8 time-saving tips and tricks for Audacity – TAP110


Learn how to edit audio projects much faster with simple tricks in Audacity.

Stopwatch photo credit: smaedli via Compfight cc

1. Zoom shortcuts

  • Zoom in: Cmd-1 (OS X) or Ctrl-1 (Windows)
  • Zoom out: Cmd-3 (OS X) or Ctrl-3 (Windows)
  • Zoom to normal: Cmd-2 (OS X) or Ctrl-2 (Windows)
  • Fit the entire timeline in the window: Cmd-F (OS X) or Ctrl-F (Windows)
  • Fit all tracks vertically in the window: Shift-Cmd-F (OS X) or Shift-Ctrl-F (Windows)
  • Zoom with mouse wheel: hold down Cmd (OS X) or Ctrl (Windows) and use the scroll wheel

2. Scroll shortcuts

Hold down Shift and use the scroll wheel to scroll horizontally across your timeline.

3. Selection jump

Quickly jump to a specific time in your project:

  1. Ensure the Selection Toolbar is activated. If it isn’t, enable it through View menu > Toolbars > Selection Toolbar.
  2. Enter a time under “Selection Start.”
  3. Double-press Spacebar.
  4. The view will jump to your selected location.

4. Backwards editing

While recording, keep a log of times where you need to edit (if necessary). Then edit these from end to beginning.

By editing backwards, your logged times will always be correct. But if you edit forwards, then your proceeding times will be off-sync and make editing exponentially harder.

5. Playback speed

If you can listen to audio at chipmunk speed and pitch, then you can edit your audio faster by dragging the playback speed from the Transcription Toolbar.

This will sound crazy, but it could help you edit twice as quickly!

6. Labels

To make navigating your project easier, use a Label track to add notes at certain points. These help you mark and quickly find any portion you want to remember.

  1. Go to the Tracks menu > Add New > Label Track.
  2. Click in the new label track where you want your label to be, or select a region of audio you want labeled and press Ctrl-B (Windows/Linux) or Cmd-B (OS X).
  3. Type your label and press Enter.

Here are a couple notes about Labels.

  • Labels can overlap and move with your multi-track selection, or with Sync-Lock Tracks enabled.
  • Move a label by clicking and dragging the small circle.
  • Expand a label’s region by clicking and dragging one of the triangle handles.
  • Delete a label by clicking on it and removing the text and pressing Backspace one final time.
  • You can also add a label during playback or recording by pressing Cmd-[Period] (OS X) or Ctrl-M (Windows/Linux).

Learn more about Label tracks from the Audacity manual.

7. Chains

Learn how to setup and use Chains in Audacity to automate tasks and remember effect settings.

8. Keyboard shortcuts

Learn keyboard shortcuts for anything you keep doing. You can usually find these under the appropriate menu, on this cheat sheet, or adjust the keyboard shortcuts yourself.

  1. Go to the Audacity menu (OS X) or Edit menu (Windows) > Preferences.
  2. Go to Keyboard to learn, set, or change keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Go to Mouse to learn, set, or change keyboard shortcuts associated with mouse tools. (The OS X version incorrectly says “Ctrl” when it means “Cmd.”)

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  • Ken

    Daniel, Very useful information and just in time.

    Episode 004 of Roan Mountain Radio has just gone live. My goal is to reduce the time it takes to edit so that it does become a weekly podcast..
    The first thing will be to immediately start using the labels feature. Thanks.
    And congratulations on your #1 Tech award. Your generosity has been recognized.

    Keep up the good work.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thanks, Ken! The biggest time-saver is a choice: what to edit and what to allow.

      I wasn’t even aware of adding labels while recording until I started researching all the uses of labels!

      By the way, you’re welcome to include hyperlinks and URLs in comments, so I edited yours so people can visit your site if they want to check out your new podcast.

      • Guest

        Ah well, I should have included a link to my show in my comment, then ! :)

  • Yannick (Euterpia Radio)

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for all thoses tips. I didn’t thinks about chains before, and I just finished a project for which using chains made me save a ton of time !

    One function I use a lot while I record Euterpia Radio, is “Move track to cursor”, so I did assign a keyboard shortcut to it, and that alone was allready a great time saver !


    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Ah, yes! That’s a great keyboard shortcut. Even just that command is a massive time-saver.

  • Dr. Christine Kaczmar

    Daniel, this was phenomenal! I learned so much from you!! Thank you! I am absolutely a new fan of your podcast. Heard of you via Stitcher.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thank you! Do you use Stitcher a lot?

  • Brian Wallace

    Daniel, I just started playing with the ideas of notes to help edit my podcast. I can listen at 1.5x or even a little faster and place notes. Then I can go back and edit out the ums if there are to many. Thanks

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      That’s a great way to do it! You’re using the Labels for this, or writing down your notes?

  • Pingback: Audacity Tips | yuhnah()

  • Informalist

    I am only at number four and you have already saved me a projected eight and a half years! Thank you kindly.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Ha ha! That’s great to hear!