Audacity Setup and Configuration

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For many users, Audacity will just work "out of the box", and you can immediately begin playing or recording using the system-default playback and recording devices. However, because there are so many different types of computers and ways to configure them, some users may need to set up Audacity the first time they use it.

Setting Your Audacity Preferences

The main place to set up Audacity and customize it to work the way that you require is to use Audacity's Preferences dialog screens.

Preferences let you change most of the default behaviors of Audacity. The Preferences dialog can be accessed using the Edit Menu (or by using the shortcut Ctrl + P). On a Mac, Preferences can be found under the Audacity Menu or its shortcut ⌘ + ,. The Preferences dialog is split into a number of sections each with its own dialog page. There are many settings that can be made in your Preferences, so do take some time to explore and understand these.

The image below shows an example of the Devices section of the Preferences dialog, showing default settings for Host and Channels.

Accessed by: Edit > Preferences > Devices    (on a Mac Audacity > Preferences > Devices )
Devices PreferencesPlayback PreferencesRecording PreferencesMIDI Devices PreferencesQuality PreferencesInterface PreferencesTracks PreferencesTracks Behaviors PreferencesSpectrograms PreferencesImport/Export PreferencesExtended Import PreferencesProjects PreferencesLibraries PreferencesDirectories PreferencesWarnings PreferencesEffects PreferencesKeyboard PreferencesMouse PreferencesModules PreferencesClick on this in Audacity to get helpPreferences Devices.png
Click for details
Click in the left column for other preferences
Example of the Devices section of the Preferences dialog, showing default settings for Host and Channels..

Changing settings with Audacity's toolbars and menus

Some of the more commonly used settings can be changed and reset from the main Audacity Window:

Using these can be quicker than accessing the preferences dialog to change these settings.

You can also reset Audacity settings to their factory-shipped state. This may occasionally fix unexpected or unwanted behavior.

Connecting your equipment

For help with connecting your equipment to your computer for recording please see the following tutorials: