Audacity Suddenly Stopped Saving File

Hey all, I use Audacity (2.0.0) several times a week and have never had any issues. I’m on Windows 7. Suddenly the files are not saving with the right extension. I don’t remember if I got the exe installer or the zip.

The file goes through the process of saving as mp3 or wav file just fine but when the saving is finished the file extension is blank, even though it shows the size. And I can’t open the file.

See screenshot next to ‘file’ - it’s empty and how it shows no mp3 icon next to the file itself? It does that whether I save as mp3 or wave file.

Never had this happen before. Didn’t make any changes to the program. Any ideas?
screenshot, audacity wav file.jpg

Don’t use the dot (“.”) character in file names.
Windows treats whatever is after the dot as the “file extension”, and relies on that to know what sort of file it is.
Audacity will automatically add the correct file extension to the file name, provided that you don’t enter a different file extension. If you enter a name with a dot in it, then Audacity assumes that you have added the file extension, and Windows assumes that file extension is correct. So if you enter a file name as: “Dr.Cha~zay”, then Windows sees that as a file called “Dr” and a file type of “Cha~zay” (obviously not a valid file type).

If you must use a dot in the file name, then ensure that you enter a valid file extension for the format that you are using (.mp3 for MP3 files)

For compatibility, it is best to avoid “special character” such as “~” or any punctuation characters. Windows has strict rules about file names and you can easily run into problems by using illegal characters. Safe characters are letters, numbers, space and underscore.

Also, Audacity 2.0.0 is obsolete. The current version is 2.0.6 which you can download here:

Are you starting to run out of space on your hard drive? That’s what happens to the video people. They crank out show after show and then one day they can’t save a new show any more — because there isn’t room.


Steve, I felt such a duh-moment come on when I read about the dot! Thank you! I had tried removing all of the commas and totally forgot the dot after Dr. That did the trick! Thank you so much!

We get this problem a lot. Did you ignore the warning Audacity gave you, or not understand it?

Would a warning like this have helped?
If the file name has dots in it I think we must default to adding the standard extension for the file type, and provide an option for the small minority of users who want to use a different extension.

dot_in_export_filname_warning.patch (1.27 KB)

Much as I don’t like to encourage bad practice, that would save a lot of problems. A good case for an option in Preferences I think (default, always use default file extensions).
The “small minority” may not be so small for some formats, such as “AAC”, (for which I presume we would use “.m4a” ?)

Hi Gale! You know me, always wanting to tinker with the grammar:
Note that I have made the first two sentences (“…Yes…”) into a single compound sentence so that there is no punctuation following the quoted filename. I think it makes it slightly less visually confusing. Similarly, in the second paragraph I have removed the spurious comma, again to make it slightly less visually confusing. I have also put the file extension string in quotation marks to make it consistent with all the other quoted strings. Otherwise, I really like this change. Could you slip this in as a non-feature/bug fix?

As for changing the current behavior, I think I would be -1 unless we had a fairly sophisticated system. It would require two buttons and a checkbox: button “Yes” = export with name as-is; button “No” = export appending appropriate extension; checkbox “Always do it this way”. Preferences would also need to be extended so that the Warnings pane had an additional entry to control the “Always do this” behavior. I would even prefer a third button: “Maybe” = the current “No” behavior which throws it back into the Export dialog so the user could change the filename (which would be my preferred default). Certainly a new feature.

Isn’t it the case that most times this error is a Smack The Head moment? Of course, How could I be so stupid?

The filename has two dots in it. OK? [Y|N]

I think we’re too quick to include pages of explanation where a simple warning would work.


Or a checkbox in the export dialogue which would be my solution if it is possible.

Yes - which is added now if no extension is supplied and there are no dots in the file name. Only MP4 is a universal alternative. AAC or M4R extension won’t be playable by Windows Media Player for example.


For the sophisticated user or even one who has read a brief explanation a simple warning will work. However, I suspect that most folks who run into this for the first time will be clueless; otherwise, they would enable displaying extensions long enough to add the proper extension.

In this day and age the cost difference between a 10 word warning and a 40 word explanation (compiling time, application size, download time, execution time etc.) is trivial. If the user is seeing this warning so many times that they get annoyed by the wordiness I contend that this is a problem in the user’s inability to learn from their mistakes not a problem in GUI design.

Clearly the existing warning does not work.

I know Vaughan would agree with you about short messages. But would the above really work? User already thinks two dots in the file name is OK, and there is no reason to disagree because it is perfectly legal. The problem is that Audacity is not adding the format’s extension to the end of the dot-ridden file name.


the cost difference

I’m not bit counting. I think the explanations have a high Eyes Glaze Over factor.

Correct me, but Windows users have no idea what a file extension is. I sat behind a crew trying to bring a Win7 Avid machine up with no filename extensions and it was truly painful to watch. “You know, I can solve this in about fifteen seconds. The filenames tell you what they are…” But I can’t buck the Production Supervisor.

So any dots they put in are too many. The warning in red?

There is a dot in your filename. OK? [Y/N]

You are clearly doing something wrong unless you’re colour-challenged, and it doesn’t matter how new you are.


Dueling posts.


I don’t expect that, or Ed’s alternative would help much.

So to see a significant reduction in these problems, I think we need to cater for the clueless.
I’m not saying that everyone that runs into this issue is “clueless”, but we do have a lot of users with very little computer experience, and they are the most vulnerable to this problem.

The solution that I would suggest is, do away with all of the confusing warning and error messages - make the default as foolproof as possible. Force legal file names and valid file extensions. “Hidden” away in Preferences is one checkbox, that changes the behaviour to “as now” where the default extension is added if none is provided, and no file extension if there is a dot.

OK, I’ll buy those two suggestions, thanks.

The reason I did not do that is that we would have to add

(without quotes)

Although essential for novices, some of us could dislike that verbosity.

I could propose it. Perhaps I would raise a bugzilla item for the “user confusion” issue, and ask about a rewording of the warning as an interim measure. That could even trigger a desire to add the option after 2.1.0, which I think would be more effective than wording changes on their own.

I don’t see it needs to be more than an export-by-export decision, the last decision stored in memory or .cfg e.g:

[  ]Force standard extension for chosen format

Novices won’t understand that message, but don’t need to as they will see a warning if they uncheck the box and put dots in the file name. There would be a stronger case for a shorter warning if there was a checkbox.


They still think it is OK because they put the dot there in the first place and thought it was “OK”.

So faced with


when exporting MP3, Audacity writes the following?


That’s what I would like by default. I would not want to remove dots from file names (a) because they are “legal” and b) it is unexpected to do that.

I’d still prefer the checkbox in the Export dialogue (on the grounds that some format extensions may need to be legitimately changed as you said, and there may be more people than we realise already doing that). I would keep the warning (simplified if at all possible).

I would keep the warning (again simplified) even if the control was hidden in Preferences.

If consensus wanted the control in Preferences and no warning, I guess we could try it and see what happened.


Though if they wrote:

Dr|Dre asks "why 3/4?"

they would get something like:

Dr_Dre asks _why 3/4_.mp3

The people that are concerned about what file extension they use are not generally the people that run into this problem.

Even with a “safe” default, we could allow users to manually type a standard file extension that is not the default - for example we could allow an M4A file named:
without correcting it, but change
“Oscar.Peterson.m4a” (because “Peterson” is not a recognised file extension for M4A files and “.m4a” is the default).

I don’t think we need to do that, given it’s a standard OS save dialogue. Windows and Linux will error that file name, and on Mac (where that name is legal) we would make it

Dr|Dre asks "why 3/4?".mp3

We allow .mp4 and .m4r without correcting it so I suppose we “could” add .aac to that “allowed” list. However given iTunes won’t play files with AAC extension it was decided that extension should raise the warning. So if we decide there is no warning, “.aac” would be corrected to “.m4a”.

What happens if they type




Do we guess what they meant and correct their typo? For those examples I think users who turn off “forced extension” should receive a warning. Perhaps using our list of approved extensions, the warning might look like

M4A (AAC) files should have only .m4a or .mp4 or .m4r extension.

Do you still want to export "Oscar.mp5" with .mp5 extension?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

Would that warning style work if we did not add the forced extension option?

MP3 files should have only .mp3 extension.

Do you still want to export "Dr.Dre" with "Dre" extension?

[ ]Yes [ ] No

I think they would still hit “Yes”.


“Warning .mp5 is not a valid file extension for MP3 files.
Audacity will append .mp3 to the file name.
Click OK to append .mp3 or CANCEL to
return to the file dialog”

Audacity could apply a simple (though not infallible) test on whether it looks like a typo:
A typo is assumed (and the warning makes sense) if the file name ends in any of:
where “X” is any character and Y is any printable character.