Saving (exporting) to non-Wav is needlessly tedious

I’ve been using Audacity for a few months now and is very helpful. (I was CoolEdit96 user for years.) Been working only with .wav files til now. Now I am saving some to Flac and to Mp3. (You all seem to want to call it “exporting” instead of the conventional “saving”.)

The problem is simple but very irritating. I’ve saved a .wav file with a long and non-trivial file name (with extension of .wav). I now want to export to (for example) Flac. I want the file to have the same long name that I’ve already created with a .wav extension but change the extension to .flac. When I have selected the Flac format and am in the directory, I REALLY NEED to have an option to SEE the files of OTHER extensions there in that folder already. This is so I can select my previously saved .wav file and change the extension of the filename to which I am going to save it. Currently the window does NOT let me even SEE files in that folder that do not have the .flac extension. I’ve looked and looked for an option to override this, but cannot find anything. My only workaround is to have a Windows Explorer window open separately, find the .wav file, click it as though changing it’s file name, copy the text of the (long and non-trivial) filename minus extension, and paste it into the dialog box where I’m saving to a .flac file (adding the .flac extension).

My file names are long and very meaningful. I should not have to type in my names again NOR should I have to mess with multiple windows as I do now to copy/paste my long filename from the .wav file’s name. I suggest a check box in the export dialog box that says “View files of all extensions” (and of course the system should save that setting for subsequent exports to this type).

What baffles me even more than this issue is that as old and well developed as Audacity appears to be, that this has not come up before, at least that I can tell.

I was about to embark on a serious personal project involving hundreds of (small) files, but cannot really start while this flaw is in the system. If it’s already been fixed, please forgive my failure to find the setting and simply let me know where it is. Thank you.

I realize that when you’re working with only one file type, it is convenient to not see any other file extension in the window. But many times we are “converting”, and it’s those times we really need to see files of all extensions there.

I was using 2.2.2 and realized you have 2.3.0 out, so I upgraded to 2.3.0 and it still has this bug.

“Saving” and “Exporting” are different things.

Just as MS Word “saves” word processor documents, and can “export” a PDF, so Audacity “saves” Audacity projects and can “export” audio files. You will also find that virtually all DAWs “save” projects and can “export” audio files.

Audacity uses the name of the project as the default file name. Once the project has been saved, then the default name when exporting in any format will be the same as the project name.

It is not a bug. Compare the behavior with “Wordpad” (the basic word processor that is included with almost all versions of Microsoft Windows).

I expect that if we showed all file types when “MP3” was the selected file type, then we would get many more complaints.

I’ve described my simple need in detail. How do YOU suggest I avoid the tedium I described? (And how does everyone else avoid it?) I CAN’T be the only one needing this option (to be able to see existing files of other types when I’m exporting.)

Example: You have a .wav file with a 100-character filename. You merely want to convert it (via Audacity) to MP3. You load the .wav file, then export. How do you avoid re-typing the 100-characters OR using W.E. to steal the name outside of Audacity? TONS of applications work like I’m suggesting.

I had suggested a checkbox, but other systems include a dropdown where the default value is *.flac (in this case) or .mp3. And the other value in the dropdown is “all file types”. SO simple for the programmer to add, yet SO helpful for us users. The arguments in those contexts are whether to let .mp3" be the default or the ".". But never was there any question that the dropdown should exist. And if a dropdown is added in this fashion, the system should remember the last setting I had so I don’t have to keep selecting my preferred dropdown value.


  1. Start saving the project as a WAV
  2. select the WAV with the filename you want
  3. change the “Save as type” to be, say, FLAC

Then the filename should remain but with the changed extension


Thanks, I’ll look into it. But I’ve never “saved a project” and don’t see why I need to. I just work with files. I still hope the developer will add the option to see all file types in that export dialog box. I will start looking for examples and give a screen shot maybe (seeing as it appears I am not believed). I looked at both Wordpad and Word 2003, and they BOTH have that narrow-minded flaw FORCING you to always invent a new filename instead of cloning from a file of a different type. I don’t care if it’s Microsoft. It wouldn’t be the only flaw they’ve displayed.

I didn’t have to look far for an example. Our ubiquitous Notepad (which I use often) does it correctly. Here’s a shot:

When you get done creating your long filename, drag-select it and Copy. Thereafter, Paste it.

A slightly more involved way is to create all the filenames in your text editor where you can carefully check and verify them. Then Copy-Paste. I do that when a text entry window isn’t wide enough for me to see the whole thing at once.


Thank you, Wax, but after further thought, I don’t think this is practical. I’ll have hundreds of small .wav files and I do not want to create a “project” for each one. I simply want to load each, then save each as .flac and/or .mp3. I want to go through that loop rapidly and with no deviating to other windows and copy/pastings. The long name exists right there in the name of the wav, so I shouldn’t have to make a project out of this one very quick and short-lived task.

There’s a number of issues here, so I’ll try to answer that question for each case.

I wouldn’t use Audacity for “merely” converting the file type. I’d use a format converter such as LameDropXP or Foobar2000 (both free applications).
This avoids the unnecessary intermediate conversions from WAV → Audacity Project (32-bit float format data) → MP3.

I wouldn’t use such extreme length file names. If I need to store information about a file, I’d use metadata (which is what metadata tags are designed for).

Using very long descriptive names poses potential risks of using invalid characters (see: Naming Files, Paths, and Namespaces - Win32 apps | Microsoft Learn) or breaking compatibility with other applications that may have additional limitations.

Very long file names are also risky if you ever use devices (such as thumb drives) that often have a maximum length for the full “file path + file name” of around 255 characters.

As I wrote previously, I would name the project.

In Audacity 2.3.0 and later, it is possible to name the project without saving the project. The easiest way to do this is:

  1. Enable “View menu > Extra menus”
  2. “Extra menu > Scriptables 1 > Set Project”
  3. In the “Set Project” dialog, tick the check box before the “Name” field, and enter the required project name, then click “OK” (see also: Extra Menu: Scriptables I - Audacity Manual)

Audacity is open source, created and supported by volunteers. Patches are welcome, but I doubt it is as simple as you suggest.

“Ubiquitous Notepad” has a horrible habit of adding “.txt” to the end of file names that should have other file extensions.

If there is a “All files (.)” option, then there must also be a robust mechanism to enable the correct file extension to be used. NotePad does not have this, and that is well known for causing problems (which MS still refuse to fix).

Yes it is possible to have a “file type selector” (sets the format of the exported file) AND a “file browser filter” (sets which file types are visible in the browser), but:
a) That would be a “feature request”, not a “bug”.
b) Doing this is not without a downside. Namely that if the filter is not set correctly, then files that match the type of the file that is about to be exported are invisible (hidden).

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that both MS and Apple hide file extensions by default, so many users are totally unaware of the significance of file extensions.

I’ve done some further tests and it appears that if I load a wav with a long name, then I can rapidly export to one or more formats and it defaults to the same long name but with the target extension. This works fine. I’ll have to recreate the scenario where it’s not adequate and that dropdown is needed.

I may respond to more of what you’ve said later. (Thank you for your attention.) But this item is something I’ve been against from day 1. When installing windows (which I don’t do much these days), I ALWAYS went to explorer defaults and made extensions to SHOW. Yes, there’s an “english” file type, but the name itself should always be completely visible to any user who is working with file names. I disagree with those millionaire’s well-intended efforts to shield non-computer users from this essential piece of info, the file extension.

“Correct file extension”?? Who’s to tell ME what is correct? I create an Avisynth script. I save it with extension .avs as I know that’s the extension I need it to have. Pull Notepad’s . dropdown and save as “myfile.avs”. It’s MY job to spell “avs” correctly. Bravo to MS for letting ME pick the extension and spell it however the heck I want.

WHOOPS I meant

  1. Start Exporting the audio as a WAV
  2. select the WAV with the filename you want
  3. change the “Save as type” to be, say, FLAC, ogg or whatever
  4. Then the filename should remain but with the changed extension
  5. Make the Export

Sorry for the confusion :blush:

I just checked around my drive. I regular use (and need to use) filenames length 90 (including extension), and I know what info I need in the filename. (Often, the name gets propagated to files of numerous types.) I want the name to have it so I don’t have to look ANYwhere else. It’s called self-documentation and just looking at the name tells me all I need to know WITHOUT opening it in some reader that looks into a file header of some sort. I’ve done this since W95 came out. Metadata? That sounds like specific file types. Using Win95’s long names (to a certain extent) for ANY file type is good practice, as long as you don’t bomb various limits or use characters that could cause problems somewhere. And 90 is nowhere near 240 or 255.

I was referring to one step of multi, in my Audacity session. I think those apps you mentioned are “batch”. I want to see the waveform. Edit it. Save as .wav, then maybe also as flac and/or mp3. Stay in Audacity.

Also, I did figure out how to suppress the conversion of 16-bit to float. (I did not know that for the longest time, the default was float. I stick with 16-bit integer)

Yes, I ran into that problem in 1997 when I found that the Novell file server I was accessing had 255 limit INCLUDING full path to the file. As we had many subdirs in our system, I eased back on the long names. 86 really should be short enough to avoid most problems. And I don’t often have it that long. But at times I need to, and do.

I still don’t grasp (remember) how I got by with 8.3 for so many years!

I believe my problem came up when editing a “raw” 4 hour .wav, i did trimming, normalizing, etc. Then saved (exported) back to .wav with a carefully built “long name” (not approaching 240, but way more than 8.3). Then in theory, I should dump my project (I don’t need a “project”, I just work with a file), reload the new .wav and do my conversions. But reloading the .wav takes a lot of time. I figured "I’ve got the exact content of the exported .wav IN the editor now, so why not proceed to convert to .flac and also to .mp3 WITHOUT reloading the newly named .wav file? But I want the new .flac and .mp3 files to take on the base name of the new .wav file, not the raw one I last imported.

THIS is why I feel I should be able to see extensions in the export dialog box other than the one I’m exporting to. So that I can clone from the .wav name THERE and manually replace the .wav with .flac.