How to record a streaming lecture

I almost never have time to sit at my computer and watch a lecture.  So I usually try to find a way to download the lecture so I can watch or listen to it on a portable player.

Even if the lecture seems to be streaming-only, most of the time I can use my software toolbox to get the underlying file. (For a description of my software toolbox, click here, here and here.)

But what to do when the software toolbox won’t work? (For example, a number of the new free Harvard Extension courses cannot be downloaded using my usual methods.)

It turns out that you can make an audio recording of most lectures using the software equivalent of a tape recorder. For a convenient, but not free solution, check out Replay AV.   I’ve used it for years, and have been very satisfied.  If you want a less convenient, but free solution, here’s a method using the free, open-source audio editing program Audacity, available for Macs and PCs.

1. When you open Audacity, save your project by clicking File/Save project as… (I know that saving before you do anything sounds strange, but Audacity seems to like it that way.)


2. On the top of the window, find the drop down box next to the icon that looks like a microphone. Select “Stereo Mix” as your input source.


3. Now go to your browser and start running the lecture. Return to Audacity, and press the “record button” that looks like this:


4. When the lecture is finished, press the stop button.


5. Save the project again, clicking File/Save project.

6. Now it’s time to export the file as an MP3 file that will play on your portable player. Click File/Export as MP3. The first time you do this, you will need to download and install an extra file called a LAME encoder that allows the export.

For more details on how to use Audacity, check out the Audacity Help page.

That’s it. Now you have an audio file of your lecture that you can listen to at your convenience on your portable player.


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2 Responses to How to record a streaming lecture

  1. Brian says:

    Thanks for your post. I would like to do the same with my lectures but need to also watch. Is there a program that does both the video and audio? Thanks

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