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Record your Mac screen the easy way. Here's how to do it

You don't need any fancy tools or apps to capture video of your Mac's screen; the feature is built right in.

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Record the screen of your Mac with just a few clicks. Really, it's that easy. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Capturing the screen of your MacBook Air or iMac can be useful in so many ways. Whether you're recording a presentation for school, showing a loved one how to set up an app or documenting your fastest run in your favorite Apple Arcade game, screen recording can help. 

Don't let the idea of capturing your screen intimidate you, though. MacOS comes with all of the tools you'll need to create a video recording of your Mac's screen, complete with audio. In fact, it's so easy to use, if you know how to take a screenshot on your Mac, you're already well on your way to being a pro at screen recordings. 

Below I'll walk you through how to record your Mac's screen and adjust its settings to fit your needs. 

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We all have that one time when a screen recording would have come in handy. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

How to screen record on your Mac

Every Mac comes with QuickTime Player preinstalled. It's the video player that opens up when you're watching a video you've downloaded or synced from your phone to your Mac. That same app also has every tool you'll need to record your screen. 

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If you're more comfortable opening QuickTime Player, there's nothing wrong with that. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There are two ways to start a recording. For me, the keyboard shortcut is the easiest, but I'll show you both methods so you can decide for yourself. 

Use this keyboard shortcut, it's faster

On your Mac's keyboard, press CMD-Shift-5 at the same time. I usually press CMD+Shift and then just tap the number 5 key. When you do that, the Mac's screenshot toolbar will show up on your screen. 

Open QuickTime Player to start recording

The longer way to open the screenshot toolbar is to open QuickTime Player. You can do that by going into your Applications folder and double-clicking on the app icon, or by pressing CMD+Spacebar and searching for QuickTime Player using the Spotlight tool. 

With the app open, click on File in the menu bar followed by New Screen Recording.

Adjust the settings before you record your Mac screen

The first three icons on the left side of your Mac's screenshot toolbar will take screenshots, so we're going to ignore those for now. You can read more about them in this handy guide

The next two icons are dedicated to screen recording. The first one is for recording your entire screen, while the second one with the dotted lines allows you to limit the recording to an area of your choosing. Click on either option to select how you want to record, then click on Options

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Tweak your settings before you press record. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Some of these settings apply to screenshots and recordings alike, such as where to save anything you capture, along with the timer that gives you a few seconds to get everything on your screen arranged before it's captured. 

The Microphone option is what you'll want to adjust if you plan on capturing audio while you record your Mac's display. For example, if you're giving a presentation, it makes sense to use an external microphone or a pair of AirPods. If that's the case, this is where you'll tell the QuickTime Player what you want to use as a microphone. 

Under the Options section, you'll find a setting that will cause an animated ring of circles, much like water rippling, to surround your cursor every time you click on something while you're recording your screen. Again, this is perfect for a presentation or even as a teaching tool. 

When you're ready to record, click the Record button. A small stop sign-like icon will show up in your menu bar on the top-right side of your display. Click on that when you're done recording. A few seconds later, your video will show up, allowing you to use QuickTime to save, export or edit the clip before sharing. 

Did you know you can also record the screen of your iPhone or iPad? It's true, and it's just as easy as on the Mac. If you're looking for more ways to take screenshots on your Mac, we have your back.