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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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

21 comments on “8 time-saving tips and tricks for Audacity – TAP110

  1. Ken says:

    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.

    1. 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.

      1. Guest says:

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

  2. Yannick (Euterpia Radio) says:

    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 !


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

      1. Caren Harwood says:

        So fast forward 5 years. I use pretty basic functions. Is there no built-in menu command to jump to where the cursor is located? If so, I don’t see it. How the heck do I find the cursor if I have scrolled past it elsewhere in the track?

        1. Peter Sampson says:

          Press the Ctrl key (on Windows) and the cursor will be brought to centre screen at current zoom leve;

  3. Dr. Christine Kaczmar says:

    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.

    1. Thank you! Do you use Stitcher a lot?

  4. Brian Wallace says:

    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

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

  5. Informalist says:

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

    1. Ha ha! That’s great to hear!

      1. justin says:

        i know this is old but you saved me thank you

  6. Liya Swift says:

    is there a way to lock snipped bits of audio on the timeline, so they stay put and don’t bump up against the next bit of audio before it? Great tips. Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure I understand the result you want. Can you explain a little more?

  7. Beniamino Cogoi says:

    wow this is amazingly helpful thanx

  8. Christina says:

    Thank you so very much for this video, I am new to audio recording and audacity so I found labels, chains, and preferences to make my own hotkeys especially helpful!

  9. LE Mersey says:

    This page is WAY out-of-date. There have been many changes to Audacity (like the replacement of chains with macros).

    1. Yup. It’s from 2013.

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