waveform changed -- can't edit properly

Hello I am a beginner level user of Audacity in process of recording narrated clips (have been working regularly on this for 5 months or so) Suddenly, the display waveform image has changed and now appears very spiky and seems condensed – it does not leave room for me to edit properly. Formerly the image was smooth looking and I could easily ‘tidy up’ the shapes of words by modulating voice. It left ample space between words/at pauses so that cleaning up accidental breath sounds or redo/s was easy. To reiterate, the imagery now is tight together and very spiky. I cannot seem to figure out what setting has changed Any suggestions?? Many thanks in advance, Cynthia

Please note: This is Cynthia adding a detail to my question:
I managed to figure out that it is imported audios that make the waveform look spiked. When I create a new audio after importing, the newly recorded audios take on the tight/spikey appearance too. However, thankfully now when I begin a new audio, that is, open/record from ‘scratch’ it looks normal – solid/ with space between and more rounded. The problem is that I must import and edit several previously recorded audios. I may go ahead and rerecord to avoid the issue
Thanks in advance for any insights - tips ! Cynthia

and seems condensed

You may be going into and out of the zoom tools. Scroll down in this post.


The zoom tools spread out time so, for example, one second can take up the whole timeline left to right. Zoom in and out so you can see clearly the places you want to edit.

– Shift-ScrollWheel or Shift-TouchPadScrub will shift the timeline view left and right (sooner and later).

I change the timeline so it doesn’t shift by itself:

– Audacity > Preferences > Tracks > [_] Update display while playing. (de-select)

Update Display is good ON during recording because it keeps the current blue waves in front and it’s easier to keep up with your voice recording volume.


Thank you so much, Koz. I will try the suggestions! sure appreciate your response C.

Thank you again, Koz, the zoom tool info helped greatly. I can now edit on those condensed-spikey waveforms.
Here is a related issue: I may be misreading the situation, but it appears that when I import, or click and drag in, a previously Audacity-recorded clip, it comes in with that spikey-condensed appearance. Does the audio get compressed along the way? Is there a way to preserve the original integrity of the waveform? Many thanks in advance for any assistance. C

Audacity will default to showing you the whole show left to right on the timeline. If the show is longer than about a minute, then yes, the blue waves are going to appear squished together. Most people want that. Who would want a show to appear with some of the performance missing off the left or right edge?

I still hope we’re talking about the same thing. Do the Zoom controls or buttons do what you want?