How to Take Video on a Mac: An Ultimate Guide
Three major ways of recording a video on a Mac include capturing the processes on the laptop’s screen, using the built-in iSight camera, and connecting an external camera for video recording. This article shares the best programs, tools, and tricks for video recording.
- Record your screen in real time
- Record video calls
- Trim, share, and save
- Change the settings
- Record a video on a Mac with third-party software
- Record YouTube videos on a Mac
Record your screen in real time
Recording a screen can be useful on many occasions: for example, if you want to create a manual for an app usage or make a video clip for a presentation.
macOS makes it easy to both capture screenshots and record your display in a live format. Here we outline several basic methods that Apple provides for its users.
Use QuickTime Player
QuickTime Player is an app installed on Mac devices by default. It enables video recording with very simple steps.
To create video on a Mac using QuickTime Player:
1. Go to Finder → Applications and select QuickTime Player from the list of apps
2. Once the app is working, go to the menu on the top of the screen and click on File → New Screen Recording
3. To make mouse clicks visible in your recording, click on the arrow next to the Record button and select the Show Mouse Clicks in Recording option from the drop-down menu
4. Launch the processes you’d like to record and click the Record button
5. Click anywhere on the screen if you want to record the full window. If you just need to record part of the screen, hold the touchpad and drag it to select the section of the screen you wish to record
6. Click Start Recording
7. When you’ve finished filming, you can stop the recording by holding Command (⌘) + Control + Esc. Alternatively, right-click on the QuickTime Player icon in the Dock and select Stop Recording from the drop-down menu
8. The file will be opened automatically once you’ve stopped the recording
9. To edit the recording, click on Edit in the menu bar on the top of the screen and select one of the options available
Record the entire screen
In the latest versions of macOS, Apple has introduced the option to record videos of the screen on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac with the keys Shift + Command (⌘) + 5. Make sure your system is updated to macOS Mojave or Catalina to use this function.
To make a screen recording, press the keys simultaneously. A pop-up menu will appear, on the bottom you’ll have the options to capture the whole screen or a part of the screen, as well as make a video recording.
The fifth icon to the left is to take a video of the entire screen. Once you click on the desired icon, you’ll see that the cursor appears on the screen as a camera. Click anywhere to start the recording. To finish, click on the Stop button on the right of the menu on top of the screen.
Record a selected portion of the screen
The new option of screen recording on a Mac allows users to capture a section of the screen. Hold Shift + Command (⌘) + 5 to open the menu and select the sixth icon to initiate the process. A window will appear for you to select the region of recording. You can move it around the screen and regulate its size. Once you’re satisfied with the position of the window, click the Record button.
Record video calls
If you need to capture a call on video, such as by FaceTime or Skype, any of the options described in the previous sections of the article will work regardless of the application you’re using. You can select the whole screen or focus on the window displaying the person you’re talking to. By the way, the caller won’t be notified of the conversation being recorded.
Another option would be to use the app’s own screen recording capabilities. For example, Skype offers its own feature to record video calls. To record a Skype call, press the Options button and select Start recording from the drop-down menu.
When one of the call participants starts the recording, all of the callers and their images are captured on video. However, an automatic notification will be sent in the chat to everyone in the group. At the end of the recording, the video will be saved on the cloud and available for download to everyone in the chat.
Trim, share and save
Most of the time you’ll have to trim and edit a video before sharing it on the internet.
After you’ve finished making a screen recording on a Mac, a snapshot of it will appear for a short period of time in the bottom right corner of the screen. You can choose to ignore it or swipe right on it so it disappears if you don’t wish to edit it—the file will be saved on your Mac automatically.
However, if you’d like to make some changes to the video, you can click on the snapshot before it vanishes to open Apple’s own editing facility for screenshots. You can trim and manipulate the video by using the menu on the top of the window. You have the option to share it right after you’re done.
If you’d like to change the location of the video on your hard disk, drag the snapshot from the bottom right corner of the screen to a folder on your desktop or in Finder. You can also move it to Trash or attach it to an email in the Mail app.
Right-click on the snapshot to open a menu and choose a different location to store the video, delete it, or open in an app of your choice.
Change the settings
You can change the default settings of the new screen recording feature when you open the menu by pressing Shift + Command (⌘) + 5. Click on the Options button to open the menu.
- Save to allows you to choose the location where your video recordings are automatically saved. For example, you can save it straight to clipboard so you can paste it into a text or a message later
- You can set the timer for 5 or 10 seconds if you don’t want to start the recording instantly after pressing the Record button
- You can choose to use your built-in microphone to simultaneously record external sounds as you capture your screen. You can change your default input settings to an external device by following System Preferences → Sound → Input. Select any device you wish to use to record the sound
- You can choose whether you’d like to have floating thumbnail during your recording
- Choose Remember Last Session if you wish to save your current settings for future sessions
- If you’d like mouse clicks to be seen on the recording, select Show Mouse Pointer
Record a video on a Mac with third-party software
To record a video on a Mac, you can use third-party applications as well as Apple’s own programs. A lot of them offer video editing functions in addition to screen recording. You can use them to work with videos that you create on your computer or any other video files.
Here are a few apps you can consider:
However, if you’re getting serious about filmmaking, check out our guide to choosing the best MacBook for video editing.
Record YouTube videos on Mac
The best platform for both beginner and advanced vloggers is YouTube, and if you wish to record YouTube videos on MacBook Pro, we recommend using an external device or a good portable camera rather than the built in iSight camera. Here are some ideas:
- Canon EOS 77D DSLR Camera—a powerful portable device, $952
- Logitech HD Pro C920—a webcam with stereo audio, $263
- Latest iPhone models—great filmmaking capabilities in your pocket
Photo Booth would be your first option for video recording. If you want to film with an external camera, you can select it as your input device in Camera settings in the menu on top of the screen when you open the app.
Alternatively, you can use Camtasia to edit and record movies on Mac, or edit your clips in iMovie. To use your iPhone as the input device, connect it with your Mac with a USB cable and launch EpocCam on both of them—this should enable transmission from the iPhone onto the Mac screen.
To upload a video on YouTube, you need to go to your profile and tap on the camera icon next to your user icon. Click Upload Video and select the desired file.
How do I record a video of myself on my Mac?
To record yourself on a Mac, use the Photo Booth app. You can use your built-in iSight camera or connect to an external one. To change to an external camera for video input, click on Camera in the menu bar on top of the screen and select the desired device. The camera starts working automatically when you open Photo Booth.
To start recording a video, click on the video icon in the bottom left corner on the window and press the record button. After you’ve stopped the recording, the video will be saved to the Photo Booth folder on your Mac’s hard drive.
How do I record a video from my Mac with an external camera?
To record a video with an external camera, use the Photo Booth app—make sure you select the device in the menu on top of the screen. You can also use another one of your Apple devices as a camera.
To use an iOS device for video input:
- Download the EpocCam app on your iOS device and EpocCam Viewer on your MacBook
- Connect the devices with a USB cable and launch the app on both of them
- When connection between the devices is established, the image from your iOS camera will be translated into your Mac’s screen
- The app doesn’t include the option to record the video—you can use the screen recording function of macOS if you want to film yourself. Otherwise, it’s a great option if you want to video call on Mac with an iPhone camera.
Is sound recorded when I do screen recording on QuickTime?
You can change whether you want to have external sounds recorded or muted when using QuickTime screen recording.
To change the sound settings, click on the downwards arrow next to the Record button. Under the Microphone headline you can select None or Internal Microphone. If you choose None, the recording will only play the sounds from any current processes on your Mac. If you choose Internal Microphone, you’ll be able to record your voice and other external sounds when making the screen recording.
If you have general issues with computer sound, we've got you a detailed guide on how to fix sound on your Mac.