It’s easier than ever to start recording your iPhone and other iOS device screens and turn them into a movie. It’s just a matter of mirroring your device onto your laptop with any number of apps then firing up a tool like Camtasia to record what’s happening on your screen.
But there are still a few quirky things you may encounter along the way. These tips will help you get great results the first time you dive into iOS screencasting.
Prepare your iOS device
1. Don’t lose track of time
When you plug your device into your Mac and launch a mobile recording app (e.g., TechSmith AppShow, Camtasia for Mac, or QuickTime), the status bar changes. The clock displays 9:41, your mobile carrier name is hidden, and the battery percentage indicator shows 100%. This is less distracting for viewers but can throw you off if you’re not expecting it! There’s nothing you need to do…this is just in #TheMoreYouKnow category.
2. Clean up clutter
If the iOS home screen will appear in your video, consider changing your wallpaper and creating a new page with just one icon.
To change your wallpaper back to an Apple default: tap Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper and you’ll see options for Dynamic or Stills. Choose a wallpaper, then Set > Set Home Screen to make it the new wallpaper that appears behind your home screen icons.
To make a new page on your home screen, long-press the icon of an app you’ll be showing in your video, then drag it to the right edge and a new page will appear.
3. Enable do not disturb mode
This will prevent notifications or phone calls from popping up in the middle of your recording.
To enable do not disturb (also called “sleep mode”): Tap Settings > Do Not Disturb > Manual then scroll down and select Silence: Always.
4. Lock orientation
Which way will you be holding your device while recording: up-and-down or sideways? It’s best to lock orientation so you don’t accidentally tilt the device during recording. If you do that, recording will stop or the content will looked squished.
To lock orientation: Hold your device the way you want to record. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center. Tap the padlock icon.
5. Turn off display zoom (iPhone 6/ 6Plus)
If you use zoom mode on a newer iPhone, you may want to turn it off. If you leave it on, you will not capture the full resolution possible. Using an iPhone 6 in zoom mode, for example, generates a recording at 1136 x 640 instead of 1334 x 750.
To disable zoom mode: Tap Settings > Display and Brightness > Display Zoom | View > Standard > Set. Your device will restart.
6. Unmute your device
If your device is muted via the silence switch, the audio coming from your device will not be included in your recording. If the content you’re recording has its own audio—like the sound effects in a game—you will want to unmute your device so it is captured.
7. Turn off in-game music
If you’re recording a game that has both background music and sound effects you should turn off music within the game settings. Why? Because if you edit the video later, the music will sound like it’s jumping. Instead of recording the music in real-time, just record the sound effects and import the music later into your video editor as a separate track.
Prepare your desktop computer
8. Free up resources
Capturing is intensive and requires a lot of system resources, especially true on older machines. To make sure you get good performance during capture, close all other programs, including stuff running in the background.
9. Disable Image Capture and iTunes
Depending on your Mac’s settings, one or more windows may pop open every time you plug in your mobile device. If you’re doing a lot of recording, this gets to be highly annoying.
To prevent iPhoto, Image Capture, or another photo app from launching all the time: Plug in the device you’ll use for recording. When Image Capture opens, click your device name in the left pane > click the tiny up arrow in the bottom left corner of the Image Capture window > click the dropdown under “Connecting this (device) opens…” > select No application.
To prevent iTunes from launching all the time: Open iTunes and click iTunes > Preferences… > Devices tab > Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically.
10. Unmute your computer’s audio
When you plug in a mobile device and launch a mobile recording app, audio from the mobile device gets routed to your computer’s speakers or headphones. Unmute your computer’s audio to hear the device audio you’re recording.
Get good audio
11. Use a good mic
Using your computer’s built-in mic to record narration is not usually the best idea, as you’ll probably pick up a lot of room and fan noise. Ideally, you want to get ahold of a good-quality USB mic like an Audio-Technica AT2020 or a Blue Microphones Yeti. I’ve also had great results with a basic lapel mic and a USB converter.
12. Record in a quiet place
Move to a quiet environment or at least isolate yourself and the microphone from noise. The most common noise culprits: heating or cooling vents, your computer’s fan, doors closing, dogs, or sirens.
If you can’t quiet your environment as much as you’d like, try covering your head and the mic with a blanket. (Looks funny but it works). Recording in a clothes closet is also effective. You may even want to invest in a tabletop recording booth.
13. Use music
Most videos are helped along by a suitable music soundtrack. If the app you’re recording doesn’t have its own music, consider adding a track that helps set the mood. There are many sources of royalty-free music online; some of our favorites are:
- YouTube Audio Library (free)
- Incompetech (Creative Commons – attribution)
- CCMixter (Creative Commons – attribution)
- AudioJungle ($)
- Premium Beat ($$)
- Friendly Music ($$)
These tips should save you time and frustration when recording your iOS device! Have some tips of your own? Post a comment and share what you’ve learned!
Note: the animated GIFs in this post were produced with Camtasia for Mac