FAQ:Opening and Saving Files

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How do I save my audio for use in other programs? Does saving a project (AUP file) do that?

An AUP file can only be saved and used in Audacity. It is just a small text file that tells Audacity how to work with the audio you see in the project window. It lets you resume working on that audio in Audacity at a later time if you need to.

Whenever you want to use your audio in other programs, choose the File > Export... commands to export a standard audio format like WAV, AIFF or MP3.

  • WAV and AIFF are lossless files which you can also burn to an audio CD or use again for further editing.
  • MP3 and M4A/MP4 are lossy smaller files that are useful for portable music players or sending over the internet.
Warning icon To export an MP3, add LAME to your computer. To export M4A/MP4, add FFmpeg to your computer.

Before saving the exported file, click Options... in the File Export Dialog to see if there are choices for the quality and size of the file.

Tip: If you have already saved an AUP file but now want to export an audio file, reopen that AUP using File > Open.... If you saved the project recently, you can also find the project in the File > Recent Files menu.

To learn more about working with AUP files, please see Audacity Projects.

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Why does Audacity create a folder full of .au files when I save a project?

Audacity breaks long tracks into small pieces so it can edit them more efficiently. When you save an AUP project file, Audacity stores all the pieces in a _data folder that has the same name as the AUP file. For example, "song.aup" will open the pieces inside the "song_data" folder.

To open the project, open the AUP file then Audacity will load the .au files in the correct sequence automatically. A project you saved recently can be opened from File > Recent Files.

Warning icon You should not move, delete or rename the _data folder or any of the .au files inside it.

To learn more about working with Audacity projects, please see Audacity Projects.

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Audacity crashed! Can I recover any unsaved data?

In the event of a crash while Audacity has unsaved data (such as a recording that has not yet been saved as a project, or an existing project with unsaved changes), Audacity will attempt to recover that data on next launch of Audacity. See Recovery for fuller details.

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Can Audacity import or export formats like WMA, AC3 or iTunes files (M4A/MP4)?

Audacity as shipped can import or export the following audio formats:

You can install the optional FFmpeg library to import and export a much larger range of audio formats including AC3, AMR(NB), M4A, MP4 and WMA (on Mac only, Audacity can import unprotected M4A, MP4 and MOV files without FFmpeg). Audio files that are DRM-protected to work only in particular software cannot be imported. FFmpeg will also import audio from most video files or DVDs that are not DRM-protected.

You can export to iTunes by exporting to any location on your computer then add the file to the iTunes library.

See Importing Audio and the File Export Dialog for more help with importing and exporting.

If an audio file you want to import is DRM-protected (for example, an older iTunes M4P file), first burn it to an audio CD in the application that is licensed to play it. Then rip the CD track to WAV or AIFF. You can also record the file as it plays on the computer if your sound device supports this, though this may result in slight loss of quality.

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Why do my exported files not include the metadata, like Album Artist or Genre?

When you export a file, by default Metadata Editor pops up where you can add, delete or change embedded information about the file. Metadata is well supported in many audio formats, especially the ID3 tags used by MP3, but not well supported in WAV.

  • Few audio programs or players are able to read WAV metadata, and Audacity can only export WAV metadata for "Artist Name", "Track Title", "Year", "Comments", "Copyright" and "Software". If using iTunes, you can export to AIFF as an alternative lossless format with metadata support.
  • Some audio formats supported by the optional FFmpeg library may not export complete metadata.
  • Metadata in imported MP2 and MP3 files except for the default Metadata Editor tags ("Artist Name", "Track Title", "Album Title", "Track Number", "Year", "Genre" and "Comments") will be exported as a "custom" ID3 frame. This means that exported custom tags such as "Album Artist", "BPM" and "Composer" will not be seen in Windows Media Player, Windows Explorer, iTunes or other software that ignores custom tags.

For all formats, Audacity currently discards any existing lyrics or album art when exporting.

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Why can’t I play MIDI files?

MIDI files are essentially nothing more than a bare set of instructions describing how to play a series of musical notes. They are thus very different to audio files like WAV which are an actual recording of a piece of music.

For now, Audacity cannot play MIDI files or convert them directly to audio files. You can import MIDI files for visual comparison with audio files, and can perform simple cut-and-paste edits on MIDI files then export as a new MIDI. You can read more about working with MIDI files on this Wiki page.

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How do I import a track from an audio CD?

Audacity cannot import a track directly from an audio CD. You must use a separate program like CDex or iTunes® to extract CD tracks into a format that Audacity can read, like WAV or AIFF.

On Mac OS X computers, CD tracks appear in Finder as AIFF files so can be imported directly into Audacity. For more help on importing audio from CD tracks, see Audio CDs.

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How do I save my recording on an audio CD?

After making a recording or editing a file in Audacity, follow these steps to save your work on an audio CD.

  1. Choose "WAV (Microsoft) signed 16 bit PCM" or "AIFF (Apple) signed 16 bit PCM" in the File Export Dialog's "Save as type" drop-down menu to export to an audio file.
  2. Use any CD-burning software (iTunes® or Nero, for example) to burn this file to a CD. If you burn in a program that is also a media player, like iTunes® or Windows Media Player, you may need to drag the files for burning into a playlist or library. If in doubt, see the program's help files.

To make a disc you can play in all CD players, make sure to create a "music" or "audio" CD (not a "data" CD). Use CD-R discs, because some players cannot read CD-RW. You can burn only 74 minutes to an audio CD in most cases, but possibly up to 80 minutes depending on the CD-R. This is a limitation of the audio CD format.

Some CD software will burn only 16-bit, 44100 Hz stereo audio files. If your CD recording software won't open your file, export the file again after choosing the following settings in Audacity:

  1. At the bottom of the Audacity window, set the Project Rate to 44100 Hz.
  2. If your project does not already contain a stereo track, choose Tracks > Add New > Stereo Track. This will make Audacity export a stereo file.

See the Burning music files to a CD Tutorial and Burning CDs for tips on CD burning with Windows Media Player or iTunes® and on burning "gapless" CDs or longer "data" CDs.

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How can I split a long recording into multiple files or CD tracks?

Follow these steps to create a separate audio file for each song or segment of a long recording. This is particularly useful if you are creating an audio CD, since after burning each file to CD there will be a separate CD track for each song which you can skip to in the CD player.

  1. Click to place the cursor at the start of the first song.
  2. Choose Tracks > Add Label at Selection. If you wish, you can type the name of the song in the label.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for each song.
  4. When you are finished, choose File > Export Multiple.... When you click the "Export" button, Audacity will save each song as a separate file, using the format and location you choose.

Alternatively, Audacity can attempt to detect the silences between tracks and label them automatically. See the full instructions at Splitting a recording into separate tracks.

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Why does Audacity warn about the name or nothing happens when I export or save?

If you export an audio file that has a period in the file name (for example, "92.3 FM capture" ), Audacity will warn you, rather than automatically add the appropriate extension for your chosen format. This gives you the flexibility to add a custom extension for a particular file type. For example, to export an AAC file with the .m4b audio book extension, you would add ".m4b" (without quotes) to the end of the file name then answer "Yes" to the warning.

If you need a period in the file name of a standard file type like WAV or MP3, answer "No" to any warning, then add another period followed by the file type at the end of the name. Otherwise, you may not be able to play the file on your computer. For example, to export a file whose full name with extension is "92.3 FM capture.wav", type that name out in full when you export the file:

 92.3 FM capture.wav

and not just "92.3 FM capture".

When exporting and when saving an Audacity project, Audacity may also warn you (or not respond correctly) if you type a file name that includes characters that are forbidden by the operating system.

Forbidden Characters:
On Windows, all of the following \  /  :  *  ?  "  <  >  |
On Mac OS X, colon only(1) :
On Linux, forward slash only /
(1) "/" in saved file names appears as a colon in Audacity.

Apart from operating system restrictions, Audacity has full support for printable Unicode characters in file names. However, if you want to send your file to someone else or make it available on the internet, only use A to Z or a to z characters, whole numbers (0 to 9) and underscores ( _ ) to make sure your file will be compatible.

There may be additional restrictions such as maximum permitted characters in the path to the file, or some file names may be reserved for the operating system. Full details for Windows can be found here.

Windows users: When you check the file you saved or exported in Windows Explorer, you may only be able to see the file name itself (for example, "92.3 FM capture" ) and not the extension following it. This is not an Audacity bug. You will need to set Windows to show extensions for known file types.

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Why does my file import with a hatched pattern then slowly change to a waveform?

See this page: On-Demand Loading.

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I copied the .aup file to another computer or sent it by e-mail to a friend; but now when I open it there's no sound, why?

To use a standard Audacity project on another computer, you have to include the _data folder that has the same name as the project. This makes the size very large. The _data folder has the small .au files that contain the uncompressed audio data.

Also if your project contains imported WAV or AIFF files, you must choose File > Check Dependencies... and if necessary copy in those files to the project before using it on another computer.

See Audacity Projects for more about the structure of Audacity projects and why you would probably need to export an MP3 audio file to make your audio small enough to e-mail.

Alternatively, if you have a broadband internet connection and you package your .aup file and _data folder into a zip file, there are many free file transfer services that allow upload and storage of large files. Try for example minus.com. Audacity also has a feature at File > Save Compressed Copy of Project... to save a much smaller project using OGG files (this will however give you a slightly lossy project).

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