How to edit audio

This page introduces how to edit audio, particularly using software called Audacity.

It introduces some features of Audacity, and points to other tutorials on the web.


If you are going to pre-record a show, and want to edit it afterwards, or if you are going to make an edited podcast of something you’ve recorded, you’re going to have to use some sort of audio editing software.

A very useful tool for editing audio is Audacity. Audacity is a powerful and easy-to-use audio editor – and even better, it’s open source and free to download and use. It is also cross-platform, working on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. You can download Audacity here – for whichever operating system you are using.


Using Audacity

When you’ve downloaded Audacity and open it, you’ll automatically open a new project. You’ll then need to Import some audio into Audacity for you to use. This can be any file from your music library, or something that you’ve just recorded. You can also record audio directly into Audacity. Once the audio is imported or recorded, you’ll see it as a wave form on a timeline or track, split into stereo (i.e. left and right). You can then start editing the audio – selecting bits of audio, cutting bits out, joining bits together, and applying effects (like ‘fade in’, ‘fade out’, and ‘remove noise’).

To select part of a track for editing, click on the Selection Tool –  – and click and drag across the selection you wish to work on.

The selected part of the track now appears a darker shade of grey and you may now apply an action to just that selection.

The Edit menu

The Edit menu contains many of the basic editing actions that you will apply to a selection of a track.

Cut – removes the section of selected track from the window and places it in the clipboard in case you want to paste into a new track or new project. You can also use the  button to perform this action on the selection.

Copy – keeps the selection in place but makes a copy in the clipboard for pasting into a new track or new project. You can also use the  button to perform this action on the selection.

Trim – removes all audio before and after the selection. You can also use the  button to perform this action on a selection.

Delete – removes the selection completely from the track. You can also use the Delete key on your keyboard to perform this action on the selection.

Silence – replaces the selection with silence. You can also use the  button to perform this action on the selection.

Split and Duplicate – Using the Split action removes the selection from the working track while creating another track into which the piece of removed audio is then pasted (see screenshot below). This may be useful to move a segment of a recorded track into a different order than which it was originally recorded. Using Duplicate is similar but, instead of removing the selection from the original track, it just duplicates the audio into the new track.



Using MP3s and Exporting to MP3

Audacity can import and edit MP3 files. However, if you want to export your Audacity project to an MP3 file, you will need to install an extra plugin, called LAME MP3 Encoder – which you can download here. (It’s a horrible webpage – we know!) As with Audacity itself, this plugin is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, so you’ll need to choose the right version for your operating system. You can find more info on steps for downloading and using the LAME encoder here.



There are lots of resources for using Audacity. See, e.g., tutorials from Wikieducator, KDMC, or Floss manuals. There is a useful 2-page guide here, which you could print out – or more here. There are also lots of videos on Youtube – see, e.g., the two below.



This page is based on content from Wikieducator’s Audacity tutorial.