Have you ever wanted to record something happening on your Mac? Perhaps you are watching a video, and want to grab a clip; maybe you are trying to show someone how to do something, and a video would make it so much simpler; you'd like to preserve a FaceTime call for safekeeping, or maybe you need to record some strange behaviour if an app or website isn't working as you would expect.

You may also be hoping to record some video that's playing on your Mac (from YouTube, for example) and wondering if its possible, or even legal. Or you might be wondering why your attempt to record video didn't also record the sound.

Luckily it's easy to record what is happening on the screen of your Mac - here is where we show you how. 

(Note: You can use a record screen feature in iOS 11 to record the screen on your iPhone or iPad, and anything that is playing, including YouTube video, you can find out how to do this here: How to record your iPhone screen).

Screen recording in macOS Mojave

Screen recording in macOS Mojave

First, a quick note to say that screen recording is about to get a whole lot easier in macOS Mojave, which will arrive this autumn.

Instead of using QuickTime - which is the method we outline below - you will be able to use a tool in the new screenshot toolbar.

Here's how to take a screen recording in Mojave: 

  1. Open the screenshot toolbar by pressing Comand + Shift + 5.
  2. Click Record Entire Screen, or Record Selected Portion.
  3. If you select Record Entire Screen the recording will start immediately. Otherwise, select the portion of the screen you wish to record to trigger the recording.
  4. You can choose to set a timer before you start the recording: 5 or 10 seconds. To do so, click on Options in the screenshot toolbar.
  5. Click the stop button in the Menu bar (beside the timse) when what you wish to record has finished.
  6. The recording will appear in the bottom right corner of your screen. Control-click or right click on it to reveal the Markup tools.
  7. To edit your video clip, click on the trim button, then click on the hold points at the beginning end of the recording and drag them inwards to trim the video.
  8. Click Done.
  9. Choose where you want to save the screenshot, edit or delete.

That's all very well, but unless you are running the Mojave beta, you will have to wait until September or possibly October to be able to do the above. 

So how can you record video on your Mac screen if you want to do so now? Read on? 

How to record screen on a Mac using QuickTIme

How to record screen on a Mac using QuickTIme

If you can't wait for Mojave, you'll be glad to hear it's easy to record what is happening on the screen of your Mac; all you need is QuickTime Player, which comes free with your Mac.

  1. Open QuickTime Player. To locate and open the app, press Command+Space to trigger Spotlight and start typing QuickTime... 
  2. Select New Screen Recording. The simplest way to do this is to right-click on the QuickTime Player icon in your Dock and choose New Screen Recording from that menu.
  3. A Screen Recording box will pop up on your screen.
  4. Click on the white down arrow to see more options, such as the opportunity to use the built-in microphone or an external microphone for audio.
  5. For example, you might want to use your iPhone headphones to record yourself speaking, for a voice over. In that case, plug in your iPhone headphones and choose External Microphone.
  6. Note, you will not be able to record audio from videos playing on your screen this way. (We will cover capturing video from YouTube and other sources in a separate article. You can find out you can find out how to download YouTube video to your iPad here.)
  7. There is also an option to choose whether your mouse clicks should show up during the recording. This is off by default.
  8. Once you are ready to record, you can choose to record part of the screen or the whole screen. If you just want to record part of the screen click the red record button. You will see a message that tells you to drag to record part of your screen, so drag a marque across the area you want to capture. Once you have the area selected, click the record button again. 
  9. Alternatively you can record the whole screen. Just click on the red record button and then click the screen anywhere to begin recording.
  10. Once you are ready to finish recording, right click on the QuickTime icon in the Dock and choose Stop Recording from the menu.
  11. Once you are ready to finish recording, right click on the QuickTime icon in the Dock and choose Stop Recording from the menu. 
  12. Save the QuickTime movie.

You'll be able to use this footage in iMovie and Final Cut Pro, and even share it straight to YouTube.

Record the screen on your Mac with ScreenFlow

Record the screen on your Mac with ScreenFlow

ScreenFlow 4, Telestream

Available on the App Store, £69.99

Create computer-based tutorial videos by recording your screen activity (along with narration), which you can then share online with friends and fans. This tool lets you record your screen and edit the result.

ScreenFlow also allows you to capture video from your iSight camera while it records screen activity—a clever inclusion that lets you connect visually with your audience rather than exist only as a disembodied voice.

Record the screen on your Mac with Camtasia

Record the screen on your Mac with Camtasia

Camtasia, TechSmith

Available on the App Store, £69.99

Camtasia for Mac is a full capture and edit solution that not only captures the action on your screen, but also (optionally) captures video from a built-in FaceTime (iSight) camera at the same time. Once captured, you can edit your production directly in Camtasia, theoretically taking your project from start to finish using just one application. Unfortunately, on the features front, Mac users aren’t getting all the bells and whistles of the Windows version.

Record the screen on your Mac with Voila

Record the screen on your Mac with Voila

Voila, Global Delight

Available on the App Store, £20.99

Voila captures screenshots or full-motion video. Video recording captures either the entire screen or a selected rectangular region. Unlike some other programs, Voila can record stereo audio and gives you a choice of frame rates. You can do simple trimming of videos in the editor, but it’s as full-featured editor as Screenflow or Camtasia.

Read more OS X tutorials

Read next: How to take a screenshot on a Mac