Audacity shutting down if I try to use effects

My Audacity program stops working when I try to apply or even just preview effects.

I have a 2011 MacBook Pro with Mac OS X Yosemite. My Mac has 16 GB memory and a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor.

I use Audacity 2.1.2

I am a solo guitar musician and have been using Audacity on a PC for years. I just aquired this MacBook Pro which had Logic Pro X on it, which I absolutely could not figure out how to use. So I downloaded Audacity (which I had been adept at before) and it was working fine until I tried to do some EQ, etc. My project is under 3 minutes in length. After I try to preview the effect, the entire program stops working. It sort of has caused some disasters, because of the amount of work that I put into my recordings. I suppose I will need to continually save and copy my projects better as I go if this continues to be a problem.

Thanks very much,


I also do not have an Audacity file that I can find, so bringing in VST effect downloads has also been an issue. I have a few reverbs, etc. that I had been using on my PC Audacity which I cannot seem to use with my Mac.

Did it crash when you were using EQ, or when you were using “etc”?
In order to fix the problem we need to be able to reproduce the problem, which means we need to know exactly what to do to trigger the problem.

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I was using the Audacity EQ. I set up an EQ curve, previewed it, applied it, and then I could not use Audacity any more. Anything I caked just made a sound but nothing else. The only think I felt I had left to do was to restart the computer, thus losing a lot of data. Fortunately, I had exported a copy of a raw form of the project, so I did no those everything or have to start from square one.

I went back on and tried using some VST effects that I managed to bring into Audacity ( I think I can do that now - since working on that for a while this afternoon. I was able to use those effects without any problem (Tonebooster EQ, W1 Limiter).


I don’t understand.

Meant to say…“Anything I clicked…”

(My new Mac has an auto spell-check that I am still getting used to).

You say that problem may be solved now, but for reference here is how to install VST effects:

Are you sure you installed Audacity properly? See Do NOT run Audacity from the DMG!!!.

Might you have opened another effect, or reopened Equalization, then clicked the red window close button? That will make Audacity 2.1.2 unusable and require you to force quit, but the issue should have been fixed in our source code now so it will be fixed when 2.1.3 is released (that may be a few months yet) .


Backup exports are good. :wink:

However Audacity should have offered to recover the project when you relaunched it after force quit. Did it not offer that?


Thank you for the replies.

  1. I did follow the VST instructions carefully. I think I figured out where to put the downloads finally. It’s not as easy as it was with my PC!

  2. Perhaps I hit an errant “close program” button as you say, but I don’t think so. We’ll see how things go forward as I continue to use Audacity with my Mac.

  3. The recovery is another thing that worked fine with my PC (it’s a really great feature; a godsend actually) but it does not work with my Mac. When I try to recover I just get a blank new screen, and any trace of my project is gone.

I love Audacity, and it has been wonderful for my solo guitar recording. Just hope to work out these issues on my Mac.


You can put VST effects in Audacity’s Plug-ins folder just as you can on Windows.

What you said happened - create a curve in Equalization, Preview then OK, does not cause Audacity to lose focus for us, so please let us know if you find the exact steps to make it happen.

Might you have rebooted the Mac? That is the only reason we know that recovery would not work on Mac, because the location of Audacity’s temporary directory on Mac is cleaned up on reboot. We are intending to change the temporary directory on Mac for the next release of Audacity.


Finding the Audacity plug-ins folder is very difficult for some reason with my Mac. I found it somehow, but it was far from easy…the names of all the places where things hide deep in the workings of my new computer are different and not intuitive (to me). It’s like looking up “trash collection services” in the phone book, but it’s listed under “sanitation engineer” or something equally abstruse :slight_smile:

Perhaps I did reboot. I clicked “Restart” which is what I have done before on my PC. I never had any problem with the recovery of my files on the PC.

Thanks so much for all of your help Gale, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate Audacity.


There are lots of articles and videos online to help OS X users who have switched from Windows. See for example


My new Mac has an auto spell-check that I am still getting used to

I can spell OK on my own and I’ve been known to turn that off. Some browsers have the option to indicate a spelling change without actually performing it.

Finding the Audacity plug-ins folder is very difficult

Desktop > Go (top bar) > Applications > Audacity > (maybe Audacity again) > Plugins.

You can do it from the hard drive icon on your desktop. Did you elect to put it there? That’s an option.


It happened again. I was 10 hours into a project, which I had to leave for a few days. When I came back, I tried to ‘recover’ and all I got was Audacity with straight line - no audio. This has happened a few times now with my new MAC. The recovery always worked perfectly with my PC. I have lost so much time and effort that I feel that I cannot trust my MAC with Audacity.

You mentioned that I must have “re-booted”, but I am not aware if this is occurring. As I said, this never happened with my PC (which was 1/3 the cost of my MAC). It’s ironic that everyone says that MAC’s are so great for recording music.

Anything that can be done to fix or prevent this would be a great help.

What you described before was Audacity crashing when using effects. Has that happened again?

What you are describing now sounds preventable if you adopt a safer workflow.

If Audacity crashed or lost power, causing attempted recovery, that means you must have left the project open. It does not take that long to close and save the project. You should do that If you have to leave for a few days, and ensure all dialogues for saving the project have closed before you shut the lid.

With the project closed, you could schedule a wake up while you are away so that Time Machine could back up the project to an external drive. Or if you backup to another Mac on your network, your Mac should wake for backup automatically, I think.

You did save this project at one time didn’t you? Where did you save it to? Assuming you were trying to recover unsaved changes, then even if those changes were lost, you should still be able to open the AUP file in its last saved state.

The problem where the Mac can delete Audacity’s temporary files only occurs on starting up the Mac and if you never saved the project and if you leave the temporary directory in its default location. You can change the Audacity temporary directory in Audacity’s Directories Preferences.


The recovery always worked perfectly with my PC.

You got into very bad habits with your PC. It’s not normal to walk away from an open project for days and it’s not normal to rely on Emergency Recovery for day to day use.

You are expected to manually save your work regularly and make protection copies on top of that. Emergency Recovery is used if that process fails. If Emergency Recovery fails, that’s the end of the story. There is no next level.

You may find that your production methods don’t work on newer PCs, either.


You may get stuck with your productions. We go on about Saving an Audacity Project, or exporting WAV files and that is highly recommended, but Projects, even though they save the show’s edit structure, positioning, number of tracks, sizes, etc, do not save UNDO. So I’m not sure where you would go with this. A Project is not the same as walking up to a PC that’s just plain waiting for you.

Why did you stop using your PC?


Just to add - if you do put VST plugins in Audacity’s Plug-ins folder you need to be careful you don’t lose them when you install a new version of Audacity. The easiest way is probably to rename the Audacity folder for example to “Audacity 2.1.2”. You rename on Mac by single-clicking to select the item then pressing ENTER.

Then when you install a new Audacity version to /Applications/Audacity you won’t overwrite the previous version. You can move any VST plugins you had in /Applications/Audacity 2.1.2/Plug-ins to the new installation.


Update: When I try to use Audacity effects my MAC computer crashes. I still cannot recover any of the lost Audacity files. After force quitting and then restarting my MAC I do get the “Recover files” prompt from Audacity, but when I click it I only get a flat line on my projects. I just lost 2 weeks worth of composition and work on some music I was working on. Once again, this never happened when I ran Audacity with my old, much less expensive PC computer.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a new piece, and I forgot to save my files each day - my bad. Again, I never had to do this with my PC. I wonder if the Audacity team can do something to prevent this problem with us MAC users. I suppose there may not be many, since most MAC musicians are using Logic and other high end programs. I just like Audacity a lot, was good at using it, and did not want the learning curve of a complex new DAW.

There’s something wrong with your Mac. Even if Audacity crashes, it should not make the computer crash.

Also, I’m wondering why you have VST effects installed. Mac usually has a collection of AU effects, which in addition to the effects shipped with Audacity should be more than enough unless you want to get heavily into using a full-featured DAW like Logic Pro. It makes me wonder what else is installed on your Mac.

Do yourself a favour and take your Mac to a Genius Bar somewhere. :bulb:

We’ve already explained that if the Mac reboots, it deletes the Audacity temp files, assuming you are using the default Audacity temp directory. But you did not say before that the Mac was crashing.

Please, either open Audacity > Preferences…, Directories section and change the temp directory to a permanent location such as your Documents folder. Or, use 2.1.3-alpha from 2.1.3-alpha will change the Audacity temp directory to a safe location for you. On that site, click the link at the top then you can choose DMG or ZIP for 2.1.3-alpha.

If you do either of those things, Audacity should recover your projects when it or the Mac crashes.


How far are you from an Apple Store? A trip to the Genius Bar is called for. Your Mac appears to be profoundly unstable for some reason. They can also offer classes in care and handling. It should be super difficult to crash a Mac down to restart.