Downloading and installing Audacity

Audacity is an open-source audio editing tool freely available for Mac, PC, and Linux operating systems. The instructions for installing are located on the download site.


The following equipment is available from the circulation desk in Skillman Library:

  • USB microphones
  • Digital audio recording kits
  • Podcast Studios in Skillman 008 and 009 (Podcast Studio Guide; Reserve Podcast Studio)
  • All lab computers in the library have Audacity installed.
  • Mac and PC laptops with Audacity are available for a 3-hour checkout and must remain in the library. This can be helpful if you want to record something in a more private setting (e.g., in a library study room).

Basic recording and editing techniques in Audacity

Recording directly in Audacity

Using a USB mic to record is recommended because the quality will be better even though it’s possible to use a built-in microphone if your device is equipped with one.

  1. Select the USB mic from the microphone drop-down menu.
    • The mic input can be adjusted by moving the slider in the toolbar. You can also adjust the distance the mic is from the audio source to increase the input.
  2. Click the record button from the toolbar to begin recording. Allow the recording to run quietly for a few seconds before speaking to ensure the beginning of the recording is complete.
  3. Click the stop button from the toolbar to end the recording.

Importing audio

Audacity supports importing a number of popular file types such as WAV and MP3.

  1. From the menu, click “File.”
  2. Hover over “Import” and select “Audio.”
  3. Locate the audio file and click the [Open] button.

Please note: If you receive an FFmpeg error when importing audio, you will need to download and install the FFmpeg package in addition to installing Audacity.

Editing and working with audio tracks

Below are a number of commonly used tools.

  1. Zoom in and out – Use the magnifying glasses in the menu to zoom in and out of audio tracks.
  2. Shift audio tracks – Use the Time Shift tool to drag audio tracks left and right or even up and down tracks to combine tracks.
  3. Fade in and out – Use the Envelope tool to place “control points” on a track to change the volume at the control points.
    • To create a new control point, click the edge of the desired location on the track then move the point up or down to increase or decrease the volume. Move the point left or right to adjust the point’s location on the timeline.
    • To remove a point, click and drag it outside of the track. Then, let go.
  4. Mute a track – To mute a track click the Mute button to the left of the track.
  5. Delete a track – Click the X in the top left corner of the track.
  6. Adjust a track’s gain (volume) – To increase or decrease a track’s gain (or volume for our purposes) slide the Gain indicator found to the left of the track. Increasing the gain will increase the volume of the track though this is a digital enhancement so the quality will likely suffer.
  7. Delete a section of a track – Select the desired audio and click the “Delete” or “Backspace” button on the keyboard.
  8. Duplicate a section of a track – Select the desired audio and from the menu click “Edit” then “Duplicate.”

Saving a project

Save often by going to “File” in the menu and clicking “Save Project.” If you’re working on your own computer then that’s it. However, if you’re working on a lab computer:

  1. Save the project. Audacity projects are saved as two entities: a file (e.g., myproject.aup3) and a reference file with -wal appended to the end of the file name (e.g., myproject.aup3-wal).
  2. Copy both the files to external storage such as a Google Drive folder or a flash drive. If you don’t copy both then the project will be incomplete and will not open again.

Exporting a project as MP3

  1. From the menu, click File > Export > Export as MP3
  2. Select quality preference and click the [Save] button.
  3. Enter any metadata and click the [OK] button. This is not required but can be helpful if this recording is part of a series of other files. Provide a file name.

Music, audio, and content resources

The following sites offer music and sound effects at no cost, though those taking advantage of these services should read each site’s terms of service and/or Creative Commons licensing.

The following site offers a method for creating a compelling public service announcement (PSA):

Other Audacity help

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