How to Record Voice Memos on Your iPhone

Apple Voice memos can capture the information you need to remember

With the Voice Memos app on your iPhone, you can record and then edit audio and save it to the phone. The app uses the built-in microphone on your iPhone, but you can use an external microphone if you want.

The information in this article applies to iPhones with iOS 13 or iOS 12.

About the Voice Memos App

Apple introduced the Voice Memos app in iPhone OS 3.0, and a version of it has appeared in every iPhone since. It was redesigned for the iPhone and iPad in iOS 12 and was introduced for the Mac with macOS Mojave (10.14). When you use Voice Memos, your recordings are available on all your compatible devices that use iCloud.

The Voice Memos app is one of the most overlooked features of the iPhone. It's like carrying a tape recorder with you wherever you go. Whether you leave yourself a reminder, record an interview with a client, or write a song while on the road, the Voice Memos app has all the basics you need. You can even edit out mistakes or share your recording with a friend.

How to Record a Voice Memo

When you want to record a note to yourself, a professor's lecture, a team meeting, or a conversation, you only need your iPhone.

  1. Open the Voice Memos app. Either tap its icon on the iPhone Home screen or tell Siri to open it.

  2. Tap the large red button at the bottom of the screen to begin recording. As you record, the time and a recording indicator appear above the button, which changes its appearance to indicate that the iPhone is recording.

  3. Tap the button at the bottom of the screen to stop the recording. The recording is saved on the iPhone automatically.

    Voice Memos app on an iPhone
  4. Highlight the default New Recording title that's located at the top of the screen and give it a descriptive name.

  5. Tap the Play/Pause, Forward, or Backward buttons that appear beneath the recording to review it.

  6. Tap the trash can to delete the recording.

    Naming, controlling, and deleting a voice memo on iPhone
  7. Tap the three-dot icon for additional options. The Share action in Voice Memos is particularly useful. Use it to share a recording by text message, email message, save it to iCloud Drive, or add it to a note in the Notes app. Other default choices are Copy, Edit, Duplicate, and Save to Files.

  8. To customize these menu items, tap Edit Actions to make changes in the Actions screen, then tap Done to save the changes and return to the Voice Memos home screen.

    Editing actions in Voice Memos

The Voice Memos app home screen contains a list of the recordings on the phone. You can search for a topic if the list of recordings is lengthy, or tap the button next to a recording you don't need anymore and tap Delete.

About Voice Memos Settings

Voice Memos is a simple app with simple settings, but one setting is critical to the size and quality of your recordings. Visit the settings for the app before you make your first recording.

  1. Tap Settings on the iPhone Home screen.

  2. Select Voice Memos.

  3. Next to Audio Quality, select either Compressed or Lossless.

    Compressed is suitable for most voice notes or conversations, and it delivers acceptable quality in a small size. Select Lossless when high quality is important, and size is not a concern.

    Voice Memos settings on an iPhone
  4. Review the other settings and change the defaults as needed.

The iPhone does a good job of filtering out background noise. For most recordings, you can skip headphones and hold the iPhone as if you were talking on it as usual. However, if high-quality recordings are essential, use an external stereo microphone that is compatible with the phone.

How to Edit Your Recording

If you didn't get it perfect on the first take, you can record over part of your first attempt.

  1. Tap the memo you plan to edit, then select the three-dot icon.

  2. Choose Edit Recording.

  3. Use your finger to swipe left or right until you reach the beginning of the part you want to record over, as indicated by the blue line. Tap Replace.

  4. Record over part of the memo, then tap the Pause icon when you're finished.

    Editing a recording in Voice Messages on iPhone
  5. Tap Done to save the edited recording.

To extend the original recording, tap the Record button while the blue line is positioned at the end of the recording.

How to Trim Your Recording

To delete part of the recording, tap the Trim button—a blue square with blue lines coming out of the upper-left and lower-right corners at the top of the Edit Recording screen.

You have two options on the Trim screen. Either highlight a section to delete or highlight a piece of the recording to trim. When you choose to trim a highlighted section, the iPhone deletes everything except what you highlighted. This feature is a great way to get rid of the dead air before and after the recording.

Trim and delete clip in Voice Memos for iPhone

To highlight a section of the recording, place your finger on the red line at the beginning or end of the recording, then move the selector toward the middle. If you don't get it perfect the first time, drag the recording left or right to fine-tune the selection.

When you have the right portion of the recording selected, tap the Delete or Trim button, and then tap Save.