Audacity for CoolEdit user - reducing the learning curve

I have been using CoolEdit 2000 for 15+ years. I use it primarily for normalizing, adding fade in and fade out, and splitting large multi-song recordings into individual files (after copying old tapes to my PC).

I have use Audacity off and on over the past 5 years, mostly for converting from FLAC to wav. Since CoolEdit is long since discontinued, I am thinking about migrating toAudacity. However, the interface is very different, and therefore the learning curve is steep. Is there a guide somewhere, or simple pointers, on how to get Audacity doing things in a similar way (with similar keypresses) to how I have been doing them in CoolEdit? It is hard to teach old fingers new tricks!

It’s not “hard”, it just takes a bit of time and practice :wink:
As an ex-user of CoolEdit Pro myself, I appreciate the ‘trouble’ of reaching for the wrong key when switching to a different application. At one time I was using Audacity, ProTools, Cubase, Sonar and Audition, and they all have their own ways of doing things - now ‘that’ is confusing :mrgreen:

Fortunately there are quite a lot of similarities between CoolEdit and Audacity. The basic idea of “selecting” some audio (click and drag on the waveform) and then applying an effect to the selected audio is pretty much the same. I’d suggest that you start by looking at the “Quick Help” in the Audacity “Help” menu. If you get stuck on any specific items, feel free to start a new forum topic about it.

Thanks for the info. I use Sonar too, but not for audio editing, so my fingers aren’t confused between it and Audacity. With CoolEdit and Audacity, it’s like trying to speak Italian when you mostly know Spanish! :slight_smile:

Here’s an example of what I do with Cool Edit:

F7 = normalize selected audio
F5 = open Amplify popup (so that I can apply Fade In or Fade Out to the selected audio)
F4 = create envelope, which uses a preset I created to lower the volume of the middle (for reducing peaks)
F3 = move selected audio to a separate window/file

The last one (F3) is a macro. That one keypress cuts the selected audio, opens a window for a new wav file, pastes the cut audio into the other window, and then keeps the new window open. This lets me quickly extract individual songs from a recording of an entire tape or vinyl record.

For each of the others (F4, F5, F7), the keypress is followed by a button click (or two if I am changing between Fade In and Fade Out for F5).

I’ve been continuing to use Cool Edit because those keypresses let me quickly turn recordings of tapes or vinyl sides into individual, normalized tracks. And my fingers have been using those function keys for more than a decade!

If I could find a way to get Audacity to perform the same functions with the same keys, it would be awesome. Is there a way?

Do you intend to only use Audacity very occasionally and continue to use CoolEdit as your “main” editor? If so, then look here for how to customise keyboard shortcuts: Shortcuts Preferences - Audacity Manual

On the other hand, if Audacity is going to be your “main” editor, then probably better to start practising “Italian” :wink: (terrific analogy :smiley:)

You ‘can’ set F7=Normalize, F5=Amplify, F4=Envelope Tool, F3=Time shift tool, but… by default,

F1=Selection tool
F2=Envelope tool
F3=Draw tool
F4=Zoom tool
F5=Time Shift tool
This is a logical and convenient mapping of a group of keys to a group of functions (the “tools”). If you reallocate these keys then you mess that up.

There are a lot of defined shortcuts in Audacity (the full list is here: Commands and Keyboard Shortcut Reference - Audacity Manual), so it’s difficult to find convenient key combinations without overwriting existing ones, and some of the default ones are very convenient and you will find yourself using them all the time once you’re familiar with them (for example, F1 to F6).

What I’d suggest is that for a few weeks (depending on how regularly you use Audacity), you do things ‘mostly longhand’, but look up the shortcuts for things that you use a lot. Items in the “Effect” menu do not have default shortcuts, but when the Effect menu is open you can type the first letter of an effect name to scroll down to that effect (example: “Alt+C” opens the Effect menu, then “F” scrolls down to “Fade In”, “F” again scrolls down to “Fade Out”, “F” again scrolls down to any other effect that begins with “F”).
Make yourself a “cheat sheet” with a list of Audacity shortcuts that you use regularly.
When you have that and those shortcuts are programmed into your “finger memory”, then you can start making custom shortcuts for effects and avoid overwriting the default shortcuts that you use.

Audacity also has a useful but primitive sort of “macro” type thing, (though much more primitive that what CoolEdit Pro had). It’s called “Chains”: Macros - for batch processing and effects automation - Audacity Manual