Easier to see selections

Hi, glad to see the 2.3.1 release, now 1+ reason to move to Linux…

I use the Dark Theme; sadly selections in highly compressed waves are impossible to see (in my monitor at least).
In no-so compressed waves it’s easier but still not good.
So please consider eg my proposal of colors (I doubt you would make them totally user selectable, at least in the short term).

[as an aside, anyway, could you please put the picture for the Dark Theme in the customization Wiki? (for other changes; from the Wiki, I think there are no ‘squares’ for the selection colors, only for the regular wave colors; the selection seems is hardcoded as a whitish layer on top.)]

[The Dark Theme is good not only for darkness sake, but blue light eg. from monitors has been shown to be bad for biorhytm (specially at night) and bad for the eyes]

I imagine that listening to sound that looks like that is not very good for biorhythm either :confused:

If you have the track set to “Waveform (dB)” view, try setting it to normal “Waveform” view.

The screenshot is taken in normal “Waveform” view, not in “Waveform (dB)” view, wich I never use.

And it sounds perfectly fine, maybe you are used to look at Waveforms of your own recordings or of Classical music, but this kind of compression is very common in modern comercial music, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

In fact there are many recordings that are more compressed than the picture I posted (at low zooms it looks basically ‘flat’ at the borders with no whatsoever distinguishable variation, 0 grey part to help seeing the selections).

It doesn’t sound ‘superloud’, simple there is no much variation in average volume, no low volume untill the end’s fade out.

Given that you can see absolutely no detail in the waveform at that zoom level with that amount of compression, why does it matter if you can’t see exactly where the edges of the selection are?

I normally use the light theme as I find it easier to see what I need to see. In this extremely compressed track, I’ve no idea which beat of the bar the selection starts on (I’d need to zoom in a long way for that), but I can clearly see that I’ve selected approximately 30 s to 1:00, and a quick glance at the Selection Toolbar shows that the selection is precisely 30.388 s to 1m 2.359 s.

When I zoom in close enough that it actually matters what I can see, there is no problem seeing the edges of the selection:


Many edition operations can be made at lower zooms, no need to go to the ‘beat of the bar’ level, and it’s very annoying and stressing to the eyes to try to see where the selection starts-ends in the wave, one should not have to resort to look up at the ruler/ look at numbers/whatever unless wanted to do so, not out of necessity from lack of a very simple visual design thing.

Some audio editors are actually very extreme eg the colors of the central and outer parts of the wave are flipped so it’s always very clear and immediately viewable what is selected, sort of like this
(or the user just choose whatever colors, but i understand that’s much to ask now).

Having clear selections in the waveform is nothing extraordinary, the strange thing is how is it not so now in Audacity.

Thanks for your comments aud2019user. To some extent I have been “devil’s advocate” in order to gauge the strength of argument.
Personally I agree that it would be helpful to make the selected region more clear, and have previously argued the same case myself.

I think the strongest case for this is when a project has multiple tracks and the waveform is very dense in all tracks. For example, compare the two images below:

In the second image, I think it is much easier to see the selected region in track 2.
In this example, I have just increased the lightness and contrast of the waveform color - the same could be done whatever the waveform color, though for a very light waveform color (in a custom theme), we either accept that selections won’t show up so well, or Audacity would need to calculate a darker color for selected audio.

I’m less keen on having vertical lines for a couple of reasons:

  1. A black line would not show up so well on dark waveforms (some of the waveform color options are quite dark).
  2. It would conflict with the yellow “boundary snap” lines (see: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/boundary_snap_guides.html)

    Would you be happy with this wording of a proposed enhancement:

Change color of waveform when selected, not just the waveform background. > This would improve the visibility of the selected region, especially when editing high amplitude, highly compressed audio and full scale test tones.


I would


Yes, it’s fine, either lightening the wave more like in your example (or darkening it more for Dark Themes, maybe a selectable option) would work.
I agree that it’s better without lines, as long as the colors contrast enough.

Maybe with pictures in the entry or a link to this thread to give the developers a reference so they don’t go again too subtle with the changes.


I’ve put a link to this thread.

I’ve added your “vote” too.

I have been using Audacity since the first betas came out. I agree that seeing selections easier would be great! Maybe inverting colors in the selection would be an easier switch. Also, if left and right in stereo tracks could be different wave colors would be nice.

My highly customized 2.0.6-based gives the user a lot of control over color but fails in this regard.

Wow. I would go back to that version if it had controls like that!

Read Ed’s footnote - it is a personally customized version that he built based on a now very old Audacity version - much bug-fixing and many new features since then.


Here is a link to a May 2019 build:
Since this version’s Preferences will not be compatible with any of Audacity’s other versions you should either backup your preferences (Details on where preferences are stored: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/preferences.html#stored) before trying this out or create a Portable version (directions in the manual: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/portable_audacity.html).

The version that is linked to above is in heavy use by a number of commercial organizations. I use it heavily on a daily basis. Many of the bug fixes of newer versions of Audacity have been incorporated (though none of the enhancements). Some of the unfixed bugs and enhancement requests of newer versions have been dealt with. Nevertheless, this is still basically version 2.0.6 and, as such, is NOT 2.3! However, with the exception of many enhancements, it should look and act basically the same as any recent Audacity.

I have thorough documentation as a Microsoft® Word document but the most current has proprietary client data included; I will strip that data out and post the resulting documentation later today.

Here’s the documentation for my highly customized Version of Audacity 2.0.6:
This is a Microsoft® Word document; someday I hope to turn it into an HTML document.

Thanks, I will try as a portable. Much appreciated, will let you know how well it works.

Very tempting to downgrade version for this…
any plans to enhance a more recent version?
or would it be too difficult for the official Audacity team to incorporate your code?

Audacity has had a major facelift when it comes to the underlying code - there has been (and still ongoing) a very strong push by a new-to-Audacity developer to modernize the code. Although the language remains the same he is using new idioms and constructs with which I am not familiar. To enhance a more recent version would require me to relearn C++ (the programming language in which Audacity is written) and relearn the Audacity code base (probably a couple of years worth of time and effort).

The Audacity team has an underlying philosophy which, in part, boils down to “no new menu items and no new preference items”. My philosophy is “power to the user”. The Audacity team consists of a couple of “lead developers” (think programmers) and a small handful of very sophisticated, long time Audacity users (little or no C++ programming experience) plus one person well along in the process of transitioning (a non-lead developer?) as he learns C++. I worked very closely with the Audacity team for a few years both as a programmer and on the documentation. Unfortunately, the primary lead developer and I have a personality clash so my code offerings are not accepted for review; I have offered each change as a standalone feature or bug-fix “diff” to the then-current Audacity code base (hundreds of them) to the Audacity team as a formal submission. I also post each one here in this forum of this board (most of the “crew” of this board are formal members of the Audacity team).

A bit of an exaggeration :wink: though there has been, for a long time, a resistance against “feature creep” and “preferences creep”. While it’s probably not a problem for a personal version of Audacity to add new menu items whenever anyone asks, it would be a very big problem if the official release version did that, simply because of the huge number of new things that get requested.

A classic example of this problem was the “Click Track” generator - initially it was intended to just be a simple “metronome” track generator, but after a few years of feature creep it had over 20 controls - which is ridiculously over-complicated for someone that just wants a metronome click. It has since been renamed as “Rhythm Track”, and given a significantly simpler interface, but as you can see, it is still pretty complicated for something that is essentially a glorified metronome (https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/rhythm_track.html)

At some point there is likely to be a major overhaul of how preferences are handled, such that many more options are available but within a simpler and more manageable system. A similar thing is also likely to happen to the Effects menu, so that a larger number of effects can be managed easily without overwhelming new users with a massive list of effects.