Export Audio

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The Export Audio dialog (for export of a single audio file from the whole project) is accessed from File > Export > Export Audio.... When you use File > Export > Export Selected Audio... to export a single audio file from a selection, the Export Selected Audio dialog appears. Both these dialogs are identical (apart from the dialog title) and let you specify folder location, file name, format and encoding options for your exported file.

You can use File > Export > Export Multiple... to export multiple audio files (based on labels or multiple audio tracks) in one process.

What you hear by previewing with playback prior to export is what you will get in the Exported audio file.

Export Audio or Export Selected Audio dialog

Accessed by: File > Export > Export Audio... or File > Export > Export Selected Audio...
Export Audio dialog 3-0-0.png

In summary, there are five steps to follow when exporting.

  • Choose the folder to export to in Save in: then type the file name you want.
  • Select the type of audio file to export to.
  • Set the Format Options (if those are available for your selected format) if you want to change the size, quality or other encoding choices for that selected file format.
  • Press Save.
  • The Metadata Editor dialog will then appear (unless you have disabled it for the export step in the Import/Export Preferences). Edit Metadata lets you enter embedded information in the file such as artist, year or genre. Either leave the metadata blank or complete the fields you require, then press OK (not "Save...").

File name

Type the required file name. The correct file extension - preceded by a period (dot) - will be added automatically to the end of the file name, according to the format selected in the "Save as type" list (see below). For example, typing "08 Voodoo Chile" (without quotes) will produce a file "08 Voodoo Chile.wav". For M4A and WMA formats (for which the optional FFmpeg library is required), you can add alternative extensions as specified in "FFmpeg formats" below.

Any other extensions can be added after a file name as required, but Audacity will display a warning that this is not the normal extension for this file type, and that some applications might not play files with non-standard extensions.

Save as type

Clicking in the input box opens a dropdown menu enabling you to chose the file format you wish to export to:

Hover over each row in "Save as type:" in the image to see the tooltip and click in that row to learn more. Skip the image

Dropdown menu for selecting the required file format. Click to learn more.WAV is a lossless format that can both be played on Windows or Mac computers. WAV 16-bit PCM is eminently suitable whenever you want to burn your exported file to an audio CD. There are no options for this format. Click to learn more.Other uncompressed files includes all the uncompressed audio formats that Audacity can export, including 4-bit (A)DPCM, 8-bit U-Law/A-Law, 24-bit, 32-bit and 64-bit options. Also GSM 6.10 WAV (mobile) which produces a mono WAV file encoded with the compressed, lossy GSM 6.10 codec as used in mobile telephones. This menu item defaults to WAV (Microsoft) signed 16-bit PCM on Windows and Linux and to AIFF (Apple/SGI) signed 16-bit PCM on Mac. Click to learn more.MP3 is a popular compressed, lossy format producing much smaller files than WAV or AIFF, at the expense of some loss of quality. You must download the optional LAME encoder to export to MP3. Click to learn more.Ogg Vorbis is the compressed, lossy Vorbis codec in an OGG container. Vorbis offers higher quality than MP3 for the same file size, and is useful for good quality small-sized mono files, but fewer applications can play the OGG format.  Click to learn more.FLAC is a compressed but lossless format, giving much larger file sizes than MP3 and OGG but only about half the size of WAV. Click to learn more.MP2 is a compressed, lossy format similar to MP3, producing slightly larger files than MP3 for the same quality.  Click to learn more.(external program) sends audio via the command-line to any executable binary application either for processing or for encoding as a file. This is a method to export using an alternative compressed or uncompressed encoder or to a format not otherwise supported by Audacity. Click to learn more.AAC: Advanced Audio Coding is a compressed, lossy format used in Apple applications, generally achieving slightly better quality than MP3 for the same file size. By default, the exported file will be given an "m4a" extension. Optional permitted extensions: .mp4, .m4r (ringtone) and .3gp (mobile).  Click to learn more.AC3 is the common name used for the compressed, lossy format used in Dolby Digital. Click to learn more.Opus file format (also called "Ogg Opus") is a lossy audio format developed for Internet streaming. It uses both SILK (used by Skype) and CELT (from Xiph.Org) codecs and supports variable bit rates from 6 kb/s to 510 kb/s.    Click to learn more.WMA: Windows Media Audio v2 is a compressed, lossy format developed by Microsoft. Optional permitted extensions: .asf or .wmv.  Click to learn more.Custom FFmpeg Export allows interface-based export of some additional compressed or uncompressed formats not listed above, and options for exporting formats containing alternative codecs (for example, WAV format containing MP3 or OGG format containing FLAC). Note: not all formats and codecs are compatible, and some exports might result in zero-byte or invalid files if FFmpeg does not support the combination chosen. Click to learn more.WavPack Export ...File types for Export WAV focused 3-3-0.png
Click for details
Click on the image to learn more

Advice WAV files are limited to a maximum size of 4GB - see this page for details of how that relates to maximum times.
Advice Please be aware that there is a bug in Audacity whereby the bit rate setting that you make in an AAC export is not honored by Audacity. See this logged bug.

The workaround is to export as uncompressed WAV or AIFF and use iTunes to make the AAC conversion, see this page for information regarding this.

Format Options

Some formats do offer options for making settings like quality or encoding.

Export options vary from one audio format to another:

Custom FFmpeg Export

Using the Custom FFmpeg Export provides access to a much wider range of export formats and codecs. For more information on this please see Custom FFmpeg Export Options.

Be aware that not all combinations of format and codec that are offered in the dialog will work properly, you will need to experiment.

Automatic Mixing on Export

By default, multiple stereo tracks are mixed down to a single stereo file on Export.

Also by default, multiple mono tracks are mixed down to a mono file, but if you pan any mono tracks to left or right or if there are any stereo tracks among the tracks to be exported, the tracks are mixed to a stereo file. Note that the mono tracks are mixed to both the left and right channels of the resulting stereo file.

Advanced Mixing Options

The Advanced Mixing Options dialog appears if you have chosen "Use custom mix" in the Import / Export section of Preferences. The dialog will appear after pressing the Save button in the Export dialog.

Use this dialog to export multi-channel (surround sound) files or to make customized assignments between Audacity tracks and the channels in the exported file. For details please see Advanced Mixing Options.

Exporting multiple tracks as a single audio file

You can use Export Audio or Export Selected Audio to export multiple tracks as a mono or stereo mixdown, or as a multi-channel audio file by enabling Advanced Mixing Options.

Please be aware that when using Export or Export Multiple Audacity will only export tracks that are not grayed-out by use of the Mute or Solo buttons in the tracks' Track Control Panels. So what you hear by previewing with playback prior to export is what you will get in the Exported audio file.
  • When using Export Selected Audio, however, Audacity will Export the selection from all selected tracks even if some if those tracks are grayed-out and inaudible on playback.

Cancelling the export process

You may abort the export process without writing the file by pressing Cancel in the Export Audio / Export Selected Audio dialog, or in the Advanced Mixing Options or Metadata Editor dialogs (if those dialogs appear). If you Cancel in any dialog, any changes you made to the "Save in:" directory or file type will not be preserved for next time you export.

Export progress dialog

Once you have clicked the Save button in the export dialog and OK in Edit Metadata, Audacity will display a dialog displaying progress of writing the exported file:

Export Audio progress dialog partial completion.png

The colored progress bar is a visual indicator of how much of the file has been written. The Elapsed Time and Remaining Time are estimates and may change as the export progresses.

Stop and Cancel

Clicking the:

  • Stop button will halt the export where it is now, leaving the partially exported file in place,
  • Cancel button will abort the export leaving no exported audio file.

Muted tracks are not exported

Any Muted tracks are not exported - which means that if you play a preview before you export "what you hear is what you get".

Leading black space in exported track(s) or project

When exporting audio any leading blank space offset in the tracks or project to be exported is treated as silence and appropriate leading silence will pad the exported audio.

There is an option in Import/Export Preferences where you can turn this off and have leading blank space ignored on Export.

  • A use case for turning this off is track-based multiple export where you have "songs" lined up one after the other on different tracks - and in this case you probably do not want the offsets exported as long silences at the start of "songs".