Selecting part of a track to make a re-recording of it

I guess because I don’t use Audacity daily it’s not as easy for me to summon all the details of the tasks.

Gail explained that I could place the cursor on the sound wave area and while holding down thew Shift key I could push the recording to different beginnings and different endings which works quite well.

I wanted to start the recoding at an odd place about 2 minutes and 18 or so seconds and end before it’s natural end by ending it at something like 3 minutes and 6 seconds or so.

I’ve re-read the links Gail kindly included and I’m trying to process how I can do that easily with the hh:mm:ss counter?

It’s just not clear to me for some reason.

Say, I found the perfect place to start the recording and it’s between the vertical line markings on the wave metrics. How would I best decipher it’s exact number, just for example, at 2 minutes 18.32456 seconds and then how would I set the piece to start exactly at 2 minutes 18.32456 seconds using the number counter and not the wave where you push it with the finger icon?

And then, if I found the perfect ending was at 3 minutes 621456 seconds? How, using the number counter and not the wave finger, would I set the ending to be that 3 munites 621456 seconds?

In other words, is there an easy way to go into the recording counter and set Start: 2 minutes 18.32456 seconds and End: 3 munites 621456 seconds?

For some reason, it’s just not entirely clear to me how to accomplish this all as simply as possible even though I know the tools are there.

Thank you for all your help and patience!

I presume that you mean “start the recording…”

You can set a “selection” (highlighted section) by using the time boxes in the “Selection Toolbar” (see here for full details about the Selection Toolbar:

Click on the numbers in the “Selection Start” box and type the numbers in the appropriate place.

Note that the middle number counter may be either “Selection End” or “Selection Length”. Click on “End” or “Length” according to which you want to use.

When you have selected the period that you want to record into, press the Record button (or press the “R” key).
The recording will commence at the start of the selection and record into a new track. The recording will stop when it reaches the end of the selection.

It is often convenient to start the recording a little way before you want the recording to actually start - this provides you with a bit of a “run up” before the bit that you really want. Any excess recording can be trimmed off or silenced after you have finished the recording.

When you export your finished project, the tracks in the project are mixed down into a single audio file.

I was trying to adjust the start and end and now the wave is gone. If I hit Play nothing happens.

How do I get that wave back so I can listen to the recording?

Is there a way to listen to the whole recrdign and when I find the exact place I want to start my recording of that recording o hit stop or mark that so I can see/save the exact reading of mm:ss?

And then when I resume listening from that start (saved) position hit stop again when I find the exact place I want my recording to end in mm:ss so that it’s now saved with the exact beginning and end locations with the mm:ss?

It seems using the mm:ss would be more precise than trying to guess it by pushing the finger left and right in the wave.

Thank you.

Is the blue waveform on the screen?

If you have removed the track, try Edit > Undo.

If the track was not removed, is the cursor at the end of the track? You cannot play from there. Press HOME and then play the track.

From your description the quickest way is to hold SHIFT and press A on your keyboard when you hear the spot you want to start a recording from. This stops playback and puts the editing cursor at the place you stopped. You can see the exact time of the cursor in Selection Start in Selection Toolbar.

SHIFT + A does not save the cursor position permanently. Instead of SHIFT + A you could use CTRL + M to add a label where you want to start your recording, and then press Stop. You can click in that label at any time to move the cursor back to where it was when you added the label.

Rather than repeat SHIFT + A or CTRL + M at the point you want the recording to stop, why not just start recording from the place where you did SHIFT + A or CTRL + M at the spot for starting the recording? Then you can press Stop whenever you hear the correct place to stop.

Another way of doing this is not to listen first and mark positions. Instead, just start recording with Transport > Overdub (On/Off) checked. This will start a new recording track while letting you listen to the other track. Just speak or sing when you hear the correct place to start recording, and press the Stop button when you hear the correct place to stop. If you do that, you may want to remove the silent part of the recording before you started singing or speaking. There is no need to do that unless you made a cough or breathing noise while waiting to sing or speak.


Hi Gail,

I don’t know what made the blue wave disappear but I closed down Audacity and reopened it and the blue wave is back.

I tried following your advice.

I found about where I would like to create my recording and hit Ctrl/M and then hit stop where I wanted it to end.

When I played that back I decided I would like it to start just a smidget before it does start with the Ctrl/M marking at 2m:24497sec. So, I visited the number counter on the bottom and in Selection Start I changed it to 2m:23497sec to see how that sounded and when I hit play it plays from 2m:23497sec to 2m:24497sec - it doesn’t play to the end where I had hit stop. So, I can’t tell how it now sounds from beginning to end (with the slightly adjusted new beginning).

I chose File > Export and I think I saved that 2m:24497sec until where I hit stop. But, when I played it back in VLC Media Player it played the entire piece of music - not just what I tried to save as my selection of the recording.

I’m not clear about how I can hit Ctrl/M and stop and then create a file (or track) of just that maybe 30 - 45 seconds of recording so I can play that back and then play with it to start a little earlier until I find the exact spot I want it to begin and then save all that work so it’s not lost with mu chosen beginning and stopped ending (not the real end of the piece) and then save or export it as an MP3?

I don’t know if I’ve explain this as clearly as I could. Basically, take a say 3 minute 24 second recording and capture the part at something like 2 minutes 23 seconds as the starting point through 3 minutes 6 seconds (not the full 3 minutes 24 seconds) and capture that as the ending and save from 2 minutes 23 seconds through 3 minutes 6 seconds only as the new recording/track/file (whatever it’s called) to export as an MP3.

Thank you for all your kind and patient help.

By the way, it is g - a - l - e as in strong winds. :slight_smile:

That must be because you selected the label for the start point of your recording. That removes any selection there was and moves the cursor point to the start point of your recording. What you may have wanted to do is select between the label for the start point and the label for the end point and then move the Selection Start counter back a little.

It isn’t as easy as it should be to select between labels, but you can hover over the first label with your mouse. When you see the yellow vertical line indicating you have snapped to the label, drag rightwards until you reach the second label and see a second yellow vertical line indicating you have snapped to that label. Now release the mouse and you have selected exactly between the labels. Now you can move Selection Start back then play the whole slightly larger selection.

File > Export exports the whole track whether there is a selection or not.

To export only the selected part of a track, use File > Export Selection.

CTRL + M always creates a label at a point. You can drag a region between two point labels and extend either edge of the region (as described above), but that region is not saved because it is not yet labelled. To label that region, do CTRL + B while that region is selected to save that region as another new label. To recall that region at any time, click in that new label. Then do File > Export Selection.

Note: you can do CTRL + B to label a region whether the track is playing or not.


Sorry about that Gale,

It’s a tad confusing about the Ctrl/M and Ctrl/B.

At one point it seems like you’re suggesting doing both simultaneously? With that kind of skill, I could join the circus.

It was helpful learning that File > Export Selection saved the selection I carve out.

It would be nice if there was some easy (and easy to understand) way to listen to a music piece and when you heard the spot you want to start your newly carved portion you could hit stop and then back it up digitally to the precise number to start your carved piece at and and then save that as A.

Then, starting now at that A spot continue listening to the rest of the piece until you heard the spot you wanted your carved piece to stop at (not the true end of the whole recording) and hit Stop and then back that up digitally to the piece number where you want it to end your carved piece and save that as B.

Then, somehow tell Audacity to start from A and play and have it play to B and stop and then File > Export Selection.

Maybe that’s what Ctrl/M and Ctrl/B does somehow but it’s just not crystallizing for me.

Perhaps, if there were a Youtube training video where we could watch Gale perform these tasks where we could pause, replay and slo-mo it might translate better?

It’s difficult sometimes conveying, with just words, how to perform a task when the leaner is a novice to both the task and the jargon. Can you imagine teaching a teen to do a parallel park with just words?!

As Monty Python would inject …“Perhaps, next time we use a badger?”

Thanks so much for your help.

:slight_smile: No, not at the same time.

To press Ctrl+B, Press and hold down the Ctrl key, then press and release the “B” key, then release the Ctrl key.

To press Ctrl+M, Press and hold down the Ctrl key, then press and release the “M” key, then release the Ctrl key.

If you manage to do Ctrl+B+Ctrl+M all at the same time I’ll come and watch you at the circus.

Ctrl+B sets a label at the “play from” position. When you are not playing or recording you can click on the waveform, then press Ctrl+B and a label will be created at the point where you clicked. You may then (optionally) type in some text into the label. To close the label text, press the “Enter” key.

Note that during playback or recording, the “play from” position is wherever you started recording or playing from (usually the start of the track).

To create a label (marker) at the current play/record position (while playing or recording a track), use Ctrl+M.

To stop and keep the cursor at the current play/record position, press Shift+A

How do you know what the “precise number” is? It depends how quick you were to press Shift+A.
Two ways that you can go back “a bit” are either, click on the waveform at the position that you want to play or select from. or use the left cursor key.

Learned a couple more things.

Using the left arrow cursor key does indeed allow you to back up digitally so you can go from 2m 3967 s to 2 m 3142 but it didn’t seem to be able to go 2m 3967 s to 2m 3966 s, 2m 3965 s etc.

I like how the Ctrl/A marks the stop in order to mark where you want the beginning of your carved piece to begin. Then you can hit the start button and it starts from that Stop position so you can hear precisely where it starts in case you need to left arrow cursor incrementally backward.

I’m still not entirely clear that once I’ve hit the Ctrl/A and then hit the start button and hear the place I’d like it to end - I hit Ctrl/M? Or is it Ctrl/B? The goal would be to then mark the end like I did the beginning with Ctrl/A so I could then choose File > Export Selection and save that exact portion?

I’m closing in on this thang!

Thank you!

How fast the cursor moves depends on the zoom level. If you need to position very precisely, zoom in. If you need to move the position further, zoom out.
See here for ways of zooming:


(Ctrl+A is the shortcut for “Select All”)

These are very similar shortcuts. Often you will not use them at all as you can often see on the waveform where you want to be. A simple aide-mémoire - when it’s **M**oving, use Ctrl+M.

Like driving a car, the more you do it the better you’ll get and the more natural it becomes.

Well, once I have created the beginning of the piece by Shift/A how do I mark the end of the portion I want? I could hit the stop button - could I then choose File > Export Selection and it would save the portion from Shift/A to where I hit the stop button?

Or must I somehow mark that stop position so that it’s saved for Audacity to then export?

Thank you.

There are numerous workflows to do what you want to do, but there is no single shortcut to get the result you want.

SHIFT + A is convenient to set the cursor to where you stopped, but it does not save that cursor position. If you move the cursor after that you cannot guarantee to go back to the exact same place where you were.

You don’t have to save any selection to export that selection. It’s only important if you want to go back to that selection after having changed or removed the selection.

If you like SHIFT + A to set the cursor at the start point, try this. After SHIFT + A, start playing or recording, depending what you want to do. When you hear the place you want to stop, press ] (right square bracket) on your keyboard. That marks a selection from the cursor to the point on the Timeline where you pressed ]. Press Stop.

If you want, do CTRL + B to label that selection in case you need to click in the label to make that selection again.

Now press Play which plays the selection.

I think you know how to use SHIFT + LEFT to move the left edge of the selection back to the left, or SHIFT + RIGHT to move the right edge of the selection a bit to the right. When the selection is correct, File > Export Selection.


Hi Gale,

What a wonderful work-around!

I can hit Play and when I find the exact place to star the new redoring hit SHIFT/A hit play and listen to where I would like the new recording to end and hit ] - the bracket key 2 away from the letter P and hit the Stop button simultaneously and it creates a “first draft” of a new recording.

From there, if I want o shorten or lengthen the new recording’s “first draft” I can either move the finger left to start at an earlier beginning or right to end it later or go down to the digital counter and type in new numbers for the beginning in the middle counter and/or new numbers in the last counter to extend or shorten the ending.

Then, play that and if it’s perfect then choose File > Export Selection and I can then save that new recording as an MP3, .amr, .wav, etc.

Thank you so very, very much for all your help and great patience.

My best to you for a relaxing weekend.

It sound like you have solved the problem. Well done :slight_smile:

Since most of this was nothing to do with FFmpeg I split the posts about selecting audio to a new topic.