Timeless (blank) vs Empty (lined) Track Parts?

Rather new to advanced editing but now that I’m using the time shift feature, I get blank sections in moved tracks as well as the already empty lined sections. After exporting separate edited tracks I find that when reloading them later, the time line has changed from the blank sections not being saved?

Is the only way to retain the correct time location of an edited track to generate silence into all the blank areas before saving or is there a switch allowing the blanks to become “lined” and thus saved as time? (BTW, just installed newest version so feel like a newbee again…) :unamused:

Love this program but can’t find anything in the manual about this issue. Then again, not sure I’m calling the “empty tracks” by the correct terminology either. :blush:
Thanks for any help!

Yes that’s correct. It was in my opinion an unfortunate design decision.

Inserting “silence” is the solution, but you don’t need to fill the “white space”. All you need is to have some “audio” at the start of all tracks (“silence” counts as valid “audio”, but “white-space” does not).

Note also that if any tracks start before time=0, the hidden portion before time=0 is included in the export.

An easy way to ensure that all tracks start at the same time:

  1. Ctrl+A (select All)
  2. If necessary, use the Time Shift tool to drag all of the tracks to the right to reveal any sound before time=0.0
  3. Home key (cursor to start of tracks (note that all tracks are still selected - if not, press Ctrl+Shift+K to extend the selection to all tracks.
  4. Generate > Silence. Generate a small section of silence (say 1 second). By default, tracks will move to the right to accommodate the silence.

@kentone: Would you like to “vote” for an export option that respects leading white space before the track starts? We would just add your “vote” to a count of how many users are interested in such a feature.


Steve, thanks much for clearing that up in such depth. I’ve also just learned that I didn’t have to figure out the times to put in the selection boxes for generating “silent space” to fill the “white space” as the program automatically does the math for me! Cool!

Hi Gale, That option would make things lots easier if individual edited tracks were needed to be exported much so one can time shift parts of tracks anywhere they want them and then just export, retaining the times left after editing. Would save a lot of steps for me at least. Maybe make it a preference choice as I’m sure there are times one would want any piece of a track just exported from zero but shifting it over isn’t a big deal. Trying to line up the “white” sections for time accuracy w/o serious zooming is tricky however.

@kentone, I recorded your “vote” for a preference to preserve track start time after zero when exporting. Although in practice I think a checkbox in the export dialogues might be more convenient.

There is a way to export the leading silence automatically which may or may not be convenient. This is to Edit > Preferences… then in the “Import / Export” section, enable “Use Custom Mix”. Then use standard File > Export Audio… (not Export Selected Audio) and export from a project containing three tracks or more. This exports a single file with multiple channels which you could import back into Audacity with each track aligned correctly.

There is one proviso that although the tracks are aligned correctly relative to each other, the leftmost track will be aligned with zero even if it was aligned right of zero before. But you could always Edit > Select > All then shift all the tracks so that the leftmost track started where it should.


The checkbox sounds great! I’m getting the hang of the program now and going well. Will checkout the custom mix but I only work in stereo tracks so don’t know if needed for what I do. Thanks again for the great tips! (and please add a search function to the manual - would probably save you lots of questions to answer…) :wink:

Until then, you can bookmark this page and type what you want to search for at the front of the address bar: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=site%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fmanual.audacityteam.org/o.