Audacity Basics & Tips

The following highlight some Audacity basics and tips that are helpful for getting started.


Below are some of the key editing related functions. It is also helpful to get to know the "Tools Toolbar," as knowing the different tools will make the process more efficient.

Effects, Generators, and Analyzers

There are a number of audio effects, generators, and analyzers that can be applied, some particularly useful ones include:

  • Amplify - You can also use the Amplify effect to increase or decrease the volume of any portion of the audio by highlighting that section of the waveform.

  • Fade In and Fading Out - Fades sound in at the beginning of an audio clip and fades sound out at the end of an audio clip

  • Compressor - Reduces the dynamic range of audio to prevent the audio from clipping when it amplified

  • Cross Fade Clip - Creates a fade between clips that helps to smooth out the transition between clips

  • Cross Fade Track - Creates a fade between clips on different tracks that helps to smooth out the transition between clips

  • High Pass Filter - Cuts out sounds below a certain frequency, thus, it is used for getting rid of low-pitched sounds.

  • Low-Pass Filter - Cuts out sounds above a certain frequency, thus, is used for getting rid of high-pitched sounds.

  • Noise Reduction - Used to remove steady ambient noise such as hums and buzzing.

  • Normalizer - Sets the peak amplitude of a single track, makes multiple tracks have the same peak amplitude, and equalizes the balance of left and right channels of stereo tracks.

  • Notch Filter - Used for isolating and getting rid of a specific frequency.

  • See Audacity's complete list

Exporting vs Saving

When you save an Audacity project it will save it as an Audacity specific file that will only open in the program. For an audio file that can be opened on multiple platforms, you will need to export your work. (See "Export" and "Saving" in the Audacity manual.)

For exporting, WAV files and MP3 files are good options:

  • WAV files are uncompressed, so they will have the highest quality at the cost of larger file sizes. MP3 is a common compressed file type, which are smaller in file size but can suffer in quality. Which to choose:

    • In general, it’s good to export as WAV files and keep those as master copies and then export as MP3s for things like posting your work online. If your project is truly ephemeral and is not something you might want to go back to MP3s are totally fine.

    • If you are doing a more involved and advanced audio or audio/video project, export as WAV.

    • If your project is intended to be ephemeral or is only going to live online and not be is not something


Audacity uses toolbars to control different functions. Getting to know these toolbars will make using the tool easier and your work more efficient. (See "Toolbar Overview" in the Audacity manual.)

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