Audacity basics

Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and other operating systems. In addition to recording audio from multiple sources, Audacity can be used for post-processing of all types of audio, including podcasts by adding effects such as normalization, trimming, and fading in and out.  
Source: Wikipedia

In this note we will cover the three basics of Audacity:

Installing Audacity 

To install Audacity you need to Download the installation file and run it. You also need to insert a file (LAME) so you can convert files to MP3.

  • Go to the Audacity website (opens in a new window)
  • Select the Audacity for windows link
  • Click on the recommended download installer link and download the file (probably to the desktop) (At the time of writing it was version 3.99)
  • You need to download the Lame MP3 encoder as well
  • While you are on the page click the Lame MP3 encoder link (it will take you to a new page)
    • Click the LAME for Windows link
    • Click the Lame for windows link (at the time of writing it was Lame_v3.99.3_for_Windows.exe)
    • Click the LAME download page link.
    • Locate the Audacity download and double click to open it
    • Follow the Wizard and NOTE: where the folder is located that holds the program.
    • Close the program if it launches
    • Locate the Lame download and double click to open it. 
    • Follow the Wizard and NOTE: where the folder is located that holds the program.
      When you save a file as an MP3 for the first time, Audacity will search for the LAME file. If it can't find it it will prompt you to locate it.

Recording and Saving

If you want to record sound or speech, Audacity is a quick and easy way of recording.

Setup: Before you start, you need to check, or nominate, a Microphone and Speakers.

  • Open Audacity (there should be a shortcut link on the Desktop)
  • On the Device Toolbar make sure your Speakers and Microphone are the correct ones
    • If you can't see the Device Toolbar, go to the View menu, Toolbars and select Device Toolbar
    • If your Speakers or Microphone does not appear in the list you need to check the Control Panel (Sounds) in Windows.

To start recording

Audacity Controls

  • Click the Record button (1)
  • To stop, click the Stop button (2)
  • To pause, click the Pause button (3)
  • To replay the recording;
    • Click on the track, where you want to start (probably at the beginning)
    • Click the Play button (4)
    • A sound track appears below the menu (two if you are set up for stereo). If you stop and start again another track appears underneath.

To Save a recording

If you want to save the file in Audacity mode (known as a project);

  • From the File menu, choose Save Project (or Save Project As)
  • Save as normal.

If you want to save the file in another music format (such as MP3);

  • From the File menu, choose Export
  • Choose a location, give the file a name and in Save as type: choose your file type
  • Click Save.

Note: when you save as another format and close Audacity asks you to save your work. This does not mean your track isn't saved. It is asking if you want it saved as a project file.

Editing Audio

You can manipulate a sound file. Here are three basics:

Delete part of a track

  • Click, hold and drag a section you want deleted
  • Click Delete, on the keyboard.

Copy, Cut and Paste part of a track

  • Click, hold and drag a section you want to Copy or Cut
    • From the Edit menu, choose Copy or use (Ctrl C) or Ctrl X for Cut
  • Click on the track, where you want to paste
    • From the Edit menu, choose Paste or use (Ctrl V)
  • Click Delete, on the keyboard.

Use an Effect

For each Effect you need to:

  • Select the section you want work on
  • From the Effect menu, choose an effect, for example
  • To make part of the track louder or softer
    • Choose Amplify and type in a number (dB) for amplification or a negative number for a sound reduction
  • To Fade in or out
    • Choose Fade-in to fade the selection from very low to the the original volume
    • Choose Fade-out to fade the selection from the original volume to very low
  • To change the Bass and Treble
    • Choose Bass and Treble to change the tone of a selection.