Adding more behaviour preferences to 3 features

Audacity is near perfect, especially with the new 1.3 Beta version out.

But there are a couple small things that could be improved…

Suggestion #1) Adding a locking feature to the now unfixed, always-movable Control Toolbar (the one with “Selector tool”, “Zoom tool”, etc), as well as all the other docked items like “Play, Record, Pause” button bar, “Master output” meter, volume control, etc.

The Problem: Every time I go to “File” in the corner or when I pick the “Zoom” magnify tool or the “Selection” cursor tool, I accidentally click on that notched bar to the left of the Control Toolbar which causes me to “unhook” the bar from the docked position to the “float” position. Then I have to redock with the “View → Dock Control Toolbar” command. I have to do it all the time. Its really annoying.

  • Its great to have movable toolbars, but once I set them, I want them fixed so they do not move unintentionally.

Placement Suggestion: The best placement could be a small visual “padlock” icon on the main display, as in the top far-right part of the screen, such as right above the horizontal scroll bar (so its out of the way of everything). I think that would be best, to have a visual icon versus a Preference menu option it would be faster to unlock/lock the docks as well as easily seeing if the docks are locked in position or not. And of course, this “padlock” icon should always be fixed in its position, never able to move (that would be another problem if it was movable too!).

Suggestion #2) Adding a preference choice for “Entire Track Zoom” and “Entire Track plus Specific-Selection Zoom” for the dash-line rectangle that comes up when you drag a mouse click.

The Problem: Often when I’m zooming out, I accidentally make that “rectangle area” by unintentionally dragging the zoom icon on the track, which causes it to accidental zoom in again (when I’m trying to zoom out the whole track).

And the zoom-out feature (using the right mouse click) has only one behaviour for the drag dashed-line rectangle feature, zooming in. In other words, regardless if the user uses the left (zoom in) or right (zoom out) mouse button, the drag rectangle area will zoom in only. I think the best way to solve this would be to disable (or have an option to) any click-and-drag rectangle zooming for just Zoom-Out (Right mouse click).

With these 2 behaviours of the zoom feature, sometimes it feels like I’m in a loop of zooming then rezooming then zooming out because of those sensitive “rectangular zoom boxes”.

Placement suggestion: I was thinking this was most helpful on the main screen where all the toolbars are. And just have a switch or a check box for “Entire track zoom”, “Entire Track plus Specific-Selection Zoom”, or have them independent of each other and have “Entire Track Zoom” and “Specific Rectangle Area” option.

Suggestion #3: Add an option to overlay horizontal “ghost lines” to certain values on the vertical “-1.0 to 1.0” peak scale.

The New 1.3 Beta Version: I noticed on this new Beta version, there is a main horizontal line for “0” amp level, which is very helpful! (thanks developers!). I was thinking of of taking this one step further and have an option to have “ghost lines” for the other levels on the vertical scale like “0.5”/“-0.5” or a “0.75”/“-0.75” for a nice in-between for “0.5” and the max “1.0”. Or better yet, make it user-defined and have the user input a value between 0 and 1, which is duplicated for the negative values as well.

Placement Suggestion: I think this option would go best in 'Preferences → Interface → Display". And like discussed above, a user-input would be best, such as “Add ghost lines at: ___” or for just increments like “Every 0.1” or “Every 0.25” would work too. Whatever makes the most sense and is most simple.

I think those additions would be great additions and preferences for an already great program. :smiley:

Your loyal Auda user, :nerd:

  • TrueHC

It sounds like you could do with a better mouse :wink:
Here’s some tips that may help with some of the issues:

Alternative solutions - press Alt+F
This will open the file menu, and cover the notch bar, so preventing you from accidentally clicking on it.

Ctrl + F
use the zoom button that is at the right hand end of the the 4 zoom buttons (magnifying glass buttons).

If you have a wheel mouse you can also zoom in and out by holding down the Ctrl key and then using the mouse wheel.

I guess those will work, sure.

And I did find that “Fit project to window” zoom button and that is very useful!

And my mouse works find, its that drag behaviour is pretty sensentive sometimes, even the slightest drag results in accidental section-zooming for me. But with that “Fit project” button, it looks like its no longer a problem. :mrgreen:

So how about adding those ghost lines to the vertical scale, would you still consider that option?

  • TrueHC

It’s not up to me :slight_smile:
but personally I find that in most cases I can judge close enough without horizontal rules. If I specifically need to know the exact peak amplitude at any point, I can select the section that I’m interested in, the select (but don’t apply) the “Amplify” effect. As the Amplify effect always defaults to amplifying up to 0 dB, you can see immediately what the exact peak level of the selection is (to the nearest dB).

Bummer, I was afraid you would say that.

Yeah, I have used that technique before, with “Amp” and checking how much it can be amped but it takes a lot more time to do and its kinda backwards to think about. It would be sooo much faster if I could just visually check the peak level with a horizontal reference line right on the screen. It would make amp editing a lot easier.

Well, it looks like I might have to program it myself. I don’t know anything about programming, or which language Audacity uses, but how hard could it be to add some gray horizontal lines?

Off to the Programming Forum!

  • TrueHC

As I said, it’s not up to me - I’m not a programmer.

However, another feature comes to mind that you may find helpful:

Did you know that you can zoom in/out vertically?
To zoom in, left click on the vertical track scale.
To zoom out. right click on the vertical track scale.
You can also left click and drag up/down on the vertical track scale to select the area that you want to zoom into - when you do this it also creates a horizontal dotted line.

Not a programmer. Got it.

I did know about the vertical scale zoom (found on accident). I find it kinda of confusing since it can zoom on one side of the wave (ex: top-side) or both sides equally.

And it only goes from “1.0” to “0.5” when I zoom in on “0”. Thats a little too coarse for me, I need like 0.05 increments.

I had a question about that scale, what does those numbers represent? I always was confused by the “1 to -1” range. Simplicity maybe? Maybe “1” = 0 db?

The vertical dotted-line box thingy (when holding the zoom-tool click down) is sorta of useful, except I can’t do 2 things at once with it, like highlight a section, amp it and compare to the line. Just one extra step I do not wanna repeat over and over. If that dotted line was permanently set on the track, now then we would be cooking! :mrgreen:

I’ve decided that the feature would be so useful to me, I’m willing to learn how to do some basic programming and add it in my own “version” myself. Do you know who wrote the code for that new horizontal “0” level solid line? I wanna ask them what they wrote and figure out how to add it to my own version. How hard could it be?

If you can help find them Steve, that would be great.


  • TrueHC

That represents the numerical value of the samples in 32-bit float format.
A waveform with a range of +/- 1 is 0 dB.
A waveform with a range +/- 0.5 is about -6 dB
A waveform with a range +/- 0.25 is about -12 dB
A horizontal line (usually at zero) is -infinity dB (silence)
(dB is a logarithmic scale. +/- 1 is a linear scale)

If you click on the name of the track you can select “Waveform (dB)” which will show the waveform against a dB scale.
“Silence” is -infinity dB, and it’s obviously impractical to have an infinite vertical scale, to the dB scale is limited to a range that can be set in Preferences (-60 dB by default)
Edit menu > Preferences > Interface > Meter/Waveform dB range.

Sorry I don’t know who wrote that specific bit of code, but features are often developed by several developers working together.
The Audacity code is mostly written in C++ and it’s very complex code (over 200,000 lines in total).
There’s an introductory developers guide here: