Skip to content The Open University

Skills Check 0

The Skills Check is a short survey which should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete. Once you have completed the Skills Check we provide you with a personal learning plan targeted to your personal study needs and goals.

Sign in to work on the Skills Check.
  1. Home
  2. Computing skills
  3. Making audio recordings
  4. Recording audio on your computer

Recording audio on your computer

Recording directly onto your computer can be useful if you are mainly recording yourself, but it will not be mobile unless you have a laptop or netbook. With the audio file on your computer you can easily save it where you want it or send it to someone else, using email or other file transfer options.

You may already have recording software on your computer, such as Windows Sound Recorder. If not, you can download free software from the web such as Audacity.

You will need a sound card and a detachable or built-in microphone.

Windows Sound Recorder

This is likely to be included in your PC software, so you do not have to buy or load anything. It is very basic but quick and easy to use as the controls are like those on a CD player. You can use it to paste audio into other applications (e.g. Word, PowerPoint), and it is good for your own quick notes and reminders, but not if you want to edit the recording.

Tip: You could edit the saved file in Microsoft's Movie Maker or Audacity

How you use it

  • Find the audio recorder in Programs / Accessories / Entertainment (depending on your version of the Microsoft operating system – you may have to search about).
  • Open it from your computer desktop and familiarise yourself with the main controls (e.g. round button to record), then take a look at the Help section if you are keen to try things like inserting an audio file into other applications.
  • Record yourself talking: Select Record, then when you've finished choose Stop.
  • Play and listen to your recording.
  • You can only save as a WAV file, which needs converting if you want it to play on a mobile device. You can convert it to mp3 using something like Audacity.


Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is cross platform so should work on any computer. It's easy to use and you can generate audio files in different formats (mp3, WAV, Ogg Vorbis).

How you use it

  • Download Audacity from the Audacity website and follow the instructions to install the software on your computer.
  • Open Audacity from your computer desktop and familiarise yourself with the main controls: Skip to start, Play, Record, Pause, Stop, Skip to end. Take a look at the Help section if you want to find out more.
  • Record yourself talking: Start with Record and when you've finished, choose Stop.
  • Play and listen to your recording: Select Skip to start, Play, and then Stop.
  • You can save your file as a 'Project' in Audacity if you want to edit it with this software later. You will need to export the file as a WAV, OGG or mp3 format to play on a portable audio device.
  • The mp3 format is widely used and enables you to easily share the file with others. There is a slight drawback: to export your file in mp3 format you'll need to download and use the free LAME encoder. Instructions to use this are on the Audacity website.
  • Select 'File', then 'Export as mp3'. You will then need to title and tag (or describe) the file – a dialogue box will enable you to do this.
  • You may want to compress your audio file to make the file size smaller. You can use Audacity to set different configurations to compress audio if you need to.
  • Once saved, you can then transfer your audio file to your portable audio device, such as your mp3 player.