I’ve been using Audacity for a while and also used to use Sound Forge many years ago. I gave Sound Forge a trial again recently to see how it’s changed (I still prefer Audacity!) but one small useful feature I noticed in Sound Forge is what they call the Overview Bar.
It sits horizontally above the main file window and lets you see the whole wave form in full. The highlighted section is the part that’s visible in the main window and you can click and drag to move it around. Also if you zoom in and out it changes the display. It’s a handy way of knowing where you are in the main window (especially if you work on very long files as I often do).
I don’t know how easy it is to implement or if others would find it useful but thought I’d put in a request for something similar. As I say, it’s very handy if you work on long files, maybe not so useful if your track is quite short.
I’ve logged your interest in this feature.
In the meantime, a couple of shortcuts that I find useful:
“Ctrl + F” (zoom to show Full project)
“Ctrl + E” (zoom to selection)
I also use zooming with “Ctrl + Mouse wheel” a lot so that I can quickly and easily move between a detailed view and a wider “overview”.
Thanks Steve, I’ll try and remember those shortcuts.
I must admit I find Sound Forge a bit more intuitive for zooming with the mouse wheel. I know it’s just a case of holding down CTRL in Audacity but maybe my muscle memory just got used to using Sound Forge years ago. Also in Sound Forge when you use the mouse wheel to zoom out, it stops zooming once you’ve zoomed out to the whole wave form being displayed. In Audacity you can keep zooming out until the waveform seems to disappear which often throws me off and I get lost as to where I am. I probably just need to get used to it.
Would also be good if mouse wheel key bindings could be edited (I think I read something about that possibility in future).
I think it also helps in SF that when you mouse-wheel zoom, it focuses the zoom centred around the cursor. I’m sure you don’t want to be seen as copying other software but I just find that way of working more natural. Maybe there’s a way to change the zoom focus in Audacity?
Sound Forge only edits one track at a time doesn’t it? Because Audacity is a multi-track editor, scrolling up and down the tracks is also required, so that’s what Mouse Wheel on it’s own is used for (like scrolling up/down a page in a web browser).
I appreciate your point about muscle memory - When I started using Audacity, I was used to Cool Edit Pro, and recall cursing the different shortcuts, though it didn’t actually take long to reprogram my muscle memory.
You just need to be a bit more gentle with your zooming.
Zooming out beyond the end of the project is sometimes necessary, for example if you want some silence at the end of the current audio, and then add a bit more sound, you need to be able to zoom out to where the new sound will go.
If you do zoom out too far, “Ctrl + F” will zoom you back to Fit the Full project in the window.
To be honest, I rarely use “Ctrl + E” myself, and had to look up that shortcut - I usually click the third “zoom” button to zoom to zoom to the selection (Edit Toolbar - Audacity Manual). I do however use “Ctrl + F” very frequently, and that was one of the first shortcuts that I committed to memory.
Audacity also does that, unless you are outside of a selection. If you are outside of a selection, and the selection (or part of it) is visible on screen, then zooming retains the closest edge of the selection on-screen. This behavior is extremely useful (once you get used to it) as it avoids losing track of where the selection is. The “selection” concept is central to how Audacity works. Once you get used to this behavior, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it
Yeah, I probably use Audacity for much more simple tasks than your average user so I’m sure it’s just down to me!
Mostly it’s things like fade in/outs and tidying up beginnings/ends of tracks after exporting from my DAW. Plus converting file formats, normalising levels and other minor editing tweaks. I do any multi track stuff in my DAW so I only ever work on single tracks at a time in Audacity.
I probably just need to really sit down with it and learn more in depth about improving workflow. But I’ll try out your tips and take some more time to learn it properly - thanks!
If you want a freebie with an overview … https://www.ocenaudio.com/
Wow, thanks - that’s actually a very cool program. I’ve only tried it out for a few minutes but it already seems to have a lot of the features I was missing from Sound Forge, e.g. being able to click straight into either the left/right channel and have just that channel play back (I think in Audacity you have to split the track first?)
The overview bar is also just like it works in SF. I’ll have a little play around with it to see if there’s any downsides but it looks like it could work well for my type of use.
I’m already feeling a bit guilty like I’m cheating on Audacity…
You can have ménage à trois: Audcaity & OCEN.
There are features in Audacity which are not in OCEN,
e.g. multi-track editing, record over backing-track, envelope tool, spectral editing, macros, Nyquist Prompt.