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How to Secretly Record a Conversation

Updated March 23, 2017

Have you ever needed to tape a conversation without the other person (or persons) knowing? Secretly recording a conversation is a snap with a digital voice recorder, which can be safely hidden in a place where it can still pick up sound. Be sure to check if it's legal in your state to record without the other party's consent.

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Acquire a digital voice recorder. Either purchase a digital recorder from a store or borrow one from a friend or family member, preferably a model that has a few hours of free memory space. Test that it is in working condition and replace the batteries, if necessary, to ensure proper operation. Think small--a too-large digital voice recorder will be difficult to conceal.

Decide where you will hide the recorder. If the conversation you wish to record will take place in a certain room, find a good hiding place, such as in an air vent, on a windowsill behind a curtain, securely taped underneath a table or other piece of furniture, or even in your own pocket or purse.

Conduct a test recording beforehand to see if the recording quality is ideal. If the output is scratchy or garbled, or if there is interference from electronics or loud appliances, you'll want to consider a new place to hide the digital voice recorder in order to capture good sound quality. Adjust the microphone sensitivity if needed. Also, it is essential that the recorder is placed in silent mode so not to arouse suspicion.

Determine how you will turn on the digital voice recorder. Some models have a voice-activation feature that will automatically start and stop recording, while others also have a timer option where you can program when recording begins and ends. Alternately, you can turn on the recorder manually if you're keeping it in your pocket or purse--and can do so discreetly.

Start a conversation with the subject in the area where the recorder is located. Be sure you are both close enough to the digital voice recorder so that it will turn on, if using the voice-activation feature. Speak naturally and calmly, asking pertinent questions during the conversation if necessary.


You must check the laws in your state to make sure that recording a conversation without the permission of all parties involved is legal.

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Things You'll Need

  • Digital voice recorder
  • Hiding place

About the Author

Nicole Canfora is a freelance writer and copy editor located in Northern New Jersey with 14 years of journalism experience. Her work has been published in In Touch Weekly, Quilts, Quick Quilts, Vicinity and The Star-Ledger. She is the author of Images of America: Belleville, published in 2002.

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