feature to reorder or remove standard metadata tags

There may be some reason, but I can think of none that requires Audacity to compel the use of the 7 standard metadata tags as it does. I don’t mean the data, I’m referring to the standard tags themselves which cannot be edited or removed. For our personal collections this may not be the items or order of items we want at all, and I find it annoying and intrusive to have them unalterable as permanent fields. I’d like to organize my collection with my own tags, in the order I prefer, on top. Can anyone explain why user customization of these seven tags is deliberately prevented? I suggest a feature added to the metadata editor in which these tags can be organized to suit the users preferences or removed altogether and replaced by tags more appropriate to a particular user.

Because they are “standard” for many audio formats.
The specification for RIFF formats state that non-standard metadata should be ignored. Many other formats have similar restrictions. By including these in the Metadata Editor, users have some guidance as to which tags are likely to be supported.

If you create a custom tag “YearCreated” instead of the standard tag “Year”, then the value will not be read as the year, but just as arbitrary text, or ignored.

You can add arbitrary tags as custom tags (click the “Add” button in the Metadata Editor Metadata Tags Editor - Audacity Manual)
You can leave the default tags empty.

The point of asking for a template cleaned of all labels and without so-called “standard” tags being imposed when exporting files has nothing to do with how they may be used or what standards are needed by someone else who decided certain tags were “necessary”. It has to do with the purposes and preferences of the person using/editing audio files for their own needs and purposes. Those may have nothing to do with what “standard” or RIFF or other formats or anyone else thinks are necessary for external usage. In my case (and I suspect for may others) metadata information is used to organize my personal music collections and not to transmit to, nor inform some outside user or industry need. The “standard tags” only get in the way and make a messy job of doing that. Audacity should provide for an alternate, clean template and allow the user to decide if they wish to employ “standard tags” or their own alternate default template for audio file data. Audacity should provide a “standard label” template for those who want or need those tags. But it should not be imposing that as an uneditable fact. Whether empty or not, customized with additions or not, it only makes the metadata format less readable and more messy for users that don’t want “standard” labeling for their metadata.

As I’ve already explained, Audacity does allow the user to use any tags they like, just click the “Add” button in the Metadata Editor. The standard tags are used by millions of people, so we are not going to remove them.

So what I suggest you do is export your audio files with blank metadata (you can turn off the metadata acquisition on Export in Export preferences) and then use an external metadata editor of you choice to tag the files.

I export like this and use iTunes to manipulate my required metadata.

You have to remember that, at the end of the day, Audacity is focused on being a good audio editor - and not a metadata editor.


Nothing you have said or you, or I or millions of people may want or do addresses the simple question "Why shouldn’t the Audacity user have the choice about what tags and tag order they want? It would be a very simple thing to implement. Simply permit the user to create and default to a template with their own preference for tag and tag order, and only that. Not a big deal really. And, yes, organizing (via metadata) is an integral part of editing audio files. Otherwise, why would Audacity even include or display metadata as one of its features. It could simply refer all metadata display and editing to a 3rd party.

As I’ve written several times, users absolutely can use whatever tags, in any order they want. To do so, add custom tags.

We have these “standard” metadata tags beacuse they are a standard - the ID3v1 and ID3v1.1 standard - see this Wikipedia page: [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ID3#ID3v1_and_ID3v1.1[5](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ID3#ID3v1_and_ID3v1.1[5)] - I note that both Microsoft and Apple used these standard metadata tags (and neither offers user-customization)

As such we are extremely unlikely to remove them (or make them user configurable - THE ROI would not be worth it).

As Steve has pointed out to you you can create your own additional metadata (in a metadata template) labelled and ordered however you wish - but these come after the standard IDV3 tags.

I hope you are aware that the size of the Metadata editor is user-configurable, so you can, for example, extend it downwards with click&drag thus showing a lot more of your custom tags without having to scroll. Sadly Audacity does not remember the size that you set, so the next time you use the Metadata editor you would need to enlarge the dialog box again.

If you have C++ programming skills you could modify a copy of Audacity for yourself to customize the Metadata tags, better still if you are a skilled C++ programmer you could make the customization and submit a patch for consideration for inclusion in Audacity.

And even better still if you are a really skilled C++ programmer you may wish to help us with working on metadata in Audacity - we do have an outstanding proposal in our Wiki from 2 years ago: https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Metadata_Options
Plus I maintain a Wiki page to monitor the several metadata bugs that we know about: https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/User:PeterSampson/Metadata_issues

The problem is that we are a very small team of volunteers who run this project in our spare time with a tiny team of developers - so unless one of the developer gets a bee in their bonnet about metadata (or someone comes along who wants to work on metadata) the proposal and bugs lay largely untouched. As this is a volunteer project the developers largely get to choose what they work on - and that is what interests them personally.

I did add your initial comment in this thread to the Wiki proposal for future consideration should anyone pick the proposal up to start discussing it and working on it.


Also worth noting that after adding custom tags, you can click the “Set Default” button to save it as the new default.

All very interesting but what does any of it have to do with my original suggestion? My original request was about Audacity’s imposition of standard tags at all. No reason to force them into templates that a user wishes to customize to their own needs and preferences. A user’s idea of what tags are appropriate and the order they appear in is really a matter for them to define. Certainly their can be a template included by Audacity with the standard tags present. But to make them unalterable by a user can only intrude on their own intentions if they differ. And no, I am not proficient in C++ and don’t plan to be. I once was, as well as a dozen other languages, but that was 40 years ago in another career. Its entirely out of my scope of practice. Still I know enough to know that getting the editor out of the way of full customization of a metadata template is not a complicated thing. it only requires pulling or disabling those modules that pre-load standard tags into every template, no matter what the user wants. Why should they have to scroll or resize or anything to read through 7 tags that they don’t want at all? I appreciate the work of a limited number of volunteers, and certainly the capability and usefulness of Audacity they have made possible. But I don’t see any particular hardship or complex software engineering to get a bossy metadata editor to stop being bossy.

There is another matter about the editor itself (bugs?) that someone might want to look into sometime. I noticed while creating customized templates and exporting or importing mp3 files using them, or defaulting to them, Audacity would drop some of the custom tags or reorder them on its own. Not what one would expect an editor to do Needs to be fixed I think.

Thanks for your replies, though I don’t think they are relevant to my principal suggestion. I’m checking out of this conversation now. It might be interesting to carry it on in private, but I found, as a “newcomer” I am barred from even contacting Steve or anyone else to see what a back-channel discussion might yield (a restriction I think self-defeating for this forum, but that’s my opinion.)

wish you all well, whatever you elect to do or not do on this. So long…

Considering that I am reading your posts, and you are reading my posts, you clearly are able to contact me. Anything you have to say about this can be said in open forum, but I think that everything has now been said. Thanks you for your suggestion, but for the reasons given by waxcylinder and myself, the standard tags will not be removed.

Actually, Steve — sorry to come to this late
— I’m trying to find out why Audacity’s Metadata Editor does not seem to add these newly created custom tags.

[I am using the latest (Audacity 2.4.2) on a mid 2011 iMac running High Sierra (10.13.6 is the most up to date OSX it can run).]

When I export to .mp3 it offers those [Add] options: I get to insert new rows and even to save my metadata template for consistent re-use. Great!


• I’ve just patiently uploaded 44 files for a short audiobook — took me a month — every one tagged with my extra custom tags, “Author,” and “Chapter and Section.”

• Each export has saved happily.

So far as I can see, Audacity has no means to inspect or alter these tags after the file’s creation (am I right? — that would be a super handy feature) — so I invested in a great, cheap piece of software called “Tag Editor.” Basically, this allows you to open a spreadsheet with a row for every .mp3 file, and every bit of metadata and file info it can glean presented in columns. For example, it tells me the tag format is “ID3v2.3.0.

• Here’s the weird bit: my newly created custom metadata is not there! Completely invisible to the Tag Editor.
— The other, standard, tags are all there. Just not my customised tags.

So is it possible that

• Mac, in implementing that tag format, prevents Audacity from adding customized metadata tags by simply not saving them?

• Alternatively, if custom ID3 tags are just invisible to Tag Editor, is there some other way to see all extra metadata?

I was searching for an answer when I stumbled on this thread.
Grateful to know if anyone has seen these questions addressed elsewhere.

Thanks, chaps,


  1. Open a new (empty) Audacity project. By default the metadata will have no tag values.
  2. Import the MP3 file.
  3. “Edit menu > Metadata”. Observe that the file’s metadata tags are now shown.

There are no guarantees that other apps will see custom tags.
Most MP3 metadata editors should be able to see the “standard” tags in an MP3 (though not many apps support any metadata tags in WAV files).

That’s terrific, Steve.

When I imported the .mp3, I could see that all of the custom metadata was there.

Sad that it’s not visible to the Tag Editor, since that was my main reason for purchase. (Still a very handy app for those who need to block edit standard metadata across many files — it provides a huge range of columns for all sorts of purposes; just can’t edit or see the custom tags as offered by Audacity).

Thanks once again for the useful tip.

“you can turn off the metadata acquisition on Export in Export preferences”

There is no way to do this, or at least no documentation, and no settings I can find.

I think what waxcylinder meant was:

“By default, the “Metadata Editor” pops up on Export - you can turn that off so that Audacity does not prompt for metadata”.
That option is called: “Show Metadata Tags editor before export”, documented here: Import / Export Preferences - Audacity Manual

Audacity will not retain the order of metadata tags. I added “Lyricist” after “Composer” because I want to view that information together. But whether I add them in preferred order, reorder the .xml file and “Clear” and “Load Template,” the fields change order. It’s not alphabetical either.
Any solutions?

Long ago I suggested that users should be able to select their own default preferences for the labels and order of metadata. I was brushed off with the comment that the order of the first set of tags was an “industry standard.” But a lot of us are not using Audacity to exchange or send files to anyone using industry standards. We use them to organize our personal libraries or send them to friends. I still maintain the default preference should be changeable to any set of labels and order we want. Shouldn’t be hard to do. Allow for clearing the standard format and entering any labels in any order we wish, along with a checkbox ‘use as default’.