- Playback Device - Use this control to select the device
that will be used for playback / audio output. This is usually
only applicable if your computer has more than one sound card.
- Recording Device - Select the devce that will be used
for recording / audio input. Note that many devices have
multiple sources such as Microphone and Line in - to
select the input source you will need to use the
For finer control over audio I/O, open your system's Sound
control panel or the control panel that came with your
- Recording Channels - Use this to select the number of
channels to record simultaneously. Select 1 for mono and
2 for stereo. Audacity will support recording more simultaneous
channels, but note that most sound cards only support stereo, and
even if your sound card supports more than 2 inputs, you need a
fast computer and a large, fast hard disk to record many channels
for a long time.
Mono recording is not the same on all computers or sound cards.
Sometimes recording mono only records the left channel, and sometimes
it mixes the left and right channels.
- Play other tracks while recording new one -
When this box is checked, Audacity will play existing tracks
when you press record - otherwise it simply records the new
track without letting you hear what you've already recorded.
You can use this option to record harmonies with yourself or
add a voiceover.
You may notice that when you play the two tracks you recorded
together, they aren't synchronized. This is unavoidable to a
certain extent, though future versions of Audacity may try to
minimize it even more. To fix it, you will need to grab the
Time Shift tool and slide one
of the tracks around until it sounds right.
- Hardware Playthrough (Mac Only) - plays the audio you are
recording straight back out to your headphones or speakers so you can
hear it. This option is done in harware, so it is fast and doesn't
consume resources. However, it is only possibly if input and output
are on the same sound device.
PC users can do the same thing in their volume control
settings, turning up the relevant audio input.
- Software Playthrough - Does the same thing as hardware
playthrough, but in software. This means that the audio you hear may be
slightly delayed relative to the input, and activating this option
will use some more system resources. However, it works on all systems,
even if you are recording from one device and playing back through
- When importing uncompressed audio files into Audacity
- Make a copy of the file before editing (safer) -
Selecting this means that Audacity will take longer to
import files, but it will always have its own copy of any
audio you are using in a project. You can move, change,
or throw away your files immediately after you open or
import them into Audacity.
- Read directly from the original file (faster) -
Selecting this means
that Audacity depends on your original audio files
being there, and only stores changes you make to these
files. If you move, change, or throw away one of the files
you imported into Audacity, your project may become
unusable. However, because Audacity doesn't need to
make copies of everything first, it can import files
in much less time.
- Uncompressed Export Format - This lets you select the
format that Audacity will use when you export uncompressed
files. 11 common options are displayed in the list, but you
can also select "Other" and choose a nonstandard file format
for Audacity to export.
- Ogg Export Setup - Use this control to set the
quality of Ogg Vorbis exporting. Ogg Vorbis is a compressed
audio format similar to MP3, but free of patents and
licensing fees. A normal quality Ogg Vorbis file is
encoded with a quality setting of "5". Note that unlike
MP3 encoding, Ogg Vorbis does not let you set a bitrate,
because some audio clips are easier to compress than
others. Increasing the quality will always increase the
file size, however.
- MP3 Export Setup - Use these controls to locate your
MP3 encoder and set the quality of MP3 encoding. Higher
quality files take up more space, so you will need to find
the level of quality you feel is the best compromise.
For more information, see
Exporting MP3 Files.
You can view any audio track as a Spectrogram instead of a
Waveform by selecting one of the Spectral views from the
Track Pop-Down Menu.
This dialog lets you adjust some of the settings for these spectrograms.
- FFT Size - The size of the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)
affects how much vertical (frequency) detail you see. Larger
FFT sizes give you more bass resolution and less temporal (timing)
resolution, and they are slower.
- Grayscale - Select this for gray spectrograms instead of
- Maximum Frequency - Set this value anywhere from a couple
of hundred hertz to half the sample rate (i.e. 22050 Hz if the
sample rate is 44100 Hz). For some applications, such as speech
recognition or pitch extraction, very high frequencies are not
important (visually), so this allows you to hide these and only
focus on the ones you care about.
Use this panel to set the location of Audacity's temporary
directory (folder). Audacity uses this directory whenever
you work on a project that you haven't saved as an Audacity Project
(AUP file) yet.
You have to restart Audacity (close and open it again) for
changes to the temporary directory to take effect.
- Autoscroll while playing - Scrolls the window for you
while playing, so that the playback cursor is always in the window.
This can hurt playback performance on slower computers.
- Always allow pausing - Normally the Pause button is only
enabled while you are playing or recording. Checking this box
allows you to set the pause button anytime, which allows you
to press Record and not have the recording start until you
unpause it. Sometimes starting a paused recording can be faster
than starting to record in the first place.
- Update spectrogram while playing - Because spectrograms are
slower to draw, normally they are not drawn during playback, but this
option lets you draw the spectrograms anyway.
- Enable Edit Toolbar - Sets whether or not you want to display
the Edit Toolbar, which has some
common shortcuts for editing commands.
- Enable Mixer Toolbar - Sets whether or not you want to display
the Mixer Toolbar, which lets you
set the volume levels and input source.
- Enable Meter Toolbar - Sets whether or not you want to display
the Meter Toolbar, which lets you
monitor the input and output audio levels.
- Quit Audacity upon closing last window - By default on Windows
and X-Windows (but not Mac OS), Audacity quits when you close the
last project window. If you uncheck this box, Audacity will open a
new blank document instead of quitting. To quit Audacity in this case,
you must specifically select Exit (or Quit) from the File menu.
- Enable dragging of left and right selection edges - Normally,
when you move the mouse over the left and right edge of a selection,
the cursor changes to a left or right pointer, and you can adjust
that edge of the selection independently. If you don't like this
feature, uncheck this box, and then clicking will always create
a new selection (unless you hold down Shift to extend an existing
- Language - sets the language used by Audacity. Language
files are named "audacity.mo" and are found in the "Languages"
folder on Windows and Mac OS X, or in /usr/share/locale or
/usr/local/share/locale on most Unix systems. Audacity will detect
new languages the next time you start it.
This panel lets you change keyboard shortcuts. All of the commands
that appear in Audacity menus appear on the left, along with a few
other buttons that can get keyboard shortcuts. To change a command,
first click on the command you want to change. Then type the new
keyboard shortcut on your keyboard. Verify that the correct shortcut
appears in the box below. If it's what you want, press the Set
button. Or to get rid of a keyboard shortcut, press Clear.
To reset to Audacity's defaults, press the Defaults button.
This will get rid of any changes you have made.
If you have customized your keyboard layout and want to share it
with someone else, you can press Save... and save your complete
keyboard layout as an XML file that you can share. To load an existing
layout, press the Load... button and locate the XML file.
This panel doesn't let you change anything, but it lets you view
all of the commands and actions that you can do using the mouse,
many by holding down extra modifier keys.