Navigating Effects without using a mouse

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Here are a few tips to make it easier to access the effect you want from the Effect menu without using a mouse.

Accessing effects with shortcuts

Shortcuts can be added, or changed, in Keyboard Preferences to items in the Generate, Effect or Analyze menus, including plug-ins that you added yourself. The shortcut activates the effect if the effect has no dialog, or opens the effect dialog.

  • Repeat Last Effect Ctrl + R (or ⌘ + R on Mac) can be used to repeat the last used effect at its last used settings. If you obtain a noise profile with Noise Reduction and then use "Repeat Last Effect", noise will be reduced at the current settings rather than obtaining a new noise profile.

Other keyboard methods

  • On Windows and Linux, pressing Alt then C opens the Effect menu and takes you to the top of the list without having to use a mouse
    • On Linux you may have to hold down Alt.
  • You can scroll up and down the menu one item at a time with the up and down arrow keys. If you are already at the top of the menu, the up arrow will skip to the bottom item of the menu.
    • On Linux, effects underneath the divider are grouped as "Plugins 1 - 15", "Plugins 16 - 30" and so on. Use Right Arrow to move into the list of plug-ins in the group.
  • Press Enter on the keyboard to open the highlighted effect.
  • Once in the Effect, you can use Tab to navigate forwards through the text boxes, sliders and buttons. Hold Shift while pressing Tab to skip backwards. You can use the arrow keys, Home, End. Page Up or Page Down to control a slider.
    • On Mac, use Page Up or Page Down to move to the start or end of the slider respectively. Home and End do not work with sliders.
  • Once you have used an effect, you can use "Repeat Last Effect" at the top of the menu to repeat that effect with those last used parameters. This also has a shortcut Ctrl + R (or ⌘ + R on a Mac). You can change this shortcut to something else in the Keyboard Preferences.

Faster navigation

  • On Windows, at any stage when the menu is open you can navigate to the next effect starting with a particular letter by typing that letter. For example, from the top of the menu:
    • press H then H to reach "High Pass Filter" (underneath the divider, because the effect is in Audacity's Plug-Ins folder)
    • press C then C to reach "Change Speed".
  • On Linux, seeking effects by letter does not work but you can use Page Up or Page Down instead (which do not work on Windows) to skip items, followed by up or down arrow.
  • On Mac, hold Ctrl and press F2 then type the first few letters of the root menu item, then type the first few letters of the item required in that menu.
    • Tabbing between buttons in dialogs is off by default. Tabbing can be enabled by opening the System Keyboard Preferences, choose the "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab, then under "Full Keyboard Access", choose the radio button "All controls".

Advanced: Scripting methods

The following applications allow you to write a script that can execute a single or multiple Audacity commands in response to any key press or other trigger such as a system event.

Windows:

Mac:
  • Automator (built into OS X and macOS)
  • Apple UI Scripting: Audacity does not directly support AppleScript but you can use UI scripting instead. This must be enabled in the Accessibility section of your Mac's System Preferences (in OS X Mavericks, you have to go to the Accessibility section of the Security & Privacy Preferences then drag Audacity from /Applications into the applications list in Accessibility). See this Forum topic for more help: https://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?p=163988#p163988.
  • Keyboard Maestro (paid for)
  • QuickKeys (paid for)
GNU/Linux:

Example in AutoHotKey
#u:: ; After launching this script, hold WIN and press U to run the actions below
Send !{c}f{Enter} ; Send keystrokes Alt, C then F to run Fade In
sleep, 3000 ; wait 3 seconds to allow Fade In to complete
Send !{c}a{Enter}{Enter} ; Send Alt, C, Enter and Enter to launch and execute Amplify
See more examples.
To run multiple effects on a project or a batch of audio files you can instead create and apply an Audacity Chain. Advanced users who can compile Audacity can use Scripting.