Let me give you a simple scenario. You have a video or audio Skype call on your Macintosh with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a business partner. You quickly install and run the Skype application. Shortly before the call begins, you realize it is important to record the session. Sounds easy, right? Nearly all web conference and collaboration tools have a record functionality, Skype must also; correct? Well, you would be wrong assuming this, Skype lacks any means of natively recording calls. That is, unless you are using “Call Recorded for Skype” developed by Ecamm software. With this small, simple to use product installed, recording becomes as easy as pushing a red button. You can even set the tool to record your call automatically. What is even better is the developer provides a seven-day test drive for free so you can see for yourself how easy it is to use. The trial is fully functional, but note a watermark will be applied to trial version recordings. It seems strange that one of the most popular audio/video collaboration tools written by Microsoft lacks basic recording functionality. Are there ways to record your sessions using other tools? Yes, but nothing simpler than using Call Recorder for Skype. If you use Skype in any way, I highly recommend you give this product a test drive.
I was having weekly Skype sessions I wanted to record for future viewing. I began searching for options allowing me to accomplish this task. All free solutions were difficult to setup, hard to get quality video and/or audio, and were often too complex and cumbersome to setup when a professional client was on the call. I tried using QuickTime with little success and often with negative results. At times, I could get the video portion, but audio was difficult to capture. To prevent feedback, I often used headphones for calls, but QuickTime only recorded one side of the conversation; not very helpful. Recording both sides required me to leave my internal speakers and mic enabled, creating its own issues. To complicate matters even worse, I use an external Logitech Professional Web Camera which has its own set of built-in microphones.
I knew there had to be an easier way, and the below review shows just how easy it is to purchase, install, and configure “Call Recorder for Skype” on your Macintosh. If you are a Skype user, you will not regret purchasing this tool. It is professionally written, natively integrated as a plug-in, and continues to support future versions of the program. What amazed me is the product installs in less than a minute. Once installed you will be recording Skype calls in no time.
To begin a seven-day trial, simply go to the following website; (http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/). Download the trial installer, install the product, open Skype and you are done. It is nearly as easy using the purchased version, which only requires a few additional steps to complete the purchase transaction.
For those who purchased the full version, you will receive an email with a link to download the non-trial version. Note, even if you previously installed the trial version, you will need to download and install the one provided by the developer via the link in your confirmation email. See the image below.
Figure 1 Customer Center
Clicking on the link in the email will open a webpage where you can download the full version of the product. Click on the Orange Button to start the download.
Figure 2 Download Link
Locate the installer, often in your downloads folder or wherever you have configured your browser to download files. If you are also a heavy user of Facetime, the developer provides you a discount when purchasing both products.
Figure 3 Downloaded File
The software is bundled into a single ZIP file making it easier to download. Once downloaded, double-click on the “CallRecorder.zip” file and a new folder will be extracted.
Figure 4 Extracted Folder
Opening the newly extracted folder, one can see it contains two files. The first is the manual in PDF format, and the other is the product installer. Double clicking on the “.app” file starts the install process. The manual is enough to get you started using the application. However, it seems to lack some of the details someone newer to the tool may want. It provides a good overview of the product, but may lack examples or use cases some may expect. I did find the available FAQs helpful getting me over any humps I ran into.
Figure 5 Opened Folder
After double-clicking on the application file to install it, you may get the below alert confirming you want to proceed. This is a security feature of the Mac OS preventing products from being installed without permission. Simply click on “Open” and the application begins installation.
Figure 6 Confirm Install
You will be presented with three options when the installer opens. You can “Quit”, “Uninstall”, or “Install” (default) by clicking on the button desired. To install the product, simply click on “Install” or simply pressing the Return key.
Figure 7 Installer Options
As with other software applications, there is a User License Agreement (ULA) one needs to accept before continuing. The developer does provide a way to print the ULA if you desire to read it in detail before agreeing. If you “Decline”, the installer exits.
Figure 8 End User License Agreement
The installer checks to see if Skype is already running, if so you are presented with the below warning message. If you select to “Quick Skype”, the application requests the required permissions to close the application. You will be required to enter your system password to continue or you can close Skype yourself and restart the installer.
Figure 9 Skype Running Message
Figure 10 Requesting Permissions
In less than a minute the product is installed and you are presented with the below message box where you can select “OK” to quit or “Open Skype…”. Opening Skype allows you to configure and test your new purchased product.
Figure 11 Product Installed Message
When you first open the Skype application, after installing Call Recorder for Skype, you will be prompted with the below message. Note, you only get this message the first time you install the product, and I recommend configuring now instead of waiting until your first call. This also allows you to become more familiar with the tool.
Figure 12 Configure Now Message
The below configuration screen may seem intimidating at first glance, but in most cases, you do not need to modify any of the settings; you can modify anything here if you would like.
Figure 13 Configuration Menu
Pressing the “Check for Updates” button at the top of the configuration screen checks with the developer’s website and notifies you if there are newer versions available. As you can see from the image below, I’m running the latest version at the time of this review.
Figure 14 Check for updates Message
The below list of screen shots shows the various options along with their sub menu selections. Most of these items are covered in the manual or in the provided FAQs on the developer’s website.
For compression options, you can select: Uncompressed, 2:1 Compression, or AAC Compression. I would recommend you leave this on the default (AAC) setting to start with. Based on length of the call or available disk space, you may want to modify this.
Figure 15 Compression Options
For Audio Encoding you have one of two selections: Normal or High. Here I would recommend “High” unless you have some other reason not to use lower quality audio.
Figure 16 Audio Options
You have three options when choosing your video quality. You can select Low, Medium, or Maximum. The higher the quality, the more space a call’s recording consumes on your system. If you have the space and or a need for higher quality video, I recommend using the “Maximum”
Figure 17 Video Quality Configuration
The tool allows you to record your calls in a variety of video resolutions. Note, the higher the resolution the larger the recording will be on your screen. As with video quality, the recording will be much larger based on the size selected. For my circumstances, I wanted the largest size so I could manipulate it if needed. I also desired wide screen to match most screen formats today.
Figure 18 Video Image Size
I will not go into detail on the “Recording Options” as they are covered in the manual and on the developer’s website. But I will say that I was impressed at some of the ability to capture one side of the call along with both sides in different ways. Selecting Split Screen or Multi-Track mode allows you to edit the video and audio stream easier, or you can simply use the “Picture-in-Picture” if you want to retain the Skype look and feel; I use this for my recordings, but may change it going forward.
Figure 19 Recording Options
There are a bunch of miscellaneous options such as recording all calls automatically, keeping the controls on top for easy access, etc. I was impress with the level of customization the product allows; meeting nearly anyone’s requirements.
Figure 20 Additional Options
Once the tool has been installed and configured, a small box is available where you simply click on the red button; or if automatic recording is set there is not action required on your part. The other two buttons such as the gear and magnify glass are for modifying the product’s configuration and launching movie tools respectively. Movie tools is provided with the product to edit your call recordings.
It is also nice to be able to monitor the recordings input (your mic) and output (other side of the call) by way of the digital indicators. This permits one to adjust levels if needed.
Three other things I would like to point out with respect this this screen are the pencil on the left, rectangle on the right and the up pointed arrow at the bottom. The arrow on the bottom allows you to close or hide the input and output indicators if you need more screen space. The pencil icon allows you to mark or notate a section during the recording process, and the rectangle will flash on and off red when a recording is happening.
These options are covered in the provided manual and in the FAQ on the website.
Figure 21 Record Menu
Figure 22 Collapsed Record Menu
One last note, when you purchase this product, you also get a copy of the developer’s movie tools for editing your recordings. I will cover these in another review, the tool is an excellent addition when you need to modify a recorded Skype call on your Macintosh.
This tool is a must for anyone wanting an easy way to record and edit Skype calls on a Macintosh computer. Because the tool is integrated within Skype, it seems like it was part of the product. The developer did an excellent job of maintaining the look and feel.
- Easy to install
- Integrated directly within Skype
- Highly configurable
- Automatically record calls
- Developer supported and updated
- Includes Movie Tools
- Documentation is a bit weak