Keep labels synched with audio

How do you keep labels synched with audio when you move sections of audio?

This question has been asked before. The answer generally has been to use the Sync-Lock Tracks function. I’m finding that this function does not make a difference. All labels on the label track will move together with the labels that you are trying to move.

From the Audacity manual:
“Sync-Lock Tracks can be turned on or off at Tracks > Sync-Lock Tracks.”


I have a track with numerous clips. A number of these clips are marked with labels. I want say to take the last two clips and move (time shift) them some distance down the track (to insert some audio in-between). The clips are accompanied by labels. What I do is I select the last two audio clips along with the labels on the label track. I use the time shift tool to move the two clips with their markers.

THE PROBLEM is that the clips will move along the track like I want them too, but all the labels on the label track move with the labels that I’m trying to move. This means that the labels for the two audio clips I move will remain synched together, but all other labels for all other clips become unaligned/unsynched.

Turning on Sync-Lock Tracks does not make any difference as far as I can tell.


I tried copying and pasting just a group of clips and their labels. The problem is that when you paste the clips, the labels will not follow. They do not paste along with the audio clips.


I’ve found a number of posts dealing with this problem. In a few of these (that are for MAC), there is something said about a Feature Request being made that would deal with this problem. In some cases the Sync-Lock Tracks function is suggested, but as far as I can tell, the Sync-Lock Tracks function does not make a difference. All the labels on the track will move together with the small number of clips that you want to move. That’s not what is wanted.


What are possible alternatives (as far as I know)? (for anyone interested)

The first alternative is very inconvenient. You just have to manually go and realign all the labels that became un-synched.

There is another alternative that might work and is less inconvenient. Duplicate the labels track. Devote one label track to the clips that you move and one label track to the clips that remain stationary. Select the clips that you want to move with labels in one label track and move them to where you would like. Then :

Edit > Labels > Edit Labels . . .

Decide on one label track to be the final label track. In the label track that you decide to keep you delete all the labels that are now out of synch. The other label track should now have labels for those out-of-synch labels that you just deleted that should still be in synch with their appropriate clips. You just now need to move those synched labels in the other label track into the final label track. You can do this by changing their status in the Track column in the Edit Labels chart to coincide with the final track. For example for any label in the list you might select something like “2 - Label Track” which will open a menu listing all possible tracks. You then select the track name that you want that label to move to, which would be the final track and in this case is the we can say is “1 - Label Track”. Do this for all appropriate labels that need to be moved to the final label track. Press OK and you should now have all labels aligned properly with all clips. Then you can delete the second unnecessary label track.

If you have a lot of labels to work with this can still be quite inconvenient, but it’s probably better than readjusting all the un-synched labels manually on the track.


You should be able to select the clips that you want to move (or process in whatever way you want to process) and ONLY the labels aligned with those clips will be moved (or processed). Can this be done with Audacity the way it is now, or does it need a new feature?

Try this:
I’m assuming that you have one audio track with multiple clips, and each clip has a label in a label track below the audio track. The instructions will need to be adapted if your project is different.

  1. “Sync-Lock” OFF (disabled)
  2. Double click on the audio clip that you want to move (to select the clip)
  3. “Down cursor” to the label track, then “Enter”. This will extend the selection to include the label track.
  4. “Ctrl + X” (cut the audio clip and it’s label.
  5. Click once on the audio track at the position that you want to move the clip to.
    6) “Down cursor” to the label track, then “Enter”. This will extend the selection to include the label track.
  6. “Ctrl + V” to paste the audio clip and it’s label.

Hi All,

long time Audacity user, but new to the forum, so I hope this makes sense. This functionality is also an issue for me, but the only (future) way I can think of to solve it would be to have 2 different types of labels (perhaps called ‘Labels’ and ‘Markers’?). So the existing labels/labels track stays as it is, with the labels effectively locked to a point in the time-line and an additional marker option which would be locked to a particular point of a specific audio clip.

Why is that needed? I can’t think of any uses that I can’t already do with the existing labels.

I suppose one of the examples I had in mind would be a project with multiple audio tracks, say something like a radio drama, where I might have two or three tracks each of dialogue, music and sound effects and it would be useful to attach markers to some of the individual clips which would stay with them wherever they moved (say a crescendo in a piece of music, or a cue point for a sound effect during a piece of dialogue). I hope that’s making sense. Or is that possible with existing labels and I’ve just missed it? (quite likely :confused: )

If you select some audio + labels, then you can cut and paste. The only “trick” is that when pasting you must ensure that both the audio track and label track are selected. For a detailed step-by-step example, see my previous post.

One feature that I think would help to make handling labels easier, would be if I could select an audio clip and a label, and move them with the Time Shift Tool without “all” labels in the label track moving.

Yes, I read your previous post and it’s a really good work around and I agree with your second point about the use of the time-shift tool. I suppose my (suggested) method of dealing with it would be to decide on the behaviour of a label at the point of creation. i.e. does it stick to an audio clip or an ‘absolute’ time in the timeline. This would save having to remember having to select (or not) the label track and audio track when cutting and pasting and would also enable your preferred method of using the time-shift tool, as some of the labels would already be ‘stuck’ to the clip.