How to record internal sound on Mac OS X
Use Soundflower and Audacity to record audio!
Soundflower is a free system extension that lets you channel audio from one application to another. Perhaps you want to take the audio playing in a movie in your web browser and record it using QuickTime's audio input? Inter-application audio driver Soundflower can help you do this by emulating the interface of an audio device and allowing any audio application to send and receive audio with no other support needed.
The Soundflower software was originally released in by Cycling '74 in 2004 and as an open-source project has encountered difficulties in keeping pace as Mac audio architecture has changed. Soundflower still works, however, despite the additional security steps required by Apple during installation.
Note that this download is for Mac OS X versions 10.5.8+.
Users need to download and run the Soundflower Installer.pkg. The first time you run the installer (Soundflower.pkg), it will ask for your admin password and, depending on which Mac operating system you are using, this password might fail.
This is because kernel extensions on modern macOS versions now need to be given permissions before being loaded for the first time. The Soundflower installer will produce an error on macOS High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina.
A security alert will appear and you will need to go to the Security and Privacy - General pane in System Preferences. Once there, there should be an Allow button that you can click to permit Soundflower (developer: MATT INGALLS) to open. Rerun the installer and, this time, the installation should be successful.
Installing Soundflower successfully was quite a challenging process, especially as there is no user instructions or tutorial to guide you through. We had to rely on researching the problem online and discovering the solution by ourselves.
Once installed successfully, the Soundflower extension runs with very low latency and CPU usage, allowing each client application to use its usual buffer size. This means it won't negatively impact your computer's performance.
There are many instances in which you might want to use Soundflower to channel audio between applications. Maybe you want to record the audio from a Skype or FaceTime interview, picking up both voices equally for more professional production. Or perhaps you'd like to record sounds from a frequency generation tool that's only available on the web?
Alternatively, you might need to do some creative re-sampling of a piece of audio by routing audio from apps such as iTunes and Spotify. Soundflower also allows users to record sound produced by their Macs such as audio channeled from outside sources like devices plugged into the USB and sound input ports.
Alternatives to Soundflower include iShowU, Audacity although neither work in exactly the same way.
Soundflower opens as one of two core audio devices (2ch/64ch). For most people and purposes, the 2-channel device is sufficient. The 64-channel device is provided for more complex routing situations and can be used with more than two applications simultaneously if the applications support audio routing to any channel.
To help users get started there are instructions in the Readme file found in the DMG download folder. These are, however, heavily focused on using Soundflower with Max/MSP, a visual programming language for music and multimedia. Users with more simple needs will have to look up instructions to configure Soundflower with more commonly used sound-capture apps.
To begin using Soundflower, open the Sound panel in System Preferences and you'll see Soundflower listed in the Output and Input tabs. Select the Output tab and choose Soundflower (2ch). Now, any sound that would normally come out of your Mac's speakers will be channeled through Soundflower.
It's important to remember this: if your Mac makes any sound — not only the audio you're trying to capture but also notifications and alerts — Soundflower will route that as well. Additionally, if you change your Mac's volume, that change will also be captured by the application that's recording Soundflower's audio.
Once you have selected Soundflower as the Output audio, you will need to configure the application you want to use to capture the audio. There are a couple of apps on your Mac that can record Soundflower's audio — QuickTime and GarageBand.
QuickTime is the easiest to configure; simply choose File and then select New Audio Recording. In the window that appears, click on the downward-pointing triangle that displays to the right of the Record button. Choose Soundflower (2ch) from the list that appears. When you're ready to begin capturing your chosen audio, just click Record.
One of the annoying things about Soundflower, however, is that when you choose it as your Mac's audio output, you can no longer hear the sound through attached speakers or headphones. You can avoid this issue by using alternative software such as Audio Highjack Pro or Audio Recorder.
Although we didn't have this issue when testing, some users experience interference when first setting up an audio channel. In this case, the user instructions recommend increasing the buffer size of both applications.
Quick, elegant and compatible with Mac audio architecture, Soundflower is an effective and free audio routing solution. It enables applications to pass audio to other applications, allowing you to record anything from your system within your digital audio workstation.
Despite a issues with the installation process and a general lack of user guidance instructions, Soundflower is relatively straightforward to use. It produces good-quality audio for a range of requirements, although it does have some annoying features.
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User reviews about Soundflower
I have been using Soundflower for ages and it worked well on 10.11 (El Capitán), once I got used to 1. hearing no sound through the headphones during a recording; 2. using option-click on the sound symbol in the menu bar to switch output options before and after; 3. making sure no "third-party sounds" happen during a recording, like system alerts, clock announcements, etc.
However, now I've got a new Mac with an M1 processor – yay! – with Monterey and I can't install Soundflower anymore. After I circumvent the Mac's blockage of "insecure software", the package starts to install nicely, but at the end it announces: "The installation failed. The Installer encountered an error that caused the installation to fail. Contact the software manufacturer for assistance."
Now I'm going to try the utilities suggested by S. McCandlish.
(Loopback costs 118 USD, so that's not going to happen. The free version essentially limits your recording time to 20 minutes.)
Thank you guys, for leaving your comments here 1. because now I know I'm not the only one having trouble and 2. so I know which alternatives there are. More
by Mark Dickson
Just downloaded/installed , the instructions work well although some buttons changed names was close enough to follow . i'm on 10.15.7 Catalina , just tested an online radio and works fine. just remember to listen back you need to change speaker in Sound settings back to Internal Speakers More
by Marvin Webster
It gets the job done, but after the job is done your internal speakers will no longer work nor will your internal microphone. You must change your settings back to normal. It took me a long time to figure this out. A real pain in the butt application, but it works. More
by Don Ball
Trying to uninstall is even more horrid. Bits and such still hiding out that app cleaners could not quite remove. Had to Time Machine.
by ray Torres
i keep getting an error but it wont tell me why therefore i can not finish the install.
by S. McCandlish
This was good in its day (like around 2014), but hasn't worked properly for years in newer versions of macOS. The modern and much more capable replacement is Loopback. (Some other software can do some of the same things, including Boom2, Movavi Sound Grabber, and various other utilities for grabbing streaming audio and video, but most of them really are intended just for that, e.g. recording Spotify streams.) I prefer Loopback, because it's a configurable virtual sound device, and can even be set up on an app-by-app basis (e.g., you can set it to record some long TED talk or whatever on YouTube in Chrome without echoing the audio to your physical output device, then go watch a movie in VLC without the audio from that interfering with your TED recording). Because the OS sees it as a device, it can be set in one for other purposes, such as screen-recording software like Voila. You can thus use such a combo to rip any online video even if you can't find a downloading app or browser extension that supports the site in question. (The only downside is you have to let the whole thing play from start to finish while you grab it. So, go make dinner or something.)I'll give this three stars, since it's still usable on old versions of Mac OS X. However, various newer, better programs are also. More