How to record audio on Windows 11

Whether it’s for a presentation, song, or YouTube video, at some point in your life you’ll need to record audio from your computer. Windows has multiple options to record sound due to its litany of apps, but today we’ll be focusing on recording with Audacity and the built-in Windows 11 Voice Recorder / Windows 10 Voice Recorder.

Searching a voice recorder for PC? Try Windows voice recorder or Audacity

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The latter is by far the simpler of the two, allowing you to quickly record voice snippets and export them in a high-quality format for use in music production and beyond. Though few realize it, however, Voice Recorder for Windows 11 / Windows 10 also serves as a basic audio editor, allowing you to flag, cut, and share clips.

Audacity, meanwhile, is a free, open-source alternative that is more complex but holds a lot of functionality. Initially released almost 20 years ago, it recently received an update that brings it closer to modern standards.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at how to record audio from your computer with each of these tools. However, we should note that this is not a tutorial on how to record your desktop audio. For that, you should try our dedicated Stereo Mix guide.

How to Record Audio on Windows 11 / Windows 10 with Voice Recorder

If you’re just looking to record voice and do some basic editing, Voice Recorder in Windows 11 / Windows 10 is the tool for you. Like most of its in-built apps, Microsoft has made this tool incredibly easy to use and very lightweight. Here’s how you can use it to record audio from your computer:

  1. Open Voice Recorder

    Press the Start button on your keyboard, then type “Voice Recorder”. Click the top result to open it.

  2. Press the Microphone button to start recording

    It’s really that easy. Windows 11 / Windows 10 will automatically pull audio from your default input device. Say hi!

  3. Set a marker and view the running time

    While recording, you can press the flag button to set a marker at a particular section. For example, if you made a mistake and would like to cut that part later or transition to a different topic. Your markers will show at the bottom of the app with their timestamp.
     
    The time you’ve been recording will display at the top of the screen. You can press the pause icon to temporarily stop the recording or the central button with a square in the middle to stop it permanently.
     

  4. Edit your voice recording in Windows 11 / Windows 10

    Once your recording is complete, the Windows 10 / Windows 11 Voice Recorder will automatically display it in a sidebar on the left. You can click it, or any previous clip, to open it. Pressing the big play button will let you listen back and determine whether any changes are required.

  5. Jump between your flags in Windows 10 / Windows 11 Voice Recorder

    Each of your flags will display above the play button with their time stamp and also as an orange line below.

  6. Edit and rename your voice recording

    You can right-click your audio recording in the list to rename it. In the main pane, below the timeline, you also have some options, the most important one being the trim icon, which allows you to trim the audio.

  7. Trim your voice recording

    After pressing the trim button, you’ll be presented with a start and end marker, which you can drag to the left and right to trim the recording. Move them to the desired location to adjust the audio track, then press the “Save” button underneath the timeline.

  8. Optional: Use hotkeys for increased efficiency

    If you’re editing a lot of clips, knowing the hotkeys for the Windows 10 / Windows 11 Voice Recorder will save you a lot of time. You can hold-down ALT to see them all. Important ones to remember are ALT + P to play, ALT + T to trim, and ALT + R to record.

  9. Share your Windows 10 / Windows 11 voice recording with others

    Under the timeline, press the square box with an arrow in it to share your recording with other people or apps.

  10. Choose an option from the share menu

    Pressing the share button will surface the share menu, from which you can send the audio file to nearby devices, your mail app, and more.

  11. Open file location to find the audio file

    You can also press the three dots under the timeline on the right-hand side and click “Open file location” to find the audio file itself.

  12. Find the file in your Sound Recordings folder

    You can now share it with a wider range of applications and sites as you would any other file.

How to Record Audio on your PC with Audacity for Windows

Audacity is a well-known free voice recorder that can provide both basic and advanced functionality. We’re just going to cover the basics today, but you can check out the Audacity manual for further information.

Before you start, you’ll of course need to download Audacity for Windows 11 / Windows 10 from the official site and install it.

  1. Open Audacity

    Press the Start button and type “Audacity”, then click the top result.

  2. Press “Edit > Preferences”

     Alternatively, just hit “Ctrl + P” on your keyboard.

  3. Choose the correct Audio Input

    In the “Devices” section of the Preferences window, look for the “Recording” section. Press the dropdown next to “Device” and choose the correct microphone from the list. Press “OK” when you’re done.

  4. Use the Audacity record function

    In the toolbar, click “Transport > Record”, or simply press R on your keyboard to start recording.

  5. Stop the Audacity recording when you’re finished

    When your voice recording is complete, press the large stop button below the toolbar.

  6. Save your Audacity Recording and export the audio

    With your voice recording complete, first save the Audacity project file so you can come back to it later. To do so, press “File > Save Project As..”, then choose a location and file name.

    You then export the audio by pressing “File > Export Audio…”. and following a similar process.

    How to Screen Record for Free without Recording Tools

    Now you should know the basics of recording with Audacity and the Windows 10 / Windows 11 Voice Recorder. You may now want to record some video to go alongside it, which you can do by following our screen record guide.

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