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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 is split into 16 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, Audio Units, VST. Control display of Audio Units and VST effects.
Keyboard List, search for and set keyboard shortcuts for commands.
Mouse Mouse shortcuts for commands.
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 are Preferences stored?

Audacity Preferences are stored in a configuration file called audacity.cfg. It is a text file saved on each clean exit of Audacity and can be edited with any text editor. The file is stored inside Audacity's folder for application data:

  • Windows 2000/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, Linux and OS X 10.7 or later, you need to show hidden files and folders. See instructions for all versions of Windows and OS X 10.7 and later.

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. If you copy this "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 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

You can reset Preferences to factory defaults by initializing the audacity.cfg settings file to its original contents. This can sometimes fix freezes, crashes or unexplained Audacity behavior.

  1. Exit Audacity.
  2. Open audacity.cfg in a text editor such as Notepad and remove all the content except the line NewPrefsInitialized=1 (you can find this at or near the top of the file when you open it).
  3. Save the changes to audacity.cfg and restart Audacity.

Reset Preferences using Windows installer

Windows users may alternatively run the .exe installer from which has an option to reset preferences.

  • To reset preferences, navigate to the "Select Additional Tasks" screen then put a check mark in the "Reset Preferences" box. After completing installation, launching Audacity will display a dialog where you can confirm if you want to reset preferences this once, or not.
  • If you run the installer but do not choose "Reset Preferences", the installation files will be replaced with correct copies just as when choosing to reset preferences, but the Audacity settings will remain as before. This is unlikely to correct most Audacity problems.

Deleting audacity.cfg

If you have never previously run a legacy 1.2 or earlier version of Audacity on your computer, you can reset preferences more simply by deleting audacity.cfg while Audacity is closed.

However if you have ever used 1.2 or earlier, merely deleting audacity.cfg will not completely reset Preferences. Any 2.0.x Preferences which had an equivalent in Audacity 1.2.x or earlier will be read from that version's settings, which may not solve any problems you were trying to fix.

If you wish to reset the settings from the 1.2 or earlier version as well, you can delete the following.

  • Windows: Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Audacity\
  • Mac OS X: the file "Users/<your user name>/Library/Preferences/audacity Preferences"
  • GNU/Linux: the file ~/.audacity
Warning icon Modifying the Windows Registry can be dangerous! Before modifying the Registry, always back it up, or set a System Restore point on Windows XP or later.
Useful External Links