iOS 12: How to use the new Voice Memos app

The Voice Memos app is one of the underrated gems of iOS’ stock apps, and Apple is giving it a much-appreciated makeover with iOS 12. It wasn’t bad before, but the latest update manages to transform it into both a useful recorder and audio editor without significantly changing the interface. Recordings even get uploaded to iCloud now, making it easy to import recordings into GarageBand or access them regardless of whether you’re on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

It’s more useful than it probably looks. As a journalist, I find a good voice memo app is essential for everything from recording interviews to quickie article notes while I’m on the move. You, though, might find it useful for making quick remembers for what you need to pick up at the store. Regardless of the reason why you use it, here’s how to use it.

A quick note: You may not see all of these options depending of which iPhone you’re using. The “Insert” function, for instance, never appeared on our iPhone 7 Plus or 2018 9.7-inch iPad despite a succession of various iOS 12 patches, but we could always find it on the first-generation iPad Pro and the iPhone X. In most cases, the features pair up just fine.

How to make a simple recording

At the most basic, simply open the app, and hit the big red circle at the bottom of the display. Say whatever you want to say, and then press the big square button.

The app will immediately save your file with the title “New Recording” in a list above red button, and you can play these files back by tapping on them and hitting the Play button. Essentially, that’s how Voice Memos has always worked.

ios12 voice memo iphone 7 plusIDG

You can also start a new recording by using Force Touch on the app icon and selecting “New Recording.” The recording will start immediately.

How to make more complex recordings

With iOS 12, you have a few more options, particularly if you want to keep recording while using the same file after you’ve paused.

ios12 voice memos iphone 7 plusIDG
  1. Open the app as normal, but this time swipe up on the black bar with the red circle.
  2. If you swipe up on the black bar with the red circle only a small amount, you’ll see the stop button along with the file name, a timer, and a waveform.
  3. Swipe up on the black bar all the way to the top of the screen, and you’ll also get the current time, a more detailed waveform, and most importantly, a Pause button.
  4. Press the Pause button to stop recording.
  5. Press the Resume button to start recording again. (If you’d like to record over an earlier segment, use the blue marker on the waveform to scrub back to the proper spot and start recording from there. This cannot be undone. If there is audio to record over, the Resume button will change to Replace.)
  6. Optionally, you can also trim this clip using the tool in the upper right (or upper left, depending on which phone you’re using). See below for a more thorough explanation of trimming: The process is the same regardless of how you access it.
  7. Click Done, and the file will save.

How to edit a Voice Memo

Voice Memos in iOS 12 offers two main methods of editing your voice files. As we’ve already seen, you can simply record over something with the “Replace” tool, but you can also trim them and insert new audio into the file. Here’s how to do each.