Does Audacity do destructive editing?

If I import or open a sound file in audacity, and do edits, are the changes destructive? Is the original file changed?

Is this behavior dependent upon whether I import or open a sound file?

Have things changed regarding how all this is handled in Audacity? I have read some documentation/tutorials referring to all editing as destructive, but I wonder if this has changed in later versions. (I am currently using version 2.4.2)



When you import an audio file into an Audacity project, the audio data from the file is copied into the project. Audacity never acts directly on audio files.

“Destructive editing” means that when you apply an edit or an effect, the audio data (in the project) is changed immediately. This could be called WYSIWYG editing. It differs from “real-time DAW” apps which don’t change the audio data (in the project) at all, until mix-down or export.

Yes. What steve says.

Note that there are an unlimited number of undo’s. But all of these undo’s will be lost after you save the project and reload it.

The changes are destructive in Audacity to the copy of the sound file that Audacity makes when it imports or opens a sound file.
Audacity is not working on your sound file but rather its own internal copy.

The sound file itself is not affected by Audacity - unless, that is, you choose deliberately to Export your resulting edited audio in Audacity to the same filename as the original audio file (and this is not good or recommended practice).