Enable manual movement of the playback cursor

I searched the forum and found a similar topic “Cursor functionality needs dramatic improvement”:
I added a reply but I recognized only afterwards that this thread is only within feedback and discussion about Audacity 2.X, sorry. So I copy the relevant contents and I have removed the post.

I really miss the possibility to manually move the green “unpinned-head playback cursor” to anywhere in the (especially zoomed) waveform and then start (indefinite) playback. I use this a lot to identify start (and end) points for editing by ear.

The workaround is very time consuming: I need to define a selection, large enough to cover what I want to monitor, then manually increase the zoom level and gradually move the selection start to the point of interest, then click Play.

I also agree that the requested feature to resemble the tape recorder manual reel movement would be nice to have, but for me the simple possibility to manually move the playback cursor in Paused state with Quick-Play disabled by dragging the green triangle (w/o sound) would be a big time saver.


Try clicking on the Time Line (the “time ruler” above the tracks).
See also: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/timeline.html#tqp

Like this? https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/scrubbing_and_seeking.html

I know this function but it is not what I need; the behavior depends on whether QuickPlay is enabled or not:

  • If enabled, playback immediately starts without letting me fine adjust the position (which is what I need and which I would expect to happen if I drag the play head in paused mode - this would be so obvious and intuitive…).
  • If disabled, as soon as the mouse pointer is within the Time Line, only the green tiangle and the attached vertikal line appear and move with the mouse, but cannot be fixed anywhere and disappear as soon as the mouse pointer is moved outside the Time Line. I do not see any application for this.

I also know this function, but even if it mostly works as described (in Stopped mode only, I was not able to reproduce the image https://manual.audacityteam.org/m/images/6/6e/scrubbing_using_the_scrub_ruler.png) it is not very intuitive: If I move the mouse pointer into the Scrub Ruler, the scrub widget and the attached vertical line appear (and disappear if the mouse is moved outside the Scrub Ruler, similar to the Time Line behavior). But as soon as I left-click, scrubbing starts and cannot be stopped except clicking Stop (which causes the scrubbing to reverse until the Stop icon is hit). It would be much more intuitive if scrubbing would be active only as long as the mouse button is pressed. In the current implementation it is useless for me.


Well yes, of course it does. When it’s disabled, it doesn’t work :confused:

You could zoom in and click at the right place.
Note that the vertical white guide line appears when your mouse pointer is hovering over the Time Line, and playback only starts when you click.

Alternatively, click on the waveform and press “Space” to start / stop.

Hi Helmuth,

yes we are well aware that the GUI/UX for scrubbing in Audacity is far from ideal (and varies greatly from most other implementations of scrubbing that I have seen in audio and video editors).

Some of us in QA tried to get the GUI changed but our prevailing fell upon deaf ears. I suspect that at some stage, hopefully the near future, this will be revisited - I have high hopes for that.

Personally I never use scrubbing - I find it too hard to use - I rely on Steve’s Timeline Quickplay :sunglasses:


Fingers crossed :slight_smile:

Personally I never use scrubbing - I find it too hard to use

Of course you scrub. How else would you do it? (looking in stunned disbelief at the Audacity process)

This shortcoming simply wouldn’t be here if at least one member of the development team was an experienced video editor. Also see Mark-In and Mark Out. I don’t need a “Region.” I need a free-form, sticky cut point that doesn’t add another time line.

The scrubbing requests nearly always come from video editor transplants who are accustomed to blasting through long edits on a dead run and cutting down an interview for posting on-line before lunch.

Find a cut point accurately without zooming, Mark In. Find an out point without zooming and before the In Point. Mark Out. Cut.

Counting Control keys as one, that’s five keystrokes. Note the accidental backward edit. Setting an In Point after the Out Point.

That edit is a career move in Audacity.