Playhead skipping to beginning of track when I stop/pause playing

This makes my work really difficult.
I press play (space bar) and listen to an interview. When I get to a part I want to select, I press the space bar again but instead of the playhead staying where it was, it disappears and goes back all the way to the beginning of the audio file.

No other timeline editing app works like this and I really can’t understand why that would be a feature rather than a bug. Putting the playhead at the beginning of a track is easy.
It’s even more irritating when you’re trying to go through a long audio file and have to take breaks because then you lose where you were at when you pause it.

Putting the playhead where you want it, or where you stopped playing a track, is the desired behavior, as seen in Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Resolve, Blender, QuickTime, VLC and hundreds of other apps.

Can someone help me understand what I’m missing?

Press the “X” key to “stop and set cursor”.


Explanation:

Playback starts from the position of the playback cursor, which is either a vertical black line on the waveform, or the start of a selected region.

Often you will want to play a selected region, then do something to that selected audio (such as apply an effect), then play it again (so that you can hear how it has changed). This would not be possible if the act of “play / stop” moved the playback cursor, so by default “play / stop” does not change the position of the playback cursor.

However, in some cases (as you described), you do want the playback position to move to the position where playback stopped. In this case, press the “x” key to stop playback (“X marks the spot”).

Why do you say it wouldn’t be possible?

If audio is selected, say from 00:15:00 to 00:20:00, pressing the space bar would only play the audio from 00:15:00 to 00:20:00. User can pause and play using the spacebar without losing their playhead position within the selected range. When the playhead reaches 00:20:00, playing stops. If user presses space bar again, playing of the selected clip starts again at 00:15:00.

If no audio is selected, pressing the spacebar on and off would just move or stop the playhead along the track and stop the playhead where it was.

These two behaviors are absolutely not mutually exclusive.

The answer to your original question is: Press the “X” key to “stop and set cursor”.

I agree, however my issue with this was that I am used in every other program to use the space bar as my only play/stop key.
I was confused as to whether we can use the space bar to do it or not.
For Audacity, it is possible to use only X to both play and pause playing without losing playhead position.

Thanks for your help

Default key bindings:

Command : Key
play / stop : space
pause / un-pause : p
stop and set cursor : x

You can customise the keys, but not the commands. See: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/keyboard_preferences.html