How to use transport toolbar (advance/return) ?

To listen a long recording, I cannot go ahead or back with the transport toolbar ; like any good old recording machine (rapid advance or rapid return). So that I can’t select a specific moment of my recording.

How to proceed ?

Thank you and merry Christmas !

If you can’t see all of the track, press the “Zoom to fit” button:
Then, to set the playback position, click on the track.

These links may also be useful:

Thank you to Steve.
But I have great difficulties to use that zoom and select a specific recorded period.

On your keyboard, try RIGHT arrow for short forwards seeks while playing, or SHIFT + RIGHT arrow for longer forwards seeks while playing.

You can also use period/dot (.) instead for short forwards seeks and SHIFT + . for longer forwards seeks. These work when Audacity is playing or not.

For backwards seeks, use LEFT arrow or comma (,) instead of RIGHT arrow or period/dot.

You can change the short and long seek times in Playback Preferences .


Which is a long way of saying Audacity doesn’t scrub. You can’t just grab the playhead and push it around to make the audio speed up or slow down and get to an edit point. It’s a Very Frequently Requested Feature.

I use only three magnifiers and drag-select to do almost everything. I turn off Preferences > Tracks > Auto Update.

Drag-select a portion of the show’s blue waves close to what you need and zoom into it Control-E. If you miss it you can zoom back out a little with Control-3. Zoom out to the full show with Control-F. That’s it. I don’t use any of the other zoom or track management tools.

We don’t have Edit Markers, either, but we do have Labels and you can do a lot with them.


Sorry. You’re on a Mac. It’s Command-E, Command-3 and Command-F.

Thank you Gale ! This is very helpful.
It now works, but I do not understand the second option : You can also use period/dot (.) instead for short forwards seeks and SHIFT + . for longer forwards seeks. These work when Audacity is playing or not. . I have a french keyboard and I am not familiar with all this.

Thank you also to Koz.
Nevertheless, only shift (right or left) on the Mac keyboard works for me. Command E, 3 or F no.

Yes, so @lavomatic - if you want to add a “vote” for scrubbing, let us know. There is a simpler “scrubbing” that just lets you drag the playhead and does not produce sound until you release the drag. Perhaps that is easier for us to implement.

The “.” is for the convenience of users of English keyboard layouts. In French layout you may have to use SHIFT and semicolon to produce the period/dot and so SHIFT + period/dot will not work.

If you only need seek when playing, you can just use SHIFT + RIGHT for the long forwards seek when playing.

If you want to use one shortcut for long forwards seek whether playing or not, choose Audacity > Preferences, then the “Keyboard” section. In “Keyboard”, change to the “Command” category, then find “Cursor Long Jump Right” and change it to some other convenient shortcut. See Keyboard Preferences - To change or add a binding .


Sounds not very accessible to my ears.
In my opinion, , the normal behaviour of such such a function would be to continuously play a short segment and a mouse movement or wheel turning would shift the cursor position.
Alternatively, the current keys (. and ,) could act more dynamically.
The faster you press the keys in succession, the farther the cursor moves, ie. the step is larger and the play speed higher.

Thank you again to all,

Drag-select some portion of the blue waves. Command-E Zoom into it. Command-3 zoom out a little bit and Command-F zoom out to the full song. Command-E’s official name is Zoom Into Selection. If you don’t select anything, it doesn’t work.

For example, if you want to accurately snip off the noisy end of a song, Command-F Zoom out full, drag-select the end of the song over on the right and zoom into it with Command-E. Spacebar play it to make sure you know where everything is and then drag-select the portion you want to delete. Press Delete.

Command-F back to the full song.

You may want to get a lot more accurate than that with more zoom-ins if you need it, but you did the whole surgery with two of the three three command keys plus the Delete key. If you decide you’re going to do this for nine hours a day for a living, then you can get good with the other navigation keys, but I do almost everything in those keys.

I would suggest strongly you de-select Preferences > Tracks > [_] Update Display. If you don’t, the blue waves may slide out from underneath you if the cursor goes to the end of the screen – hiding your edit points.


Thanks again to Koz.

It’s still not ideal in a long track, because you are not going to be able to select accurately enough when zoomed out to fit the track in the window.

But if you use this and want to work on both ends of the zoomed in selection, another useful pair of commands is View > Go to Selection Start (CTRL + [ ) and Go to Selection End (CTRL + ] ). This places the start or end of the selection respectively in the centre of the screen.


Do you want to vote for dynamically modifying the selection while loop playing? As it is now, if you loop play a selection then modify the selection, loop play carries on playing the old selection.

The faster you press the key, the play speed is higher now, so I’m not sure if we need this complexity. There would still need to be an option to keep the step length the same.


A dynamical selection adaption would be great, I’ve always missed this feature.
It should be a kind of intelligent too in order to function efficiently. For instance, a short part (0.1 s) of the selection start or end would be played twice or trice when the boundary is move in either direction. After that, the loop play would go on as usual.
Without such a feature, adjusting long selections won’t benefit from this improvement.
Furthermore, the key combinations Shift/Ctrl-Shift+Arrow had to be enabled for loop playback. I think that the different behaviours for the (Shift +) Arrow keys are unlucky chosen.
We should sharply differentiate between seek functionality (as with comma and period during play mode) and cursor or selection start/stop adjustment (as with the modifiers + arrow keys during stop mode). We have currently an unholy mixture.
A proper separation would us enable to expand the selection on the fly. Currently, only shrinking is possible because the play back does not go over the current boundaries (only with the “Set/Extend Selection” keys though).

I wonder if some of the described features could be emulated with an autohotkey script or a similar program.

Or we could design Scrubbing just like every video editor on earth, every mechanical editor and some digital sound editors.

But if you use this and want to work on both ends of the zoomed in selection, another useful pair of commands is View > Go to Selection Start (CTRL + [ ) and Go to Selection End (CTRL + ] ). This places the start or end of the selection respectively in the centre of the screen.

Which brings up Edit Points which we’re also missing. In the event you can’t zoom in and out far enough at the same time (the selection is too big) I’ve been known to use labels at the IN and OUT points and fake it that way. The labels become sticky when zoomed out. If you’re a fumble-fingered doofus (certainly nobody I know) leave some of the work behind (make a sloppy edit) intentionally and zoom in tight for a surgical strike in a second edit. You will critically inspect each edit anyway before moving on. Nowhere is it written you have to do everything in one pass.


Thanks, Robert. I’ve noted your vote and comment. Yes you cannot expand a selection while playing because it instead does long seeks. Perhaps we would only use SHIFT + period/dot and SHIFT and comma for long seeks, and not SHIFT and LEFT/RIGHT.


Please describe this. Is it markers in the waveform, not in a separate label track?


I found this thread by searching for “scrubbing” and apologise if this isn’t the most suitable place to make a humble request for including scrubbing. Especially (but not exclusively because) as a blind user, scrubbing is an extremely valuable feature. Ideally scrub speed could be varied from very slow to quite fast. Slow is good for getting an edit point, while fast is good for finding gaps, changes in the audio etc. The short and long seek facilities are useful, but scrubbing would be a great addition.