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How to record video on Mac computers

Whether it's a step-by-step video, a mind-blowing document, a presentation, or anything you want to share—recordings give you an easy and efficient way to show people the goods.

Mac computers were supposed to be a breeze, so why’s it so difficult? Here we’ll run down a few ways.

Try Dropbox Capture
A person using Dropbox Capture to record their screen and camera on a Mac.

Ever find yourself spending way too long writing an email to explain something, or get your point across? Let’s be honest—we’ve all been there at some stage.

Recording your screen, yourself, or both can be great for communication and asynchronous work, especially when you need to make a point clearly. macOS has a few options, but they likely don’t have all the features you need. Useful screen recorder features to look out for include the ability to:

  • Add a face overlay of yourself, highlight sections of the screen, or add markups/annotations
  • Securely share or store recordings and set permissions, which is crucial for confidential exchanges
  • Automatically add recordings to your clipboard and choose where to keep them
  • Trim, edit, and polish your recordings to a high standard

So, let’s examine a few of the options for recording video on a Mac and see how they stack up.

Before you read on, just know that Dropbox is the only tool on our list that lets you record yourself and your screen at the same time.

If that’s more your thing, save some time and skip down to use Dropbox, which also includes features like annotations, one-click recordings or screenshots, and shareable links.

How to screen record or record a video on a Mac with QuickTime Player

The built-in QuickTime Player is an easy option among your Mac’s arsenal of apps. It’s a built-in tool, which you have ready to capture and record your screen—and it’s pretty straightforward to use.

You can try screen recording using the built-in QuickTime Player by doing the following:

  1. Open QuickTime Player, click File then New Screen Recording, which brings up some options.
  2. Now choose Record Entire Screen or Record Selected Portion, depending on what area of your Mac’s screen you want to record.
    • You can also click the Options dropdown to pick a save location, timer, and access settings.
  3. Your recording will open in QuickTime Player as a preview window, so you can check/play it.
  4. Head to your desktop (or other save location) and you’ll see the file, which is automatically named with a timestamp.

Once the recording is done, Dropbox users will get a prompt to Save Screenshots to Dropbox—so click this option if you want to quickly store a clip and copy it to your clipboard for easy sharing.

For video recordings of yourself using the computer camera or a webcam, try the following:

  1. Open QuickTime Player and click File then New Movie Recording, which brings up recording controls.
  2. Use the options menu that pops up to choose your camera, microphone, and quality settings.
  3. Click the round Record button icon and take your video, then press the Stop icon when you’re done.
  4. Go to File and then click Save to pick a name for the clip and store it wherever you like.

QuickTime Player is not exactly your ticket to screen recording stardom, but it’s an option all Mac users can try instantly. But it doesn’t let you record yourself and your screen at once—or let you edit either.

How to record a video on a Mac using Photo Booth

Photo Booth seems like a fun-filled carnival for recording yourself with your camera, capturing those hilarious and memorable moments—but you can easily use it for a personalized message.

You can’t record your screen, but to record a video of yourself with Photo Booth try the following:

  1. Open Photo Booth and toggle to Record a movie, which is a small movie camera icon at the bottom left of your screen.
  2. After this a big red Record Video button will appear in the middle of your window, click it to begin your recording.
  3. After a countdown recording will begin, finish your video by clicking the Stop button.
  4. You’ll see a preview below so you can check the video and then share it using the Share button.
    • You can also click File and then Export… to pick a save location.

It’s easy, but when it comes to screen recording—Photo Booth is not very useful. It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. But hey, for simple camera clips, Photo Booth is the place to be!

If you're looking to capture your epic screen adventures, we've got other tricks up our sleeves.

How to record a video on Mac computers using iMovie

iMovie is a built-in option for budding filmmakers willing to invest the time required to learn how to use it. Here, you can not only record yourself with your camera—but also dive into the world of editing wizardry.

Try the following to record and edit video of your screen and camera on a Mac using iMovie:

  1. Open iMovie and start a new project, then click the Import Media button.
  2. Look for Cameras, Devices, and Favorites to the left, and select your Facetime HD camera (or another, if you prefer).
    • To edit screen recording clips, try the QuickTime Player method and then import your file.
  3. A preview of your camera will appear, click the big red, Record button to take a video.
  4. Click Close and the clip will appear in your movie project’s Project Media window.
    • From here you can click Share at the top right, edit the video, or add  after effects.

It’s not the simplest tool in the box. But, if your videos need that extra sparkle, iMovie is an acceptable option.

Screen record and boost your productivity with Dropbox

Whether you want to speed up your work day, showcase your epic gaming skills, create engaging tutorials, or simply capture those priceless moments, Dropbox has got your back.

Dropbox is for those who want the best of both worlds—your screen and footage from your camera, recorded simultaneously. Thanks to the intuitive interface, getting started is simple:

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. Click Screen recording + Camera or Screen recording.
  3. Choose which part of your screen you’d like to capture.
  4. Click the Red Circle icon in the left-side panel to start recording, and click it again to stop recording.
A GIF showing how you can take a screen recording in just a few clicks with Dropbox Capture.

During recording you can toggle video from your camera on and off, to suit your needs, and even draw on your screen (by clicking the Pencil icon) to make key points even clearer. When your recording is finished, bring it to life with annotations and other markups or effects to add those final touches.

Other features of Dropbox

  • Capture sound and video, record your screen, and bring your ideas to life in just a few clicks
  • Set permissions for your recordings, ensuring that only the right eyes and ears have access
  • Share your recordings instantly
  • Keep track of who's viewed your recordings, gather feedback, and streamline your workflow
  • Do everything in a single app

See below for what one professional user has to say about Dropbox as a communication tool:

Capture has made communication more efficient and more on-point. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth ten thousand. If I send someone an email about an issue we’re having with a website, for example, if I can include a video, I can much more quickly make my point and therefore operate at a higher level of efficiency.

—Steve Lewis, IT Manager, Lehigh University

Tips for better screen recordings

Now that you’ve picked the right tools, let’s make sure you’re getting the most out of your screen recording.

Here are some tips for any method you choose for recording your screen or camera on a Mac:

  • Frame your shot by positioning yourself right in the middle—you're the focus, after all
  • Brighten up your recording space with some lighting
  • Clear your desktop clutter
  • Position the microphone near your mouth for clear audio
  • Set your Mac on a stable surface or use a webcam with a tripod
  • Check your audio levels to ensure perfect sound quality
  • Find a quiet environment to record
  • Keep mouse movements smooth and intentional for maximum effect
  • Increase cursor visibility with color or other effects
  • Outline a script before starting to record

These tips are super simple, but they can take your recording game to the next level.

How to record video on a Mac with Dropbox

So you have all you need to create, edit, and send your screen recordings like a true pro. Adjust your lights, frame the camera, and unleash recording magic on your Mac computer—like a pro.

The free methods we describe above are available to all Mac users. Dropbox lets you screen record and capture video from your camera at the same time and share in a few clicks, try it free.