How to select "what I see"

Please forgive this dumb question. I’m very new at Audacity, but have used CoolEdit96 for years, and am making the transition. The one thing I can’t decipher from the documentation and can’t figure out is: How do I cause the range of audio that is currently visible to be selected? I often ctrl-e to zoom to a range I have selected, but I can’t find the opposite, that is, selecting what I see using some kind of combo keystroke. I admit that some of the items in the menus are too cryptic for me. I tried double clicking but that selected the whole file. I really need to be able to quickly select what I see without further dragging.

I submitted this prior question but forgot to add “Windows 10, Audacity 2.2.2”. But as it’s in review, I can’t go back to add these two items.

But let me describe the broader need. I have a bunch of lengthy back to back segments in a file where segment 1,3,5, etc need one effect, and 2,4,6, etc need a different effect. Each segment is many minutes long. I need to zoom in close to the spot where segment one changes to segment two. I need to mark that as the start of my selection. Then I must zoom way back to find the end point. I then must zoom in closely on the region where the end point will be. I then need to mark that point as the end of my selection. Once I can accomplish that, which I cannot do without being able to select “what I see”, then I will ctrl-3 to zoom out a bit and see the selected region in content, then I’d apply the effect. You can see that this task requires zooming in, zooming out, and changing one of the end points. Oh, and playing of audio must be done to verify where my selection start and end points should be. Yet when I click on a spot in order to start playing there, my selection highlighting disappears!

Audacity does not have that option, but I would ask; How do you get to the situation where the part that you want to select is exactly the part that is visible?

Audacity has several features that can help with this.

When you have a selection, you can zoom in on one end of the selection by hovering the mouse pointer over that end, hold down the Ctrl key and rotate the mouse wheel.
“Shift + Click and drag” to adjust that end position.
Ctrl + [” and “Ctrl + ]” will jump from one end of the selection to the other, without having to zoom in or out.

Another technique that may work well for this task, is to create “splits” in your audio track at the boundaries of each section.
To do this, zoom in close on the region where one section meets the next, then click on the point where it changes from one section to the next. Then press Ctrl + i to split the track at that point. Repeat for each transition point. By splitting the track you are creating separate audio clips for each section. You will then be able to quickly select any of the audio clips by double clicking on the clip.
Note that clicking on a split line will remove the split line and the two clips will be re-joined.

When there is a selection, starting play (either with the Play button or pressing the spacebar) will start playing from the start of the section. There is no need to click and remove the selection.

If you wish to start playback earlier than the start of the selection (so that you hear a run-in to the selection, click on the “Timeline” (the ruler above the tracks) for “Quick Play” (see: Timeline - Audacity Manual
(note: take care that you click on the actual Timeline, and not on the “Scrub Ruler” immediately below it. If necessary, you can hide the Scrub Ruler by disabling it in the “Transport” menu: Transport Menu: Scrubbing - Audacity Manual)

Thanks for trying. But the parts that look helpful to my situation do not work.

When I hover the mouse over a selection start point OR anywhere in the wavform window, all the wheel does is slightly scroll the stereo pair of waveforms upward or downward in the Audacity window.

I really hoped the ctrl [ and ctrl ] key-combos would work. But having a selection made, when I press “[” or “]” while holding the Ctrl key down does absolutely nothing! Are you sure you don’t have your windows keyboard privately mapped for a bunch of things that are not inherently in Audacity??

Oops, I mis-typed :blush: . To zoom with the mouse wheel, hold down the “Ctrl” key (I shall correct my previous post).
Mouse wheel with no modifier keys will scroll multi-track projects up/down.
Mouse wheel with “Shift” will scroll left/right.

They do work, but they may be in the “full set” of shortcuts rather than the shorter “Standard” set. I’ll get back to you on this …

Yes, they’re in the “full” set, and not the “standard” set.
To select the full set, click on the “defaults” button at the bottom of the keyboard preferences, and select “full”.

I haven’t pulled in the “full set” yet. However, I wanted to tell you that just the “quick play” feature allowed me to get done what I needed. I have hardly ever used Audacity for years. Maybe once or twice every year since about 2010. I always DREADED having to try to use it at all. But this interaction has helped me get enough done and enough practice that I am overcoming my dread (slowly) and may find myself able to actually like and get used to it! Thank you for your help! I still love my CoolEdit96, which I’ve used since about '98. However, its limitations are coming more and more to the forefront in my endeavors. (Lack of some features that Audacity has, and especially working with files more than 2GB.)