aup3-wal document has replaced the _data folder; my audacity audio project in big sur 11.5.2 will not reopen.

saturday 14 august 2021
11.45 am eastern standard time

hello audacity help,

good morning.

i use audacity with mac os big sur version 11.5.2 on a 2016 27" imac.
recently an audacity audio project i have been editing, then saving no longer saves to the _data folder.
instead it creates a .aup3-wal document when i attempt to reopen it.
it fails to create a new _data folder even when i “save project as” and give the project a new name.
the _data folder now seems nonfunctional.
the substitute.aup3-wal document replacing the _data document is not good.

the problem- when trying to reopen the audio project the stalling is endless.
the rainbow buffer / stall pinwheel appears lasting over an hour.
the file may / may not reopen.
an alert message has appeared:
exception code ox1- problem report for audacity- click " send " to submit the report to audacity.

yesterday i spend hours failing to resolve this.
i forced quit audacity multiple times and submitted many reports.
i reinstalled audacity.
i installed a mac os big surr 11.5.2 upadate.
then i realized to allow it time, wait to for the project to reopen.

if miraculously the file reopened, any addtional editing was extremely slow.

i exported the project as a flac and as an mp3 file, hoping to reopen it as a new audacity project with a _data folder,
not a .aup3-wal document.

i look forward to for your assistance.

thank you


Audacity 3.x uses a different project format from earlier versions of Audacity.
Instead of there being a “.AUP” file and a “_data” folder for the audio, projects are now self contained in a single “.AUP3” file.

The “.WAL” file is a temporary file used by Audacity while the project is open. Do not mess with that file. Don’t try opening it, don’t move, delete or rename it. The WAL file will automatically be removed by Audacity when the project is closed.

More info about the new project format here:

if miraculously the file reopened, any additional editing was extremely slow.

i exported the project as a flac and as an mp3 file, hoping to reopen it as a new audacity project with a _data folder,
not a .aup3-wal document.

Starting with Audacity 3.0.0 a new project structure was introduced. There is no longer a _data folder.
See Managing Audacity Projects - Audacity Manual .

The _wal document only exists while the project is open. It is part of the SQlite database system. When you close the project the _wal document is integrated into the .aup3 document then deleted.

If you want to go back to having a _data folder you’ll need to go back to Audacity 2.4.2.

It seems you’ve managed to recover your audio by exporting to flac. Import that flac into a new project and let us know if editing is still slow.

Did your original project make extensive use of the envelope tool?

– Bill

saturday 14 august 2021
6 pm

thank you bill for your helpful information on how the current audacity now no longer creates a _data folder
but instead creates a .aup3-wal which disappears / closes when the project is saved and closed.
i prefer this new system.

i managed to rescued my most valued current stereo track from the project that was so difficult to reopen.
in all of the versions of this project i barely used the envelope tool.
when it finally did reopened i exported this track as a flac, created a new audacity project, added an additional previous track,
and saved it as a new project.
currently this project reopens smoothly and hopefully when i again resume editing it will not stall.

all of the many previous versions of this project have somehow corrupted.
they refuse or take too long to reopen.

when i open audacity there appears a long recovery check list window of the many failed attempts
and the many project versions that won’t open any time soon.
i can choose to “skip” or i can uncheck the many items choosing one to recover which always stalls with the spinning rainbow spiral.
so i force quit audacity, submit the failure report, restart audacity, “skip” the recovery window, go direct to file- to open the project.


Glad you got it working.

To avoid the recovery dialog showing the list of files you can’t recover, click the checkboxes beside each file name then click the “Discard” button.


– Bill