This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Introduction to Audacity

Why you would want to use Audacity and what Audacity does. There is a short task to be completed after reading the material [5 mins].

You may wish to learn to use Audacity if you would like to record or edit audio. Audacity is a very simple software and extremely useful for recording interviews, making podcasts, making sound collages, creating documentaries, recording songs etc.

Audacity is an example of a type of software known as an 'audio editor'. This means that Audacity can record and edit audio. Typically, you use Audacity for recording sounds, like interviews or musical instruments. You can then use the program to combine these sounds and edit them to make documentaries, music, and podcasts.

It is a relatively simple application compared to a lot of commercial audio editors. 

In the past, audio editing was done with huge machines that recorded sound to tape (similar to the tape in tape cassettes).


Audio engineers would then edit these tapes using razor blades and sticky tape. Much of the jargon used in audio editing today comes from this process. Making a 'cut' meant literally cutting the audio tape at a certain point. 'Multitrack' referred to recording many separate sounds onto extra wide tape to fit more 'tracks'. The recording industry still uses these terms today. Many of the fundamental techniques which formed good audio recording and editing practices in the past, laid the foundation for recording and editing software  today. 

While many of the terms and techniques remain the same today, computers replaced tape machines, and digital files succeeded tapes. Hence, you now record audio and edit with a computer using software such as Audacity. You then store these sounds in files on a computer. This makes the process faster and requires a lot less physical storage space.


Audacity is a powerful tool for recording and editing audio on a home computer. It's a very sophisticated program and can do everything you would expect from a modern audio editor. Audacity perhaps falls short of meeting the needs of professional recording studios, but not by much.

You can install and run Audacity on LinuxMac OS X and Windows. To complete this challenge we presume you have Audacity installed already. if you haven't then you may wish to download and install Audacity. For more information on installation please read the Audacity Workbook :


To show your understanding of this chapter and to check that Audacity is right for you, please write as a comment below, one or two sentences on how you use or want might use Audacity. If you have used Audacity please describe how you find it.

Example: "I would use Audacity to combine recorded voices and music to create short radio jingles for a hospital radio I work for. I have never used Audacity but my collegues have and recommend it."

Task Discussion

  • tinkerbell said:

    I want to use Audacity to edit interviews I have recorded (wav files) for a community radio program.

    on March 9, 2013, 4:50 a.m.
  • Inkbug said:

    I've used audacity to cut music, fade it out, and duplicate sounds. Although it can use a nicer interface, it works pretty well.

    on July 9, 2012, 1:10 p.m.
  • James Roughton said:

    I use a digital recorder to record my audio and then import it into Audcity and clean up the audio.

    Visit my YouTube Channel, mrjamesroughton, if you want to see my videos.  All audio on videos were as the result of Audcity.

    on June 20, 2012, 10:23 a.m.
  • Adam Hyde said:

    I would use Audacity to record and edit a podcast interview.

    on May 1, 2012, 5:26 a.m.
  • Adam Hyde said:

    I find it odd that the workshop leader voice is used here. i like the personal touch but if there is this kind of background i either want to know who the leader is, or i dont want to kow that they have this kind of bio detail.

    Additionally I dont like how ti links out to material.

    on May 1, 2012, 5:25 a.m.
  • John Curwood said:

    I have two tasks I want to use Audacity for:

    1- I want to clean up recorded sound files to add to video as ambient sound-tracks and sound effects.

    2- I want to use Audacity to record and mix a song I have written.

    on April 28, 2012, 3:55 p.m.
  • Brylie Oxley said:

    I want to use Audacity to edit guitar tracks. I will clean up improvisation and upload it to an archival web site.

    on April 28, 2012, 12:17 a.m.
  • Philipp said:

    I haven't used Audacity in a long while, but a few years ago I did a lot of research field-work and interviews. I used Audacity to clean up the recordings, edit out empty spaces, and compressed the audio files.

    At the time it required a little work to set up and figure out, but I found it useful, reliable, and powerful enough for all the things I needed it for. 

    on April 27, 2012, 9:22 a.m.