Old .aup files won't process

I haven’t touched my .aup files for years, but they are important–interviews of now deceased family members. So I’ve changed computers since 2010–more than once. I downloaded Audacity today, but on opening the file, I get an cannot process error. What can I do to open these? I have a Windows 11 computer. I doubt it would run an older version of Audacity, if that is the problem.

That’s the wrong words. You’re supposed to say “I haven’t touched my Projects in years.” Projects from an earlier Audacity consist of an .aup file and a _data folder of the same name. You have to have both and they have to be in the same location or folder for the work to open.

You can’t open a presentation with just the .aup file. That’s just the instructions of how to open the sound files inside the _data folder. The .aup file is silent.

The latest Audacity versions are expected to open both older and newer Projects.


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My terms stand corrected.

I have both the .aup file and the data files. They are in the same folder. The .aup file and the data folder have the same name. Which “file” do I “open”?

I have perhaps changed the file and folder name from the original name. Would that be a problem? If so, how can I resolve it? Needless to say, I don’t remember what the original file/folder name was.

Oddly, it’s not that hard to find out from the aup file.

Force a text editor to open your aup file. You’ll get a page of programming, but up in the first two or three lines there should be an entry called projname=.

That’s the real name of the show.

The real name of this show is ZOOM0001FurryInside_data


It’s possible your text editor may be set to create a fancy-pants formal letter with fonts, graphics, and other embellishments. My text editor has a setting for Plain Text. Plain Text doesn’t try to help me. I wrote my web page in Plain Text.


Missed one. Double click the properly-named AUP file and Audacity should figure it out.


Thanks. I figured it out and the names are the same. So why won’t it open? I click on the .aup file, right? Does it matter that there are other projects or data folders in the same folder?

Will it open backwards? Open Audacity. File > Open…

Audacity only likes working in the local drive. There is no opening a show on a cloud drive, or any drive not inside the machine.


I put it on the local drive already. Is it picky about how deep in the heirarchy it is?

You mean: /usr/koz/desktop/folder/otherfolder/yadda/yadda? No. As long as the computer can keep track of it, you should be good to go.

We are warned to stay away from including magic characters in filenames. Upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, underscore, and dash are the only (mostly) safe characters in filenames. Being obsessive, I don’t use spaces, either.

If you want to create chaos in your machine, try including slash marks in a filename.

[digging in long forgotten institutional knowledge… Ummmmmmmm]

You can unpack one of the _data folders.

This is my example:

Screen Shot 2024-01-28 at 7.26.48 AM

Those little adorable .au files are stand-alone sound files. They will individually open in Audacity 3.4.2 (and 3.3.3, and 2.4.2) and play.

Screen Shot 2024-01-28 at 7.27.29 AM

Do yours?


Since I know you’re on the edge of your seat. This is the completed sound file.

It’s so completed that it passes ACX Audiobook submission standards.

Screen Shot 2024-01-28 at 7.49.31 AM

Except for mouth noises, which is why I didn’t give up the day job.


Yes. The .au files will open and work. BTW, I took out the spaces and made the name of the .aup file and the data folder very short: MC1

You can do anything you want with the name of the aup file and _data folder as long as they match each other and the projname=" entry printed inside the aup file.


Thank you for replying to my query. I don’t know what else to do. I guess I’ve learned a hard lesson. I should have gotten it exported to an .mp3 file a long time ago.

Note that if your .aup file is “xyz.aup” then the data folder must be “xzy_data”. If you are using the Windows defaults, your file extensions may be hidden which may confuse things. You can always download Audacity 2.4.2 which works directly on .aup files: Old Audacity versions download

Don’t gloss over that. Do you have Windows set to hide filename extensions? You wouldn’t be the first person with a difficult job only to discover what you really have is MyReallyGoodFile.aup.txt and Windows is hiding the “.txt” part to “help you.”

No Audacity version will open that.


Will the older version of Audacity work with Windows 11?

FYI, I just created a new .aup3 project by importing the .au files and it would not open either. So may be something beyond a problem with my old .aup file.

I’m old school. When I first set up a computer, I always tell it to show file extensions. It’s beyond me why anyone would want to hid them in the first place.

But this appears to be a problem beyond my .au file. Since I created an aup.3 file and it wouldn’t open either.

It’s important that you know that. It opens up new pathways for troubleshooting and takes a little of the magic out. It doesn’t do anything for me since I’m not a Windows user.

Do you have access to another machine, say an older machine in back of the office, or your mum’s machine. Audacity is free, inexpensive, and doesn’t cost anything.

Are you the only user on your machine? Are you sure? When was the last time you did that super virus check that takes all night?