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
  • 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.

  1. Select the USB mic from the microphone drop down menu. It will be named either Microphone (USB audio device) or AK5370.
    • 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 a few seconds before speaking to ensure the beginning of the recording is complete.
  3. Click the stop button from the toolbar to end 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.

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.aup) and a folder with _data appended to the end of the file name (e.g., myproject_data).
  2. Copy both the file and the folder to external storage such as a network drive 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 Audio
  2. Select MP3 as the file type.
  3. Provide a file name.
  4. Enter any meta data. This is not required, but can be helpful if this recording is part of a series of other files.

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

Tagged in: