Press a key or two, take a screenshot. It’s been dead-simple for ages. But not so if you just want to grab some sound – until now.

WavTap, from coder and GitHub user Patrick Ellis of Berlin, finally makes grabbing audio on the Mac work the way you’ve imagined it should work. Hit a keyboard shortcut – ctrl-cmd-space, though that default can be customized – and start recording. Hit it again, and stop. WavTap is a fork of the wonderful Soundflower from Cycling ’74, the free menu tool for inter-app audio. That means WavTap shares Soundflower’s sophisticated routing solutions, so in addition to grabbing a recording of a radio broadcast you want a friend to hear, quick capture of elaborate multichannel rigs is possible, too. (Users of tools like Max and Pd – or other experimental sound sources – will love this. And, of course, it’s a way to do a quick cover of Radiohead “Fitter Happier.”)

I’m sure this could also be used for activities deemed “evil” by certain rights holders, but the nature of sound is such that, if you can hear it, you can record it. And I can think of countless legitimate uses. Just remember to ask permission before recording that phone call.

Now, of course, there are fancier solutions for doing this, but few I’ve seen with the simplicity and accessibility of WavTap. (If you do have a tool of choice of your own, of course, do let us know in comments.)

Free and open source on GitHub:

If you have Xcode installed, installation is a cinch. Terminal, make install, done. (The readme shows up on the site – scroll down.) If not, it’s more work. Someone want to contribute an installer?

Just to be absolutely clear: consider this a preview. We’re the first to break news of this app. There are developers out there capable of building an installer. You don’t need to use Xcode, only to have it installed. If you find this hard to build, well, complain to Apple.

And, in turn, this could be useful for making your own sound recording tools. Hack on. Thanks, Patrick, was great to meet you here at Campus Party Europe. (I’m live with MP3 initiator Dr. Brandenburg, among others, at 17:30 Berlin time. The rest of the time, I’m largely hacking away with the others under the SoundCloud banner.)