Q I want to record a birthday message, to send to a friend overseas who has access to computers but is not particularly computer-literate. What is the best way of doing that on my iMac?
A iMacs have built-in microphones which should be ideal for basic recording functions such as this. You can download a suitable version of the free Audacity which is compatible with your release of OS X, record and edit the message using that.
Although it might be tempting to send your friend that audio file by email, which is quick and free, unless you are confident that they will know how to play it, it might cause problems for them. If you do, be careful to choose a format that your friend will be able to play, such as WAV, and a file size that is not excessive.
One universal medium that might be best for delivering the message is an audio CD: open iTunes, create a new empty playlist, then import the audio recording into that. Select the track and use the Burn Playlist to Disc command in the File menu to create the CD, which will play in any device capable of playing regular audio CDs.
Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 22, 2011.