project file locations

I have looked as far as I can but can’t find a simple answer to this basic question - I’m sure it’s there somewhere, but there are so many thousands of pages to wade through…! Also I am very ‘lay’ in these things.

I have just set up v.2.0.6 for the first time. I am running a PC on Win 7, so have ‘Libraries’ including one for ‘Music’ that already has dozens of assorted files in it. I want to record a load of old vinyls for a project, and want to include also some of my existing digital files held within the ‘Music’ library. Working through the various instructions etc, I initially thought that I should save the project files and directories to the Music library, but then felt that this would be too confusing, so decided to put them into a new directory where I could keep all the new work together, yet separate. I deleted the ‘draft’ project and also even reloaded Audacity with preferences reset, but it now still keeps trying to save any new project to the ‘Music’ Library. I don’t want this.

If I simply set up a new folder/directory elsewhere and start anew saving the project into this and putting all new and existing recordings into this, will it work OK, and will it eventually recognise this as my default save location? (I note I can drag existing digital files directly into Audacity and this seems to work fine). - It is just the saving to a new location that concerns me. Ideally, I would like to create sub-directories as well for different elements of the project (groups of music tracks) but maybe I will learn that this comes at the export stage - it would just be easier to identify and group them at an earlier stage. Some ‘idiot’ instructions would help me immensely.

Sorry to be such a newbie!

You can put Audacity Project files and folders anywhere you want as long as similarly-named AUP files and _DATA folders are next to each other. You can launch a project by double-clicking on an AUP file. It will go looking for its _DATA folder, but it won’t look very far. If the folder is not in the same directory or folder as the AUP, the show will fail.

To be clear, you can force Audacity to save a project to, for example, your desktop, but the location will not stick? The next project save will go right back to wherever it wants?


Audacity should remember the last location you saved a project to. Windows actually saves this as a registry setting.

But Audacity also changes the save project location to the directory from which you last opened a project or last imported an audio file.

So to keep the save project location the same always, you must always import files or open projects from the folder you want to save projects to.

If you want you can vote for a default project save location. But save/open folder paths are not high on most developers’ priorities and a thorough-going solution to all related problems need quite a bit of work.


Thank you both, kozikowski and Gale, for your helpful time-saving replies. I think that since I will only be an occasional user, I will simply stick to keeping all my Audacity work together and separate - even if this means duplicating files, as I have plenty of space. This though demands just one further query please:

My project involves several hundred tracks that I want to export to different ‘Groups’, so in view of Audacity’s natural desire to revert to the last saved directory, I need to have an efficient work-flow in place from the ‘word go’. From your experience, would you divide the new directory into sub-directories (for the ‘Groups’) from the start, to accommodate (say) ‘Group A’ tracks and ‘Group B’ tracks and so on; or would you put everything straight into the one folder, and then select the relevant tracks to export each time I create a new export ‘Group’? I guess the former might confuse Audacity if I need to juggle continuous tracks from one LP (say) into different folders, while the latter means searching through hundreds of tracks to find what I want to export to each ‘Group’.

Another thought for clarification is: would it be viable to store everything in one folder to start with, then drag the tracks somehow into the different folders to create the export ‘Groups’? If I understand your replies below correctly, though, I think you are warning not to do this as it will split the AUP file from its _DATA folder … and I fear that I might be making things more complicated, rather than simpler!

Thanks again for your help.

We’ve explained how the system works. The only thing to add is that even if you import a file from a specific folder, the directory that you export the finished files to (in WAV, MP3 or whatever format you choose) always stays at the folder you last exported to. Unlike the project save directory, the export directory does not change to the directory you last imported from.

You should not save anything in the _data folder for projects. I am not convinced you should save Audacity project at all. If your aim is to drag some files destined for a specific “Group” into Audacity then join them together so that one piece plays after the next, you only need to export.

If it’s easier for you to drag in the files to Audacity in the order you find them, I would create a new folder, then a subfolder within that, and put all the files to be imported into the top level of that subfolder.

Next, create subfolders for export “Group A”, “Group B” and so on. The first time you export, you will export to one of the “Group” folders. When you import then export again, the export folder will still be at the same “Group” folder you exported to the last time. If that happens to be the wrong folder, all you need to do is press the “Up One Level” arrow in the “Export Audio” window, then double-click to open the “specific” Group folder you want to export to.

Finally please note that MP3 is lossy, so files exported to that format will not sound as good after you export them.


Thanks very much Gale; that is helpful and will save me much ‘trial and error’.