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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Audio Hijack 4 arrives: The definitive Mac audio utility just got better

Audio Hijack 4 features a new light interface mode and the ability to manually wire connections between blocks.

Rogue Amoeba has released Audio Hijack 4, a huge update to its all-purpose Mac audio recording tool. It’s the app’s first major update since Audio Hijack 3, way back in 2015. I’ve been recording all my podcasts with Audio Hijack 4 for months now, and it’s got new features that will please loyal users and dazzle potential new ones.

Audio Hijack’s new Sessions window shows what you’re recording and lets you turn sessions on and off.

It all starts with the look of the app, which has been refreshed throughout and now includes a light mode to go with the existing dark mode. The master list of sessions is now a compact list that displays what sorts of things are being recorded (including app icons!), with the ability to run and stop sessions without opening them at all. There’s also a corresponding menu bar item, from which you can start and stop sessions.

An Audio Hijack popover.

Each session view has also been given a refreshed look. Each session now keeps track of its own historical recordings and timers via new tabs in the session-specific sidebar. Every “popover” item containing details about individual blocks in a session can now be torn off and allowed to float anywhere on screen. An optional pinning feature lets those items float above all other windows, so you can monitor or adjust individual items even if Audio Hijack isn’t in the foreground.

Perhaps the biggest boost to Audio Hijack’s productivity is the introduction of a manual connection mode. The flow-chart-like style of arranging blocks introduced in Audio Hijack 3 was brilliant—but for complicated sessions, it required very precise positioning of blocks on screen for the app to properly route audio where you wanted it to go.

In Audio Hijack 4, you can opt out of Automatic Connections mode on a per-session basis, drop blocks down on a project, and wire them up yourself. You can even take an existing session, turn off Automatic Connections, and delete and add connections as you wish. It’s more complex, and there’s more possibility to make mistakes, it’s true, but if you know exactly what you want to do, you can get it done without having to drag a bunch of blocks around into weird positions just to get the automatic routing to work right.

Two new blocks help keep volume consistent.

This version also adds a bunch of new blocks, including a mixer that can combine as many as five different sources, and two huge additions for smoothing out volume—Magic Boost and Simple Compressor. Magic Boost makes quiet sounds louder; Simple Compressor makes quiet sounds louder and loud sounds quieter, driving them toward balance. Since different audio sources often have very different volumes, a compressor can be a huge help in making the output of a session listenable.

And then there’s what is, for me, the biggest new feature of all: scripting. Rogue Amoeba has built a JavaScript-based scripting system into the app itself. It’s accessible from the new Script Library window. Scripts can be run manually, or automatically on a per-session basis based on starting or stopping of sessions or recordings. The scripting engine lets you turn sessions and even individual blocks within a session on and off, and while it doesn’t reach into every single setting in every single block yet, it covers a lot of ground.

Best of all, Audio Hijack 4’s scripting language is also accessible from outside the app via Shortcuts. You can use a Shortcuts action to run a script in Audio Hijack’s script library, or just run arbitrary JavaScript sent directly from Shortcuts. The app will also return data back to Shortcuts for processing. Rogue Amoeba probably needs to build many more individual Shortcuts actions (because for now, everything will need to be couched in a JavaScript command), but what’s already there is enough to create some pretty mind-blowing automations.

Audio Hijack was already an indispensable tool in my podcast recording toolbox. Version 4 improves on it in an awful lot of ways. While I’m excited by the app’s automation potential, it’s also gotten more flexible and functional. If you record audio on your Mac, Audio Hijack was already the best choice—and now it’s even better.

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