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How to download audio on a Mac


Do you want to save the audio from YouTube or download the embedded audio from a website? Perhaps you want to download the audio track of a movie, grab the audio from a PowerPoint presentation, or save some music from Soundcloud. While there may be some legal issues if you don’t have the rights to the audio you are downloading, if it’s for your own personal use, then some apps will allow you to download audio from the web. We show you how.

In our example we will be recording or downloading sound from YouTube, but you could in theory make a copy of the sound from any website or app.

We’ll start with a free option, although the other options we cover do have free trial versions that might be suitable for your purposes.

Recording audio on a Mac using QuickTime

Apple’s QuickTime Player software can be found on every Mac. It’s more than a video player. You can also use it to record the screen, record yourself via the FaceTime camera, and record audio.

Here’s how you can use the QuickTime app to record the audio from a website:

  1. Open QuickTime Player (press Command+Space and start typing QuickTime to locate the app).
  2. Right-click (or control-click) on the icon in the Dock.
  3. Choose Record Audio.
  4. Click the arrow beside the record button and check that Internal microphone is selected.
  5. Find the webpage which has audio you want to record.
  6. Click the record button and start playing the audio.

The quality of the recording won’t be as good as with the paid for options, and it will also record other noise – so don’t make a sound. You will also have to leave the audio playing while it records.

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Luckily there are some better options if you want to download audio from a website such as YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, or another streaming audio source. You can also grab the audio from Powerpoint, Podcasts, and more. We’ll start off with our favourite option, the Parallels Tool Box.

Downloading audio on a Mac with Parallels Tool Box

Parallels Tool Box is a collection of tools that simplify some of the things you might want to do on your Mac, such as Download Video, Free Memory (we cover clearing RAM here), Find Duplicates, or Hide Desktop.

Download Audio is one such tool and it’s really easy to use.

Parallels Tool Box is available as a free 7 day trial. The full version costs £15.99 a year, and you can buy it here.

Here’s how to use Parallels Tool Box to download the audio from a website:

  1. Install Tool Box – there is a free 7 day trial here https://www.parallels.com/uk/products/toolbox/
  2. Once Tool Box is installed, click on the ToolBox icon in the menu at the top of the screen (near the clock).
  3. Choose Download Audio. A pop up window will appear.
  4. Open the webpage with the audio you wish to download and either copy and paste, or drag and drop the url into the Download Audio window.
  5. When you drop in the url the download will automatically begin. Beware it may take some time, our 71.1MB download took about an hour, but obviously it depends on the speed of your internet connection.
  6. Click on the file in your downloads folder and it will open in iTunes and start to play.
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The file downloaded as an m4a file (mpeg 4) and included a cover image. Audio quality was very good.

Downloading audio on a Mac with Audio Hijack

Another option for downloading audio is Audio Hijack, although this is a little more complicated to use than Parallels Tool Box, the trial version (available here) will continue to work, so you don’t necessarily need to buy the full version.

However, in trial mode the quality of captured audio will degrade after ten minutes, so you might not want to record anything too lengthy. The full version costs costs $71 and you can buy it here.

  1. Download Audio Hijack and open the app.
  2. Click on New Session.
  3. Click on New Blank Session.
  4. Click on Application.
  5. Choose Safari (if it’s a webpage that you wish to grab audio from).
  6. You’ll need to install ACE (Audio Capture Engine) to record audio from Safari.
  7. Click on Install ACE and enter your system password when required.
  8. Click on Recorder and drag that unit into the window.
  9. You can choose your Recording Format Quality, we left it at High Quality MP3.
  10. Click on the Application tab and add the URL of the page with the audio you wish to record.
  11. Now click on the Record button, the webpage will open. You may need to start the music playing.
  12. It records in real time, so you may wish to leave it for a little while.
  13. When you are done, click on the record button again to stop it.
  14. Once you have finished recording, click on the Recordings tab.
  15. You can play the recording inside the app.
  16. Alternatively, you can click on Actions and then click on Add to iTunes.
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The audio quality was similar to that of the Parallels Tool Box version, but as we said, after 10 minutes audio quality will degrade. 

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