Recording all kinds of phone calls on your Mac is easier than you think! Not so long ago, recording a phone call meant awkwardly positioning a dictation machine near a handset and hoping for the best. More recently, voice-over-IP applications like Skype have brought voice and video communication to the desktop. In the latest versions of Mac OS X and iOS, not only can you perform FaceTime Audio as well as video calls between your devices, but now regular cellular calls can be received on Wi-Fi-only devices such as Macs and Wi-Fi iPads, too.
This is incredibly useful – so long as your iPhone is connected to your wireless network, you can make and receive calls on any device. It also means you can record calls. Perhaps you’re conducting a phone interview and need to record it for transcription, or you’re having a work conference call, or you need to record a call to keep a record of its contents. By using QuickTime’s screen recording feature in OS X, you can record FaceTime and cellular calls for free. By using an inexpensive third-party app, such as Call Recorder for FaceTime (or Skype), you can get much more flexibility.
1. Configure FaceTime
In your Mac’s FaceTime app, go into the Preferences and make sure your Apple ID is enabled for FaceTime. You can also enable it to receive cellular calls from your iPhone, if you’re running iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. You can still receive FaceTime calls using your Apple ID, without an iPhone.
2. Plan to record
Things will go smoother if you arrange in advance that you’re going to record a call (you won’t be scrambling around while the phone rings, for one). Open the QuickTime Player app on your Mac (not version 7 – it doesn’t have this functionality as standard – but the newer version).
3. Set up a screen recording
Open FaceTime on your Mac and select File > New Screen Recording. Open the microphone drop-down menu on the recording window > Built- In Microphone. Press “Record” in QuickTime and draw a box around the FaceTime window to capture it. (You can save just the audio later.)
4. Define the record area
Before you make or receive the call, activate recording in QuickTime. This records the screen as commanded. If you want to capture video, draw round the whole video area – otherwise you can capture anywhere, though it makes sense to define the area around the call monitor box. Hit Record.
5. Export as video or audio only
When the call is over, hang up and stop recording. Now you can either save this clip as a movie file or as audio by going to the File > Export menu. Choose an export format and then a name and destination for your recording. It’s saved as an M4A audio file.
6. Share a clip by email
You could directly share the movie from QuickTime with the File > Share option. This technique automatically compresses a version of the file and has it placed directly into a new Mail or a new message to be sent out. It’s possible to upload straight to social media or video hosting sites.
7. Consider an alternative
Audio Hijack ($32) is a useful app that’s able to directly record just the audio portion of a FaceTime Call. Select FaceTime as an input source; when you hijack it and press record it’ll capture both sides of the audio conversation to a file. You can set the recording quality and pause recording.
8. Manage your recordings
Once your recording is done in Audio Hijack, you can play the audio files from inside the app or right-click on them to reveal them in the Finder. You can safely record at only moderate quality settings to save space (the audio stream coming over the phone is less than CD-quality).
However you choose to record your audio files, you should end up with a bunch of MP3 or M4A files that you can label and listen to later, either for transcription or just as a record of what was said by whom. You can keep these in folders or as playlists in iTunes. You can also record FaceTime Audio calls by using a free application called SoundFlower, which is able to route audio internally between applications inside your Mac. However, this does involve setting up and configuring some custom virtual audio devices in the Audio MIDI Setup app, so it’s something that’s perhaps better attempted by experienced users. For the outlay, the Call Recorder or Audio Hijack apps provide a cost-effective and quick solution to call recording, especially if you do a lot of it.