Press a key or two, take a screenshot. It’s been dead-simple for ages. But not so if you just want to grab some sound – until now.

WavTap, from coder and GitHub user Patrick Ellis of Berlin, finally makes grabbing audio on the Mac work the way you’ve imagined it should work. Hit a keyboard shortcut – ctrl-cmd-space, though that default can be customized – and start recording. Hit it again, and stop. WavTap is a fork of the wonderful Soundflower from Cycling ’74, the free menu tool for inter-app audio. That means WavTap shares Soundflower’s sophisticated routing solutions, so in addition to grabbing a recording of a radio broadcast you want a friend to hear, quick capture of elaborate multichannel rigs is possible, too. (Users of tools like Max and Pd – or other experimental sound sources – will love this. And, of course, it’s a way to do a quick cover of Radiohead “Fitter Happier.”)

I’m sure this could also be used for activities deemed “evil” by certain rights holders, but the nature of sound is such that, if you can hear it, you can record it. And I can think of countless legitimate uses. Just remember to ask permission before recording that phone call.

Now, of course, there are fancier solutions for doing this, but few I’ve seen with the simplicity and accessibility of WavTap. (If you do have a tool of choice of your own, of course, do let us know in comments.)

Free and open source on GitHub:
https://github.com/pje/wavtap

If you have Xcode installed, installation is a cinch. Terminal, make install, done. (The readme shows up on the site – scroll down.) If not, it’s more work. Someone want to contribute an installer?

Just to be absolutely clear: consider this a preview. We’re the first to break news of this app. There are developers out there capable of building an installer. You don’t need to use Xcode, only to have it installed. If you find this hard to build, well, complain to Apple.

And, in turn, this could be useful for making your own sound recording tools. Hack on. Thanks, Patrick, was great to meet you here at Campus Party Europe. (I’m live with MP3 initiator Dr. Brandenburg, among others, at 17:30 Berlin time. The rest of the time, I’m largely hacking away with the others under the SoundCloud banner.)

  • ron

    how do i install this?

    • adrianoconnor

      Looks like you need XCode and the command line tools (from Xcode preferences installed). Instructions are fairly standard for an open-source project — make install. I suspect somebody will put together a package soon enough for people who don’t have XCode.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Added to the post. Right now, it’s super easy if Xcode is installed – follow the readme, drop to Terminal, change to the directory, make install. If Xcode isn’t installed, it’s tougher — until someone makes an installer, anyway. (Anyone?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/SBMobil Andre Salazar

    I’ve never understood why developers try to sell Mac-users software they already have on their Mac’s by default??! Doesn’t make any sense. The QuickTime Player records the screen + the audio & also thru the iSight camera for nothing. Developers should spend their time better, making software that actually brings something new to the table instead of always trying “1-up” Apple at every turn. #fail

    • http://twitter.com/yugen yugen

      Right, but I don’t want to capture the screen, just the audio. I’d also like to be able to do it with a key-command like I do capturing a screenshot. Also, he’s not selling it. It’s free.

      FYI.

    • http://www.facebook.com/simonchihing.ho Simon Chi-Hing Ho

      after I stalled this WavTap (WavTap 0.2.0.pkg — v0.2.0), my computer (OS 10.6.8) said System extension cannot be used & that WavTap.kext was installed improperly. But still I could use it to do recording as it should. But after restart my computer, it does not work anymore, it says Kernel Extension Not Installed. Just do not know how to fix this?

      I have SoundFlower on my computer, do I have to uninstalled SoundFlower to get WavTap works?

    • adrianoconnor

      “I’ve never understood”
      Maybe you shoud seek first to understand, before you try to be understood? #Fail indeed.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Okay, uh:
      1. It’s free.
      2. You can choose arbitrary routing, and record directly, which is not available on the Mac by default.
      3. You can trigger recording from a keyboard shortcut, which is not available by default.

    • Sicaco

      I think you’ve got something wrong here. This software records only audio that is produced by your computer and not anything that is outside of it

  • http://twitter.com/yugen yugen

    Anybody else having trouble installing this? I get the following error:
    “xcodebuild: Error: the project /…/pje-WavTap-42a03af/Extension/Soundflower.xcodeproj does not exist in this directory.
    make: *** [build-kext] Error 1″
    when /…/pje-WavTap-42a03af/Extension/Soundflower.xcodeproj appears to exist in that directory.

    HALP!

    • Lloyd Barrett

      yeah i’m getting this and have the latest soundflower installed

  • DJ Broken Record

    “WavTap Makes Recording Audio Easy as going to a page, spending 3 minutes trying to find the download link, then having to learn how to use Terminal and typing in a text command. And that’s if you have Xcode. If you don’t lol just give up [Free, Mac]”

  • adrianoconnor

    I just gave it a whirl and it works pretty well — you have to build and install it (requires Xcode, and the Xcode command line tools that you install from Xcode preferences, but is otherwise dead simple), then you set the new virtual device as your sound output device (in Audio MIDI Setup), and use the little toolbar widget that it comes with to direct the audio back to ‘Built-in Output’ (other wise you won’t hear anything) and then (finally) use the command line utility toggle_record (in the App folder that appears after you build the project) to record wavs when you need them.

    Yeah, it’s actually a bit of a pain, and I’d recommend regular users get something like Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba instead of trying to use this. If hacking around with code is your thing though, knock yourself out :)

  • automatenspiel

    Dammit. I REALLY hate messing with XCode. Why can’t a compiled version be available? Is it something having to do with the resources of each computer that a binary wouldn’t work on all macs (the word “universal” comes to mind)

  • ralf

    this looks very useful. but here the compiler stops with the following message:

    cc1plus: error: unrecognized command line option “-Wc++0x-extensions”cc1plus: error: unrecognized command line option “-Wno-sign-conversion”Command /Developer/usr/bin/clang failed with exit code 1

    ** BUILD FAILED **

    The following build commands failed: CompileC Build/SoundflowerDriver.build/Objects-normal/i386/SoundflowerEngine.o SoundflowerEngine.cpp normal i386 c++ com.apple.compilers.llvm.clang.1_0.compiler CompileC Build/SoundflowerDriver.build/Objects-normal/i386/SoundflowerDevice.o SoundflowerDevice.cpp normal i386 c++ com.apple.compilers.llvm.clang.1_0.compiler(2 failures)make: *** [build-kext] Error 65

    i’m on 10.7 and i have xcode plus command line tools installed. would be great to get this to work…

    • ralf

      i just realized that my xcode version was a bit dated. still no success after the update though. now i am getting:

      Requesting load of /System/Library/Extensions/WavTap.kext./System/Library/Extensions/WavTap.kext failed to load – (libkern/kext) kext (kmod) start/stop routine failed; check the system/kernel logs for errors or try kextutil(8).

  • http://www.lutins.co.uk scott mc laughlin

    :( Same problem as Yugen below, compile fails on this error:

    Error: the project /Users/scott/Downloads/pje-WavTap-42a03af/Extension/Soundflower.xcodeproj does not exist in this directory.

    But the file is there where it should be. I have xcode, though not certain if I have command line tools, how would I know?

    • http://www.lutins.co.uk scott mc laughlin

      actually I probably did install command line tools as I had to do that when installed Macports.

    • http://twitter.com/yugen yugen

      I’m not sure if I installed the command line tools, but I’ve got an older version of XCode (3.2.6, ’cause I’m not running lion, yet). What version of XCode are you running, Scott?

    • http://www.lutins.co.uk scott mc laughlin

      I’m on 3.2.6, but I’ve done some research and it looks like Command Line Tools are part of xCode 4, which can only be installed on Lion upwards. I’m on Snow Leopard so looks like this isn’t for me.

    • Eric Brombaugh

      I’m seeing this same error. Running MacOS 10.6.8 with Xcode 3.2.6.

  • Ben McAllister

    Installed fine, and I can run toggle_record from the command line. Anyone care to explain how to configure mac to launch a cmdline executable from a global keyboard shortcut? I’m on 10.7.4, and no ctrl+cmd+space keyboard shortcut was reg’d.

  • the voice of reason

    Make this easier to use. make this an executable file that installs so that I can click on it and use it. do this now. computers were invented to make things easier. make this easier please.

  • wav

    there is an installer now on github, but whether i install using terminal or the installer, i still get the same result when i run the WavTap.app- “Kernel Extension not installed”

  • ralf

    same here still. i get “kernel extension not installed”, whether i use the terminal or the installer. WavTap doesn’t show up among my audio options.
    i’m on 10.7 and Xcode is all in place.

  • ghfhgf

    this doesn’t seem to work if u have soundflower installed

  • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

    Hi everybody – okay, apologies for the frustration. But, I think that by virtue of getting this up on CDM, we’ll have established more interest in the utility.

    We’ll clearly encourage someone to work on an installer – and something that allows you to switch between this and SoundFlower, too, I think.

    Building on the Mac, as you’re discovering, is a bit of a pain compared to, say, a standard Linux install. (There, it’s something even a beginner can do. On the Mac, it sometimes flummoxes even serious developers. It’s a great development platform, just things like this become hard to support.)

    So, stay tuned.

  • theviirus

    Installer complains about kext not installed properly…
    ok fine…lets do a restart.
    PREVENTS MY COMPUTER FROM STARTING UP.
    I can start in safe mode, but thats it.
    Killing this with fire as we speak.

    • theviirus

      if this happens to you….
      -hold shift at startup to boot into safe mode.
      -remove wavtap.app from applications,
      -remove wavtap.app from HD/system/library/extensions

      Search will not work in safemode.
      Hope this problem gets ironed out.

  • TheRdungeon

    Man would love someone to make an installer for this, don’t want to dick round on xcode with my music laptop at this point

  • CMH

    This is great. Especially as a simple and cost effective option for our student lab

    I had issues with the installer though… on a Mac Book Pro OSX 10.7.4

    To get it to install, I had to first uninstall Sound Flower (grabbed the Sound Flower uninstaller from Google Code (http://code.google.com/p/soundflower/downloads/detail?name=Soundflower-1.5.2.dmg) and ran the uninstaller Apple Script.

    Then an the Wav Tap installer (https://github.com/downloads/pje/WavTap/WavTap.pkg)

    Restarted. Went to AudioMIDISetup, right clicked WavTap and selected “Use this device for output” and then went to WavTap in the Menu bar and selected “Built-in Output”

    I also had to change the permissions to give “everyone” “read” permissions on the WavTap.kext (/System/Library/Extensions/WavTap.kext )

    The global shortcut appears to work….

    One problem – and I might be missing something… where is audio file located?

    • anon

      Your desktop.

  • james

    fantastic. just had to reroute audio out to wavetap and then it worked like a charm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simonchihing.ho Simon Chi-Hing Ho

    after I installed this WavTap (WavTap 0.2.0.pkg — v0.2.0), my computer (OS 10.6.8) said System extension cannot be used & that WavTap.kext was installed improperly. But still I could use it to do recording as it should.
    But after restarting my computer, it does not work anymore, it says Kernel Extension Not Installed. Just do not know how to fix this?
    I have SoundFlower on my computer, do I have to uninstalled SoundFlower to get WavTap works?

    • AMon

      Same problem here

    • http://www.facebook.com/prettydeep Lee Pender

      me 3

  • umma08

    can someone please tell me how to uninstall this from my system. i am on Mac OSx 10.6.8. may need a walk through, as there are still remnants of this program that are on my system. thankyou!

  • AK

    Well, I did all that but there was no sound. I was recording a YouTube video.