Zoom became popular earlier in the pandemic for
videoconferencing, whether for casual, academic, or business
purposes. Its popularity hasn't ebbed, but many of its best
features remain obscure. Local recording of audio and video is one
of those, and you have overlooked it given some complexity in
setting it up and using it. Local recording is an option even for
those hosting a session with Zoom's free tier of service.
There are lots of reasons to record a session:
- Simple playback of the video for people who couldn't be
- Extracting portions of the session for particular purposes,
such as how-tos or training information for other employees in a
- Producing a podcast, either by recording a single track of
everyone's audio or separate audio tracks that can be edited
- Maintaining a record for legal or other purposes of a
Zoom notifies all participants when a recording starts during a
session or if it's underway when they join and requires that they
acknowledge they will be recorded. You don't have to seek consent
specifically as Zoom automates that and prevents anyone from being
recorded or joining unless they agree to the recording. (Zoom
allows some exceptions for organizations at higher-paid tiers of
service recording company sessions.)
How to record a Zoom
Start a recording during
a session via meeting controls.
To set up local recording in macOS, launch the Zoom app and go
to zoom.us Preferences Recording. There you can
choose an alternative to the default location for recording files
(your home folder's Documents folder in a Zoom folder). Recordings
are each stored in a folder named with the date and time the
In Recording settings, you can also:
- Have Zoom prompt you for a location to save files each time;
check Choose a location….
- Create separate audio files for each participant, handy for
podcast editing or producing a clean audio record.
- If you're planning to edit the video after the session is done,
checking Optimize for 3rd party video editor produces a file format
better aimed at video-editing software.
To start recording video automatically when a Zoom session
begins, you can't set that as a macOS or other app preference.
Instead, it's a meeting setting. Create a meeting in the macOS app
in the Meetings view: Click Meetings at the top of the
screen and click the plus + sign next to Upcoming and Recording in
the upper-left corner. You can also select an existing meeting and
Click the Advanced Options arrow to expand those
settings and check Automatically record meeting and choose
Locally for a local recording. (Cloud recordings require a
paid hosting tier and work somewhat differently.)
If you want to start recording during a meeting, click the
Record button in the meeting controls at the bottom of the
session window. Select Record on This Computer if you're
presented with a choice between that and Record in the Cloud. (If
you don't see meeting controls, move your mouse over the bottom of
You can click the pause or stop buttons next to the Recording…
label at the top of the screen to trigger those actions.
A meeting's host can grant permission to someone else to record
a session, but you'd be hard-pressed to guess where that setting
lives. Find it in the Participants list: hover over a meeting
member's name, click More, and select Allow Record. A Record button
now appears in their meeting controls.
To avoid sapping processing power during a meeting, Zoom
launches audio and video conversion (transcoding from its temporary
storage format) after the meeting ends.
Zoom alerts you if you
stop a recording during a session about conversion (top); when the
session ends, transcoding begins (middle); when complete, Zoom
opens a Finder window containing the converted items
A progress bar appears with a warning about renaming Zoom files
for privacy reasons. Because Zoom names files in a pattern, storing
Zoom files on even an accidentally publicly available server may
allow unwanted parties to search for and find them.
When Zoom completes transcoding, it opens the folder in the
Finder containing the media files.
You can interrupt the transcoding if the timing is inconvenient
and double the files in the Finder in their destination folder
later for Zoom to resume transcoding.
Ask Mac 911
We've compiled a list of the questions we get asked most
frequently, along with answers and links to columns: read our super FAQ to see if your question is
covered. If not, we're always looking for new problems to solve!
Email yours to firstname.lastname@example.org, including screen captures as
appropriate and whether you want your full name used. Not every
question will be answered, we don't reply to email, and we cannot
provide direct troubleshooting advice.