Improve editing functions

Audacity 2.2.2 is a fabulous program and is full of all kinds of processing effects that are usually found only in paid software. It’s a great post-production tool. However, when it comes to editing functionality, Audacity leaves something to be desired. I do a lot of spoken word editing, which often requires extremely tight cuts, sometimes even between syllables. I miss a simple, clear Marker function (I find Labels awkward to use). I also find the keyboard editing functionality awkward.

As you might have guessed, I’ve been using Sound Forge 7 for years, mainly because of its editing functionality. If Audacity could or would adopt similar editing features, especially similar keyboard functionality, it would be a clear winner. As it is now, I do my editing on SF, but post-production processing on Audacity. I wish I could do it all on Audacity.

You can zoom-in on the waveform down to individual samples …

Person who started this thread: can you describe step by step what you do in Sound Forge?

I second the need for markers - on top of the waveform part. Some kind of general overlay system, because I would need time-spline curves on top of the spectral display.

Making longer selection in detailed waveform can be tedious. The operation “select between markers” would be much easier.

But some of our users come from Cool Edit pro, or WaveLab, or Gold Wave or … and they all have their own shortcuts. While adopting Sound Forge’s shortcuts may be good for you, if is of no benefit to people that come from other audio editors, and more importantly it would be much worse for people that are familiar with older versions of Audacity.

Note that Audacity’s shortcuts can be customised: Shortcuts Preferences - Audacity Manual

(When I first started using Audacity, I was a big user of Cool Edit Pro. I would frequently curse Audacity for being different to Cool Edit Pro, but as I became more familiar with Audacity I would curse Cool Edit Pro for not being like Audacity :mrgreen: )

That’s rather like using a region label. Click the label’s tag and it selects the region.

Audacity’s labels are extremely powerful once you get to know them. Label Tracks - Audacity Manual

Steve, in particular. My point is not a need for shortcuts, but rather, more practical functionality in using the keyboard for tight edits. It’s a challenge to describe, but I’ll try. What I miss is an easily dropped marker with a single keyboard button. In SF it’s simply and logically “M”. This marker is a line which runs vertically through the entire depth of the waveform. This makes precise editing easier.

During editing, I would like to be able to select the desired edit with the keyboard. Audacity allows this, but… In SF, this is done with Shift + the left or right arrow keys. Most importantly: The selection can be undone by simply going back to the beginning of the edit point using the opposite arrow key. In Audacity, a keyboard selection cannot be undone. If you try going back to undo what you’ve just defined, Audacity will not do that, but will define the opposite side of the starting point. I say again: once you have defined a selection to edit with the keybaord in Audacity, you cannot undo it. You have to redefine the desired edit and hope you get it right. This is tedious and time-consuming.

I have tried to familiarize myself with Audacity. But when it comes to tight editing, it leaves something to be desired as I said originally. It seems to me that Audacity was not designed with optimal editing functionality in mind.

In Audacity
a) Ctrl+B will drop a label at the current cursor position or selection (if a selection you will get a range label)
b) Ctrl+M will drop a point label at the current playback or recording position


  1. clicking to a point label will move the cursor to that label position and put a vertical line through all tracks
  2. clicking on a range label will select that range in all tracks

Note that detailed editing may need you to zoom in a fair way to obtain accuracy.


It’s also not true.

Personally I prefer to use a scroll wheel mouse.

“Ctrl + Mouse Wheel” => Zoom in / out
“Click + Drag” => Select
“Shift + Click + Drag” => Adjust whichever end of the selection is closest to the mouse pointer.

From the keyboard, the ends of a selection may be adjusted with:
Ctrl + Left/Right cursor keys
Ctrl + Shift + Left/Right cursor keys

Non-video people will never understand Mark-In and Mark-Out…


And I guess non-audio people will never understand our needs. I am a radio journalist. The broadcasting organization I worked for chose Sound Forge because it was considered the easiest software to use for the purpose, i.e. editing radio interviews and programs, sometimes under stressful conditions where time was at a premium. I am now retired from that 32-year career, but I now run my own audio-based website. I’m not into music, nor am I into video. Perhaps this background might help you understand my needs better.

As someone that also has many years experience editing audio, I think I do understand your needs. However, one thing that I don’t understand is why you want to switch from Soundforge to another editor. Becoming totally familiar with an audio editor takes time, and it unusual for people to switch from one editor to another unless there is some compelling reason to do so.

In my case, I was thoroughly familiar with Sonar and Cool Edit Pro. I was aware of Audacity but rarely used it. There were two compelling reasons why I switched to Audacity as my main audio editor. Firstly was that I upgraded my home computers from Windows to Linux, and Audacity was (and still is) without doubt, the best audio editor for Linux. As I became more familiar with it, Audacity gradually started taking over from other audio applications in my work. I found that for many editing tasks, I could accomplish the task much more quickly than with other editors. In a high pressure environment, being able to work quickly and accurately is very important. The second was that Cool Edit Pro was bought by Adobe, and although the first version of Adobe Audition was pretty much the same as Cool Edit Pro 2, the second release was awful. I was not inclined to spend hundreds more dollars on their third version.

From my perspective, ease of use, and the ability to edit quickly and precisely, are exactly the qualities that have made Audacity my favourite audio editor. but people are different, and perhaps Audacity is not for you. I would however encourage you to stick with it for a while - after 7 years experience with Soundforge, it’ll take a while for any other audio editor to feel comfortable.

I want to remind that we are not changing anything; only adding extra functionality for those who needs it.

(1) Configurable controls. Many games gives a huge table of controls which players can modify as they want. Specially useful if we run out keyboard shortcuts.

(2) Can two point labels joined together to one region label?

(3) Some kind of overlay system, for markings and curves, on the audio track would offer a track-specific markings, curves and labels.

First of all, thanks to the commentator who gave me specific advice about functions.

To Steve: You and I have similar experiences and stories. I have used SF for many years and as I have made clear, feel very comfortable with it. But Sound Forge has also changed hands, and the latest version is very expensive and frankly not worth the financial outlay to update to it. I’d be happy to stick to SF7, but it is not entirely compatible with Window 10, which I’m using. I still have all the functions, but when I use audio processing tools, for example, I keep getting annoying “Microsoft Support” pop-ups, which drive me crazy and waste production time. I assume this is because SF7 is not W-10 certified. There’s no way to stop these pop-ups that I’ve found. That’s why I looked at Audacity. To repeat my original point: I’d love to have the editing comfort of SF and the excellent range of post-processing tools that Audacity offers - all in one software, namely Audacity, which is currently not the case.