How to Record What You Hear ( Built-in Output ) for Mac for Free
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How to Record What You Hear ( Built-in Output ) for Mac

Published on October 31, 2012 by

Every Mac or Computer user comes across the moment when he or she simply wants to record what he hears through his speakers. Let it be a show on your favorite life stream radio or audio samples from that funny talk on YouTube. It doesn’t matter what it is (if it doesn’t infringe the copyright laws if you know what I mean) setting up a system to record your audio output isn’t as easy as it seems in the beginning.

It is though absolutely doable and 100% free. In this tutorial, I want to show you in an easy to understand step by step manner how to record what you hear on your Mac OS X system. For the ones who just want a step by step plan with no explanation aside, please skip to the end.


Step 1: Soundflower – the virtual audio interface

Soundflower is a virtual audio node through which two audio applications can send audio to each other.

Soundflower record builtin output

The advantage of Soundflower in comparison to connecting two applications directly to each other is that they don’t need to know from one another. They don’t need to be compatible and no rewire system needs to be set up.

Soundflower comes with two options. Either Soundflower(2ch) which stands for 2 channels or Soundflower(16ch) which stands for 16 channels. For this setup we just need 2 channels.


  1. Download the correct Soundflower version according to your OSX system >> Link <<
  2. Install Soundflower on your Mac
  3. Go to ‘System Preferences > Sound > Output’ and select Soundflower(2ch) as your output device (it should normally stand on Built-in Internal Speakers if you aren’t using some other sound card)


record what you hear mac sound output


Step 2: Audacity – the free recording software

Audacity is a free open source sound editor or digital audio workstation that offers lots of plugins and useful functions for everyone that don’t want to spend tons of money on recording software.

Audacity record what you hear speakers output

In our setup Audacity will serve as a recording software to record our computers output or in other words: It will record what you would normally hear coming out of your laptop speakers.


  1. Download the latest version of Audacity >> Link <<
  2. Install Audacity on your Mac
  3. Open Audacity through double-clicking the Audacity in your application folder
  4. Go to ‘Audacity>Preferences’ (or command + , ) and click on Audio I/O
  5. Select Soundflower(2ch) as a recording device with 2 channels stereo as you can see in the image below
  6. To record simply hit the record button (red dot) and make sure the audio you want to record is playing
  7. To export your audio go to File>Export Audio as Wav or mp3 or make a selection and hit File>Export Audio as Wav or mp3


Audacity record audio output mac


Step 3: LineIn – allows you to hear what you record

You may have noticed that you can’t hear what you are playing as you are sending your main audio stream to the Soundflower input. To resolve that problem we use a piece of software called LineIn from Rogue Amoeba. It allows you to route any of your audio inputs to any of your audio outputs.


  1. Download LineIn on the Rogue Amoeba Website: >> Link <<
  2. Install LineIn
  3. Open LineIn
  4. Select Soundflower(2ch) as Input from
  5. Select Built-in Ouput: Internal Speakers as Output to
  6. Hit the Pass Thru button


LineIn record what you hear on your speakers


Thats it! You are done and able to record every sound you are playing on your Mac.


Step 0: Read from here if you don’t want to read all my fancy comments and just want to know how to record what you hear

Here are all the steps lined up in a row for all of you that are looking for a nice overview and fast solution:

  1. Download the correct Soundflower version according to your OS X system >> Link <<
  2. Install Soundflower on your Mac
  3. Go to ‘SystemPreferences > Sound > Output’ and select Soundflower(2ch) as your output device (it should normally stand on Built-in Internal Speakers if you aren’t using some other sound card that are connected to your studio speakers)
  4. Download the latest version of Audacity >> Link <<
  5. Install Audacity on your Mac
  6. Open Audacity through double-clicking the Audacity in your application folder
  7. Go to ‘Audacity>Preferences’ (or command + , ) and click on Audio I/O
  8. Select Soundflower(2ch) as a recording device with 2 channels stereo as you can see in the image below
  9. Download LineIn on the Rogue Amoeba Website: >> Link <<
  10. Install LineIn
  11. Open LineIn
  12. Select Soundflower(2ch) as Input from
  13. Select Built-in Ouput: Internal Speakers as Output to
  14. Hit the Pass Thru button
  15. To record in Audacity simply hit the record button (red dot) and make shure the audio you want to record is playing
  16. To export your audio go to File>Export Audio as Wav or mp3 or make a selection and hit File Export Audio as Wav or mp3


WARNING: Dont forget to reselect your Built-in Internal Speakers in your System Preferences after you are finished AND don’t create any loops within your setup or otherwise you might hear annoying feedback blasting out of your speakers.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi

    On Osx it works Fine.
    But on Win7 X32 what program can i use that does the same as soundflower.

    Want to be able to hear when i record.

    Thx

    • I haven’t used Windows for a while but isn’t it much easier on windows and you don’t even need soundflower because you can route your output to your intput in the settings of Windows itself?

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