Trouble opening saved project

I have a number of projects that I am trying to open with audacity 3.4.2 on my Mac- The projects are stored on an external drive as .aup with a subfolder containing the data as .au files. If I double click on the project it opens with a message that the data files are missing. What do I do?

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Those are the “old” format Audacity projects. As you’ve noted, there is an AUP file then a “_data” folder associated with it.

For example, if the project file is “MyProject.aup” then the folder must be named “MyProject_data” and that folder must be in the same folder as the project file.

If you have renamed the _data folder, or it is not in the right location relative to the AUP file, then Audacity won’t find it.

So this is the first thing to check: does the _data folder have the correct name and is it in the correct location.

Here’s the file structure:
Screenshot 2024-04-30 at 11.03.21 PM
but I still get the same error msg:
“Missing project file Inserting silence instead” and most of the audio is missing.
Any advice?

Open the AUP file in a text editor and read it. This may take a little convincing, but it really is a text file with a funny name.

Somewhere in the second line, there’s an entry called projname=". In this example, it’s projname=“Project-Test_data”. Click on this picture.

So Project-Test is the name of the Project or show.

Both the aup file and the folder have to be named that, and both have to be in the same location or folder for the show to open.

Each .au file is a 6-second sound file and will open in Audacity and play.

Shows or Projects only work well on the internal drive. If they’re on some other kind of drive (the worst is Cloud Drives), the show may not be stable or open at all.

From recent experience, I can say that the providers go to a lot of effort to make their cloud drives and services “appear” like ordinary internal drives. They’re not. If you disconnect your machine from the internet, they will vanish—or vanish if you click on them.


One more. You can store your projects wherever you want after Audacity is closed, but you have to work on, open, and save them to the internal drive.

The newer Audacity versions use a single file format, aup3.


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I moved the project file to desktop but the problem persists. Here is the start of the the aup file

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="no" ?>

It appears the “Lam.aup” is inside “Lam_data”. Move the “Lam.aup” file so it is in the “Lam” folder but outside the “Lam_data” folder.

Koz is looking for the line that looks like this:
<project xmlns= … projname="MyProject_data" version=“1.3.0”

That tells us the name of the “_data” folder the project file (AUP file) is looking for.

BTW, the problem you are having (and many other have had) is why Audacity moved to the AUP3 “unitary” file format, where everything is stored in one file.

The file “.aup” was outside the data folder but inside a larger folder. I have a clearer example

This is the .aup file with the extension changed to .txt
Psalm133.txt (25.6 KB)
I can’t upload the audio files but they are in the subfolder d00.

Here is a screenshot of the error message
In this case the “missing” file is in the d00 sub folder. Any thoughts?

Here are the first few lines of the .aup file

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="no" ?>

The contents of the AUP file are correct.

It appears you are missing some .AU files. If the files are gone, they’re gone.

Have you done a Finder search for the file names that are reported missing?

Yes I have and have come up empty. I have checked tens of projects and they are all missing data. Coincidence? I unfortunately no longer have the audio source either.

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You can get scrambled projects like this if you save your project and then go immediately to another job or task without waiting for it to finish.

How external? USB, FireWire, or Lightning? Those should work reasonably well, but again, you can’t interrupt the saving job while it’s running. I don’t expect the damage to happen after the save completed. This is much worse if you have home network drives, and Cloud Drives are a super problem.

Two recommendations now that it’s too late. Open saved shows to make sure they saved OK, and always Export a Perfect Quality WAV protection file first, then the Project.

I see the latest Audacity variation is going to “know” what a Cloud Drive is and use them without drama or damage.