OS X Lion: Screen Recording in QuickTime X

I like QuickTime X a lot. A whole lot. I’ve been using its screen recording feature to help out my less tech-savvy acquaintances since it was introduced in Snow Leopard. For Lion, Apple’s upped the ante a good bit on what you can do with this, and I’m here to show you what’s new and how to use it. We’ll have fun, so don’t you worry your pretty little heads about that.

If you aren’t already familiar with the program, QuickTime is Apple’s video player. It does a lot more than that, however—you can make audio and movie recordings with it, do some basic video editing, and export your creations to different websites and applications. The screen recording feature is my favorite thing about it, though. Whenever you need to show your Uncle Ronnie just how to access iTunes’ preferences or how to edit that document you sent him, a video is an invaluable tool for doing so, especially for the folks that have a hard time with e-mailed instructions. Plus, let’s face it—sending a how-to video earns you major geek points, and who wouldn’t want that? 

So go to your Applications folder and open QuickTime Player. (If you see QuickTime Player 7 there, too, that’s not what we’re looking for—that’s an older version of the software.) If you haven’t opened the program before, you’ll probably just see the menu bar appear. From there, choose File > New Screen Recording (or hit Control-Command-N). 

You’ll get a little black Screen Recording window from which to control your options and start recording. When you click the drop-down arrow, you’ll see even more stuff you can change, including the location where your movie will be saved.

Make sure to toggle the “Microphone” option off of “None” if you’d like your viewers to be able to hear you talk while they’re watching your video.


The choice I have highlighted above—“Show Mouse Clicks in Recording”—is an especially helpful new feature in Lion. With this, clicking on something during the recording will make a small circle appear briefly around your cursor to give your audience a visual cue about where you’ve clicked.

Another shiny new plaything is the ability to choose an area of your screen to record rather than having to make a video of the entire thing (as was the case in Snow Leopard). When you click the record button, here’s what QuickTime will tell you all polite-like:

So drag to select an area that you’d like to record, and then when you release your mouse button, you’ll be able to resize the box you’ve made by dragging the familiar handles around it. You can also click and hold on the interior of the box and drag to adjust its position on your screen.

When you’re satisfied, click “Start Recording,” or you can hit Escape to exit out of the box-adjusting window if you don’t want to actually record anything. You tease.

After you’re finished making an instructional video for your technophobe uncle, click the stop button on the black Screen Recording window. QuickTime will then process your work and save the .mov file to wherever you’ve assigned it to do so. Using the “Share” menu option, you can publish your tutorial to YouTube, send it directly to an e-mail, or even put it on Facebook (if you must).

Pretty neat! If you’re interested, you can check out Apple’s full list of new QuickTime features. I sincerely hope, though, that my relatives never find out about this stuff. I give them enough free tech support as it is.

Sorry, Uncle Ronnie.