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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 is under the Audacity Menu (shortcut CMND + ,).


The Preferences dialog

The Preferences dialog is split into 17 sections. The description page for each section (accessed by the links below) shows an image of the default preferences settings for that section.

Section What it controls
Devices Choose audio host, playback and recording devices and recording channels.
Playback Length of previews for cuts and effects; playback seek times.
Recording Settings for playthrough, latency and Sound Activated Recording.
Quality Choose sample rate, sample format and options for rate and format conversion.
Interface Interface behaviors, dB display range, choose language and location of Manual, show initial "Help" dialog.
Tracks Tracks display and behavior; behavior of the Solo button.
Import / Export Importing: if uncompressed audio is copied into projects or read directly, if tracks are normalized. Exporting: how audio is mixed, if Metadata Editor appears, content of Allegro exports.
Extended Import Specify different importers to open specific audio file extensions.
Projects Whether to copy in dependent audio files when saving projects, or ask.
Libraries Download and locate the optional LAME and FFmpeg libraries.
Spectrograms Settings for presentation of spectrograms in the audio track.
Directories Sets the location of the temporary files directory and displays how much space is available on that drive.
Warnings Warn or not when disk space is low on startup, when saving projects, mixing down or importing uncompressed audio files.
Effects Enable or disable effects by type: LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VAMP, VST, Audio Units. Sort or group effects. Check for updated plug-ins or rescan all plug-ins.
Keyboard List, search for and set keyboard shortcuts for commands.
Mouse Mouse shortcuts for commands.
Modules Loadable Modules for Audacity.
Note: Choice of export format (WAV, MP3 and others) is made at time of export in the Export Audio or Export Multiple dialogs by selecting the required export format then clicking the Options... button.

Where the Preferences are stored

Audacity Preferences are stored in a configuration file called audacity.cfg. It is a text file which saves all your settings when you exit Audacity normally. The audacity.cfg file can be edited with any text editor and changes to it can be saved if Audacity is already closed. You can find audacity.cfg inside Audacity's folder for application data as follows.

  • Windows XP: Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Audacity
  • Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8: Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Audacity\
  • OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/audacity/
  • Linux: ~/.audacity-data/
Warning icon In order to see audacity.cfg on Windows, OS X 10.7 or later or GNU/Linux, you need to show hidden files and folders or type the folder location into your file manager's address bar.
  • Windows: In the tree on the left of Explorer, double-click "Users" then double-click your user name and the AppData or Application Data folder should appear on the right. If you cannot see that folder, type %appdata% or shell:appdata into the Explorer address bar, or show hidden files and folders.
  • OS X 10.7 or later: Open Finder, use the "Go" menu, choose "Go to Folder" and type ~/Library/Application Support/audacity/, or set Finder to show your User Library folder.

Portable Settings

If you create a folder called "Portable Settings" in the same directory as the Audacity executable, audacity.cfg will be stored there instead. The "Portable Settings" folder becomes active after restarting Audacity.

  • You can therefore use the "Portable Settings" folder to store a different group of settings for a specific purpose, then delete or rename the folder and restart Audacity when you want to use the previous settings as stored in Audacity's folder for application data.
  • If you copy the "Portable Settings" folder to a USB stick or CD this lets you take your current Audacity settings with you if you use Audacity on another computer.

Upgrading from previous versions or reinstalling

By default, Audacity settings are not changed when you upgrade from a previous release of Audacity or explicitly uninstall or reinstall Audacity. This allows you to upgrade from a previous Audacity version (legacy 1.3.2 and later) and retain your previous preferences wherever current Audacity still has an equivalent setting.

Therefore it is not necessary to reinstall the optional LAME or FFmpeg libraries after upgrading Audacity unless the Release Notes for the current Audacity version indicate there is a new recommended version of LAME or FFmpeg.

Resetting Preferences

Resetting Preferences can sometimes fix freezes, crashes or unexplained Audacity behavior.

You can reset Preferences to factory defaults by exiting Audacity, deleting the audacity.cfg settings file in Audacity's folder for application data then restarting Audacity. On Windows, you can also reinstall Audacity, making sure you select the "Reset Preferences" box during the installation.

Reset Preferences using Windows installer

  1. Run the EXE installer from
  2. Navigate to the "Select Additional Tasks" screen then put a checkmark in the "Reset Preferences" box and complete installation.
  3. Launch Audacity then in the "Reset Audacity Preferences" dialog, choose Yes.
If you run the installer but do not choose "Reset Preferences" (or say "No" when the "Reset Audacity Preferences" dialog appears), Audacity's installation files will be updated with correct copies but the Audacity settings will remain as before.
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