Here is a free guide on how to use Audacity. Audacity was developed by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg in 1999 and released on the 28th of May 2000. It became popular and known to be one of the best audio recording software with over 76 million downloads in one year. It gained the Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia on 2007 and 2009.

How to use Audacity

Are you a music producer, a singer or at least an avid fan of music? Have you tried creating your own sound with customized effects? If you knew Audacity but still stuck to figure out how this application works, it’s time to learn the basics. This guide will help you learn how to use Audacity to create your own music.

You can download Audacity for Windows, Audacity for Mac and Audacity for Linux from their official website.

Features of Audacity 2.2.2

Aside from recording purposes, Audacity has editing tools which allow the users to enhance the audio they want to produce. And what makes it popular? Audacity can record computer playback and not just a sound from the microphone. It supports hundreds of plugins that you can download and use for free.

Most of us expect that a powerful audio editor is complicated. Because of its fully structured interface, we consider it as a professional tool that only experts can use. This is not true with Audacity. Even if you are a beginner and never experienced using Audacity before, it is easy to familiarize yourself to this application. Therefore, you can never be wrong when you choose this audio recording tool. But you should never forget that Audacity has its own positive and negative aspects. After all, there’s no perfect application.

Functions of Menu and Toolbars in Audacity

When you open Audacity, you can see that there are ten (10) menu bars on the upper part of the application. Those menus are your navigation. Everything you need to do, from creating a project to completing your output, is in these menus.

Audacity Menu Tabs

  • File  – Contains the overall menu for your project, including the import and export commands.
  • Edit  – Functions as your guide while you are creating an audio file. Commands such as undo/redo, cut, copy and paste are located here.
  • Select – This menu provides the keys for your selection. If you want to select all the audio in your tracks, you can find the commands here.
  • View – View tab contains the number of details you have in all tracks. You can also see the history button here if you want to track all your previous edits.
  • Transport – This is the menu where you can start a new project or play your current recording.
  • Tracks – This tab provides the commands for creating and removing tracks. You can see the mute, sort, pan, and align functions inside this menu.
  • Generate – This tab lets you create a different audio such as tones and noise.
  • Effect – This is the wide selection of effects you want to use in your project. Some effects are echo, distortion, fade in and out, reverb, reverse, and many more. There is also a command for enabling/disabling plugins here.
  • Analyze –  The tools inside this tab are for analyzing the characteristics of your audio file.
  • Help – This menu contains the information about the Audacity and the current version you are using. You can check for updates by clicking the Check for updates command. You can also see inside this tab the manual that will redirect you to a particular website. That website contains everything you need to know on how to use Audacity.

Upper Toolbar Dock Area

Aside from the main menus of Audacity, there are different commands and buttons you can see inside this software. These are the toolbars you can access while creating your project. If you will use Audacity as your recording software, then you must be familiar with these toolbars.

Upper Toolbar Dock Area

  • Transport Toolbar. This toolbar controls the record, play, pause and stop functions. There are also skip buttons if you want to skip to start or end of your recording.
  • Tools Toolbar. These tools are used to adjust the volume, zoom your Audacity waveform, and shift the time of your audio file.
  • Recording Meter Toolbar. It displays the level of the sound it captures when not recording.
  • Playback Meter Toolbar. It displays the playback level of your recording.
  • Transcription Toolbar. It is a tool where you can adjust the speed (how fast or slow) of your audio.
  • Edit Toolbar. It contains the basic editing functions such as cut, copy, and paste. You can also find them in the Edit Menu, but this toolbar is more accessible.
  • Mixer Toolbar. It controls the volume of the selected device.
  • Device Toolbar. It contains the commands for selecting an audio host, recording channels, and a playback device.

Lower Toolbar Dock Area

Lower Toolbar Dock Area

  • Selection Toolbar. Use this tool to control the rate of your audio project, snapping and manipulating time or other selection formats.

Steps on How to Use Audacity

Recording an Audio

Step 1. Open your Audacity.

Step 2. Click the Transport Menu and Press the Record button, or you can press the red button on the Transport toolbar.

Transport Menu

Step 3. Record your audio. Pause, play and stop buttons are in the Transport toolbar.

Transport toolbarStep 4. After you record, you can play your audio by using the skip to start button. If you want to listen to a part of your recording, you can select that certain part using your pointer. Just bring your pointer to the waveform, click the start time of the audio you want to listen and then play.

Audacity Waveform

Step 5. If you are satisfied with the audio you have created, you can save your recording by clicking the file button and Save or Save Project As and name the project you have created.  This is an Audacity file that you can open to review or edit your recording.

Save Project Audacity

Importing and Editing an Audio File

Suppose you have an audio file saved in your computer and you want to add effects to that audio. Audacity is not just for recording, it is also a great editing tool for your sound projects. Here are the steps on how you can edit your audio file in Audacity.

Step 1. Find and import the audio file you want to edit. Audacity supports almost all audio file formats. There are four ways on how you can locate and bring your file into Audacity.

  • Locate your file using File > Open command.
  • Select the File > Import > Audio tools and open the file in Audacity.
  • Drag and drop the audio file into the Audacity window.
  • Drag and drop the file into the Audacity icon, if you have it on your desktop.Audacity Import

Step 2. After locating and opening the file in Audacity, you can then edit the audio.

Step 3. Use the Transport toolbar to play, pause, stop and skip your audio file while you are editing.

Step 4. Use the Edit toolbar to cut, trim and duplicate a certain part of the audio.

Edit toolbar

Step 5. To add an effect, click the Effect menu and find the specific effect you want to put in your file. Some effects require you to select parameters while some automatically add when you click on them.

Audacity Add effects

Step 6. If you made a mistake in editing or adding effects, you can undo your work by clicking the Undo button, or press Ctrl+Z (shortcut for Undo).

Exporting or Saving an Audio File

Audacity Export File

For WAV File

  1. Go to the File Menu and click Export > Export as WAV command. The dialogue box for saving will appear on your screen.
  2. Name your file different from your Audacity project. This is to make sure you will not alter your Audacity project to your exported file.
  3. Choose a location in your computer to save your recorded or edited audio. Select “WAV (Microsoft)” in the Save Type As bar when saving your file.
  4. Click Save button.

For MP3 File

Before saving or exporting an MP3 file, you need to download the LAME MP3 encoder. It is a third-party software that encodes the Audacity project to MP3. Once you have downloaded and installed the LAME encoder, you can save your project in MP3 format.

  1. Click the File > Export > Export as MP3 command. The dialogue box for saving will appear on your screen.
  2. Name your audio file.
  3. Choose a location on your computer where you want to save your MP3 file. Select the “MP3 Files” in the Save Type As bar.
  4. Click Save button.

How to Playback Recorded Audio

Remember that the Audacity project and sound file are different. To test your audio, follow these simple steps.

  1. Locate the exported audio file on your computer. Audio file has an extension of MP3 or WAV, while Audacity file has an extension of AUP.
  2. Open the sound file to your available audio player (Windows Media Player or iTunes)
  3. Enjoy listening to your recorded or edited audio.

Conclusion

Use Audacity to create your audio file. If you have it on your computer,  you can try exploring it and experience its different features. If you want to know how to use Audacity from the smallest details, all the information are available on their official website.

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