Hello Audacity team.
I would like to point out something that severely affects the usability of the product.

When you import a large file, (I imported a 2 hour WAV file), that takes a while to import
(a few minutes on my PC). You can not minimize the product and it kind of takes over Windows
until the operation is complete. It steals the focus and stops other tasks from completing.

Can you not modify it to work differently (ie. more elegantly) so that Audacity can be mimized,
and other stuff can be continued?

Audacity does that when you use the default setting of “Copy All Work Before Editing” (or words like that). Audacity is making a duplicate copy of the work and that does take a while – but it’s very safe. If you change the opening setting to reference the work instead of copying it, it might open faster.

It’s part of the File > Open dialog panel in Audacity 1.3.13 and forward.


Thanks you - I’ll try these settings and report back -

In Audacity 2.0 you’ll find the setting in “Edit > Preferences > Import/Export”.

Yes, but it still has to render the waveform and for a large imported file that can also take a while and consume resources.

You should however be able to start work on sections that have already been rendered while the rest of the rendering takes place- and you can get Audacity to change where it works on rendering by clicking in a position in the un-rendered waveform.

Have a look at this page from the 2.0 manual:

and this one:


“Copy All Work Before Editing” was deselected upon install of 2.0.

In other programs I’ve tried that execute these slow import operations (eg. Sound Forge)
you can minimize the import window, and the main window while the import is in progress.

It doesn’t steal the focus, or stop other things from starting/ending.
That means I can do other things while I’m waiting for the
file to be loaded.

Please look at this. The Audacity method is clumsy compared to the others.

I don’t really understand your complaint. If you are working on an old or low power computer then the apparent freezing is probably simply that your computer is running flat out and does not have the resources to do anything else at the same time. On my bargain basement laptop, when using the “Read Directly” option I can start work on a 2 hour WAV file almost immediately. When using the “Copy in” option the import takes only a couple of minutes and I’m typing this while Audacity is importing a 2 hour stereo wav file. (update: it’s just finished)

A clean install of Audacity 2.0 will offer the option of “copy” or “read directly” with an additional option to “Don’t warn again”.
If you were upgrading a previous version of Audacity 2.0 will inherit your preferences from the previous version.
Very old versions of Audacity only had the “copy” method of importing.

It’s possible that some of what I’m seeing is due to the computer. It’s 5 years old, so it’s not state of
the art. I find with a 2 hour wav, it takes about 2 or 3 minutes to read it in and be available.
Possibly be due to what - my HDD speed and/or RAM availability? (I have 2GB)

It takes about the same amount of time in Sound Forge, but the impact is less becaue I can
minizmize it and do other stuff while I’m wating.

I deleted the cfg file when I installed version 2, so I got fresh preferences.

I don’t see how your laptop can be ready “almost immediatly” A 2 hour wav is over 1GB.
HOW fast is your HDD access - considering the program has to read the whole file and build the
wav form before its available?

That is the reason for the “read directly” option. With this option enabled Audacity does not need to read the entire file and build the waveform display before it is available. With this option Audacity does not copy the entire file, it only reads it, so immediately the load time is halved. Also the waveform display will prioritise any place that you click on the waveform.

To select this option go to “Edit > Preferences > Import/Export” and select the option: “Read uncompressed audio files directly from the original (faster)”.

Note that this option only works for uncompressed audio files such as WAV and AIFF.
Note also that if you intend to save the project there are likely to be “dependencies” (see here: ).
This option is not the default because too many users were destroying their own work by moving, deleting or renaming dependent files, however for people working with large files this option is very useful - just be aware about dependencies.

Have you ever had Audacity 1.2.5 or 1.2.6 installed on that computer? If you have then you will not get fresh preferences by deleting the audacity.cfg file. See here for details:

I don’t know why you can’t switch to other applications while Audacity is copying in a file. My computer is probably about 3 years old now and it is only a budget Acer laptop. Which version of Windows are you using?

Steve, I’ll have a chance to see where I am with this on Monday.
It’s installed in XP SP3, but I have dual boot with Vista Ultimate, I
could try it there as well.
I checked the registry, the key mentioned was empty, so it looks
as if I should be good regarding 2.0 preferences.

I’ve seen this odd behavior in other products too. When I download something
from Firefox, the download window opens and it does the same thing. Steals the focus
and disrupts other stuff. Even though I can “see” other Windows,
I’m unable to close them or work on them until the download is finished.

I see what you mean about “read directly” and the “copy …” options. For those doing elaborate projects, this could be
critical. However, my own use is simple. I usually open a single file, modify it in some way, and save it as something else -
so you can see, I’m looking for something that’s quick and efficient.

I’ll do some careful checking tomorrow and update the thread.

I think y’all are talking about different things.

Waxy, Steve et. al. are talking about working on the show while it’s loading. I’ve done that myself. I think davexnet wants to go off and check email while it’s loading and Windows focus is getting stuck. That is annoying. Audacity will prevent a computer from shutting down with that stupid “Save Changes” dialog.

and that’s the thing to which I said “I don’t know why you can’t switch to other applications while Audacity is copying in a file.

which would tend to indicate a problem with the system rather than with Audacity (or Firefox) as this is not normal behaviour for either of these programs.

Are you an administrator on your machine or “lowly User?” Many times our corporate machines restrict users from doing any serious file management in an effort to prevent damage or break-ins. Koz

I’m working on a really old install of XP . Late tonight, I uninstalled and reinstalled my chipset drivers.
(It’s a five year old Nvidia Nforce board with AMD processor). It’s not 100% clean, the uninstall
of one of the components (SATA IDE driver) doesn’t work through add/remove programs,
it’s not even listed in the Nvidia uninstall program. My point is, although the drivers,
as shown by the device manager are installed and working, there are gremlins somewhere.

(one of these days I’m going to find out how to reset this stuff and fix it properly)

The new drivers are installed and the system seems fine. After I retried Audacity,
I got the new behavior. There is no small import window now, the wavform builds a small
amount at a time, and the main window can be minimized. Not sure why it started working,
(something to do with the drivers? Seems a long shot)
I imported a 1 hour 33 minute file (just over 1 GB) in about 25 seconds.
This is much more acceptable. Even the Firefox download problems seems resolved -
perhaps it was a system problem after all - albeit a most obscure one.
Thanks for your help Steve, I’ll post back if anything else develops.
EDIT - the other thing that occurred to me since this was a different WAV file, perhaps There was
an issue with the first WAV I tried and Audacity did not recognize it as uncompressed?
Unfortunately I no longer have the original file to retest.