Working with Recordings in iOS 12

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Your iPhone gives you a full toolset for recordings. What you choose to document is up to you, but the iPhone makes simple work of listening, trimming, and titling your recordings.

Listening to recordings on your iPhone

After you capture your thoughts or musings, how do you play them back? It’s simple, really. After you’ve finished making a recording, a list of all your recordings pops up in chronological order, with the most recent on top. Tap the recording you want to play back and then tap the play button.

iPhone voice memo
Tap the voice memo you want to play.

You can drag the playhead along the scrubber bar to move ahead to any point in the memo.

With the iOS 12 update, Apple lets you jump ahead or back in a recording by 15 seconds. Tap the appropriate circular button flanking the play icon to move in either direction.

Trimming recordings on your iPhone

Maybe the person who left the recording rambled on and on. You just want to cut to the chase, for goodness’ sake. Or you may want to make a correction to a recording, right in the middle of your filibuster. A revamp in iOS 12 makes this possible:

  1. Tap the recording in question, then tap the three-dot icon below the scrubber line, and then tap Edit.
    The Edit screen appears.

  2. Tap the trim icon, which is in the upper-left corner of the Edit screen.
    trim iPhone voice recordings
    Add more to a voice memo after the fact (left) or trim a recording by dragging the markers (right).
  3. Drag the yellow start and end markers, at the bottom of the screen, to choose the audio segment you want to keep.
    While performing audible surgery, you can also drag the blue horizontal play bar to move to a precise spot in the recording.
  4. To conclude the process, tap Trim — but before doing so, you may want to preview your edit by tapping the play icon.
  5. (Optional) Tap Delete to make the trim markers disappear.
  6. When you’re satisfied with your work, tap the check mark in the upper-right corner of the screen and then tap Done.

Now suppose instead that you want to add a bit more of your voice to your recording, or make a fix to something you already said. After choosing Edit from the menu that appeared after you tapped the three dots, drag the scrubber to a point in the recording where you want to insert a new thought. Tap the oval Replace button and start speaking. Tap the button again (it will now appear as two red horizontal bars) when you’ve completed your new thought, and then tap Done.

Your edits are permanent. Make sure that you’re completely satisfied with your cuts before tapping Trim — or that you’ve synced the original back to iTunes on your computer so that you’re working with a copy.

Adding a title to a recording on your iPhone

When a memo is added to your list of recordings, it shows up with the date and length of the recording and the uninspiring title New Recording, or the location where you made the recording. Fortunately, you can easily create a custom title that better identifies the recording:

  1. From the list of recordings, tap a recording.
  2. Tap the three dots, tap Edit, and then tap the name Apple assigned (New Recording 1, New Recording 2, and so on).
  3. Type your own name for the voice memo.

    Professor Snookins on Biology, for example. That’s it. Your recording is duly identified.

iPhone share icon

You may want to share with others the good professor’s wacky theories. Tap the three dots and then tap Share for the given voice memo. You then have the option to email the memo or send it in a message. Or you can share it instantly via AirDrop or add it to the Notes app, Files, or elsewhere. You might also import the recording to a third-party app on your phone such as WhatsApp.

Incidentally, as part of iOS 12, your Voice Memos are stored in the cloud through iCloud (provided the Voice Memos switch under iCloud is turned on, as it is by default, in Settings).

You can also sync voice memos to your Mac or PC by using iTunes. Recordings synced from your phone to the computer appear in the Music list and in the Voice Memos playlist in iTunes. And memos synced from your computer appear in the Voice Memos app on the iPhone.

Here’s another cool trick you can do with a recording. Email the recording to yourself, download it to a Mac or PC, change the extension to .m4r, and put the recording in iTunes. Presto, you’ve added a ringtone.

When you have no further use for a recording, you can remove it from the Voice Memos app by tapping it in the list and then tapping the trashcan icon. Alternatively, slide your finger from right to left and tap Delete. This right to left swipe gives you an alternate way to begin the editing process or to duplicate a recording.

In Settings for Voice Memos, you can change the audio format from compressed (the default) to the higher quality Apple Lossless format, which you may prefer if you’re recording, say, music. The downside: Lossless will claim more storage on your device. Then again, if you keep most of your files in iCloud, this may not be such a downside after all.

In Voice Memos Settings, you can also choose whether to clear deleted recordings immediately, after 1 day, 2 days, or 30 days, or never. And you can decide whether the default name for a memo should be the recording number or the location.