[Shortcut] Focused Track - Select All

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.

The “Return” (“Enter”) key toggles the selectedness of the current track.

In Audacity there are two parts to a selection, there is a temporal selection (a single range of time), ad there is a “track selection” (any number of tracks that are selected).

  • The selected time region is shown as highlighting / shading on tracks and on the “Timeline” (the time ruler above the tracks).
  • Selected tracks are shown by highlighting / shading in the track control panel at the left hand end of a track (and in the track itself if there is also a temporal selection.

The “current” track is the track that has “focus”, and has a yellow border around the track. The focus may be moved to the track above / below with the Up / Down cursor keys, and it’s selectedness can be toggled with the Enter key.

You may also find this section of the manual helpful: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/navigation_tips.html

Hi, thanks for the fast response, and sorry for replying late.

I won’t blame you for not carefully reading through all I posted up there, but I’m aware of what you linked, and I wrote because it doesn’t address my issues. I went into details to help you understand my reasoning behind the suggested feature, but yeah, I have a habit of attempting to address every potential rebuttal instead of letting a discussion happen, and I’m starting to think I should start doing the latter. In any case, apologies, I should be aware people don’t have all the time in the world, and keep things brief.

Note: As I’ve done in the first post, I’ll be referring to the terms you put in your response as follows:
Temporal Selection = “selecting”
Track Selection = “toggling”

So, to reiterate simply, I know about the two modes of selection, and it is why I’m having this issue, this request. There is currently no way to ‘select all’ for only one track, in only one shortcut. And the cause for that is exactly because a track has to be toggled before it can be selected. I need a way for other tracks to untoggle if I want to select only the focused track regardless of context (macros currently only allow this through job-specific macros).

My request is to allow for any of which you see better fit:

  • Add command ‘Focused Track - Select All’ (alongside ‘Add Focused Track to Selection’, in a case where multiple tracks are already selected)
  • Add command ‘Toggle Focused Track/Untoggle Others’ (something like the current ‘Solo/Unsolo Focused Track’, but for toggling instead of muting)

Thanks again for considering this request, and hopefully I made things digestible this time.

Have I got this right? You want a keyboard shortcut that is equivalent to clicking a track’s “Select” button.

Umm yes! I guess that’s about what this amounts to…

Create a Macro containing the command “Select Track Start To End” (https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/macros.html)
You can then create a keyboard shortcut to your macro. (https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/keyboard_preferences.html)

Oh uhm, I guess I forgot to specify again, I need the track to be the only one toggled, this is not currently possible with a macro. I did state that I tried select from start to end (in my large OP), but until a track is toggled, and all others aren’t, that simply can’t work. A macro can’t know how many tracks I have in my project or specifically which ones to untoggle. Unless I’m missing how to toggle focused and untoggle all else? That’s really all that’s missing.

I mean, my bad. Yes, I want a shortcut that is equivalent to clicking a track’s Select button, but I also want the shortcut to only have that track toggled.

I could indeed achieve what I want with a macro, but only if there was a command to “Toggle Focused/Untoggle the rest”.

What do you mean “the only one toggled”?

The steps that I suggested will do the same as clicking the “Select” button on a track. Is that not what you want?

How exactly are you moving focus to the track that you want to select?

Is that “it”? The thing that you want to achieve as a single shortcut? If so, then I think you would need a little “Nyquist plug-in” to do that.
If that’s “it”, then I can show you how to do that.

Surely that’s just “Enter” isn’t it?

Allow [Ctrl + Home/End] to move cursor to start/end of track instead of project

Hold the Shift key down, and while holding it down type “j” then “k”.

The current way to do that is with a series of keyboard shortcuts:

  1. “Ctrl + Shift + A” (select none)
  2. “Enter” (select focussed track)
  3. “J” (Cursor to start of track)
  4. “Shift + K” (Select from cursor to end of track)

If I understand correctly, you want a way to do that in one key press?

I’m guessing this is what you want:
select-focussed-track.ny (558 Bytes)
Instructions for installing Nyquist plug-ins: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/installing_effect_generator_and_analyzer_plug_ins_on_windows.html#nyquist_install

Ignore my previous post, I hit submit when I meant Preview, sorry… Writing again.

[Edit: Same as previous, feel free to delete this post]

Skip to last paragraph for resolution: You gave me a solution in your second-to-last post.
I’ll keep the rest there cause uhh… I already wrote it :confused:

I mean the one that is selected with [Enter]. See, that’s why I refer to ‘track selection’ with “toggling” and to ‘temporal selection’ with “selection”. Note that I use “toggle” because that’s the term used in the program for the [Enter] hotkey, as seen here: https://i.imgur.com/oaECbWU.png

With the Up and Down arrow. I want to be using only the keyboard as it’s faster because, when doing a repetitive edit to many tracks one after the other, the only reason I needed to use the mouse was to select the whole track.

I think I read about Nyquist in other searches, I’ll admit I thought that was for more advanced/complex stuff so I dismissed it.

No, again I’m speaking about ‘temporal selection’ here. So that was to be included in conjunction with “Select Focused Track”, because I thought it might be natural to have such a command if we were to include “Select Focused Track”, as you might want to select the focused track, but not deselect another you have selected. Kind of like clicking folders in windows explorer while holding CTRL (but only adding to selection).

Speaking of which, if I were to make a parallel to Windows Explorer, holding shift and hitting up or down arrow (in detail view) would act exactly like it already does in Audacity, in that it ‘expands selection’ to other items. However the likeliness ends where this only selects part of a track, where the cursor is.

A closer parallel would be if I were to just click files. It selects the ‘entire file’, and deselects any other. The ‘Add Focused Track to Selection’ I was thinking of here would be like holding CTRL to select more files; In Audacity’s case, this would select more individual tracks regardless of cursor and the track’s end. It would select only the tracks. But I guess the cursor might prove problematic with that depending on how you coded Audacity. I understand just using CTRL to select separate tracks with the mouse already doesn’t allow for a displaced selection. Like, this is how it works: https://i.imgur.com/hDxtMTE.png And this is not possible (afaik): https://i.imgur.com/3cHgTH5.png

In any case, that’s what I meant by ‘Add Focused Track to Selection’.

I felt Home/End are more intuitive, since Shift+Home/End already does something similar (it stops at end of project instead of end of track), but that’s probably because that’s what I’m used to. In any case, true, my bad, that’s already a feature. And nothing’s stopping me from changing that shortcut to my liking, so ignore this one :blush:

Correct and… I think you just solved it with this one. I completely overlooked the ‘Select None’ command, I thought it was just about ‘temporal selection’, but of course, it also untoggles them all!

Just tried it in this simple macro (and it achieves everything I wanted): https://i.imgur.com/tY3lKjx.png
But one small hiccup remains… And I’m not sure about that one: The focus cursor goes back to the first track after executing the macro. What’s even more odd is that if I execute each of these 4 commands on their own, the focus cursor stays where it is. I assume that’s a bug? If so, there is no need to add any feature, only to fix a (I hope) tiny bug!

I’ll try it out of curiousity but uh… yeah, you kinda already solved my issue, thank you. (except for the bug I mentioned!)

So in closure, sorry for not being as proactive in the thread, and thank you for putting some of your time in it.
And to reiterate, following your second-to-last post: you gave me a solution!

However there remains what I assume is a bug, where the track focus goes back on top (first track) for some reason, only if I use the commands in a macro (it does works if I input them manually though).

I’ll reply to this first as it is really a separate issue.

Yes that’s a bug, and it has been fixed in the development code (so it will be fixed in the next Audacity release).

However it is important to note that even when it is fixed, you can’t chain all commands in a Macro that depend on focus. “Focus” only exists when there is a GUI and once a Macro starts running it runs “headerless” (without presenting GUI elements), so there maybe a track with “focus” when the Macro starts, and “focus” is restored (now that it is fixed) when the Macro returns, but focus is still rather tricky to use in the middle of a Macro.

That’s correct. Audacity supports one temporal selection at a time only. This may change in the future, but supporting multiple temporal regions would be a big development task, and isn’t likely to be done very soon (though it is something the developers would like to add eventually).

No problem. I’m sorry it took me so long to work out what you meant.

Super :slight_smile:

I think the thing that threw me off is that I would use a slightly different workflow, and that makes your requested feature unnecessary:

As you previously wrote that you want to apply effects to one track, then apply effects to another track, then apply effects to another track, I would simply press “Enter” to deselect the track after applying the effects, then move up / down to the next track and press Enter to select it. I think you even wrote that in your original post (which I can’t see while I’m typing), and I’m still not sure why that is not a suitable solution (though that’s not important now that you have a solution that you’re happy with).

Anyway, I’m glad that you are now happy :slight_smile:

Yes, please do try out the Nyquist plug-in. A nice thing about the Nyquist solution is that it can easily be modified for other behaviours. For example, it could be modified to “select the track after the selected track”, “select the track before the selected track”, or even “select the track after the selected track unless it’s the last track, in which case select the first track”.

NP at all!

Because the goal was to have a 1-key shortcut. Requiring to press [Enter] (as well as my key for “Solo/Unsolo”) adds 1 more step (2 with Solo/Unsolo) to the process. And most importantly these are ‘toggles’, and since I’m kinda spastic with my hands (I have Tourettes, and while I control it very well honestly, repetitive movements like this can really get hard to focus on after a while, hence it’s better to simplify things, which is the purpose of shortcuts and macros). So, I tend to sometimes double hit [Enter] or my “Solo/Unsolo” shortcut. Having a 1-way shortcut (hitting it again doesn’t undo it) such as Ctrl+A (but only for the focused track) really solves everything.

(In retrospect, that’s really all I wanted: An alternative to Ctrl+A, but for only one track, and only for the track’s length. I’m tempted to use Ctrl+A all the time by habit, but yeah, everytime I input it from habit I’m like “Woops nope, not quite it.”)

Thought as such, but I’m happy to hear that’s something devs have interests into.
(by the way, any place I can see the main Audacity roster? I’ve assumed you’re the project lead, but I couldn’t find any such info on the main audacityteam.org site, and in this forum, the ‘The Team’ page only lists the members as their ‘moderator team’ title. And I know this is an open source project, but there’s always some form of main contributors or at least project founders, and I’m just curious about that)

Well that is great news for certain. And I see about the technical challenges, but surely for something as simple as the macro I’ll be using, I’ll be in the clear? https://i.imgur.com/tY3lKjx.png In any case I’m hopeful ¯_ :slight_smile: _/¯

Thanks again for your input, and I’ll definitely be checking out Nyquist in general.