Terminology: Tracks versus Clips

Win10/Audacity 3.1.3
I got sidelined last night in my study of “Clips” (Edit, Clip boundaries …). Fascinating(to me)
This morning, while recording, I saw what I thought last night were Clips labelled as Tracks.
(1) Above are what I thought would be Clips, labeled as “Audio Track #10” and so on.
Might I still call them “Clips”? Which is the preferred term?
(2) Then I noticed that one of the clips seem to have disappeared, at least from the numeric sequence.
I suppose I did something while editing

(3) Then, from time to time, I was able to manipulate the mouse pointer near, or on, the vertical boundary line between two tracks/clips, and the boundary disappeared, just as if I had recorded without a break caused by “X” and a subsequent “R”

This is curiousity only, but I would like to stay on track regarding terminology, because I suspect that terminology will become increasingly critical as I go on reading the manual/wiki material.

Yes they are “clips”.
The reason that the clip names are like “Audio Track #10” is because the default name for the clips come from the name of the track, and the track name is “Audio Track”.

The track name is at the top of the track’s control panel on the left end of the track.

See also: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/audio_tracks.html

Thanks, Steve. Audacity is a treasure-chest of surprises!
Me being me, I recorded a second clip to see the clip’s name, then wondered whether the transparent track name stayed with the clip if the clip was moved.
Clearly the transparent track name is anchored to the track, not to any clip that is housed in the track.

(later) Then I discovered Edit, Preferences, Recording:-
Cheers, Chris

Yeah, we need to revisit the clip naming eventually. The plan currently is to do more with clips in the release after the next (ie Audacity 3.3), so I made us a reminder to look at that then: https://github.com/audacity/audacity/issues/2499

I raised a "Discussion on GitHub about this potential for confusion back last August:
Nomenclature for default Clip names could be improved as “Audio Clip” #1535

LWinterberg has just logged a new “Issue” on Github for this
Default clip titles should not be named “Audio Track” #2499


Hello Peter,
I have been playing with various formats for the last couple of days, and now am confused. I plan to document this fully sometime today.
I have set “Yilgarn”, saved, rechecked the setting with Ctrl+P, exited and reloaded Win10/Audacity 3.1.3, used “Tracks, Add new, Mono track”, and the track shows up as “Audio Track”.
I may have left out a step in here.
Initially I was trying to document the menu system: it says “Name newly recorded tracks”, but I thought that this should apply to newly created tracks as in “Tracks, Add new, Mono track”. Nope. Then I thought maybe when I start recording with “R”. Nope.
At this early stage in my learning, I feel that Ctrl+P changes take effect immediately, that there ouight be no need to exit Audacity and start a new session to gain the new preferences
More later; Chris

The current behavior: A clip named Audio Track #1
A double mention: Audio Track Clip #1

Hello. I welcome clarity in the use of the terms Clip and Track.

After Steve helped me out, I started to document my understanding. The page at http://www.chrisgreaves.com//Technical/AudacityMacros/Terminology.htm is incomplete and I shall edit it today.
You will note that in my reply to Peter (five minutes ago), I seemed to be unable to duplicate my earlier effort to make use of “Track”.
I will study this more today.
I note the comments about “do more with clips”. Is there a public document I might read to get an idea of the direction this is going? That might help me to understand a few “dead-ends” that I may encounter in 3.1.3.

Based on your example quoted above, I suspect that the user will not be prohibited from using strings such as “Audio”, “Track” and “Clip” in titles should they wish to do so.

That’s correct. The option “Name newly recorded tracks” is in the “Recording” setting of Preferences, and explicitly says “Name newly recorded tracks”, so I think the intention of this feature is clear - it’s for automatically naming newly recorded tracks. The main purpose of this is for people that want time-stamped recordings. See: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/recording_preferences.html#Name_newly_recorded_tracks

That should work. (it works for me).

Hi Chris,

hmmmm - there appear to be two places where you can set default track names

  1. is the one you used in Recording Prefs as above

  2. and also in Tracks Preferences
    Tracks prefs.png
    This appears to work for
    a) Generated tracks
    b) adding new tracks
    c) AND recording

I haven’t tested to see which is “Top Trumps” out of 1 and 2c - I’ll have a play with that

The #1 Recording Prefs setting out-trumps the setting in Tracks Prefs

I’ll have a look a the Manual to see if some clarity is required …

Fascinating …


That one applies to adding any new track by any means, but can be overridden if custom naming is enabled for newly recorded tracks.

That one applies to newly recorded tracks only (as the name says). This one will override the more general “Default audio track name” in the Tracks menu (if set).

Indeed, just as I have discovered by hands-on testing.

But, as I suspected the Manual is far from clear about which of the two settings predominates - I will have a look a fixing it.

And the conflicting behavior is not exactly easily obvious or “discoverable” (as evidenced by Chris’s confusion)

“I’m going to send you these clips so you can add them to the tracks in your application.”

I had an audio recording practitioner complete a voice recording session and provide me tracks. He didn’t say which application produced the tracks and nothing I had would open them. They were of limited use.

He also provided MP3 clips and although not optimal, we were able to use those.


We will all look back at this thread one day and laugh.
In the meantime:-

(1) I am still waiting for one of you to yell at me (GRIN) and tell me to
(1a) Stop opening the CFG file and
(1b) Stop calling it an INI file.
I can’t help myself. I have some neat little Word2003/VBA code that does wonders with INI files.

(2) Here is one of those “spot the difference” puzzles.


If you can’t work it out in one minute, I’ll give you a clue:
Read the key names VERY carefully.

Now, I’ll get back to my essay on track names …

http://www.chrisgreaves.com//Technical/AudacityMacros/Terminology.htm about 1/4 of the way down you will find the heading “Monday, January 31, 2022”

At the foot of the web page you will find:-

Conclusion for Monday, January 31, 2022

(a) “Recording Preferences” and “Track Preferences” both allow us to set constant-string identifiers to tracks.
(b) “Recording Preferences” allows us to make use of numeric and date/time stamped identifiers.
(c) “Recording Preferences” “Custom Track name” seems to inhibit the numeric and date/time stamp options.
(d) “Recording Preferences” dominates
(e) Use of the letter “R” to open a new track in a new (and void) project has no effect on the naming of the track
(f) When I use Tracks, New, Audacity makes use of the “Track Preferences” setting.
(g) Track New must be used to make use of the “Track Preferences” setting
(h) There remains some mis-understood (by me) ways of making full use of the track-naming schemes offered by Audacity 3.1.3, but I know more today than I did yesterday.

I am open to all corrections, and as usual, invite any new areas of study. I am happy to be a “guinea pig” while I still know so little as to be tripped up by inconsistencies.

As usual: Thanks to all the Audacity members who have prodded me along this path of discovery.

OK so I updated the following two pages for the alpha Manual for the upcoming 3.2.0:


the really wacky thing that I have not documented is that you can mix&match the two:
a) set a default name in Tracks Prefs,
b) in recording prefs leave the Custom Track Name unchecked - but do check “on” any or all of: Track Number System Date or System time.

And hey presto you next record get a recorded track name which is a melange of both sets of preferences settings. :confused: :unamused: :stuck_out_tongue:


Perhaps the settings in tracks prefs should only apply to adding new tracks and generating new tracks, but not recording new tracks?

I’ve tweaked the text a bit more to try to clarify that it is only the “Custom Track Name” in Recording Prefs that conflicts with the “Default audio track name” in Track Prefs, and that the Recording Prefs override when recording a new track. Feel free to tweak more if necessary.

I don’t think so.

Audacity’s factory default audio track name = “Audio Track”
That can be changed with: “Tracks Preferences > Default audio track name”
In other words, users can customise the default track name.

When recording a new track, special rules can be added that may override the default track name (regardless of whether it is the factory default, or a custom default).

It may be tricky to describe clearly, but it works well in practice.


Perhaps the settings in tracks prefs should only apply to adding new tracks and generating new tracks, but not recording new tracks?

I would suggest that you(all) define exactly what you mean by adding/generating/recording .
From the users point of view, new tracks (if not clips, remember) spring up like weeds between all the cracks and crevasses in the menu and short-cut key commands.
A starting-point might be documenting all the different ways that an enclosed clip like the one in my screenshot, can appear within an Audacity project. For example, A track might appear because I double-clicked on an existing WAV file, which triggered a launch of Audacity.exe. But then, when I use “R” am I creating a new recording, or appending to an existing recording, or overwriting an existing clip or …
If after my launch of Audacity using 123.WAV, I then delete the content (Ctrl+A and ), “R” to record new material, then Export the audio to 456.WAV, would you say that I now had a new track on my laptop screen? As a user I would not consider it to be the same track as that which I launched from File Explorer

Hi Steve: Tweak this:- :smiley: :smiley:
This example, from a single Project(Win10/3.1.3) , is starting to feel too much like fun.:smiling_imp:
I really must get back to work …