Effect Menu

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Audacity includes many built-in effects and also lets you use a wide range of plug-in effects. You can download many free plug-ins for Audacity from our website. Plug-ins always appear underneath the divider in the Effect menu. Released builds of Audacity include sample Nyquist and/or LADSPA effects.
Bulb icon To apply an effect, select part or all of the track(s) you want to modify, and select the effect from the menu.
Audacity includes many built-in effects and also lets you use a wide range of plug-in effectsThe Analyze Menu contains tools for finding out about the characteristics of your audio, or labeling key featureThe Tools Menu contains customisable toolsThe Extra menu provides access to additional Commands that are not available in the normal default Audacity menusThe Help Menu lets you find out more about the Audacity application and how to use it.  It also includes some diagnostic tools.Enable or disable particular Effects, Generators and AnalyzersRepeats the last used effect at its last used settings and without displaying any dialogShows the list of available Audacity built-in effects but only if the user has effects "Grouped by Type" in Effects PreferencesShows the list of available LADSPA effects but only if the user has effects "Grouped by Type" in Effects PreferencesShows the list of available Nyquist effects but only if the user has effects "Grouped by Type" in Effects PreferencesThe MenusEffectMenu.png
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Using Effects

Titles which end in an ellipsis (...) will bring up a dialog asking you for more parameters.

All effects that have a dialog let you hear the audio as modified by the effect before you apply the effect to the waveform.

  • Built-in effects and Nyquist plug-ins have a Preview button - press this to listen if the current effect settings produce what you want, and if not, change the settings then Preview again. Press OK to apply the effect to the waveform.
  • All other effect types supported in Audacity (LADSPA, LV2, VST and Audio Units for Mac) support real-time preview - you can change the effect settings while listening then press Apply to apply the effect to the waveform.
  • Effects in the Effect menu that do not support real-time preview will appear grayed out when playing or recording.
Warning icon

Please note that some effects can make the peak levels of waveforms substantially higher.

Bulb icon The Macros Palette, accessed by Tools > Apply Macros > Palette is a good way of having a set of favorite presets for the effects you regularly use.


Add / Remove Plug-ins...

Selecting this option from the Effect Menu (or the Generate Menu or Analyze Menu) takes you to a dialog which enables you to load and unload Effects (and Generators and Analyzers) from Audacity. This enables you to customize your Effect Menu making it shorter or longer as required. For details see Add / Remove Effects, Generators and Analyzers.

By default all the Built-in effects, with the exception of Classic Filters, are loaded in Audacity.

Additional plug-ins can also be loaded into Audacity. For details see the following FAQs for: Windows, Mac and Linux

See also this list of available Nyquist effect plug-ins on the Audacity Wiki, that you can easily download and add to Audacity.


Backing up or transferring settings

To see how to backup your settings, last used and any user presets you have saved using the Manage button in each effect's dialog, see this page.


Repeat Last Effect  Ctrl +R

Using this command from the Effect menu will repeat the last effect that you used at the same settings. For quick access to the last used effect, you can use Ctrl + R to repeat it the same settings.

For effects that you use often you can use Keyboard Preferences to set up keyboard shortcuts for those effects.


Audacity Built-in effects 

Audacity's built-in effects (those that appear in the application irrespective of the contents of your Audacity and other "Plug-Ins" folders) are above the divider in the Effect menu.

Built-in effects support saving of user presets but do not yet support real-time preview or import/export of presets from/to other machines.

Find out more about the 'Audacity' submenu for built-in effects on the Effect Menu: Built-in page.

Nyquist effects 

Nyquist plug-ins provide most of the optional effects underneath the divider in the Effect menu. They are also used to provide some of Audacity's built-in audio generators and analysis tools. A wide range of additional Nyquist effect, generation and analysis plug-ins can be obtained from Download Nyquist Plug-ins on our Wiki.

Nyquist effects support saving of user presets but do not yet support real-time preview or import/export of presets from/to other machines.

Find out more about the 'Nyquist' submenu for plug-in effects here.

LADSPA effects 

LADSPA (Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plug-in API) plug-ins were originally developed for the Linux platform, but ports of some plug-ins are available for Windows and Mac as well. Most LADSPA plug-ins are effects, but they are also used to provide some of Audacity's built-in audio generators and can be used for audio analysis.

Additional LADSPA plug-ins can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Linux. Please see the LADSPA section of the Download page on the Audacity Website for more details and links.

LADSPA effects support real-time preview. They do not support import/export of presets but do support saving presets for use in Audacity only. A few LADSPA plug-ins have an "Effect Output" section which is populated after the effect is applied.

Find out more about the 'LADSPA' submenu for plug-in effects here.


The following effect classes: LV2 and VST are always third-party plug-ins added by the user.

Audio Units (Mac only), are added by the operating system, macOS, on Apple Mac computers.

LV2 effects

LV2 is a more advanced evolution of the LADSPA plug-in architecture. Note that not all LV2 effects display a full graphical interface.

VST effects

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is a software interface that integrates software audio synthesizer and effect plug-ins with audio editors and recording systems, such as Audacity.

Audio Unit effects (Mac only)

Audio Unit (AU) is a system-level plug-in architecture provided only on Mac computers.