exporting a file over the original

I’m new to Audacity so far as experience is concerned. I’m exploring using it as an external editor under Windows.

I’d like to know the easiest way to ‘save over’ a .wav file loaded into it. (In Reaper’s case, Reaper makes a backup.)
When I select Export Audio, the directory in the export dialog is not the directory containing the original file.
There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to navigate to where the original file is.

Possibly a preference feature request, but
a) default export folder is folder containing the original .wav file
b) default export file type, sample rate, bit depth etc. is same as original file (e.g. if original is 24-bit, default to exporting as 24bit)
c) a menu item (possibly hidden by default for ‘safety’) that would export over the original.
d) (optional) when saving over, rename the original to a timestamped backup filename

The workflow I’m after is to select an audio item in Reaper, select ‘open in editor’ in Reaper, with Audacity set as the default audio editor. (That much works fine.)

Then I would like to be able to make my changes in Audacity, and then save and close straight back to where I was in Reaper.

Things like using the pen tool to erase a glitch in an audio file is one example:

  1. opening in Audacity takes a couple of seconds,
  2. zooming in takes a couple of seconds,
  3. drawing over the glitch takes a couple of seconds.
    (maybe 10seconds so far)
  4. Figuring out where the original file was and navigating to it in the export audio dialog takes maybe 30 seconds or so – longer than doing the ‘quick edit’.

Good suggestion. :smiley: I have heard others make similar requests before. Perhaps you would like to create a github enhancement request here: https://github.com/audacity/audacity/issues :smiley:

If you install this Nyquist plug-in, it adds a “Import Audio” command to the “Tools” menu. If you then import audio using this new command (rather than using the Import command from the “File” menu), the default export folder is automatically set to the folder that you imported from.
ImportAudio.ny (1.37 KB)
For convenience, you may also want to add a keyboard shortcut to launch the new plug-in. See: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/keyboard_preferences.html

The big problem with “exporting over the original audio file” is that it is a fine and easy use-case when one just imports a single audio file, edits it and then exports it.

But Audacity is a multitask editor - so what is supposed to happen when the user imports a second, or even more, audio files all from different folder locations - use cases may be:
a) User exports whole project - so which of the locations does that export to?
b) User selects a track and exports it - Audacity would have to remember the origin location of the track.
c) Export Multiple using tracks - Audacity would have to remember the origin location of all the tracks to facilitate the export.

Even with a single track use case there can be complications:
d) user imports one track, edits it, makes a selection from within the track and exports - so does that overwrite the pre-existing audio file that was used for the import.

There may well be others …

This the sort of thing that makes programming computers and designing applications often a substantial challenge.


I think that the biggest risk is that overwriting the source file discourages the use of backups. I’d expect that if Audacity provided an easy way to overwrite the source file, we would see many more disasters of people losing important data.

On the other hand, using a plug-in to provide this functionality puts the responsibility firmly on the shoulders of the user - they have to install the plug-in and explicitly use the plug-in instead of Audacity’s native import function - if they do that, then it’s reasonable to expect that they know what they are doing and are aware of the risk.

(Also, the risks are substantially less than they were when Audacity had “on demand” loading)