Macros Improvements

First, thanks for all the amazing work on Audacity for years now. It’s a great help for so many!

I try to avoid suggestions to open source devs, but I feel like a facet of the app is neglected to the point of frustration for users: Macros.

I checked out the Wiki for tracking feature requests and didn’t see much exactly like my specific requests below.

A few simple improvements would make it much more functional for most or all of users doing repetitive audio processing:


  • Macros get customizable key commands so a quick key combo activates macro on focused project window and there’s no need to repeatedly open the macros palette or create files first to batch upon.

  • Currently, the macros palette is attached to a given project window and this means a new one has to be invoked for every new window. Would be helpful as a global macros palette that always stays open and ready wherever it’s dragged for use on any project window.

  • Another idea is one macro can be applied to all open project windows and then runs on each window sequentially. This way I could cut out a bunch of discreet files into project windows and then run a single macro on them all (without having to save them as files into a folder first for a batch run).


  • The Command menu can be categorized instead of one giant alphabetical list which combines all kinds of commands that aren’t related and makes them hard to find based on use. Search would be great since many of the commands are alphabetized by the first word of the command which may not be the primary keyword of an action (example: Set Envelope is under “S” even though “Envelope” is the important command).

  • Original and new macros support duplication which is a great help in building them, also Steps duplicating or otherwise dragging to copy from an existing macro to a new macro would help in building.


I’m making these suggestions based on a workflow I assume many have: Cutting out pieces of a long audio file for processing into multiple separate files. I work on long files from roundtable discussions where different topics are pulled out and edited into discreet files.

Similarly, I’ve used this scenario in a band recording where a rehearsal or live show is edited down into multiple songs from one long file.

In both situations, I’m opening a large audio file and cutting out portions of the audio and pasting into a new window for further edits and exporting. Every time I do this, a new Macro or palette must be invoked which is more cumbersome than it should be when custom key commands could be used or a global palette that’s easily selected on any project window.

I would love to create a macro that that is invoked at the large source file, but it seems a macro’s steps can only be applied to the project window it was invoked from. This means that I can create a macro that cuts a selection of the source audio for pasting into a new project window, but the macro can’t then shift operation to the new project window for resuming commands like normalize and export to MP3.

Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback CliffyPop.

You can already do that.
Once you have a saved Macro, go to the “Keyboard” Preferences and add a shortcut (See: Shortcuts Preferences - Audacity Manual)

Multi-project issues are frequently referred to as “the worm can”. Projects need a certain amount of isolation to avoid data written in one project from corrupting other open projects. If you are frequently using Macros, by far the easiest way to do so is to assign keyboard shortcuts.

I think that would require massive changes to Audacity, so I doubt that it is likely to happen any time soon.

I tend to get a bit concerned when I hear of people routinely working with multiple open projects. Doing so is usually (though not always) an indication of a sub-optimal workflow. If you’d like to chat about workflows, I’d be happy to discuss it with you (in a separate forum topic).

The “Macro Manager” is very clunky at present, and is earmarked for improvements. The initial objective was to get it working reliably and make it available for Audacity users, with refinements to the GUI to follow.

This mostly comes under the same “it’s rather clunky” banner as the above.
A little tip / trick that you may find useful:
If you can locate the “Macros” folder on your computer (sorry I’m not sure where that is on macOS), then you will find your Macros as “.txt” files. When you need to duplicate steps in a Macro, it can be easier and quicker to edit the .txt file in a plain text editor.

Do you play in the band?

Yes, that’s correct.

Why not normalize and export to MP3 from the original “large project” window?