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How to Use the Enhanced Voice Memos Features in macOS Big Sur

macOS Big Sur Voice Memos icon

As of macOS Big Sur, when you use Voice Memos, you can use a new option to automatically reduce background noise and echo with a single click, which is useful when you’re recording lectures or meetings. You can also use Smart Folders for improved organization.

To create a recording, use the built-in microphone, a supported headset, or an external mic. You can listen to your Voice Memos recordings on any device you’re signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID.

To make a recording

macOS voice memo recordring screen
  • In the Voice Memos app on your Mac, click the red Record button.
  • To pause, click the red Pause button.
  • To continue, click Resume.
  • When you’re finished, click Done in the lower-right corner.

Your recording is saved with the name of your location (if “Location-based Naming” is selected in preferences) or with the name “New Recording” if it’s not. More on this below.

To overwrite existing audio, select the recording in the sidebar.

To edit a recording

  • Click the Edit button in the upper-right corner to open the recording in the Edit window.
  • If you have a trackpad or a Magic Mouse, click or tap with two fingers on the recording in the sidebar, then choose Edit Recording.
  • Drag the blue vertical line (Playhead) in the waveform overview left or right. 
  • If you have a trackpad or a Magic Mouse, you can also swipe left or right with two fingers in the waveform detail to position the Playhead.
macOS voice memo showing soundwaves of a recording
  • Click the Replace button, then record the new audio.
  • Click the Pause button to stop recording. Click Replace or Resume to continue recording.
  • Click Done to save the recording.

To trim a voice memo

  • To trim a recording, choose the recording sidebar.
  • Click the Edit button to open the recording in the Edit window, then select Trim under the Edit menu.
  • Drag the yellow trim handles to set the range to trim.
macOS voice memo showing trim bar

Do one of the following: 

  • Click Trim to remove the recording outside the trim handles.
  • Click Delete to remove the recording between the trim handles.

Click Save to save the change, then click Done.

Enhance a recording

To reduce background noise and reverberation, use Enhance.

  • Select your recording and click the Edit button.
  • Then click the Enhance button (which looks like a magic wand).
macOS voice memo showing enhance button highlighted
  • To listen to the enhanced audio, click the Play button.
  • Click Done.

Name your recording

By default, the name of a recording will be based on your location. However, you can rename it.

  • Select the recording in the sidebar
  • Click the name in the sidebar
  • Enter a new name, then press Return

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Contributing Author
Dennis has over 40 years of journalism experience and has written hundreds of articles. For the past 20-plus years, he's been an online journalist, covering mainly Apple Inc. He's written for MacCentral, MacWorld, MacMinute, Macsimum News, Apple Daily Report, and is now contributing editor at Apple World Today.
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