Importing MP3 files (Not Responding)

I’m trying to import an MP3 file but it freezes the program and I can’t figure out why. It’s a large file than I usually try, but even when I split it in two, I have the same issue.
It seems to work at first with the Remaining Time counting down, but when it gets to 00:00:01 it freezes and the program is shown as (Not Responding). Any suggestions are welcome.

How long is the show? Audacity has to de-compress your show into a very high quality internal format for editing. So assuming a 1GB MP3 file at 10:1 compression, you need at least 10GB computer space for Audacity to open it, internal format conversion about 20GB and at least 60GB to do any effects, filters, or processing. And I’m being conservative.

How big is the file and how long is the show. Stereo?


If Koz’s answer did not help, please give us the version of Windows and Audacity (see the pink panel at the top of the page).

Note that if the MP3 file is very long you may have to wait some time after the time remaining gets to 0 or 1 seconds before the waves appear. Audacity is slower doing that than it used to be.


The file is an audio book and is 845MG. I’ve tried opening it on both an older version of Audacity (I’m not sure which version) on a Windows 7 computer and the most recent version which I downloaded to my Windows 8 laptop yesterday. The same thing happens in both cases. It takes about 8 minutes to import it and once it’s hit 1sec remaining, I’ve left the computer and come back 10-15min later and still had it at 1 sec remaining and nothing showing up.

After some research I cleared some space on my laptop drive and have over 20GB free. I tried again and the same thing happened.

Not sure where to go from here.

I updated the version on my desktop (Windows 7) and left it running in the background while I did something else. When I finally looked at it again the waveform had come up, so the problem may have been a combination of things - not enough room on my notebook, old version on my desktop, and not enough patience by me!

Thanks for your help.

With 20GB free, I’m betting the first time you try to do filters or effects, the machine is going to stop working. Audacity has to keep recursive copies of the show to make UNDO work. So see my earlier post. You may force the show to open, but I bet it doesn’t stay opened.


In a nutshell you may not have realised that Audacity expands imported audio to PCM, so you probably don’t have enough disk space to usefully edit.

Right-click over the file in Explorer, choose Properties then the “Details” tab. Does it show you the bit rate, if so what is it? Or easier, how long is the file assuming you got it all imported?

If it’s at Koz’s 10:1 compression then the MP3 is 128 kbps. That takes 1 MB of space per minute as opposed to 16-bit stereo WAV PCM (@44100 Hz sample rate) which takes 10 MB per minute. If it’s 128 kbps that makes your file about 14 hours long.

But Audacity storage defaults to 32-bit float 44100 Hz PCM, not 16-bit. So when Audacity expands a 14 hour MP3 to 32-bit float @44100 Hz, that’s 1.2 GB per hour, or nearly 17 GB. The file would be slow importing because with 20 GB disk space there is almost nowhere to put it - Windows would be seeking all over the drive to find unused sectors.

If the file is over 13.5 hours and you are using 44100 Hz project rate (see bottom left of Audacity) then you can’t save it as an Audacity project in older versions of Audacity - the project will reopen silenced. So look at Help > About Audacity… and ensure it says 2.0.6 to avoid that problem.

And if the file is over 13.5 hours and you are using 44100 Hz project rate and 32-bit float (look above Mute/Solo to left of the waves) then you won’t be able to do any editing unless it is just a trim of the start or end or similar.