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 Audio Setup section of the Preferences dialog, showing default settings for Host and Channels.

Accessed by: Edit > Preferences > Audio Settings    (on a Mac Audacity > Preferences > Audio Settings )
Audio Settings PreferencesPlayback PreferencesRecording PreferencesMIDI Devices PreferencesQuality PreferencesInterface PreferencesTracks PreferencesTracks Behaviors PreferencesSpectrograms PreferencesImport/Export PreferencesExtended Import PreferencesLibraries PreferencesDirectories PreferencesWarnings PreferencesEffects PreferencesKeyboard PreferencesMouse PreferencesModules PreferencesApplication PreferencesClick on this in Audacity to get helpPreferences Audio Settings.png
Click for details
Click in the left column for other preferences
Example of the Audio Setup 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:

  • Audio Setup Toolbar can be used to change the recording and playback devices, the recording host and the number of channels
  • Selection Toolbar can be used to change the Selection Format units
  • Transport Menu can be used to control Hear other tracks during recording (overdub), Enable audible input monitoring and Sound Activated Recording.

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.