Hi, first of all thank you for the superb program, been using it ever since I had access to a computer as a teen. Love it, it’s served me well all those years.
I use this program as a light but versatile utility for personal projects, and still today, I’m astounded that whenever I need a specific feature/action, it’s already covered. Be it a need for a shortcut, or turning ‘x’ feature on or off. This is what I love about ‘big indie projects’ like this, it’s filled with features and the customization level is very deep, I can really shape the software around my workflow.
But anyway, on to the issue I have: I usually can find an answer around these parts or Google, but today I’m stumped with a UX problem. I’m currently working on many small tracks that I need to select and apply effects individually. Can’t automate the whole thing cause I need to adjust the effects according to how each track sounds. With the current batch I’m doing something very simple, simply lowering volume with Amplify, but this new feature could apply to many other tasks I’ve done in just the past couple days, as it’s more of a single, ‘general navigation’ command, rather than something less versatile like a new specific effect.
My issue really, is that with this project I want to do everything with the keyboard (as it’s much faster), and everything flows well until I need to select the track. A double click is usually how I select it. Or I hit the button on the left, or I click the empty space near that button, but the whole point of this (my workflow/having shortcuts) is to make it snappy fast. Needing to grab my mouse only for selecting a track feels like an issue I shouldn’t have, and it does slow down the flow considerably (at least enough that I’m here writing all of this).
I’ve read around Google and this forum, and I have the same concern as that one guy that wanted a “1-step” solution instead of “2-step”. So far, the only couple times this issue was addressed, the best solution provided was to basically create a macro. However I can’t seem to see how a macro would work with my workflow. The issue lying with how a track needs to be ‘toggled’ before any of the selection shortcuts do anything. I understand toggling tracks would prove useful in more complex scenarios, where you need to select many disjointed things, however I feel the option for selecting the whole of a track without requiring a toggle, for more simple tasks, could prove desirable. Or at least maybe being able to untoggle previously selected tracks when you select a new one? Kind of like ‘solo’, but for toggling instead of muting.
Here’s what I’ve tried/my current workflow:
(All tracks are a single clip)
1 - Using Up/Down arrows, I move the focus between tracks
2 - I use “Solo/Unsolo Focused Track” shortcut for hearing the track
3 - I select the whole track (currently no way for a 1-step keyboard shortcut)
4 - I hit my Effects>Amplify custom shortcut and apply what I judge is the right amount according to what I heard
5 - I undo/adjust if it doesn’t sound right, but it’s usually right where I want it, going by ‘new peak amplitude’
6 - I repeat steps 1 through 5 for the next track
Using macros, the only thing I think I can do is having ‘Toggle Focused Track’ along with one of the Select menu options (Region > Track Start to End fits best in my case). However, after I’ve applied my effect I still need to untoggle it manually with Enter before I select the next track, or else I’ll select both. Having an option very similar to ‘Select > Region > Track Start to End’ that also toggles focused track, as well as untoggle unfocused tracks, would do the trick. Hell, simply adding a command to untoggle all non-focused tracks would let me do all I need with a macro. I still think this shouldn’t be an action that requires creating a macro. Going into Audacity blind, I was pleased with how it does most common navigation commands natively. Like Select all? Ctrl+A, as expected. Expand Selection/Select to end or start of project using a mix of Shift, End, Home and the arrows? Feeling at home, navigates about the same as I’m used to in, for instance Windows Explorer (actually I expected [End] to lead me to the end of a track, not the project, but that’s a different discussion (I think current behavior is fine, but we should also be able to use [End] to move to the end of a track, perhaps using [Ctrl] alongside)).
Basically having this shortcut would remove 1 step in what I’m doing. Instead of this:
- [Down]: Move to next track
- [Select Track Macro]
- [Amplify Shortcut]
- [Enter]: Untoggle track
I could do this:
- [Down]: Move to next track
- [Ctrl+Shift+End] or [Select Focused Track Start to End Shortcut]
- [Amplify Shortcut]
Alternatively, I could implement the Untoggle and Move to next track into my macro to remove yet one more step, but that’s where I start having issues, as it makes the macro too specific. I’m looking for an ‘any case’ solution, not a macro for this specific task. What if I need to move to the previous track? What if I need to skip tracks? I’m looking for a single utility shortcut, not automation (as basic as it is in my case). Maybe you can point me towards a solution I’m not seeing, but so far this is the best I found, and unfortunately, it’s still too rigid. The idea here after all is to allow selection of (only) the focused track, not to simplify my particular use case.
Otherwise, as touched when I talked about Windows Explorer, I’m naturally tempted to just hit [Home] > [Shift + End] as I’m used to navigate using those keys, and I’m happy Audacity responds to those inputs as I expect. However, yeah, it only works if the track is toggled on. And if I haven’t untoggled other tracks, it selects them as well. Also, [End] goes down to the project end, not the track end, which is more of a minor issue, as that doesn’t affect the output of Amplify, but it does shift the view away to the far end of the project to focus on the cursor, and that’s not desirable. Perhaps, as mentioned before, [Ctrl + End] to move cursor to a clip’s end (adding [Shift] for selection)?
For now using the mouse is much less of a hassle for that reason, but I feel a single shortcut allowing you to select a single whole track (or clip) could prove desirable, not just in my use case, but in many situations. Truly a minor thing, a QoL feature probably, but yeah I think it could improve some workflows.
Thinking a bit further, if we were to have this new feature, I think we would also need a command for ‘adding track to selection’. What I want is a command that is basically “Toggle and Select only the focused track”, essentially untoggling every other track, if any were toggled. So if a user has tracks selected/toggled, but wants to also select a new track using this new feature, I guess we also need an ‘Add Focused Track to Selection’ command. As for removing a track from selection, that is already achievable through [Enter] (untoggling it).
Summary of suggested feature additions (any of those you see fit):
- Allow ‘Focused Track - Select All’ (perhaps alongside ‘Add Focused Track to Selection’)
- Allow ‘Toggle Focused Track/Untoggle Others’, maybe some sort of variant of ‘Solo/Unsolo Focused Track’
- Allow [Ctrl + Home/End] to move cursor to start/end of track instead of project (which would allow selecting just the track, adding [Shift]) (not a replacement of ‘Focused Track - Select All’, as it ‘selects all’ no matter where the cursor is (1-step), whereas this requires cursor to be moved at one end first(2-step))
Sorry for writing a book, I just like being thorough… Hope you won’t mind reading through this. And thanks in advance for considering my request if you did (read through this).
I’m using Windows 10 Pro v2004, with Audacity 2.4.2.