How to Record Lectures With Your iPhone's Microphone

By Diana V. Faustmann

While your iPhone offers a built-in microphone and a Voice Memos app to record lectures straightforwardly, it helps to take a few pre-lecture steps to ensure quality audio recordings. For example, arrive at each lecture early enough to grab a seat that's close to the speaker and then silence your iPhone's alerts before the event begins. Measures like these help curb the background noise and interference that often drown out subjects. Though perfect recordings are never guaranteed, you will derive more usefulness and clarity from those lectures that you've taken pains to record well.


Step 1

Sit as close as possible to the lecturer to minimize ambient background noise. If your using an iPhone 4, you have the added advantage of a special noise-cancelling microphone located next to the headset jack on its top-left edge.

Step 2

Flip the "Ring/Silent" switch on your iPhone's upper-left edge toward the back of the device so that it reveals a red bar or dot. Tap "Settings" on your home screen. Tap "Sounds" and then tap to toggle the two "Vibrate" switches to "OFF." These settings will minimize sound interference from your iPhone's various alerts while the lecture is occurring.

Step 3

Tap "Voice Memos" on your iPhone to launch it. On a new iPhone 3Gs or iPhone 4, the app resides within a folder called "Utilities" on your home screen.

Step 4

Tap the red "Record" button in the bottom-left corner of the app window to begin recording. The button transforms into a "Pause" button. A red banner also appears on top of your screen to remind you that your iPhone is now in Record mode.

Step 5

Say a few words to your iPhone to make sure that its VU meter needle moves. Hold the device to your ear as though you were on a phone call. Clearly state the lecture's title, presenter, date, time, location and any other relevant specifics.

Step 6

Tap "Pause" and wait for the lecture to begin.


Step 1

Tap the "Pause" button to resume recording when the lecture begins. Lay your iPhone down, preferably on a flat surface with its microphone pointed toward the lecturer for best results. The microphone is located on the bottom edge of your device next to the dock connector. The app does not impose any time limit to recordings.

Step 2

Tap the "Pause" button to temporarily stop recording during a break or intermission and then tap it again to resume recording when the lecture continues.

Step 3

Tap the "Stop" button when the lecture is over. The button is in the lower-right corner of the app and is in the shape of a square. This officially ends your recording.

Step 4

Tap the three-bar "Index" icon in the lower-right corner of the app window to view and sample your recording. The recording is listed by its time and date. Tap the blue directional arrow to the right of the file name. Select "Lecture" as the appropriate label for your recording.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can multitask while the Voice Memos app records the lecture. For example, you can take notes with the Notes app or read and respond to urgent messages with the Mail or Messages apps. Regardless, the red recording banner will display prominently above your screen as a reminder.
  • Sync your iPhone in iTunes to back up recorded lectures on your computer. With iTunes launched and your iPhone connected, click on your iPhone's name beneath Devices on the left side of the program window and then select the "Music" tab on the right side of the program window. Click to select "Include voice memos." Click "Apply" in the lower-right corner of the program window to sync your device. Recorded lectures then appear in your Music library and a Voice Memos playlist on the left side of the program window.
  • Improve the quality and functionality of your recordings using more robust third-party apps and external microphones.
  • Even in Silent mode your iPhone still plays certain sounds, such as clock alarms, iPod music and game sounds. These may be recorded along with the lecture.