Installing and updating Audacity on Mac

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This page provides instructions for installing and updating Audacity on Mac OS X and macOS computer platforms.
  • The LAME library is now included as part of Audacity, this is encoding software to enable MP3 exports.
  • You may wish to download the optional FFmpeg library which allows Audacity to import and export a much larger range of audio formats including AC3, AMR (narrow band) and WMA and also to import audio from most video files.
Because of software patents, Audacity cannot include FFmpeg encoding software or distribute such software from its own websites. Instead, use the instructions below to download and install the free and recommended third-party library for FFmpeg.
Advice Note carefully that simply re-installing Audacity will not clear and reset your Audacity settings for preferences and plugins.

Contents

  1. Installing Audacity on Mac
  2. Check for Updates
  3. Plugins from previous Audacity installations
  4. Installing the FFmpeg Import/Export Library on Mac
  5. Reset Audacity Settings


Installing Audacity on Mac

Tip If you are updating from Audacity 2.x or earlier please read Updating from Audacity 2.x to Audacity 3.x as there was a major change to the project file structure when Audacity 3.0.0 was introduced.

Go to the Mac Download page of the Audacity site.

  1. On the download page, left-click the "installer" link, the .dmg file. This takes you to the FossHub site where our downloads are hosted.
  2. On the FossHub Audacity page left-click the Audacity macOS DMG link. This will start the download.
  3. Once the download has completed to your Downloads folder, double-click the DMG file to mount it. (Some browsers may offer the option to automatically open the DMG file for you.)
  4. Drag the Audacity.app icon rightwards onto the Applications folder shortcut.
    • You can also drag Audacity.app out of the DMG to any other location. You need the administrator password to copy Audacity to Applications.
  5. Launch Audacity.app from Applications or from your chosen location. Depending on your Finder Preferences, the Audacity icon may be titled "Audacity" or "Audacity.app".
Alert Do not double-click the "Audacity.app" application in the DMG window, Audacity must not be run from the DMG.

If you see any error messages when launching Audacity, please see our FAQ about Mac launch.

System Requirements

Audacity for Mac is for OS X 10.7 Lion and later. Audacity runs best with at least 1 GB RAM and a 1 GHz processor (2 GB RAM/2 GHz on OS X 10.7 and later).

For lengthy multi-track projects, we recommend a minimum of 2 GB RAM and 2 GHz processor (4 GB RAM on OS X 10.7 and later).

Advice The 2.1.1 release was the final release for PPC Macs.

Projects saved by old versions of Audacity

Tip If you are updating from Audacity 2.x or earlier please read Updating from Audacity 2.x to Audacity 3.x as there was a major change to the project file structure when Audacity 3.0.0 was introduced.

Current Audacity can open project files saved by versions of Audacity 1.2.x and later, including 2.x.x.

These will be converted to the 3.x AUP3 single file format. See Managing Audacity Projects for more details.

LAME is now built-in as part of Audacity

The software patent on LAME encoding library has expired, so now the LAME library for MP3 export is built-in with Audacity for Mac.

Tip If you find the cursor lags behind the playback or recording point, or where the interface is slow to respond to actions such as dragging a selection, please see this FAQ.


Check for Updates

You can check to see if you have the latest version of Audacity by using Help > Check for Updates....

This takes you to the Download page of the Audacity website where you can check what the latest release version of Audacity is.

You can then compare the latest release with the version you have now as shown by using Audacity > About Audacity....


Plugins from previous Audacity installations

If you had a previous installation of Audacity 2.1.2 or earlier, its shipped plugins were in the "Plug-Ins" folder where Audacity was installed. Versions of Audacity before 2.1.3 were usually installed inside a folder named "Audacity" which was in the "Applications" folder. Because Audacity's shipped plugins are now bundled inside the application, any still extant Nyquist plugins that came with previous Audacity will appear as a second copy of the plugin in the Generate, Effect or Analyze Menu. Duplicates of other previously shipped plugins might appear even if they no longer exist, in which case they will fail to run.

  • You can remove any duplicates that do not run by using Effect > Plugin Manager then click OK. This does not remove the duplicates from the Plugin Manager's list, but disables them so they do not appear in the menus.
  • Alternatively you can remove all unwanted duplicates, whether you have deleted the old Audacity installation folder or not, by deleting the file pluginregistry.cfg in ~/Library/Application Support/audacity/.
    • If you delete the Audacity folder from a previous installation, remember to move any optional plugins you added to its plug-ins folder to the new Audacity Plug-Ins folder at ~/Library/Application Support/audacity/Plug-Ins.


Installing the FFmpeg Import/Export Library on Mac

The optional FFmpeg library allows Audacity to import and export a much larger range of audio formats including M4A (AAC), AC3, AMR (narrow band) and WMA and also to import audio from most video files.

Because of software patents, Audacity cannot include the FFmpeg software or distribute it from its own websites. Instead, use the following instructions to download and install the free and recommended FFmpeg third-party library.

For full instructions please see Installing FFmpeg for Mac.

Advice Audacity on Mac is now a 64-bit application.

This means that if you are a user of previous Audacity versions on Mac and had installed the optional FFmpeg library then you must now install the 64-bit versions of the FFmpeg library, otherwise your imports and exports that depend upon FFmpeg will no longer work.

Installing the 64-bit FFmpeg library will not overwrite or delete your 32-bit FFmpeg library if you have one installed.

Tip Advanced usage: If you already have 64-bit Audacity-compatible FFmpeg 2.2.x or 2.3.x shared libraries in the system PATH, Audacity will use those as long as you do not install FFmpeg from the links above and as long as you do not specify the FFmpeg you want Audacity to use in Libraries Preferences.


Reset Audacity Settings on Mac

As stated in the introduction on this page, simply re-installing Audacity will not clear and reset your Audacity settings for preferences and plugins.

Tip The easiest way to do this is simply to use Tools > Reset Configuration

The location of Audacity settings

The data for these are stored in a folder called audacity in the Library/Application Support folder in your user directory.

On macOS the full pathname is: your username/Library/Application Support/audacity

To open the audacity settings folder:

  1. Open Finder and click on Go > Go to Folder...
  2. In the dialog box type ~/Library/Application Support/audacity
  3. click the Go button
Alternatively: on macOS the user Library folder is usually hidden by default. To reveal it for future use:
  • In the sidebar of a Finder window, click on your home icon (it is the 'house' icon with your username beside it)
  • Click on the View menu and select Show View Options
  • check "on" "Show Library Folder"
  • The Library folder will then show in your home folder

To completely reset your Audacity settings

First you will need to quit Audacity.

Navigate to that audacity folder with Finder and delete the entire contents. Then restart Audacity.

Advice If you have added additional plugins to the Plug-Ins folder and wish to keep them, do not delete that folder.

To reset just your Audacity preferences

Navigate to that audacity folder with Finder and delete the audacity.cfg file. Then restart Audacity.

To reset just your plugins

Navigate to that audacity folder with Finder and delete the:

  • pluginregistry.cfg file
  • pluginsettings.cfg file
  • Plug-Ins folder

Then restart Audacity

Advice If you want to reset your plugin settings but do not want to lose any additional plugins you have added to the Plug-Ins folder, do not delete that folder.


Links

>  Installing Effect, Generator and Analyzer plug-ins on Mac