Have you ever been so frustrated with a friend or family member asking for tech help that you’ve decided to screen record the process instead? Okay, that might be a bit niche, but maybe you’ve seen your Mac doing something weird and want to record it and show it to Apple staff at the Genius Bar, or maybe you want to record a FaceTime call for future reference. 

Whatever your reason, there’s an easy way to record the screen of your Mac - here’s how to do it. 

Screen recording in macOS Mojave or later

While you’ve historically had to rely on third-party software or even dedicated capture hardware to record your Mac display, Apple introduced built-in screen recording functionality with the release of macOS Mojave back in 2018. So, if you’re running Mojave or later, it’s really easy to record the screen of your Mac:

  1. Press Command + Shift + 5 to open the Screenshot Toolbar. 
  2. Choose your screen recording option - Entire Screen or Selected Portion. You can hover over the recording icons, denoted by a circle in the bottom-left of each icon, to find out which is which, but it should be fairly self-explanatory. 
  3. If you choose Selected Portion, you’ll have to adjust the recording area before triggering the recording. You can drag and resize the area using the squares embedded in the recording frame. 
  4. If you want to record a voiceover at the same time - handy for tutorials - hit the Options button and select the mic you want to capture from the list of microphone inputs. It’s worth noting that you can’t record system audio using Apple’s built-in method
  5. When you’re ready to start, click Record. 
  6. Once the recording is complete, click the small stop button in the upper-right corner or press Shift + Command + 5 to bring up the screenshot toolbar and click the stop button. 
  7. The recording thumbnail will appear in the bottom-right of your display - you can either click on it to preview and edit the video in Quick Look, or ignore it. If you ignore it, you’ll be able to find the video stored on your desktop. 
  8. If you clicked the thumbnail, you’ll now be able to play the video in its entirety.
  9. To trim the video, click the trim button (it looks a bit like a squashed Nintendo Switch with arrows) and drag the yellow hold points to the new beginning and end points of your recording. 
  10. Click Done to save the trimmed recording. 

Your recording will be saved to your desktop, ready for sharing with friends and family. 

Screen recording using QuickTime

If you’re running an earlier version of macOS or Mac OS X, you’ll have to revert to using QuickTime Player - a free media player that comes preinstalled on every Mac that also has basic screen recording functionality. 

  1. Open QuickTime Player. If you can’t find the app, access Spotlight by pressing Command + Space and start typing QuickTime to locate the app.
  2. Right-click the QuickTime Player app icon in the Dock and select New Screen Recording.  
  3. A small Screen Recording window should appear. Hit the Arrow next to the recording button to set options like recording a microphone input and being able to show mouse clicks in the recording. Like the updated functionality outlined above, Apple blocks the ability to record desktop audio while using QuickTime’s screen recording functionality - it’d be too easy to steal videos from streaming services that way. 
  4. When you’re ready to record, hit the big Record button. 
  5. Once you’re ready to stop the recording, right-click the QuickTime Player icon and select Stop Recording from the menu. You should also be able to stop it using the stop button in the Mac toolbar. 
  6. Give your recording a name, and save it. 

Your recording should then be available wherever you chose to save it. 

Third-party screen recording apps

Of course, there are a bunch of third-party screen recording apps available for Mac that offer a range of features, but it’s worth noting that most, if not all, will require some form of payment.

One notable app, currently available at an eye-watering £129.99/$129.99, is ScreenFlow 8. It’s aimed at intermediate and advanced users that generate a lot of computer-based tutorials, offering advanced functionality like recording both your screen and FaceTime camera to have a form of on-screen presence during videos. It’s much more than a simple screen recording app though; it also boasts full editing functionality, allowing you to combine multiple screen recording clips into a single video. 

While ScreenFlow 8 is a solid option for professionals, those that want something more budget-friendly can opt for Capto. The £25.99/$26.99 app handles screen capture, recording and annotation, and although not quite as advanced as what’s available with ScreenFlow 8, you’ll also find basic video editing capabilities.

It does boast unique features too, including the ability to record stereo audio and the choice of recording framerates, but these may be too niche for the majority of consumers. 

For more Mac help, take a look at how to show hidden files on Mac, and how to speed up a Mac too.

Don't have a Mac? Here's how to screen record on Windows 10