Beginner-itis - Saving a chosen portion of an mp3

Hi there,

I have no experience editing audio. I’m just trying to Forst Gump my way through.

I’m using version 2.0.1.

I found the section I wanted to convert and read you’re supposed to use the Zoom (magnifying glass) to somehow capture that section and then click Edit>Copy and then click File > New and save that track.

Well… when I clicked on the mp3 file to listen to the song so I would know which section to grab now when I use the magnifying glass to go from 15 to 15 and 1/2 (I guess) it plays the song and then reverts all the way back to the very beginning of the song which is not in the area I wanted to grab.

So, I’m not sure the exact steps to grab the section I want in order to save it?

Once grabbed, how do I save it so I can name it before trying to export it?

Finally, can I save a track as an .amr file?

That’s the format my cell phone seems to use to play audio recordings.

Thank you.

See here about how to zoom:

Zoom out so that you can see all of the section that you are interested in (can be a rough guess).
Click at the point that you want to start playing - by default the cursor will jump back to this point when you press Stop. You need to be zoomed out far enough to see the whole of the section that you are going to play otherwise the screen will start scrolling.
(You can also use the space bar for play and stop).

Watch the cursor move across the screen and make a mental note of (roughly) where the cursor is positioned when it plays the bit that you want.

Click and drag on the waveform over the section that you want to keep (still does not need to be accurate).

Zoom in a bit so that the selected (highlighted) audio fills most of the screen.

Press Play - if you have selected too early or too late, grab the left edge of the selection with the mouse and drag to adjust it. To “grab” the edge, either put the mouse pointer very close to the edge so that the cursor changes to an arrow, or you may find it easier to hold down the shift key while grabbing the edge.
Adjust the end of the selection in similar fashion.
(It’s difficult to describe exactly, but it becomes quite intuitive when you get the hang of it. More ways to adjust a selection are shown here:

To make an audio file from the selection, “File menu > Export Selection”.

More info on the whole process:

Audacity can export “AMR narrow band” if you have FFMpeg installed.
See here:

Your phone may have more specific requirements than just “AMR”. You may need to get the right sample rate or it may need mono or stereo, or it may need some other version of AMR. You can check in your phone manual, but you probably won’t know if this is going to work until you try it.

Hi Steve,

I’m using Portable Audacity. Will that work with FFMpeg?

Thank you so much for your help.

You mean from “Portable Apps”?
If so, I’ve no idea, you’d have to just try it or ask them.

However, you don’t need to run Portable Apps for a portable version of Audacity as Audacity already is portable. All you need is to download the Audacity 2.0.1 zip file, extract it to wherever you want it, then create a “Portable Settings” folder as described here:

For a “portable” version of FFMpeg, download the ZIP version from here: and extract it to the same location as the un-zipped audacity.exe file.

Hi Steve,

Just so I have this correct?

I connected to and there I downloaded …

ZIP OPTION: (Issues? Some help HERE and HERE)

I downloaded that zip file to C:DonwloadAudacityPortable
whch has 3 folders - App, Data and Other and 3 files - AudacityPortable.exe, help.html and now the fiel libmp3lame-win-3.98.2zip.

So, at this point I would just Right Click that file - libmp3lame-win-3.98.2zip - and click Open to extract that zip file??

Do I need to do anything more to enable Audacity to create .amr files at that point?

Thank you for your help.

LAME is a different library that enables Audacity to export MP3.

To export AMR you need the FFmpeg library using the instructions Steve gave you:

So from you need the ZIP version of FFmpeg - here is a direct link .

Please note that Audacity Portable is a separate project from Audacity. So we can’t and won’t help you with Audacity Portable here (for example they have made a second 2.0.1 release and we know nothing about what that is). For help with Audacity Portable, please ask on .

If you want support here, grab Audacity 2.0.1 zipped from .

1. Extract to whatever folder you like (for example, call it “Audacity”). Don’t launch Audacity yet.
2. Extract the six files inside


to the folder you extracted the Audacity files to. Don’t put those six files inside another folder inside the Audacity folder, or you will have to do extra steps to tell Audacity where the FFmpeg files are.

3. Open the folder you extracted the Audacity files to then create a new folder inside called “Portable Settings”. It has to be called exactly “Portable Settings”, not “PortableSettings” or “Portable” or anything else.

Now you can launch Audacity. FFmpeg will be recognised and you can do File > Export… then choose “AMR (narrow band) Files (FFmpeg)” in the “Save as type” box. See this page for help with exporting .


Hi Gale,

I deleted all the Portable Apps Audacity files.

Then, I tried following your instructions explicitly.

I have this now…C:Downloadsaudacity-win-2.0.1 and in there are the following folders:

  1. Audacity folder
  2. FFmpeg_v0.6. … indows folder
  3. Portable Settings folder

After creating the Portable Settings folder I then clicked Extract on the audacity.exe file and the files extracted to C:Downloadsaudacity-win-2.0.1Audacity

There are no files in the Portable Settings folder.

So, now I can play the mp3 song. I can drag the magnifying glass over the wave form area and it starts playing from a certain point and then I can see a grey bar area over the green music area and it stops at the end of the grey area bar.

But, it just seems to create more than one gray area to play music. If I hit Play it starts playing music wherever it wants.

I can find the approximate area I want to save as a clip - almost to the first line after 2:15 but when I try to grab it with the magnifying glass it stops the music and then I play again and I try to stop to grab the rest of that section and it either stops too far or keeps playing to the end.

I’m sure if an experienced sound engineer were working this they’d find it easy but for a novice it’s anything but easy. Once I have that gray bar in place I’m not sure how to Save File or Save Clip? Under File, do I Save Project as?

Is there a youtube video which shows one how to do this?

Thank you.

This is what should be in the Audacity folder:

Portable Settings


The “Portable Settings” folder should not be empty if you place it in the Audacity folder but it will not contain the “audacity.cfg” settings file until after you quit Audacity.

To select audio, press F1 on your keyboard to enable Selection Tool then click and drag in the track.

If you want to zoom in before selecting, do it with the Zoom In button on Edit Toolbar ( ).

For the actual editing down to the selection you want to turn into AMR, try this Tutorial in the Manual: .

As explained in Step 7 in that Tutorial, you have to export in order to produce a file for other players. Save Project only makes a file that Audacity can open.

Remember, you won’t be able to export as AMR without extra steps unless the contents of the Audacity folder are as I listed above.


Steve and Gale,

I’ve got it installed now and working.

I have threpointer exactly where I want to music to begin in a saved.amr file but it’s very difficult to get it to the point I want it to end.

Is there some way to make that finger icon to remain resident?

It just appears from nowhere - I have no idea how it gets on the screen.

I slowly run the mouse down off the line across the top and then into the blue/purple area and sometimes the finger appears other times I spend 10 minutes moving the mouse all around and it never appears.

If I try to shorten or elongate the length of the piece I’m trying to save by using the line across the top (whatever that line is called) and drag it to the right to elongate the piece it doesn’t work.

Only that finger seems to work. But, I don’t know how to make that finger appear and then stay appearing long enough so I can push it with the finger graphic to the right.

Thank you!

Getting that “finger” to appear can be quite tricky as the pointer needs to be quite precisely on the edge of the selection.
Fortunately there is a much easier way, though it requires using one of your own fingers :wink:

Hold down the shift button with one hand.
Now click with the mouse somewhere near the edge that you want to drag - the pointer will not change, but it will automatically grab the closest edge of the selection - you don’t need to be at all precise, it just grabs the closest edge. (this is the method that I use all the time).

My other favourite “trick” is to use Ctrl + Mouse Wheel to zoom in and out.

If you prefer to use the keyboard rather than the mouse, there are several other ways to zoom and to adjust selections - I’ll try and find the links…

Here they are:

That line across the top is the Timeline. Dragging selections in the Timeline just makes a temporary selection that plays (and by design, doesn’t affect the selection in the blue waveform).

Also consider clicking at the starting point of the audio you want to export then (CTRL + B) to add a label there. Do the same for the ending point. Zoom out so you can see both labels then click as close to above the first label as you can. This should snap the cursor to the label (when this works you will see a yellow line). As soon as you see the pointer, drag to the second label and when you see the yellow line, release the mouse button. Now you have your selection ready to edit or export.

Or another way. Instead of labelling the start and end, add a split line at the start with CTRL + I. Do the same at the end.Then double-click anywhere to left of the ending split line to select between the split lines (no need to zoom out).


Getting to that starting point is no easy feat. I had to slide it back and forth many times. Is there any way to calibrate it with numbers?

Ex. You want the music to start at 2.015 and then end at 3.225

Can you type in these numbers anywhere to grab that section numerically?

Otherwise it takes a lot of work to finally get the first mark exactly right and then the end as well.

I thought that finger is what created the area of sound to be grabbed and then saved?

I’m not clear on the CTRL + B process. Do I place the mouse/cursor in the blue/purple area and then once I hear the exact spot I want to start am I supposed to then immediately hit CTRL + B? Is that what will them mark the beginning if the piece to be saved?

And then when I hear the last note I want at the end ht CTRL + B again to mark the end of the price to be grabbed?


Yes. Type the numbers in Selection Toolbar.

Right-click over any of the three spinboxes and choose “hh:mm:ss + milliseconds”. Type 2.015 in the “Selection Start” spinbox and 3.225 in the “End” spinbox (if the button says “Length”, move it to “End”).

Please read the link Steve gave you .

CTRL + B (and CTRL + I) were only suggestions. To add a label at the point you are playing, you have to use CTRL + M. See .

But for what you are describing there is another, easier way. Play the audio. Press [ when you hear the start point. Press ] when you hear the end point. The ] draws a selection between the point in the waveform where you pressed [ and the point in the waveform where you pressed ]. This is in the Manual too ( ).


Hi Gale,

Using the [ and ] works very well and easily.

I was curious if I wanted to ascertain exactly numerically where that starting point and ending points are all I see are 1 and then hash marks and then 2.

How could I determine the exact numbers if I press the [ at someplace beyond the hash mark so it’s farther than 1.25 or 1.5 - maybe it’s around 1.38 or 1.69.

Is there some way to determine the precise starting and ending locations numerically for a section “grabbed?”

Thank you so much for all your help and patience.

This is pretty cool!

I’m not sure what hash mark you are looking at. If you mean the Timeline ( ), you will have to use the zoom button (or CTRL + 1) to zoom in before the Timeline shows many gradations between seconds.

However if you set Selection Toolbar to hh:mm:ss + milliseconds as I described ( by right-clicking over any of the three spinboxes), then change the middle spinbox in Selection Toolbar to “End”, you will be able to read the time of the start and end of the selection you made with [ and ]. The “Start” box will show the time position of the left edge of the selection and the “End” box will show the time position of the right edge of the selection.

If the selection border is not correct, hold SHIFT while pressing LEFT arrow on the keyboard to extend the left edge of the selection further leftwards. Hold SHIFT while pressing RIGHT arrow on the keyboard to extend the right edge of the selection further rightwards

Hold CTRL + SHIFT while pressing LEFT arrow to move the left edge of the selection rightwards (so making the selection smaller). Hold CTRL + SHIFT while pressing RIGHT arrow to move the right edge of the selection rightwards (again, making the selection smaller). See .

If preferred, you can move the selection edges using Selection Toolbar just by changing the number in the Start or End spinbox. You don’t need to be zoomed in to move a selection edge by just a few milliseconds, but you wont see the selection edge move unless you are zoomed in.


I have a green dot placed inside the circle next to the word End in the middle graphic ooh00m00 - I guess that’s one of the 3 spin boxes? But, when I hit play the line goes across playing the music but the numbers in those spin boxes never change in the first or 2nd spin box - they both remain at 00h00m.

When I right click over the middle or first spin box there is a check mark next to hh:mm:ss.

So, it doesn’t seem to register any time elapse when the music plays.

I’d like to be able to first determine the exact time the piece begins and ends and then change that by typing in the numbers in the start and end boxes, respectively.

Thank you.


The Start and End box values do not change unless you click in the waveform, make a selection in the waveform, or modify the digits in the boxes. Modifying the digits in the boxes modifies the length of the selection in the waveform.

To learn how to change the digits in the Start and “End/Length” boxes so as to modify the selected length of audio, click this link in blue then press the “End” button on your keyboard. Then read “Editing the Selection Toolbar values” near the bottom of that page.

I suggest (as I have done already) actually clicking on hh:mm:ss + milliseconds in that right-click menu. This lets you measure time positions (cursor) or selection lengths to the nearest millisecond.

If you click on the link I gave you above ( ) it explains that only the third box (Audio Position) goes round with playback or recording.

The piece should begin at time zero. To demonstrate that, click anywhere in the waveform and press J on your keyboard to move the cursor to the start of the track. Observe Selection Start changes to all zero values. Now hold SHIFT on your keyboard while pressing K on your keyboard. This selects from the start to the end of the track.

  • The End box now displays the end time of the track.
  • If you change the “End” button to “Length”, the box will display the length of the track.
  • Because you are selecting from time zero to the end of the track, the “End” and “Length” buttons display the same value.


I think I’m getting a better idea of this. I read over the link again.

If in the blue/purple area = waveform, I place the cursor and press J it takes everything to the very beginning of the piece captured.

Then, when I hold SHIFT and press K it takes it to the the end of the piece captured and in the hh:mm:ss - whatever that area or function is called it shows End: 14 seconds.

So, if I wanted to shave off any time at the end could I just go into that hh:mm:ss and type in say 12 or 11 to replace that 14?

I’m not clear how I could shave any time off the beginning of the piece since it starts at hh:00:mm:00ss:00?

Also, does Project Rate change how fast/slow the piece will be be saved as? Ex. RPM – revolutions per minute – so you can change how fast a piece will be played as saved if you wanted to accelerate or decelerate how fast a recording will be heard?

Thank you.

Type 12 where the 14 is and the selection will then be from time zero to 12 seconds, because you told Audacity the end (or the length) was 12 seconds.

Why not try it out? You will learn quicker by experimenting.

Replace the zero or zeros in Selection Start with the time you want the selection to start at. For example, if you want the selection to start at 5 seconds, type 5 in the last zero in Selection Start.

If the selection at the end of the waveform jumps past the end, this will be because you have the End/Length button set to “Length”. If you had it set to a “Length” of 12, then with a Start of 5 the end of the selection in the track would move to 17 seconds (5 +12). So if the end of the selection jumps past the end of the waveform, just set the “End/Length” button back to “End”, and change 17 back to 12.

Project Rate controls the “sample rate” of the audio - see .

Sample rate can be thought of as the “density” of audio samples. The more samples there are per second (the higher the sample rate in Hz), the higher the frequencies the audio can contain. Changing the sample rate in Project Rate does not affect the length or the speed, only the quality. It makes there be more samples or fewer samples in the same length.

You should leave the project rate at 44100 Hz for most cases, but as an experiment, import some high quality audio, change project rate to 8000 Hz then play the audio. Just playing won’t change the audio data, but it will be resampled just for playback as if there were only 8000 samples for each second of audio instead of 44100 samples per second. As a result, the audio will sound “dull” because the high frequencies cannot be represented with so many fewer samples of audio.

You can change the speed of the audio by “Set Rate” in Track Drop Down Menu ( ) . This does not change the number of samples in the selection, and so it necessarily changes the length and the speed of the audio. Whatever number of samples are there already are packed into a smaller space (so play quicker) if you increase the rate, or are expanded into a larger space (so play slower) if you reduce the rate.