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Recording an iPhone or iPad’s screen has long been an incredibly difficult task. YouTube’s gigabytes of blurry, glare-filled and out-of-focus video attest to this fact – slamming a camera in front of an iPad and recording was never ideal, but it’s always been the easiest option.

Now Apple has made recording easier with a “hidden” feature to OS X Yosemite that lets users stream their iPhone or iPad display to a Mac. The company hasn’t spent much time talking about this addition, but don’t worry; it’s rather easy to use. You can start recording your iOS device within minutes.

Getting Started

To use this feature you need three things; a Mac running OS X Yosemite, an iOS device running iOS 8 or later and a Lightning cable 7 Great Lightning Cables To Charge Your iPhone Or iPad 7 Great Lightning Cables To Charge Your iPhone Or iPad One of the most common problems faced by iPhone and iPad owners is a frayed and unusable Lightning connector. Surely there must be tougher, more ruggedized aftermarket options available? Read More to connect them. To be clear, a Lightning cable will have an omni-directional Lightning connector on one end and a USB connection on the other. A cable like this has shipped with every iOS device since the iPhone 5.

lightningcable

In my testing of this feature I found a direct connection to the Mac used for recording is required (I could not get it to work through a hub). Aftermarket Lightning cables worked just as well as the ones provided by Apple. Also, this feature is only compatible with iOS devices that have a native Lightning port, so there’s no way to use it on an iPhone 4S or iPad 2 (with the old 30-pin connector) even though they can be updated to iOS 8.

Your iOS device needs to have “trust” with the Mac you’d like to use for recording. If you own a Mac and an iOS device you’ve probably already set up trust between them. If you haven’t, though, just open iTunes with the device connected. The Mac will automatically send a trust request to iOS. Approve it, and you’re ready to go.

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Ready? Set? Record!

Now its time to record. Open QuickTime player 7 Handy Tasks QuickTime Player Performs for Free 7 Handy Tasks QuickTime Player Performs for Free You've probably changed the file association so QuickTime never gets used, so you've probably overlooked its bounty of useful features. Read More , hit File, and then click New Screen Recording. Your Mac’s camera will be the default device for this, so go hit the down arrow by the record button to open a menu. If all is working you will see your iOS device listed. Select it and QuickTime will automatically switch to your iOS device as the source. You should also switch your Microphone source to your iOS device if you want to record audio with your video.

iosrecording2

Once you’ve switched the source you can click the record button to start recording what you’re doing on your iOS device. The recording will update in real-time with only a slight delay. Anything on your iOS device, from web pages to video content, can be recorded.

That’s it! Were you expecting more steps? Sorry to disappoint!

Tricks And Features

Recording from your iOS device is quite simple, but there a few tricks you should know. These will help you extract maximum quality from your smartphone or tablet recording.

Switching between portrait and landscape orientation is enabled when you are not recording, but the switch will only happen in an environment that supports both orientations. So on my iPhone 5, for example, I can’t switch from the “tall” to the “wide” view on the home screen because my phone does not support a wide home screen.

iosrecording

You can’t switch between orientations after you start recording, however. If you try it, or if you accidentally flip your device, the recording will automatically stop. I also noticed that recording in wide view didn’t work in every app. The YouTube app, for example, would only record a narrow view.

As a security feature your iOS device automatically changes its title bar to an “uninformed” bar that does not have your carrier data while you’re recording. Notifications will still pop up Put iOS Notifications To Work For You With These Apps Put iOS Notifications To Work For You With These Apps Did you know that with the right apps you can be notified about pretty much anything using your iPhone? Read More , so be careful what you record or turn your notifications off.

The recording feature worked with all streaming video sources I tried. This includes both apps (like the YouTube app) and video on web pages. Yosemite’s iOS recording feature could prove to be an easy way to copy video content and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple forced to plug that hole if it catches on.

Troubleshooting

Having issues getting the feature to work? Here are some suggestions that could sort you out.

If you are not receiving video, or are receiving video only intermediately, try another USB port or another cable. Also make sure the iOS device is in a secure position while recording. The Lightning connector does not sit as firmly as a USB cable or the old 30-pin unit and its very easy to jostle it out of place. Even a slight bump can cause enough of a disruption to stop recording in its tracks.

Also make sure your iOS device’s display is on. You won’t receive video if the display is turned off. The video will freeze if your iOS device’s display automatically turns off during recording, so it’s a good idea to set the display timer to its maximum setting.

Video that’s live but lags could be a sign your recording is competing for bandwidth with other content. I tried recording while importing photos to iPhoto, for example, and found that my recording become fairly jerky while the import took place. Make sure you’re not automatically syncing photos, movies, music or podcasts or backing up your device.

itunespreferences

If your iOS device doesn’t sync you may have the feature turned off. Open iTunes, go to Preferences, and open the Device Preferences tab. Make sure the “Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically” box is not ticked. Also make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes and, as said before, you’ve updated to iOS 8 iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away iOS 8 Is Here: 10 Reasons to Install It Right Away If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you'll want to upgrade it to iOS 8 as soon as possible. Here's why. Read More .

Conclusion

The ability to record your iOS device’s screen is a welcome addition to Yosemite. While most people won’t need to use it, those who make how-to videos or review apps will absolutely love it. Developers may also find it useful for recording bugs or the way users navigate an interface for future reference. And I can see this being used as a way to record YouTube and other streaming content in a pinch.

What will you record from your iOS device?

  1. jeffcard
    August 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for the guide, it worked pretty wlel for me. The recording itself is near real-time, but there is some noticeable lag between performing an action on my iPhone 6 and seeing the action occur in the QuickTime window. Is this problem happened to anyone else? I used to record my iPhone with acethinker iphone recorder, never had this problem.

  2. reema
    May 23, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Is there a way to record and not have the time or status bar auto adjust to 9:41?

  3. Kam
    May 14, 2016 at 2:37 am

    So I tried to record my iPhone 5c screen on my MacBook Air:
    So I connected my Phone to my laptop using the lightning connecter,
    Opened QuickTime,
    Selected “New Movie Recording”,
    Hit the drop down arrow to select what camera to use, but when I clicked on it my phone wasn’t and option, What do I do?

  4. nick
    January 4, 2016 at 5:13 am

    there is no "new screen recording". also, iphone never shows up in microphone list.

  5. Oana Filip (@oanafilip)
    February 23, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Hi all! Another way to make it happen is by using AppDemoStore.com. You can record screenshots and create a clickable app demo for iOS and Android as well. It's easy and fast.
    Matt, please let me know if you want to give it a try and I will make sure you have full access to all our features. Cheers!

  6. stephanie
    February 3, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    i cannot get my iPad Air or iPhone 5C to connect - I don't see them as an option in the drop down menu on quicktime. The lightening cord works/connects just fine. Any thoughts on what else I could check to fix this? iOS and OS are both fully updated.

    • nick
      January 4, 2016 at 5:12 am

      same here, iphone 5c

  7. milo
    January 31, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Yeah, what sterling said above. You need to click "New Movie Recording", not "New Screen Recording" and then you can select the iPhone. Otherwise you'll only get a microphone selection menu. I spent some time restarting and reconnecting until I figured it out - otherwise very useful article.

  8. Candice
    January 7, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Thanks For The Info..... I been trying to get this to work for me for 24hrs and after reading this I now know the reason it won't work is because I have the iPhone 4s

  9. sterling
    December 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Hey, fix the tutorial. You need to click new movie recording not new screen recording... I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out what was wrong.

    • Tom
      March 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Same here! Thanks Sterling for pointing it out.

    • Adrian B.w
      March 30, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      mine iphone (4s) won't show up in any of them. can you help me?

    • karsten
      April 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Me too, thanks Sterling!

  10. MrCirque
    November 15, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Don't use the headphones, and instead turn up Quicktime's volume in the playback scrubber. You'll hear you game audio through your Mac's speakers.

  11. Zach
    November 3, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    When I plug my headphones in to hear the in-game play, Quicktime no longer records the sounds from the iPad. So I either have the choice to know what instructions are being said in the game or to have the sounds actually record in the video. Shucks.

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