Can I run Audacity 2.x and 3.x on the same machine?

I’m in the middle of a large project and would like to upgrade to the version 3 of Audacity, but only if I can easily revert to version 2 if there are problems. Is it possible to install version 3 and keep version 2 just in case?

Audacity 3.x uses a new format for Audacity projects. Whereas previous versions used an AUP file plus a “_data” directory full of files, Audacity 3.x uses a single AUP3 file.

Audacity 3.x can import old style projects, but Audacity 2.x can NOT open the new style projects, neither can you save old style project with Audacity 3.x. Thus, any projects that you create with Audacity 3.x cannot be used with Audacity 2.x (you can of course export as WAV or some other audio file format which is compatible with either version.

If you want to try Audacity 3.x without removing 2.x, I would highly recommend using the ZIP version of Audacity and create a “Portable Settings” folder so that it is kept separate from your installed version. See the instructions here: but note that although that suggests using a USB stick, it will perform better if you unzip it to your hard drive (such as into your “Documents” folder). Do not unzip it to a “system” area of the hard drive.

I’m in the middle of a large project

You are, of course, loudly warned against making any changes to your machine during a project. What would happen if your project stopped opening? Real World. You click on the Project files and nothing happened, or it opened up silent.

Audacity can be installed in “portable” configuration.

I didn’t do it that way. I’m on a Mac and I just made up folders under Applications for each version.

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That can be dangerous because each version tends to accumulate the plugins and settings of the ones that came before. My laptop has 12 different Audacity versions stacked up like that. Once, several months ago I had to figure out where a particular plugin came from.

It’s in one of those 12. Normally, I keep terrific records of what went where.


Thanks Koz. I agree. I’ll save the upgrade until I’ve got the last song of the project safely edited.