Capturing streaming audio in OS X

How to grab and record “what you hear” audio on a Mac with open-source tools, using Audacity, Soundflower, and Sunflowerbed.

  1. Download and install the Soundflower open-source audio routing system (which now includes Soundflowerbed application).
  2. Download and install the Audacity open-source audio editing application.
  3. Start the Sunflowerbed application: /Applications/
  4. If not presented with a Sunflowerbed welcome or initial configuration screen, click the flower icon in the task bar, and beneath Soundflower (2 ch), click Built-in Output.

    Soundflowerbed output settings for Sunflower

    Soundflowerbed output settings for Sunflower

  5. In your system audio preferences (Apple system icon -> System Preferences, Sound -> Output), select Soundflower (2ch).
    Sound preferences in OS X 10.6

    Sound preferences in OS X 10.6

    Note: in 10.5 (and likely earlier), the Sound panel is a bit different:

    Sound preferences in OS X < 10.6

    Sound preferences in OS X < 10.6

  6. Start Audacity, and in its Preferences, in the Audio I/O tab, under Recording, change the Device to Core Audio: Soundflower (2ch).

    Audacity Audio I/O settings

    Audacity Audio I/O settings

  7. Now, anything you can listen to or stream to your system can be recorded, including Internet audio, DRM-protected content (which you’ve obviously bought but were unable to transfer to other formats), etc.
  8. When you’ve finished recording, you may want to switch your Sound output setting back to Internal Speakers.

18 thoughts on “Capturing streaming audio in OS X

  1. Thank you for this. One of my favourite radio programs has switched to a flash audio stream (probably to prevent us from recording it) and it PISSES ME OFF because I am never home to listen to it (Ideas, on CBC Radio One). So with all the bits and pieces listed above, I am now, as I write this, recording one of their radio documentaries (take that, CBC!!) in Audacity. It wasn’t too complicated to set up once I had installed (a) Audacity’s latest version; (b) LAME (just because I can); (c) Sunflower; and then going to the system prefs and choosing Sunflower 2CH as the output, and then into Audacity’s preferences to choose Sunflower 2CH as the input. It is happily recording the show The only thing I forgot to do was to set up Audacity to flow through the sound so I could check audio as it was recording, but I can see the VU meters and the waveform…

  2. Thanks heaps
    totally appreciate you sharing this
    do you happen to know if one can put an automatic finish time on audacity so that you can start recording and walk away?


    • Hi Wolfie,

      Perhaps the input being used is “mic” instead of “line in”? I would check the system input and output settings, and the Audacity audio i/o prefs, to ensure they’re correct. Otherwise, maybe you can play with the mixer a bit to tone down the treble and boost mid and bass?

  3. Nope – didn’t work.on my MBPR. Have things changed for OS 10.8.5? I installed the latest Sunflower 1.6.6 and Audacity 2.0.4 (and restarted). The Sunflowerbed icon appears in my Launchpad, but double clicking has no effect (except returning me to the desktop). Audacity input lists only “internal mic” (which records computer sound PLUS room noise) and the two Sunflowers (2ch and 16ch). But the latter records NO SOUND (even after selecting Sunflower 2ch in System Preferences). Might installing an older audacity fix this? Was so hoping this would work. Please help!

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