General question about applying effects to audio

(I’m using Audacity 2.3.3 with Windows 10. This is a general question about applying effects to an audio track. I tried searching the FAQ but I’m not sure of the right terminology.)

Is there only one option with effects, i.e., select the audio and apply the effect, resulting in permanently altering the track? Or is it possible to set up an effect and try it out on a track, then tweak the effect and see how that sounds, then maybe keep the effect waiting in the wings and shut down the program, all the while NOT changing the original audio track until you’re sure you want to apply that effect? This type of thing was possible way back when I used to use Pro Tools, and it seems like such a basic question, but I haven’t found a clear answer.

Thank you,

Maybe the first order of business would be stop using Audacity 2.3.3. The Audacity versions right around that number had file management problems and would, on occasion, damage a show. Use Audacity 2.4.2.

permanently altering the track?

It’s good digital hygiene to keep safety copies of all original work. If this is an original microphone recording, you announcing an audiobook chapter for example, File > Export a WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit sound file before you do anything else. Errors and all. Just scoop up the whole thing and make a copy.

Note that Audacity will not save a sound file. To make a normal, stand-alone sound file (WAV, MP3), you have to File > Export one.

Applying effects, filters, and corrections only permanently alters the work after you close Audacity. Before you close, you always have Edit > UNDO available. Even Audacity Projects which save your timelines, settings, views, and editing environment, do not save UNDO.

Many of the Audacity effects retain the last known working settings. Not all but many. You’ll develop a feel for which ones do the same thing time after time. The Audiobook Mastering Suite of tools is only picky the first time. After that, you can Effect > OK, Effect > OK, Effect > OK.The settings carry over

Also possible is writing a Macro (script or batch) which will do favorite effects for you automatically, including settings. Again, all effects don’t work that way, but many do.

It is notable that Noise Reduction because of its two-step nature, doesn’t lend itself to Macros.