Audacity Running Extremely Slow

I’m running Audacity 2.4.2 on Mac El Capitan.

It’s running extremely slowly. Took 15 minutes to open a 50 minute .wav.

It was working fine earlier, but then stopped being functional. Has happened a few times now since I upgraded to this version and this OS.

I rebooted, checked Activity Monitor. Nothing suspicious there. Can’t figure out the problem.

Anyone got any tips?

What has changed recently on your computer?
In Activity Monitor, check Disk and Memory.
– Bill

What changed is I was running 10.6 forever, then upgraded to El Capitan and upgraded to the latest Audacity. It’s just not working. It was working earlier that day and then just decided to stop behaving. Even rebooting didn’t help. I’ve read elsewhere that others have had issues running it on El Capitan.

I previously used an older version on 10.6 and used the program for years without any issues whatsoever.

Do you use an anti-virus app?

I just tested on my Macbook Pro macOS 11.2.2 Big Sur - using a one hour stereo WAV file

  1. 2.4.2 the open/import took 9 seconds

  2. 3.0.0 latest RC05 alpha took 7-8 seconds

My Macbook has an SSD (256MB) and not a spinning metal disk.


Try Tools (menu) > Reset Configuration. You’ll lose any customization you’ve done, but it might help.

– Bill

Thanks for the reply, but no I don’t.

I did that. I uploaded a 40 min .wav file. Took 33 seconds. Not great but usable.

Then I applied Compression. The first quarter went smooth but then it crawled to barely any perceptible movement in the status bar where it just seemed to stall out.

I’m resurrecting my podcast and Audacity is an essential tool for me. Unless anyone has any other recommendations, I’ll look into installing an older version of Audacity or backtracking to an earlier OS because it could be El Capitan that’s the problem (unfortunately, that’s the highest OS my machine will handle.)

What are you using for storage? Your internal HD or an external USB drive? How full is your internal HD? How much RAM do you have?

Open up Activity Monitor and look at Memory and Disk. Are a lot of disk swaps happening? What is your memory usage?

In my experience the slowness you describe can be due to disk read/writes (page swaps or just Audacity making a lot of disk accesses) when working with a large file. I’ve seen huge speed improvement moving from an external USB HD to an internal fusion drive, then to an internal SSD.

You can certainly try an earlier version. If you do, rename your current version of Audacity (for example, add “242” to the end of the name) so you can try both versions with the same file and editing operations. You can find earlier version of Audacity here.

– Bill

Incidentally, here’s what I’ve done to trouble shoot so far…

  • tried past versions of Audacity (worked back to 2.3)
  • working on an external hd,
  • deleting all audacity files (program/program files) off the machine & doing a fresh install
  • deleting the audacity cache folder which makes it work fine for 1 task but then dies again


What do you mean by the “cache folder”?

I trash the following folder and restart:

Library/Application Support/audacity/Session Data

I saw this suggested in a similar but not exactly related problem.

What do you by “1 task”? Do you mean like: Apply the Amplify effect works, but then anything else is extremely slow,
or do you mean that it works fine for one project, but then the problem comes back when you start another project?

As you’ve probably figured out; we can’t reproduce the problem, and we’re trying to figure out exactly what is happening. We can’t see your machine so we only know what you tell us. At this point, I still don’t really have a clear picture.