allow playback start close to playback cursor

I’ve only been working with Audacity for a few hours and I find it to be AWESOME!

That said, I do have a question/suggestion.

In the Windows version when one left-clicks on the timeline, playback starts at the pointer location and a green playback cursor is established. A gray quick-play-range is established just below the green playback cursor. If one wishes to jump to a significantly earlier or later place on the timeline, it’s easy to do…just left-click where you wish to jump to and playback starts where you click. However, if you wish to jump a short distance, you can’t. The existence of the gray quick-play-range prevents you from clicking close to the green playback cursor.

I’m taking radio shows and deleting the commercials. I find the commercials by clicking along the timeline. When I find the commercial, I then want to find the beginning, label the beginning, find the end, label the end, then highlight/delete the commercial. The problem is that when I’ve clicked close to the beginning of the commercial, I can’t re-click to zero in on the exact beginning because the gray quick-play-range prevents me from doing so.

If the gray quick-play-range device didn’t affect the pointer when the pointer is up by the green playback cursor, that would solve this problem.

It may be because I’m on Linux that I can’t reproduce this problem, or it may be that you have “snap to” selected in the “Selection Toolbar”.

I don’t have “snap to” selected, so maybe it happens in the windows version and not linux…
Where do we go from here?

Ah, sorry, I misread your post, I was clicking on the track, not the timeline.

This is the way I would edit out an advert (in Audacity 1.3.5):

  1. Select the region of the commercial (roughly)
  2. Press the space-bar to start the playing.
  3. if I need to adjust the start position, press the space-bar to stop, then drag the selected region by using “Shift + Mouse” on the track.

Adjusting the end position of the selection is a bit more tricky, but the improved “labels” in Audacity 1.3.x can help.

  1. Set a label (Ctrl+B) to the selected region.
  2. Draw a new selection near the end of the label (the cursor will turn yellow when it lines up with the label position)
  3. Test the end position, and if necessary adjust the end marker of the label.

Note that clicking on the label name (even if it is an empty name) will select the label region, but it will also move keyboard focus to the label track. Focus can be restored to the audio track by using the up/down cursor keys.

Thanks for your reply Stevethefiddle.

I’ve had pretty good success removing commercials using 1.3.5. I am trying to improve on my current process.

I’m editing out 15 or more groups of commercials spread throughout a 2.75hour program.

My process is this:
1- I open the mp3 file in Audacity.
2- I click close to the start of the timeline which begins playback.
3- If I don’t hear a commercial, I click on the timeline again…a little further to the right…till I find a commercial.
4- When I find a commercial, I find its beginning, then hit control-m, establishing a “start” label (example = 1s).
5- I click on the timeline restarting playback till find the end of the commercial, control-m to establish an “end” label (1e)
6- Repeat throughout the entire file establishing start and end labels (2s, 2e…15s, 15e…etc.) for each commercial
7- Once all the commercials beginnings & endings are labeled, I start deleting them.
8- I start from the END of the file and work toward the beginning. I click within the track close to an end-label. If I’m close enough, the highlighting will snap to the end-label and a yellow line will show up. I then drag toward the left till I’m over the start-label at which time another yellow line will appear. I release the mouse button and hit the delete key. I’ve just deleted the last commercial.
9- I eleminate the last start and end-labels, then repeat step 8 with the next to the last commercial.

My problem is when I try to find the exact beginning or ending of a commercial. When I click on the timeline and find that the playback position is several seconds past the beginning of the commercial, I can’t just click a few seconds earlier. The pointer changes from a finger to a double-headed-arrow which won’t allow me to restart playback at a few seconds earlier. I’ve gotten around this a little by switching to keyboard left/right keys. That’s been more efficient.

Perhaps the best solution would be to make the green playback indicator dragable?!?

Again, thanks for your reply,

There is a way round this - you need to be at an appropriate zoom level for this to work.

Lets look at your example with some numbers put in:

    1. There was an advert that starts at exactly 1 hour (1:0:00)
  1. The advert is exactly 1 minute long
  2. You have dropped markers at 1 hour and 10 seconds (1:0:10) and 1 hour, 1 minute and 12 seconds (1:1:12)
  3. You click on the time-line, at say, 1:0:01 and playback begins at 1:0:01
  4. You realise that you started playback just a little too late
  5. You now have a problem because you can’t click on the time-line at 1:0:00 (because the pointer changes from a finger to a double-headed-arrow)

OK, same scenario, slightly different method.
You first want to find the point at which the program stops and the commercial begins:

Steps 1,2 and 3 as above;

    1. Zoom in or out so that you can see about 20 seconds to the left and the right of your “start marker” (You can now see from 0:59:50 to 1:0:30)
  1. Select the area between the two markers by dragging the mouse over the track with the left button pressed.
  2. Press Shift + Space-bar to begin looped playback
  3. You realise that you have started playback too late, so now you either:
    7a) Click on the track at a point before the programs stops (say 0:59:55) and drag to the Right to where you think the program finished (just before the commercial starts). Let’s say that you drag from 0:59:55 to 1:0:01 - Play is now looping around the last few seconds of the program, and the first 1 second of the commercial.
    8a) You realise that 1:0:01 is just a little too late, so you now drag from 0:59:55 to 1:0:00. Success :smiley:
    7b) Click on the track at a point a few seconds after the commercial has started (say 1:00:25) and drag to the Left to where you think the advert started and the program finished - lets say you drag from 1:00:25 to 1:0:01 - Play now loops the first part of the advert, starting 1 second after the beginning.
    8b) You realise that 1:0:01 is just a little too late, so you now drag from 1:00:25 to 1:0:00. Success :smiley:

Does that work for you?

Stevethefiddle, you’ve been very helpful.

I’ve played around with labels a bit differently based on your suggestions/encouragement.

I now see that if I use a label as an area, rather than as a point, that I get some of what I need.

What’s funny to me is that establishing a label via control-m doesn’t create an area…it creats a point.

Now that I see a label as an area, and that when I click in the text area of an area label, it DOES highlight the audio track…and I can move the label start/end points and see via the highlighting where the label area hits the audio track.

Very helpful.

Thanks again for your help,


that’s because CTRL + M is designed to create a Marker position as you record or playback

CTRL + B is designed as the shortcut for creating labels - either as a point label, or as a labelled section if you have some audio selected at the time.


Very interesting. Your info brings me back to when I started my search in this arena. I searched the web looking for the capabilities I knew as “Mark-In” and “Mark-Out”. My search results included comments within the Audacity Forum that lead me to the Audacity concept of Labels (as well as leading me to Audacity itself!) WC, I’d love it if the Audacity folks turned control-m into markers! If I could be listening to a file, hit a key-combo to “mark-in” the start of a commercial, skip forward to where I suspected the end of a commercial is, hit another key-combo to “mark-out” the end of the commercial, then after the commercials were all identified with their own mark-ins/mark-outs, hit the delete key to remove all the commercials, that’d be a beautiful thing.

Working with the labels has been pretty close to that, though. I’m definitely NOT complaining. I’m VERY MUCH enjoying working with 1.3.5 (and look forward to 1.4!)

I do still think the playback functionallity isn’t exactly what the programmers intended. I’d think they’d want to initiate playback when clicking on the timeline at any location. Hence my original statement of this string.

Thanks WC,

I think I’d agree. When you click in the timeline and then drag the cursor, you cannot do anything with that region because it disappears when you stop play. Creating the quick-play region should always be just by click and drag, with no cursor visible until you drag. I’ve added it to our Wiki Feature Requests page along with other Quick Play suggestions:

I wouldn’t use Quick Play for what you are doing, rather click in the waveform and use the arrow keys as you suggest. To change playback position, click and double spacebar, or click with CTRL depressed.

You were also asking about labels showing their point or region in the waveform when you move them. I think WC deleted that post because it was a Feature Request post here. We delete those after a month when they are considered for addition to our Wiki Feature Requests page. I don’t think we would want to do this, so I won’t be adding it as a Feature Request. The reason is that it would destroy an existing cursor point or selection region which you might want to keep. But if you do want to see the point or region referred to by the label appear in the waveform, all you need to do is click in the label.


Well, all, I’ve been away for a while, but have still been using Audacity 1.3.5 to remove the commercials from downloaded podcasts.

I’ve been able to refine the process, and except for one thing where Audacity won’t cooperate, this process is WONDERFUL!
I’ve already described where Audacity doesn’t cooperate…that I can’t click in certain places on the timeline because Audacity prevents the quick-play pointer from displaying.

Here’s my process now.

1-load file to be edited
2-load pre-built label which indicates approximate locations of commercials
3-highlight/expand an area a bit larger than the last label indicating basic location of last commercial
4-click on label-name. this causes a gray highlight of the label area, which extends into the waveform area (VERY HELPFUL!)
5-click on the time-line close to the beginning of the highlighted label area to hear if I’m at the beginning of the commercial or if I need to refine the beginning location. refine if necessary. (this is where Audacity is un-cooperative.)
6-click on the time-line close to the end of the highlighted label area…same as step 5
7-repeat steps 4-6 for each of the pre-established label areas
—after refining all the label/commercial relationships, it’s time to remove the commercials
8-starting with the last label/commercial, while in the waveform area, click/hold above the right edge of the last label/commercial. If you’re close enough, the highlight will snap to the right edge of the label and indicate successful snapping by creating a yellow line. drag from right-to-left while sweeping the pointer down into the label area, then back up into the waveform area till the pointer snaps to the left edge, creating another yellow line indicating success again. release the mouse button.
9-hit delete
10-repeat highlighting/deleting process on the next label/commercial to the left
11-continue repeating till all commercials are gone

IMHO, this process is about as effecient as can be. If/when the quick-play capability allows me to click anywhere on the timeline to start playing, the process will be perfect IMHO.

Thanks Audacity people for a wonderfulwonderful program.

i neglected to mention that sweeping the pointer from the waveform area down into the label area is helpful because it allows one to delete the commercial and the label in one step as opposed to highlighting the waveform area, deleting it, then highlighting the label, then deleting it…

You can do the deleting a lot simpler than that.

  1. Click in the label
  2. Up arrow
  3. Delete

If it was me I still would not use Quick Play - even if you could click where you wanted you still have to make that a selection region to delete it. I would

  1. click in the label
  2. up arrow
  3. use SHIFT + left/right arrow to expand left and right edges of the region respectively.
    CTRL + SHIFT + right will contract the left edge (move it right), and
    CTRL + SHIFT + left will contract the right edge (move it left).
  4. Spacebar to play.
  5. When you have the correct region, Delete.

Alternatively to 3), use [ or ] to set the left/right boundary of the region to an exact point (click the downward-pointing arrow to choose a milliseconds format for greater accuracy).


Hi Gale,

I realy like your “deleting a lot simpler” method…works great!
That’s the way I delete now!!

I’ve tried to use your suggestion for identifying the beginning and ending of a group of commercials (NOT using quickplay).
Using your method for identifying the beginning seems workable, but not the ending (unless I don’t understand something).
After clicking in the label, up arrowing, then shift-LeftorRight-arrow or ctrl-shift-LeftorRight-arrow, then space-bar to start playback, I can refine & listen to the location of the left edge of the group of commercials.
BUT, I can’t see how to do so with the right edge effeciently.
The problem is, if the group of commercials is 5 minutes long, and I use your method to try to identify/refine the right edge…the end of the commercials…when I’d hit the space-bar to listen to see if I’ve accurately identified the right edge, the playback starts at the left edge and I’d have to listen for 5 minutes each time to see if my refining effort was accurate or not.
I don’t see a way to listen to just the last few seconds of the identified commercial area unless I use quick-play by clicking on the timeline.

Seems to me the quick-play is much more effecient.
Just click on the timeline where you think the end of the commercials is located and listen.
If you’ve misjudged, click somewhere else till you find the end, then drag the right edge of the label to that spot.

Am I missing something?

You can press the “C” key to preview the “cut”. It will play a preview of the section before the selected area, then jump to the end of the selected area, thus allowing you to hear if the end position of the selection is correct.
If you need to adjust it, press Shift+Right cursor to adjust the end of the selection to the right, or Shift+Ctrl+Left to adjust it to the left.

Thanks Steve, for pointing out my typo when expanding the selection edge. I corrected it in the original post. To me though, using CTRL + SHIFT + right (and vice-versa) to contract the left edge seems unintuitive, even though it’s a right-moving direction. I still do it the other way round by mistake now. Anyone else feel this, or is it me?

Miker, as well as the “C” Cut Preview, you can use “B” to play from the mouse cursor to the end of a selection region. The “B” works in 1.2.x versions of Audacity, too, but “C” does not. Personally, I find QuickPlay as it is now very hard to use for defining an exact cut region, not just because you can’t click close to the playback cursor, but because the QuickPlay region disappears after play unless you

  • go through the extra step of Edit > Play Region > Lock
  • have a selection region in the first place.

Nor is there a way to snap a selection region to a play region with sample accuracy.


When you put it like that, yes it seems a bit odd, but I think that it would be more odd to use CTRL+SHIFT+Right to move the right end of the selection to the left.

I’m having trouble with that in 1.3.6 on Linux. It does not play all the way to the end of the selection. It starts at the cursor, plays for a bit, but stops well short of the end of the selection.

Ctrl+Left Mouse Button, clicked onto the track, will play from the position clicked up to the end of the selection.

Is it an especially long selection with many tracks on screen? I tried putting short clips underneath but it still played here on Windows XP to the end of the region. And you know of course that if the mouse cursor is closer to the left edge than right, B plays from start of selection to the cursor?


No, just a 30 second track, about 10 seconds selected, and only one track.
(also the same with more tracks, mono or stereo tracks).

Having reread your post, I think that you mean the same as what is happening on my computer. I assumed that the behaviour that I see in Audacity was what was supposed to happen, but I now think that I just misunderstood (misread) your previous post.

When the mouse pointer is within the selected region, but closer to the left edge, it appears to play from the left edge, up to the place where the mouse pointer was when the “B” key was pressed.

Here’s the full run down:
1 audio track, 30 seconds long, area selected from 10 seconds to 20 second.

a) Mouse pointer below 4 second mark: press “B”
track plays from 4 seconds to 10 seconds.

b) Mouse pointer below 12 second mark: press “B”
track plays from 10 seconds to 12 seconds.

c) Mouse pointer below 17 second mark: press “B”
track plays from 17 seconds to 20 seconds.

d) Mouse pointer below 26 second mark: press “B”
track plays from 20 seconds to 26 seconds.

That’s all working the exactly as you describe for me, and since this is “Play to Selection” I think they’re the right decisions. Works too when the selection region is behind zero, except that playback is when appropriate from zero, not from the start of the region. All OK here?