A guide for users of the Jaws screen reader, written by David Bailes. More guides are available on the Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.
The remainder of this guide is for version 2.1.0 of Audacity. However, version 2.1.2 of Audacity, which contains new features and bug fixes, is now available from the home page of Audacity's website. There's also a Jaws guide for this new version: Audacity 2.1.2 guide.
This is a guide for the 2.1.0 version of Audacity, which is a free multi-track audio editor. You can use it for recording, simple editing of single tracks, or more advanced editing involving multiple tracks.
Audacity 2.1.0 can be downloaded from the home page of Audacity's website.
If this is the first version of Audacity that you've run on the Computer, please read the next section on the Register Effects dialog.
The following sections of the introduction introduce projects and the cursor in Audacity, and then describe the welcome message box and how to get help. There's also some important information if you using a non us/uk keyboard.
If you have not used previous versions of Audacity on the computer, then the first time that you run Audacity 2.1.0, the first window which appears is a Register Effects dialog. Just press Enter to press the default OK button. You won't see the dialog again, unless you start to use effect plugins with Audacity.
For those of you that do use VST or LADSPA effect plugins with Audacity, see the Register Effects dialog section, which is later in the guide.
The objects which Audacity edits are known as projects. So projects are equivalent to documents in Microsoft Word, and workbooks in Microsoft Excel.
An Audacity project simply consists of a number of tracks.There are a number of different types of track in Audacity: audio, label, and time. However, the latter two are inaccessible to Jaws users, and so this guide will only describe the use of audio tracks. For many simple tasks you'll probably only have one track in a project.
You can save an Audacity project using the Audacity project file format, and this preserves all the tracks in the project. However, you only need to save a project in this format if you intend to continue working on the project in the future.
Audacity has a cursor to specify a particular time during the audio, and this is similar to the cursor in Microsoft Word. The cursor in Audacity is used for defining times such as: the start of playback, the position where you want to start selecting a time range, and the place where audio is pasted from the clipboard.
If you're using a keyboard other than a US, UK, or Irish keyboard, then a couple of important keystrokes won't work if you're using Audacity's default settings. To fix this, see the The [ and ] shortcuts on keyboards other than US, UK or Irish section which is in the Customizing section.
When you open Audacity, a Welcome message box opens, and this contains an HTML window which contains some information on how to obtain help for Audacity. Unfortunately the links in this text can't be opened using keyboard navigation, but details of the available help are given in the next section. The message box also contains a “Don't show this again at startup” check box. To stop the message box appearing in future, just check the check box, and press the OK button.
Audacity is an extremely powerful program, and this is only an introductory guide. For more information see:
To open either an audacity project file or a standard audio file, use the Open dialog, which is on the File menu (Ctrl + O). The dialog's title is “Select one or more audio files...”, and its structure is similar to the standard Windows XP Open dialog. The types of standard audio files which Audacity can open described in the next section.
When you first open Audacity, the window contains an empty track table, and so when you open an audio file, it opens in this initial window. After opening a standard audio file, the track table contains a single track, whereas after opening an Audacity project file, the track table contains all the tracks in the saved project. If you then open any other audio files, then they each open in a new window. (If you want to deliberately create a new window with an empty project, choose New from the File menu, or press Ctrl + N.)
In addition to opening standard audio files, you can also import one or more standard audio files into the current project. In this case, a new track is added to the track table for each of the files. For details, see the Importing audio files section.
The default installation of Audacity can open audio files in the following standard formats: WAV, AIFF, AU, MP3, MP2/MPEG, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC. In addition, you can open files in some other formats, including wma and m4a if you download and install the FFmpeg library, as described in the FFmpeg library section. This is not included in the installation of Audacity due to legal issues about patents.
An alternative to using the FFmpeg library for opening files in other formats is to use another program to convert the file to one of the formats the default installation of Audacity can open. There are several audio format conversion programs available, for example, Switch which is free in its basic version, or dBpoweramp Music Converter.
If you open a compressed file, such as an MP3 file, then after you press the open button in the Open dialog an Import dialog opens which gives the progress of Audacity decompressing the file.
You can save the audio in a project in either the audacity project format, or one of the standard audio formats, as described in the following sections. The Audacity project format preserves all the tracks in the project. You only need to save a project in the audacity project format if you intend to continue working on the project in the future. In contrast, when you save in one of the standard audio formats, Audacity automatically mixes all the tracks down to a single track.
When you close Audacity, if you haven't saved your changes to an Audacity project file, then a Save changes? dialog opens asking you whether you want to save changes before closing. The default button is Yes, but unless you want to save the project as an Audacity project file, just Tab to the NO button and press it.
To save in this format, choose Save Project... from the File menu. The first time you do this, you get a Warning dialog box telling you that only Audacity can read these project files. The dialog box contains a check box which you can check if you don't want this warning again. If you press the OK button, you then get a Save Project As dialog.
The default installation of Audacity can save in the following standard formats: WAV, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and MP2. In addition, you can save in some other formats if you download and install some additional libraries which are not included with Audacity because of legal issues with patents:
To save audio in one of the standard audio formats:
This section describes the controls in the Specify MP3 options dialog, and then gives some recommendations for setting them. The dialog has the following controls:
These are some recommended settings:
For a full description of the options for the LAME MP3 encoder see the Lame page of the Hydrogen Audio wiki.
Playback depends on whether there is a time range selected (see the Selecting audio section): if there is no selection, then playback starts at the cursor position; if there is a selection, then playback starts at the start of the selection, and stops at the end of the selection.
The volume of the playback is controlled by the playback slider which is on the Mixer toolbar in the Toolbars.
Keystrokes for playback:
The Toolbars section contains several different toolbars. You can navigate to all the controls in the Toolbars just by using the Tab key.
These are the different toolbars:
All these settings can also be made either in individual dialogs, or in the Devices category of the Preferences dialog. The keystrokes for the individual dialogs are Shift + H for audio host, Shift + I for recording device, Shift + N for number of recording channels, and Shift + O for playback device.
You can show and hide all these toolbars using the Toolbars sub-menu on the View Menu. Only showing the toolbars you're likely to use, such as the Mixer Toolbar, has the advantage of greatly reducing the number of Tabs needed to find a particular control.
You can press any of the buttons in the toolbar by pressing Enter. However, you can't use Spacebar as this key is used for starting and stopping playback.
The Track table contains the tracks which make up the project. The table just has one column, and a row for each of the tracks. Each track has a name, and Jaws reads this when you move to the track, or press Insert + Up Arrow to read the current line.
An audio track is a container for audio data, and this is displayed as a waveform. Often the audio data starts at time zero, but after editing, this is not always the case. At the left hand end of an audio track there is a small area containing various controls, which include a menu, and controls for track gain and pan. Using these controls is described in the More advanced editing section of this guide.
The Cursor is displayed in the track table as a vertical line, as is the playback position during playback. The positions of both the cursor and the playback position are available to Jaws users via the Selection Start and Audio Position spin boxes in the Selection Bar.
Whenever the focus is within the track table, and the table contains one or more tracks (rows), then one of the tracks has the focus, and you can move between tracks by using Up Arrow and Down Arrow.
You need to be able to select tracks:
You can select or deselect tracks using the following keystrokes:
Jaws tells you whether a track is selected, if you do any of the following:
More precisely, if you do any of the above, then:
There are six controls on the Selection bar, and you can cycle forwards or backwards around these controls using Tab or Shift + Tab respectively.
Each of the spin boxes contains a time which can be in a number of different formats. You can change the format by choosing on the options on a spin box's context menu, and this changes the format of all the spin boxes. The default format is hh:mm:ss, but the format hh:mm:ss + hundredths is normally more useful, as it allows you to change the time by smaller amounts. Nearly all the examples in this guide will use this format.
The time can be considered to be made up of one or more sections, depending on the format used. For example, when using the hh:mm:ss format, the time consists of three sections each consisting of two digits: hours, minutes, and seconds. Alternatively, when using the hh:mm:ss + hundredths format, the time consists of four sections: hours, minutes, seconds, and centi-seconds (hundredths of seconds), again each consisting of two digits.
If you move to a spin box by tabbing, then Jaws reads the entire contents of the spin box, for example, 00h13m04.73s, that is 0 hours, 13 minutes, and 4.73 seconds.
Within a spin box, one of the digits is the focus. When you first move to a spin box after opening Audacity, the first digit is the focus, but if you subsequently return to the spin box, then the digit which was the focus when you left the spin box is the focus. The keystrokes for moving the focus are:
When you use one of these keystrokes, Jaw reads the digit which is now the focus. In addition, if you've moved to a different section of the time, then Jaws reads the new section before reading the digit. For example, if the time is 01h42m38.46s and the focus is the second of the minutes digits (the digit 2), then if you press Right arrow Jaws says 38s, 3. Alternatively, if you press End then Jaws says 46 centi-seconds, 6.
There are a couple of ways of changing the value of the time:
To read the entire time, press Insert + Up Arrow.
The Snap to combo box contains three options: Off, which is the default, Nearest, and Prior. If the combo box is set to either Nearest and Prior, then this has two effects on using the left and right arrow keys to move the cursor or the start or end of a selected time range.
The first effect is that if Snap combo box to is set to Nearest, then you move the cursor or the start or end of a selected time range, then its position is always automatically adjusted to the nearest whole number of the smallest unit in the format of the edit spin boxes. For example, if format is hh:mm:ss, then a position of 1.3 seconds would be adjusted to 1 second, and a time of 1.8 seconds would be adjusted to 2 seconds. In a similar manner, if the Snap to combo box is set to Prior, then the times 1.3 seconds and 1.8 seconds would both be adjusted to 1 second.
If the Snap to combo box is set to Nearest or Prior, the second effect is that the minimum amount that the position of the cursor or the selection start or end changes by is the smallest unit in the format of the edit spin boxes. So, for example, if the format is set to hh:mm:ss, and you press Right arrow to move the cursor to the right, the minimum change in position is 1 second.
Audacity has a cursor to specify a particular time during the audio, for example, the start of playback, the position where you want to start selecting a time range, or the position where audio is pasted from the clipboard.
Reading the current position of the cursor is described in the next section, and the ways of moving the cursor are as follows:
There are a couple of ways of reading the cursor position. The first is to read the Selection start control on the Selection bar:
The second way of reading the cursor position is to open the Set left selection boundary dialog:
As described in the Edit spin boxes section, there are a couple a ways of changing the values of the controls like the start control:
With no time range selected, consider the two cases:
This section describes how the step size of the left and right arrow keys depend on the horizontal zoom of the audio data, and how to set the amount of zoom so that the step size has suitable values. The same step sizes are also used by the Shift + Left or Right Arrow and Ctrl + Shift + Left or Right Arrow keystrokes for expanding or contracting selected time ranges.
Audacity has the ability to vary the amount by which the audio data is zoomed in the horizontal direction. This allows sighted users to view the audio data in either more or less detail, depending on the task.
Pressing Right Arrow or Left Arrow moves the cursor by the same physical distance on the screen, whatever the amount of horizontal zoom. So if the amount of zoom is increased, then the time by which the cursor is moved is decreased. Similarly, if the amount of zoom is decreased, then the time by which the cursor is moved is increased.
After opening or importing a file, the horizontal zoom is adjusted so that the longest track in the project takes up the available space in the track in the window. So the initial amount of zoom, and so the step size of the arrow keys depends on the length of the tracks.
However, you can set the horizontal zoom to a predefined amount. You can do this by choosing Zoom normal from the View menu (Ctrl + 2). When the zoom is set to normal, then the left and right arrow keys move the cursor by slightly more than one hundredth of a second. This step size is normally too small to be useful. However, you can easily adjust the step size using the zoom in and zoom out commands which are available on the View menu:
So, for example, after setting the zoom to normal (Ctrl + 2), which sets the step size to slightly more than one hundredth of a second, if you zoom out (Ctrl + 3) three times, this multiplies the step size by 8, resulting in a step size which is slightly less than a tenth of a second. As another example, if you press Ctrl + 2, and then Ctrl + 3 7 times, then the step size is about one and a half seconds.
In the case of an audio editor which can only edit a single audio track, then selecting audio simply consists of specifying the start and end times of the audio which you want to select, that is, a time range. For example you might want to select the audio between the times 1 minute 2 seconds and 5 minutes 23 seconds.
However, Audacity is a multi-track editor. If the project consists of a number of tracks, then you may want to select the audio on only some of the tracks for a given time range. So in Audacity, as well as having to select a time range, you also have to specify which tracks are selected. If you've selected some audio, tried to edit it, and nothing's happened, it may well be because none of the tracks are selected. The selection of tracks was described in the track selection section above, and selecting a time range is described in one of the following sections.
There is an option to select all the audio in the project, if none is selected, and this option is on by default. This option affects what happens, for example, if you try to apply an effect when no audio is selected, that is either no tracks are selected and/or no time range is selected. If this option is off, then the commands on the Effects menu are unavailable, so stopping you from applying an effect. However, if this option is on, then even though no audio is selected the commands on the Effects menu are available, and the effect is applied to all the audio in the project. In addition, after the effect is applied, all the tracks are selected, and a time range which covers all the audio in the project is selected.
Because the automatic selection of tracks and time-ranges occur with no audible feedback, then for users of screen readers it's recommended that you turn this option off, as described in the Select all audio section of the Preferences section. All the instructions in the remainder of this guide assume that the option is off.
A quick way of selecting all of the audio in the project is to use the shortcut Ctrl + A: this selects all the tracks, and selects a time range which includes all the audio.
The general way of selecting a time range consists of two steps:
Note that when a time range is selected, playback plays the selected time range. In addition you can have a preview of what the audio would sound like if the audio in the selected time-range were deleted by using the Play cut preview command (C). This command plays the audio from a short time before the selected time-range to a short time after it, but omitting the selected time range itself.
You can use any of the following methods for setting the other end of the selection:
With the cursor positioned where you want to start the selection, to set the end of the selection:
With the cursor positioned where you want the end of the selection, to set the start of the selection:
There are a couple of ways of making small adjustments to a selected time range:
Note that the two keystrokes that use Ctrl contract the selected time range, and the other two keystrokes expand the selected time range.
If you press any of the following keystrokes which move the cursor, then any selected time range is deselected: Home, End, J, K, Left Arrow, Right Arrow, Comma, and Period. After you have pressed Left Arrow or Right Arrow, then the cursor position is at the start or end of the selection which has just been deselected.
To deselect all the tracks, and deselect any time-range, press Ctrl + Shift + A. The new cursor position is at the start of the selection which has just been deselected.
To undo press Ctrl + Z, and to redo press Ctrl + Y.
To delete the selected audio, press the Delete key.
If you want a preview of the audio after deletion, press C which plays back from a short time before the selected audio to a short time after the selected audio, but omitting the selected audio. The length of the times of playback before and after the selection can be set in the Cut Preview section of the Playback category in the Preferences dialog.
To replace the selected audio with the same length of silence, on the Edit Menu, open the Remove Audio sub menu, and choose Silence Audio (Ctrl + L).
To insert a period of silence into the selected tracks:
Set the time that you want, and then press Enter to press the default OK button. The period of silence is inserted, and a time-range which covers this period is selected.
Note that all the commands on the Generate menu have the following behaviour. If one or more tracks are selected, but no time-range, then the generated audio is inserted at the cursor. However, if a time-range is also selected, then the selected audio is replaced by the generated audio. Also, all the spin boxes in the dialogs which are opened from the Generate menu have a default format of seconds, and the first non-zero digit is the initial focus, rather than the first digit.
Audacity provides a large number of effects which are available on the Effects menu. Some of the commands, like fade in or fade out, simply execute the effect on the selected audio, but most of them open a dialog box so that you can adjust the parameters for the effect.
Nearly all the effect dialogs contain a Preview button which allows you to hear a short sample of the effect applied to the selected audio. By default, the length of the preview is 6 seconds, but you can change this in the Preferences dialog, where in the Playback category there's a Length of preview edit box.
This version of Audacity includes a limited introduction of real-time preview – where you can change the settings of an effect during playback. Only two of the effects included with Audacity's installation (Hard limiter and SC4) have this feature. In addition, if you have downloaded any VST or LADSPA effects, then these now have real-time preview. It's planned to extend real-time preview to more effects in future versions of the program.
The dialogs of effects which include real-time preview include the following controls, all of which have access keys:
After opening one of these effect dialogs, you can return to the main Audacity window without closing it. Dialogs with this behaviour are known as modeless dialogs. You can cycle round the Audacity main window and any open modeless dialogs by pressing Alt + F6. Because these effect dialogs have their own playback controls, you may not need to make use of the behaviour very often.
This section only concerns those who are using VST and LADSPA effect plugins. Although these plugins are not fully covered in this guide, this section on the Register Effects dialog has been included because Jaws does not read this dialog correctly.
This dialog opens when you open Audacity:
Notes on this dialog:
If you delete or cut part of the audio in a track, and if the beginning or end of this part hasn't zero amplitude, then this can result if sudden changes in the amplitude of the audio. If the size of these sudden changes are large enough, then you'll hear them as clicks. A similar problem can occur if you copy and paste audio.
You can avoid introducing these clicks by using the Find zero crossings command, which is on the Edit menu, and has the shortcut Z. If a track is selected, but there isn't a selected time range, then if you apply this command, the position of the cursor is moved to the nearest position where the amplitude of the audio in the selected track is zero. The change is position is very small, so you don't have to worry that this will make a large change to the cursor position. In a similar manner, if there's a selected time range, the positions of both the start and the end of the time range are adjusted so that the amplitude of the audio in the selected track is zero.
So to avoid introducing clicks:
To add a new empty track, choose an option from the Add New sub-menu which is on the Tracks menu.
You can import one or more audio files, and these become new tracks in the existing project. To import standard audio file(s), open the File menu, and choose Audio from the Import sub-menu (Ctrl + Shift + I). A “Select one or more audio files” dialog opens, which has the same structure as a standard Windows XP Open dialog. Select one or more files, and press Enter to press the OK button.
Note that immediately after the import, the last track in the project is selected, and all other tracks are unselected.
To duplicate the selected audio into new track(s), choose Duplicate on the Edit menu. The duplicated audio retains the same timings as the original selected audio, so in the new track(s) the audio data starts at the start of the selected time range.
If you select two or more tracks, you can align the audio in these tracks so that the audio in a track starts at the end of the audio in the previous track. To do this, open the tracks menu, open the Align tracks sub menu, and choose Align end to end. Notes:
You can time shift the audio data in one or more selected tracks so that either the start or the end of the audio is at some desired position. You can specify this position either with the cursor, or the start or end of a selected time range. All the commands for moving the audio are available on the Align Tracks sub menu which is on the Tracks menu, and some examples of using them are given below.
For example, to move the audio in one or more tracks so that it starts at some desired time:
If you'd wanted to move the audio in one or more tracks so that it ended at some desired time, then you'd simply change step three to use the End to Cursor/Selection Start command, instead of Start to Cursor/Selection Start.
As another example, if you want to time shift one or more tracks by a certain amount of time, then:
Note that if you're wanting to move a track which you've recorded and which doesn't line up with the existing tracks, then you may need to move the start of the audio to earlier than time zero. Because you can't move the cursor before time zero, the above method has to be modified so that in step two, you press K to move to the end of the audio in the selected tracks, and then in step five, you use the End to Cursor/Selection Start command. Note that Audacity does have an automatic latency correction.
You can open the menu of a focused track by pressing either the Application Key or Shift + M. The commands on the menu include renaming the track, and moving the track up, down, to the top, or to the bottom of the track table.
To change the gain of the focused track, press Shift + G. A Gain dialog opens which contains both an edit box and a slider for changing the gain. The range of gain (db) is -36 to +36.
The gain of a track is applied to the whole track, and is only applied during playback, or when the track is exported to a file, or when you use the mix and render command. Changing the gain doesn't affect the amplitude of the audio data in the track.
To change the pan of the focused track, press Shift + P. A Pan dialog opens which contains both an edit box and a slider for changing the pan. The range of pan is -1 to 1, corresponding to left and right.
Each track has a mute setting which can be on or off, and a solo setting which can also be on or off. These settings are used to control which tracks contribute to playback, and in addition the mute settings, but not the solo settings, affect which tracks contribute to audio saved in one of the standard formats. By default, the mute and solo settings for each track are off. After reading the name of the track, Jaws says mute on, if the mute setting is on, and solo on, is the solo setting is on.
If a track's mute setting is on, then it doesn't contribute to playback, or to the audio saved in one of the standard formats. You can either change the mute setting of an individual track or the settings of all the tracks:
If one or more tracks have their solo setting on, then only these tracks contribute to playback, regardless of the Mute settings of all of the tracks. To toggle the Solo setting of the focussed track, press Shift + S.
There are a number of options for the solo setting and its interaction with the mute setting:
The setting which has these options can be found by going to the Tracks category of the Preferences dialog, where there is a Solo button combo box.
Metadata is data which describes other data, and the metadata for audio files consists of a number of tags, where each tag is made up of a tag name and a tag value. The Metadata editor in Audacity allows you both to edit the values of a number of preset tags, and also to create your own custom tags.
You can open the Metadata editor at any time by choosing Open Metadata Editor from the File menu. In addition, if you save audio in one of the standard formats, then unless you've turned the appropriate option off, the Metadata editor automatically opens, as described in the Saving audio section above.
The Metadata editor contains the following controls:
The table has two columns: Tag and Value, and the first 7 cells in the Tag column contain preset tag names such as Artist Name and Track Title. Jaws indicates that these preset tag names are not editable by saying unavailable after their names.
To navigate the table:
All the tag values except the genre tag value are edited using an edit box, but the genre tag value is edited with an edit combo box, which allows you to quickly choose from a list of genres.
To edit any tag value, except the genre tag value, there are two options: either overwriting or editing the current value, as described below. Both involve using the keystrokes Enter or Tab to confirm the edit. Enter moves you the cell immediately below the current cell, and Tab moves you to the next cell, which is the tag name in the next row.
To edit the genre tag value:
You can use the rows in the table after the preset tags to create your own custom tags. In these rows you can edit both the tag name and the tag value.
For a new set of metadata, there's one spare row after the preset tags. You can add and remove rows from the table using the Add and Remove buttons which follow the table. The Add button appends a row, and the Remove button removes the current custom row.
To edit the list of genres which is available in the edit-combo box when you edit the genre value:
To reset the list of genres to the default list of genres, press the Reset button in the Genres section. A Reset Genres message box opens, asking you whether you're sure that you want to reset the list. Press Enter to press the default OK button.
The next three sections on settings, recording controls, and adjusting the recording level cover material which is relevant to nearly all recording. After that there's a latency correction section, which describes how Audacity can correct for the delay in the recorded audio when recording a vocal track whilst listening to existing tracks.
There are a number of settings which may need changing before you make a recording, and they're described in the following sections. Note that a number of these settings can be made either in the Devices section of the Preferences dialog or an individual dialog, or the Device Toolbar.
Audacity provides a number of options for the software interface which Audacity uses to interact with the playback and recording devices:
You can set this option using either the Interface host combo box in the Devices category of the Preferences dialog, or the Audio host combo box in the Select Audio Host dialog (Shift + H), or the Audio Host combo box on the Device toolbar. Note that when you change this option, the settings of the recording and playback devices may change, and so you should check these settings.
You can select the recording device using either the recording device combo box in the Devices category in the Preferences dialog, or the recording device combo box in the Select Recording Device dialog (Shift + I), or the recording device combo box on the Device toolbar.
If an onboard sound chip or an internal sound card has a number of possible inputs, such as microphone or line in, then each of these inputs is listed as a separate device in the combo boxes. In addition, if you're using either the MME or the DirectSound audio interface, then the available devices may also include either “Microsoft Sound Mapper - Input” or “Primary Sound Captive Driver”, respectively. Both of these correspond to the device which has been set as the default recording device in Windows.
In Windows Vista and later these combo boxes list all the recording devices which were plugged in and enabled when audacity was opened. If a device isn't listed, then check the Recording page of Windows Sound dialog to see if the device is enabled. This dialog is described in the Sound dialog in Windows Vista, 7, and 8 section, for those unfamiliar with this dialog.
This section describes which control to use to adjust the recording level. How to adjust the recording level so that you don't get too much noise or clipping is described in the Adjusting the recording level section below.
If Audacity can control the level of the recording device, then you can use either Audacity's recording slider, or the appropriate Windows control. It's normally easier to use the recording slider in Audacity, which is in the Mixer toolbar in the Toolbars section of Audacity's main window. To move to it from the Track table, press Ctrl + F6 twice, and then Tab or Shift + Tab until you get to the recording slider.
When Audacity can't control the level of the recording device, this is indicated by the recording slider being unavailable. For sighted users, the slider appears greyed out, and for users of screen readers, you can't Tab to it. In these cases you have to use the appropriate control which is part of Windows, as described below.
Whether Audacity can control the recording level depends to a large extent on the audio interface which you are using:
The location of the Windows' control to adjust the level of a recording device depends on the version of Windows. For Windows Vista, 7, and 8 this is described in the Sound dialog in Windows Vista, 7, and 8 section. In Windows XP:
Bug Warning: On some computers running Windows Vista, if Audacity is open and you change the recording slider, then when you next start recording, the volume is reset to its original value. However, this reset does not occur if Audacity is in the process of recording a track. So there are two ways of working around this bug:
The number of channels of the recording device can be set using either the recording channels combo box in the Devices category of the Preferences dialog, or the recording channels combo box in the Select Recording Channels dialog (Shift + N), or the Recording Channels combo box in the Device toolbar. If you're recording using a microphone, then the appropriate setting depends whether it's a mono or stereo microphone.
The default sampling rate for a new project is 44100Hz, and the default sampling format is 32-bit float. These should be fine, but they can be changed in the Quality category of the Preferences dialog, as described in the Sampling section of the Preferences section.
The Overdub option controls whether Audacity plays any existing tracks while recording a new one. You can check or uncheck this option either on the Transport menu, or in the Recording category of the Preferences dialog.
The Software Playthrough option controls whether Audacity plays the new track while it is being recorded. Normally this option should be off, but it's useful if you want to hear what you're recording from a device such a USB turntable. It can be checked or unchecked either on the Transport menu, or in the Recording category of the Preferences dialog.
There is a Recording meter in the Toolbars section of the Audacity window for helping to set up the recording level. The meter contains a Record meter drop down button, and you can move to this button by pressing Ctrl + F6 twice to move to the toolbars, and then pressing Tab until you get to it.
If you press this button by pressing Enter, then a menu opens which contains commands for controlling the meter. You can start and stop monitoring using this menu, and the meter also automatically monitors the input signal during recording. To make the meter accessible for screen reader users, the following information is included in the name of the drop down button which is read out by screen readers:
The peak level can be given using two different scales:
By default, the peak value is given in dB, but you can change this by:
To adjust the recording level using the recording meter, go round the following loop until you are happy with the setting:
Normally a good value of the peak level to aim for is about -6db, which corresponds to 0.5 on the linear scale. This should ensure that the recording level is both low enough so that distortion or clipping doesn't occur, and high enough so that you don't get an unnecessary amount of noise.
If you record a vocal track whilst listening to one or more existing tracks, then due to various delays, the newly recorded track won't be in sync with the original tracks. The total delay is known as the latency and some of the factors which affect its size are: the recording and playback devices, the size of the audio buffers within Audacity, and the audio interface being used (for example, MME or DirectSound).
Audacity can automatically correct for the latency, once the latency has been measured, as described below. In the Preferences dialog, under the Recording category, there's a Latency correction edit box, where the units of the correction are milliseconds. If you record audio in a new track, then the audio is automatically moved later in time by this latency correction. So to shift the audio earlier in time to offset the latency, the number should be negative.
The default value of the latency correction is -130 milliseconds. The default value will be only roughly correct for a particular recording set up, and it's recommended that you measure the actual latency.
The following method for measuring the latency when using a microphone for recording is accurate to about 10ms, which normally should be good enough. It consists of the following three parts, which will be described in detail in the following sections:
To record the click track being played back through your headphones, you'll obviously need to take them off temporarily. If you're using a separate microphone, rather than a headset microphone, then position it close to the headphones so that it can pick up the clicks. Press R to start the recording, and then press Spacebar to stop the recording after a handful of clicks.
With the first track still being the focus, press Shift + U to mute it, and then playback the recorded track. If the clicks are very quiet compared to Jaws, then amplify the track:
The following instructions describe how to find the position of the recorded click which corresponds to the click which occurs at 1 second in the generated track, and then update Audacity's latency correction. It's assumed that the original track is still muted from when you checked the level of the recorded track above.
The Audacity Preferences dialog allows you to adjust many of the settings in Audacity. After a brief description of the dialog box, the following sections describe some of the more common settings.
To open this dialog box, choose Preferences on the Edit menu (Ctrl + P).
On the left hand side of the dialog is a tree view which contains a list of categories. To the right of this tree view are controls for setting the options which correspond to the category which is selected in the tree view. The dialog's default button is the OK button.
Whilst playing, you can jump (seek) forward or backward by either a short or long period. To set the values of the short and long periods:
The Select all audio option is described in the Select all audio option section of the Selecting audio section above. This option is on by default, but for users of screen readers, it's recommended that it is turned off. To set this option either on or off:
Due to legal issues about patents, the Audacity installation does not include an MP3 encoder. There are several patents covering MP3 encoding, and these are owned by a number of different companies. Up until very recently, the only company that has asked for royalties has been Thomson, and they are quite happy for people to use the free LAME MP3 encoder for private, non-commercial use. However, other companies are now fighting court battles over MP3 patents, and it remains to be seen how they view the private use of the LAME MP3 encoder.
To download and install the LAME library:
The FFmpeg library contains decoders and encoders which enable Audacity to open and save files in formats which are not supported by the standard installation of Audacity. The FFmpeg library is not included with Audacity due to legal issues about patents. Nearly all encoders are covered by one or more patents, but these patents aren't recognized in all countries. The FFmpeg License and Legal Considerations page of the FFmpeg website contains a few comments on these issues.
To download and install the FFmpeg library:
Then, the next time Audacity is opened, it automatically finds the FFmpeg library.
To set whether the Metadata editor automatically opens each time you export audio:
To set the sampling rate and format for a new project:
A number of recording options can be set in the Preferences dialog, and these are described in the Recording settings section of the Recording section.
The Keyboard category of Audacity Preferences enables you to change the keyboard shortcut for any of the commands in Audacity.
The first three controls are:
The commands are displayed as a tree view, and if a command has a shortcut associated with it, then this appears after the name of the command.
The tree view contains the following items:
The commands are displayed as a list which is sorted alphabetically be the name of the command. If a command has a shortcut assigned to it, then this is displayed after the name of the command. Note the if the command appears in a sub menu, then the name of the command is prefixed with the name of the sub menu, for example “Add New - Audio Track”. This is so that commands which have the same name, but which appear in different sub menus can be distinguished from one another.
The commands are displayed using a list of commands, and if the command has a shortcut assigned to it, this is displayed before the name of the command. The commands with shortcuts are listed first, and these are sorted alphabetically by the command's shortcut. The commands without shortcuts are then listed alphabetically by the name of the command. As in the case of View by name, if a command appears in a sub menu, then the name of the command is prefixed with the name of the sub menu.
You can search for a command or commands using the Filter edit box. The search results are shown in the tree view or the list as soon as anything is entered in the edit box – you don't have to press enter. The details of the search depend on the view:
To set a shortcut:
To clear a shortcut:
To reset all the shortcuts to their default values, Tab to the Defaults button and press it.
By default, the keyboard shortcuts for moving the cursor to the playback position and setting the end of the selection to be the playback position are [ and ]. These shortcuts can also be used to open dialog boxes when there is no playback.
On US, UK, and Irish keyboards, you can type [ and ] using the [ and ] keys, which are the two keys to the right of the P key. On nearly all the keyboards used in other countries, the keys used to type [ and ] are in different positions, and you often have to use modifier keys, such as Ctrl + Alt to type these characters. Unfortunately, using Audacity's default settings, [ and ] only work as the shortcuts when there are [ and ] keys to the right of the P key.
Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution to this problem. All you need to do is set the keyboard shortcuts for the two commands using the method described in the previous section. The letters G and H are currently not used as the shortcuts for any commands, so a suitable option is to set the shortcut for the Left at Playback Position command to be the letter G, and the shortcut for the Right at Playback Position command to be the letter H.
Note that you could set the shortcuts to be [ and ], but they often involve modifier keys and keys which aren't in very convenient positions.
Vista's Sound dialog has three pages: Playback, Recording, and Sounds, and the dialog in Windows 7 and 8 have an additional communications page. The following sections describe how to open this dialog, the controls on the Recording page, and how to open a device's properties dialog where you can adjust the input level of the device.
Here are a couple of ways of opening the dialog, and moving to the Recording page. Method one:
The recording page contains a list of devices, and when appropriate, one or more of the buttons: Configure, Set Default, and Properties. The commands provided by the buttons are also available on the context menus of the devices in the list, and it's normally easier to use these, rather than the buttons.
There are two options which control which devices appear on the list, and they appear on the context menu of any of the items in the list. The two options are Show Disabled Devices and Show Disconnected Devices, and by default both options are not checked. If you can't find a device which you think should be there, it may be disabled, and so will show up if the Show Disabled Devices option is checked.
For each item on the list there are three lines of text: its name, a short description, and its status, which can be working, disabled, or Not plugged in. Unfortunately, Jaws only reads the the first of these lines. If you need to read the other lines, then you can press Insert + Numpad Minus to route the Jaws cursor to the PC cursor, and then use Up Arrow and Down Arrow. To switch back to using the PC cursor, press Numpad Plus or Insert + Numpad Plus. One way of telling if a device is disabled without having to use the Jaws cursor, is to open its context menu: if there's an Enable item, then the device is obviously disabled.
To open the Properties dialog of a device which is selected in list on the Recording page, press Spacebar, or choose Properties from its context menu.
The input volume (level) can be set on the Levels page of this dialog. For many devices there's a single slider, but a microphone may also have a microphone boost slider.
|Open audio file||Ctrl + O|
|Import audio file||Ctrl + Shift + I|
|New project||Ctrl + N|
|Save project||Ctrl + S|
|Preferences dialog||Ctrl + P|
|Cycle forward through Toolbars, Track table, and Selection bar||Ctrl + F6|
|Cycle backward through Toolbars, Track table, and Selection bar||Ctrl + Shift + F6|
|Cycle forward through the Audacity main window and any open modeless dialogs||Alt + F6|
|Cycle backward through the Audacity main window and any open modeless dialogs||Alt + Shift + F6|
|Zoom normal||Ctrl + 2|
|Zoom in||Ctrl + 1|
|Zoom out||Ctrl + 3|
|Start/Stop and move cursor||Shift + A|
|Seek backward short period during playback||Left Arrow|
|Seek forward short period during playback||Right Arrow|
|Seek backward long period during playback||Shift + Left Arrow|
|Seek forward long period during playback||Shift + Right Arrow|
|Play cut/delete preview||C|
|Play looped||Shift + Spacebar|
|Select Playback Device dialog||Shift + O|
|Move to previous track||Up Arrow|
|Move to next track||Down Arrow|
|Toggle selection of focused track||Enter|
|Select all the tracks (and all the audio)||Ctrl + A|
|Deselect all the tracks (and any time-range)||Ctrl + Shift + A|
|Open menu of focused track||Application Key or Shift + M|
|Close (Delete) focused track||Shift + C|
|Change gain of focused track||Shift + G|
|Change pan of focused track||Shift + P|
|Mute/Unmute focused track||Shift + U|
|Mute all tracks||Ctrl + U|
|Unmute all tracks||Ctrl + Shift + U|
|Solo/Unsolo focused track||Shift + S|
|Move to start of tracks (time zero)||Home|
|Move to end of all audio||End|
|Move to start of audio in selected tracks||J|
|Move to end of audio in selected tracks||K|
|New cursor position at playback position||[|
|Stop playback and move cursor||Shift + A|
|Move backward short period||Comma|
|Move forward short period||Period|
|Move backward long period||Shift + Comma|
|Move forward long period||Shift + Period|
|Cursor left by a small amount||Left Arrow|
|Cursor right by a small amount||Right Arrow|
|Select time range which includes all the audio, and select all tracks||Ctrl + A|
|Selection start at start of tracks (time zero)||Shift + Home|
|Selection end at end of all the audio||Shift + End|
|Selection end at playback position||]|
|Selection start at start of audio in selected tracks||Shift + J|
|Selection end at end of audio in selected tracks||Shift + K|
|To move the end of the selection to the right by a small amount||Shift + Right Arrow|
|To move the end of the selection to the left by a small amount||Ctrl + Shift + Left Arrow|
|To move the start of the selection to the right by a small amount||Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow|
|To move the start of the selection to the left by a small amount||Shift + Left Arrow|
|Undo||Ctrl + Z|
|Redo||Ctrl + Y|
|Delete selected audio||Delete|
|Cut selected audio||Ctrl + X|
|Copy selected audio||Ctrl + C|
|Paste||Ctrl + V|
|Replace selected audio with silence||Ctrl + L|
|Close (Delete) focused track||Shift + C|
|Find zero crossings||Z|
|Append Record||Shift + R|
|Select Audio Host dialog||Shift + H|
|Select Recording Device dialog||Shift + I|
|Select Recording Channels dialog||Shift + N|