FAQ:About Audacity

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Is Audacity really free? Why?

Yes, Audacity is completely free, open source software. You are free to use this program for any personal, commercial, or educational purposes, including installing it on as many different computers as you wish. You are also free to give it away, sell it, or modify it for your own use, under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

The authors of Audacity decided to release it under the GPL for many reasons. Some of us do it out of generosity. Some of us do it for moral reasons, because we feel that all software should be free; others believe that there is a place for both free and proprietary software.

One reason Audacity is free is so that it will be more popular and useful. Yet another reason is to encourage collaboration. Because of Audacity's free license, dozens of people around the world have contributed code, bug fixes, documentation, and graphics.

We welcome donations to support Audacity development.

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Does Audacity contain any spyware, malware or adware?

No. Please review independent verification of the Audacity web site and software. Audacity is always completely free and open source. It is developed by a not-for-profit volunteer group, and the source code is available for anyone to study or use.

Nonetheless, virus checkers can occasionally report false positives for the Audacity installer for Windows (.exe). This is because it is a compressed installer. If you are concerned, please download the .zip file instead and check that for viruses. Please report false positives about Audacity to the supplier of the security program so they can update their virus definitions.

Also, SmartScreen filter in recent versions of Internet Explorer (IE) may complain that Audacity is not "commonly downloaded" and ask you to confirm the download. This warning is normal and will only occur (if at all) with a new Audacity release or download. The warning occurs because (in addition to checking a list of known malware), IE checks a Microsoft database of files that are "well known and downloaded by many Internet Explorer users". For more help, please see the SmartScreen FAQ.

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May I distribute copies of Audacity?

You can redistribute Audacity under the GNU General Public License, which gives you permission to modify, copy or sell the program as long as you keep the same license and make the source code available. We ask vendors to give proper credit to Audacity, to add some value to their product (for example by including video tutorials or openly licensed sound samples), and to offer customers technical support. See Advice for Vendors for details.

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Someone is selling Audacity on eBay. Is this legal?

It is legal to sell Audacity, as long as the vendor makes the program and source code available under the GNU General Public License (GPL). If the vendor modifies Audacity, our trademark requires that they call the program something other than Audacity. See our License page for details.

Some vendors sell unmodified Audacity under a different name, or don't give us any link or credit for the software - this is difficult to prevent under the current GPL. If you bought a product and later found out it was Audacity, we encourage you to ask for a refund or file a complaint if you feel you did not get a fair deal. See "May I distribute copies of Audacity?" for what we expect from Audacity vendors.

If you have concerns that Audacity (unmodified or otherwise) is being sold without a copy of the GPL, or without any offer to provide source code, please e-mail us in confidence.

If you want to obtain Audacity on CD: Free ISO downloads and inexpensive CDs by post containing Audacity and other open source software are available from suppliers on our Audacity on CD page.

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A search result misled me into paying for an Audacity download. What can I do?

If you search for Audacity on the internet, you will often see "sponsored results" that are links to companies selling Audacity (or the right to access it) for money. For example there may be a "free" download but the "small print" will commit you to a paid subscription to buy software or services every month. Or the company may guarantee to supply the "very latest version" when their version is out-of-date, or sometimes the download is really is "free" but carries spyware or viruses.

You should avoid these advertisers and only download Audacity from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ .

If the advertisement is provided by Google and does not comply with their terms you can complain about it to Google here. "Audacity" is a registered trademark in the USA and recognised as such by Google, therefore if advertisements on Google.com include "Audacity" in the advertisement or link text you may report this to Google. You can also complain to Google if the advertisement did not "accurately represent the product or service" - please tell Google in what way the advertising was not an accurate representation.

If you paid money by credit card due to a fraudulent advertisement, you may be able to initiate a chargeback with your credit card company. You need to show that the advertising and web site you visited was misleading. Generally you should try to sort out a refund with the retailer first, but often they are very hard to contact and there is a time limit of only a few days on requesting a refund.

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Audacity isn't displaying in the expected or desired language. Can I change this?

Audacity can display in many non-English languages. The language Audacity uses on first run is determined by the language the operating system uses. Note that on Windows, the Audacity installer only sets the language for the installer to run in, not the language Audacity runs in.

To change the current Audacity language, open the Preferences, then choose Interface from the list on the left. Now choose the specific language required from the "Language" box, then click OK. Most of the Audacity interface will change language at once, but a very few interface elements will change next time you restart Audacity.

If Audacity is already running in an unfamiliar language, you can navigate the menus sequentially to change the language:

  1. Choose the second menu from the left in the Audacity menus at top left of the screen (on Mac, choose the first menu from the left)
  2. Choose the bottom item of that menu, which opens the Preferences (on Mac, choose the second item from the top)
  3. In the list on the left of Preferences, choose the fifth item from the top
  4. On the right, open the drop-down box containing a list of the language choices
  5. Select the language you want and press "ENTER" on your keyboard.
  6. Restart Audacity to fully complete the language change and re-order the Effect menu alphabetically.

Alternatively, you can quit Audacity and edit the audacity.cfg settings file. To change language in the .cfg file, change the line under [Locale] to your preferred language by using the appropriate two-character code. For example, "Language=en" (without quotes) sets English, "Language=de" sets German.

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Will there be a version of Audacity for iPod, iPad or other smartphones or tablet computers?

Current versions of Audacity work internally with uncompressed audio to permit high quality editing with a wide range of effects. This requires more processing power and disk space than is available on most mobile devices. Also the wxWidgets interface library we use only has limited support for mobile operating systems and small screen resolutions.

Therefore, considerable rewriting of Audacity and its interface will be required before Audacity will work on portable music players like iPod, smartphones like iPhone, tablet computers like iPad or any of the Nexus devices running Android.

However, Audacity in principle does support a tablet PC running Windows XP (including Windows XP Tablet PC Edition), Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. Audacity will not run on the Windows RT version of Windows 8 which is only meant for the new "Modern" style Windows applications.

There are many alternatives available for lightweight recording or editing on mobile platforms:

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How accessible is Audacity for motion- or visually-impaired users?

Audacity has numerous keyboard shortcuts which can be customised in the Keyboard Preferences. Most of Audacity can be wholly or partially used without a mouse, with excellent keyboard navigation of the selection. A few features currently have no keyboard alternatives, notably clips, Time Tracks and the Tools Toolbar tools except Selection Tool.

Audacity works well with most screen-reader programs on Windows (including Jaws, Window-Eyes and NVDA) and with VoiceOver on Mac. However a few features, notably Label Tracks and Meter Toolbar aren't read. We still have to improve screen-reader support for Linux.

For more information, see Accessibility. There are useful links to free screen readers and support resources for the blind on our Wiki page Audacity for blind users.

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What features does Audacity have for speech transcription or speech recognition?

Audacity is not specialised transcription or speech recognition software, but has some useful features for those transcribing speech manually.

  • You can use Transcription Toolbar to play audio more slowly (also lowering the pitch).
  • You can add labels at the playback position using CTRL + M (or COMMAND + . on Mac) then type into the label. Use File > Export Labels... to export a tab-delimited plain text file containing the text and audio position of each label.
  • Audacity has many other configurable keyboard shortcuts that can be used to control playback and editing. However as yet Audacity has no global shortcuts that work even if you have focus in another program. Some mouse gestures (not yet configurable) can also be used.

Foot pedals: Audacity has no built-in support for foot pedals, but if you can install a suitable driver so that the pedal delivers mouse clicks or key strokes, Audacity can be controlled by those. The pedal manufacturer might be able to assist, or some pedals (for example, Vpedal or X-keys) already come with software to map pedal buttons to specific keystrokes. Alternatively if your pedal is recognised by the computer as a Game Controller or Human Interface Device, you may be able to use third-party software such as AutoHotKey (Windows) to map pedal buttons to keystrokes. USB Overdrive can do the same on Mac for a USB pedal.

Speech recognition: If you are looking for software that can recognise microphone input or speech in an audio file and convert it automatically to a text file, see Wikipedia's list of speech recognition software or try WAVEtoTEXT for Windows.

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Does Audacity run on 64-bit systems?

There is no 64-bit version of Audacity, but in principle it should run on 64-bit systems, subject to having appropriate drivers for the sound device. Sufficient RAM must be available to run Audacity smoothly and support the greater memory requirements of 64-bit systems compared to 32-bit.

Windows and Linux 64-bit

On 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Linux, sound device drivers specific to the 64-bit operating system are essential. If upgrading from a 32-bit to 64-bit operating system, a 64-bit capable computer is required, and the sound device drivers must also be updated to a 64-bit version.

Users upgrading from 32-bit Windows XP to 64-bit Windows Vista or 7 should make especially sure their computer is well above Audacity's minimum system requirements for Windows.

Mac OS X 64-bit

OS X 10.5 and later support both 64-bit and 32-bit processors equally well, with few if any issues with the supplied system drivers.

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Does Audacity support low latency ASIO drivers?

Licensing restrictions prevent us including ASIO support in released versions of Audacity, but Audacity can be compiled with ASIO support for private, non-distributable use. See ASIO Audio Interface on the Wiki for details.

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How do I find which Audacity version I have, and if this is the latest version?

Click Help > About Audacity (or on a Mac Audacity > About Audacity) to check the version of Audacity you are running, then visit our Download page to view the latest releases. You can subscribe here to receive an e-mail whenever we release new versions of Audacity.

Whenever asking for help or reporting possible bugs, please quote Audacity's full three-section version number (for example, 2.0.0) and your operating system (for example, Windows 7 64-bit).

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Why doesn't Audacity ship with an MP3 encoder?

Unfortunately, the algorithm to encode or create MP3 files is patented and Audacity would not be able to include an MP3 exporting algorithm without either charging a fee or potentially violating copyright law in some countries.

As a compromise, Audacity comes with the ability to use other MP3 encoders, which you must download separately. It is up to you to make sure you are in compliance with any licensing restrictions imposed by MP3 encoders.

To install LAME, see "How do I download and install the LAME MP3 encoder?".

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How can I help to improve Audacity?

See this page on the main Audacity site.

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