How to insert selection at the beginning of a track

I’m having trouble figuring out how I can accomplish this: I have an entire song recorded, and I want to go back and add something at the very beginning of the song, but thus far I see no way of doing that without having to do the ‘time shift’ to the rest of all the tracks. Is there simple ‘insert’ option that I can just place wherever I want, instead of having to tediously edit the rest of the song to match up?

What do you mean by “insert selection”?
Are you wanting to paste some audio that you have cut or copied from another part of the project?
Are you wanting to insert a new recording?
Are you wanting to import an audio file into the start of a track?
Something else?

Actually, I’d like to be able to do all the things you mentioned, but specifically I was wanting to copy-paste a selection from another part of the song, onto the beginning, without having time-shift the whole rest of the song. Any suggestions? Thanks

What happens if you just click on the track where you want to paste, and then paste? Does that not do what you want?

If you mean without the rest of the song being time-shifted, so replacing the start of the song with the paste, you have to drag-select a region from the start of the track that is the same length as your copied region. When you paste, the region is replaced with the pasted region. You can use the time boxes in Selection Toolbar to measure the copied audio and select the same length from the start of the track.

If you just place the cursor then the paste is inserted and the audio to right of the paste moves along.


Thanks for the response-
What I’m looking at is actually not replacing a selection, but wanting to insert a new part at the intro of the whole song, without having to time-shift everything. At the moment I don’t see any option to insert at the beginning and having the rest of the song naturally bump ahead to accomodate it, if that makes sense. Thanks!

Do you mean that you want to be able to insert some audio at the beginning of a song, without first having to manually make space, and that you want Audacity to automatically move the rest of the song to accommodate it?

If I understand you correctly, that is the default behaviour in Audacity.

  1. Copy the audio that you want at the start.
  2. With the track selected, press the “rewind to start button” (the cursor is now at the start of the track).
  3. Paste the audio from the clipboard (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+V)

Does that work for you? If not, please describe in detail - we can’t see what you are doing or what is happening on your computer.

Hi Steve,
Thanks for your help- yes, it seems like that’s what Audacity should do automatically, but it’s not.
Here it is in detail:
I have a song all composed, and I realized that I wanted the instrumental intro to repeat one more round before the main verse starts. So I copy the intro, and go to the beginning of the track like you say, and press ‘paste’, and instead of the tracks naturally moving over to accomodate the new selection, it simply copies OVER where I put it, so nothing moves, therefore the only option I can see would be to time-shift everything else by hand, but that’s a major pain and risks getting things out of sync. I got the latest version of Audacity, so I don’t see why it would have anything to do with the version I’m using… any thoughts? This is an issue for anytime I want to insert something anywhere in the song, not just in the intro…

if you have audio “selected”, then the pasted audio will replace the selected audio. (see here for a description of what “selected audio” means:
If you put the cursor at the start of the track but do not select the track or any part of it, then the audio will be inserted at the cursor position.

After the copy, press the |<< button or type J. Then you have removed the selection and moved the cursor to the start of the track. Then Paste.

Or if you what you want to repeat starts at the beginning of the track, select it (no need to copy it), then Effect > Repeat…, type “1” (without the quotes) in “Number of times to repeat”, then press OK.


Unfortunately none of these worked- how do you not select the audio for copying it? I would select it, press ‘copy’, then un-select it, put the cursor at the start of the track, and same thing would happen…

Please read this page carefully:
Does that answer all of your questions about selecting and not selecting audio?

Hmm… I was trying to understand the section on ‘extending or contracting a selection’. I understood the part about selecting the part of the audio you want; in the way it explained how to extend it is where I got lost; it says hold down the shift key then press left or right? Left or right on the keyboard (didn’t work) or on the toolbar/screen?
Thanks for trying to work with me :wink:

There is no reason this does not work:

Perhaps the problem is that you never answered the questions at the top of the page. Try doing that and making sure you have Audacity 2.0.6 from Audacity ® | Download for Mac OS.


LEFT is the left-pointing arrow ← and RIGHT is the right-pointing arrow -->.

Are you able to use a mouse or do you only use the keyboard?