QuickTime & Yosemite: Recording Your iPhone or iPad Screen with iOS 8

Way back when Lion was the operating system du jour, I wrote an article about how to use QuickTime to record your Mac’s screen for making instructional videos and stuff. Sometimes it’s way handier to send someone a quick recording of how to do something rather than composing an email about it—plus, let’s just admit that it’ll make you seem really cool and tech-savvy. And goodness knows I enjoy seeming cooler than I actually am!

In Yosemite, we now also have a built-in way to record the screen of a connected iOS 8 device through QuickTime. Wanna check it out? Sure you do. Well, first you’ll have to plug your device in to your computer using your Lightning cable (this doesn’t work wirelessly), then go to your Applications folder and open QuickTime.

Once the program launches, choose File> New Movie Recording (or press Option-Command-N).

A window will appear that’ll probably be showing you your FaceTime camera, so once the shock of seeing your unkempt self wears off, you’ll need to change which device is going to be recorded. Do that by clicking on the teeny arrow next to the record button.

Be sure your plugged-in iOS device is unlocked, then swap the “Camera” choice over to it as I’m doing above. You’re ready to record! Of course, you can also change anything else you want under that menu (such as bumping up the “Quality” setting).

When you’ve got things configured properly, you should see your device’s screen appear within QuickTime, and hovering over that window will show you controls to start and stop recording.

Once you do begin recording, you’ll want to walk through whatever steps you’re trying to get your recipient to re-create on his own iOS device. When you’re finished, you can save your movie, export it at a different resolution (File> Export), or send it to your recipient right away with the familiar “Share” arrow.

A few troubleshooting steps, my friends: As I mentioned, you’ll need to be running both Yosemite and iOS 8 for this to work. If you hit some snags with getting your Mac to recognize your device as input in QuickTime, try pressing the Home button or opening a different app on it. If that doesn’t work, restarting QuickTime and reselecting File> New Movie Recording has been a consistent fix for any trouble I’ve had.

Finally, if you’re looking for a solution that’s a bit beefier (and that also works wirelessly, so you don’t have to grab a Lightning cable), check out Squirrels’ $12.99 Reflector app. One thing I prefer about Reflector over using QuickTime is that you can choose to have the actual “skin” of the device you’re using (or a different one!) appear in your recordings.

I don’t know why that appeals to me so much, but it does. I’m a sucker for neat little touches like that.