While Playing Add Label and Shift Focus to Audio Track

I want to find a way (a keyboard shortcut) to shift the focus away from a region label’s text box and back to the audio track when I add region labels while playing the audio. If the shortcut could be a single key directly above the spacebar, that would be ideal.

I am adding hundreds of region labels to separate 2 languages spoken during a conference by a speaker and translator who speak one after another. It’s a tedious process, yes, but based on my research there’s no other way to do this. I’ve now done it many times and the final result is quite good (after further Audacity magic).

But whenever I make a mistake in defining a region label (~20% of the time) I use these steps:

  • (A) stop and restart playing using the spacebar (left hand)
    (B) use the mouse (right hand) to go back to a previous point and replay that section (spacebar again)
    (C) and if I did make a mistake, adjust the ends of the region label I just made (right hand) and then continue playing (spacebar again)

Problem Source:
The problem I have stems from the focus moving to the label’s textbox when a region label is added. Can that be prevented? I need the focus to stay in the audio track that is playing so I can use the spacebar in steps (A-C)

(I don’t need any text in my labels, by the way).

My failed attempts to solve this:

  1. Define a keyboard shortcut near the spacebar where my left hand is for step (A)
    Failed: you can’t make a single letter shortcut to shift focus once the focus is in the textbox of a label

  2. Use the up arrow key on my Apple Extended Keyboard to shift focus
    Failed: the up arrow key is too far from the spacebar

  3. Define a keyboard shortcut to do what the space bar does near the up arrow key
    Failed: I tried defining the right arrow key to do what the spacebar does, but it doesn’t work while audio is playing

  4. Define a keyboard shortcut to a macro which adds a label and then shifts focus to the top track
    Failed: Although this works while audio is not playing, it does not work as audio is playing

Thanks for any help

“Enter” will close the label text.
“Up” cursor moves focus to the track above.

Thank you, Steve, for the suggestion. I’ve redefined the apostrophe (') key to add a label since it is close to the return [enter] key. This means that I can control the spacebar with smallest finger (pinkie) while keeping my index and middle fingers on the apostrophe and return keys.

It’s a little awkward to control the spacebar with my pinkie, but this is helping.

Is there any way to disable the focus shifting to the label’s textbox in the first place?

When a track has focus, then that’s the “current” track for all activity. To add a label, focus has to be in a label track - Audacity does not support labels in other track types. So the short answer is “no”.

Okay, after considering both of Steve’s suggestions, here’s the solution that’s working best for me:

By default the return key is assigned to “Focus - Toggle Focused Track”
→ I assign this to ⌘B (command B) instead

By default the ⌘B is assigned to “Labels - Add Label at Selection”
→ I assign this to B instead

This allows me to keep my hands in a comfortable position to use the spacebar as needed. I had been trying to assign a single letter for Focus shortcut, an that’s not possible once within a label textbox.

Thanks again.