How do I get audacity to use the time shift when exporting

Using Audacity 2.0.3 for Mac I have trouble getting it to respect the time shift I have applied to a track when I export.

I think I’m doing something wrong or maybe trying to use Audacity in a way it’s not meant to be used?

I record videos using a DSLR camera (Canon EOS 7D). At the same time a I record sound separately using a audio recorder (Zoom Handy Recorder H4N).

I open the videofile and the sound file using Audacity.

I copy/paste the sound files stereo track to the videofile project, by first adding a stereo track).

Now the videofile project has four tracks.

I use the time shift tool to move the lower two tracks (from the sound file) to match upp with the video files tracks. When this is done, they are synchronized.

Now my trouble start. I would like to get out the lower two tracks, originally from sound file to a new file, with this applied time shift. This means that I want to export to a new sound file containg just the two lower tracks, that would actually start exactly the same time as the video files sound. Then it would be easy to line up video track and sound track in a my video editing software edge to edge, since they start at the same time. This for some reason does not happen. When I export I get the entire lower track, starting at the same time the original sound file does, not at the time the video file does, which is what I want.

I have tried the mute- and solobuttons, exporting to separate files and also, deleting the upper two tracks from the video file before exporting and also mixing them together while exporting. The last thing I don’t want (this is mixing good sound and bad sound of the same speech). I have also tried several selections, the lower two for instance, then export selection. None of it works. When exporting the time shift seems to be forgotten. Is this the case?

What am I doing wrong?

Audacity does not recognize the area between time zero and the start of the show as a “real thing,” so it vanishes when you export. The easiest way around this is create a new track with silence underneath everything. Audacity will “marry” the silent track to your show during export and fill in the leading space.


Thanks for the reply Koz! I’ll try that.

Would you like the idea that we added a preference to respect white space between time zero and first audio when exporting? We might do that sometime.


No, between Timeline Zero and First Music. More than one person tried to time a performance by simply moving First Music to the right and they got hosed when that interval vanished during export. First Music is not Performance Time Zero. Generally, Performance Time Zero and Timeline Zero are the same.

What Audacity does now (by accident) you would expect to get by carefully drag-selecting the music (wherever it is) and Export Selection.


Agreed, that’s what I meant to say, which I’ve corrected now. Though some people do want to respect audio before zero, which only export multiple does.

Have we counted your vote yet for a preference to respect space between time zero and first audio?

If not, you have one vote left :wink:


Though some people do want to respect audio before zero, which only export multiple does.

That would seem to produce an undefined file since you can’t “see” before zero. Why would you want that? And how did you get that without causing Audacity to become unstable?

Final Cut Pro video editor keeps a fixed timeline with the assumption that Time Zero is First Show no matter what else happens. You can place a brief tick 45 minutes into a fresh, clean show and your product will be a show with 45 minutes of dead silence and then a tick. It does take a little getting used to, but it relieves you of the responsibility of keeping track of dead space in the heat of editing (we’re frequently doing this with four people in the room talking at once).

I think that’s probably overall a good thing (the silence management, not the talking).

Oddly, I don’t remember what happens at the end. I need to ask about that.


Audacity manages behind-zero audio OK when you Export Multiple by tracks.

I think the main rationale is not losing some of the audio if you time shift behind zero (accidentally, or perhaps because you are using Sync-Lock and it’s easier not to worry if some audio goes behind zero).


I’m in favor of this with corresponding help article about ut.

It’s really hard to figure out why this happens. It would be a better user interface if the export of track 2 and 3 used time zero of track 1. If I timeshift track 2, about 10 sec to the left of time zero to match upp with track 1, I fully expect the exported track 2 to start at time zero and not minus 10 sec to the left of time zero.

If I didn’t want this behaviour, why would I timeshift?

Something like “Use time zero of which track as start of sound” and a selector for tracks in the file in the export dialog would be good in case the current behaviour is as it should be. Then I can select track 1 for instance. Thoughts?

As in one of the above posts, the area between Time Zero and First Music should simply be respected as a Real Thing instead of ignored. I don’t think there’s a lot of argument with that. That’s been an annoyance for a while.

The idea of surgically selecting some specific portion of a track and File > Export Selection is already an old news, legacy tool.

It’s the real show work to the left of Time Zero that’s in question. How would you like us to handle that? Suppose you slide track two sideways and it theatrically matches the main show on track one perfectly with some of track two poking out before Time Zero. Now what? Audacity is likely to damage some of that sticking-out audio, so it’s a serious problem.


I don’t think you can do that with a manual tool like Time Shift, but some of the filters and effects can do that by accident. Same problem.

Audacity won’t export audio before time zero with straight Export or Export Selection. But video sync is another case where you may actually want to export audio behind zero. I’ve had the problem Koz mentioned myself when editing audio for a video. I couldn’t export before zero so I timeshifted to start from zero, exported, then adjusted the audio timeshift in the video editor.

I don’t know if there would be a case for some kind of export marker that you could move where you want including behind zero. The export would start from that marker time, and if the marker was in white space before the start of the audio then the space would be rendered as silence.


Takin’ bets how many other things break when Time Zero becomes a variable instead of fixed.
Where does the “Home” key go?

I’ll win that bet because export behind zero works with Export Multiple by tracks - try it :wink:

The Home key or J only goes to time zero, so a change would be needed if some “marker” was to go behind zero.