarking on downloading any software, we highly recommend arming your Mac with the best antivirus solutions to protect your digital workspace.

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Author Details
Mars is a cybersecurity professional and writer based in California. Currently pursuing a B.S. in Cybersecurity, he serves as an Advisory Board Member for WEBGAP, specializing in browser isolation. With an interest in OSINT, ethical hacking, and threat intelligence, Mars enjoys writing security content and has experience as a Security Researcher, Cybersecurity Analyst (WEBGAP), and Editor-in-chief (Secjuice).