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Frequently Asked Questions

I. General

  1. Is Audacity really free? Why?
  2. Who developed Audacity?
  3. How can I help to improve Audacity?
  4. I found a bug! Now what?

II. Installation

  1. Windows: What do I do with the .exe file?
  2. Windows: How do I uninstall Audacity?
  3. Mac: What do I do with the .sit file?
  4. Unix: Why do I get failed dependencies when installing from the RPM?
  5. Unix: Why do I get an error while loading the shared library

III. Using Audacity

  1. How do I mix two tracks together?
  2. Can I remove the vocals from a recording?
  3. When I try to record harmonies with myself, why are the two tracks out of sync?
  4. Why doesn't Audacity ship with an MP3 encoder?


Yes, in almost all senses. Audacity is not only distributed free of charge, but you are also free to do almost anything you want with it.

Audacity is distributed under the terms of the General Public License (GPL). You are free to use this program for personal or commercial purposes. You are also free to give it away or sell it. The source code to this program is freely available on the web, and you are free to modify it for your own use, however any changes you make must also be distributed under the GPL.

Audacity was build using wxWindows, a software library which is released under the less-restrictive LGPL. For more information, please visit

The authors of Audacity decided to release it under the GPL for many reasons. Some of us do it out of generosity. Some of us do it for moral reasons, because we feel that all software should be free, while others of us believe that there is a need for both free and commercial software in the world.

One reason Audacity is free is so that it will be more popular. Many of us would rather see a million people happily using Audacity for free than have a thousand people pay us. Most users are more friendly when they get something for free.

Yet another reason is that it encourages collaboration. If Audacity was shareware, it is unlikely that dozens of people around the world would have contributed code, bug fixes, documentation, and graphics.

Audacity was started in the fall of 1999 by Dominic Mazzoni while he was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He was working on a research project with his advisor, Professor Roger Dannenberg, and they needed a tool that would let them visualize audio analysis algorithms. Over time, this program developed into a general audio editor, and other people started helping out.

Today, Audacity is developed using Sourceforge, an online site that allows people around the world to collaborate on free software projects. See for more information. Dozens of people have contributed to Audacity, and progress is continually accelerating.

There are many ways you can help. If you are a programmer and you know C++, we can always use more developers. We especially need more Windows and MacOS programmers, as many of the current developers prefer Linux.

If you are bilingual, you can help us translate Audacity into another language.

If you are good at writing, you can help us write documentation and tutorials.

Finally, anyone can submit bug reports and suggestions. The more detailed, the better.

If you would like to help out in any one of these ways, please email the developers at [email protected]. You may also want to go to the Sourceforge web site and join the mailing list yourself.

The most important thing when reporting a bug is to be as specific as possible. Give us enough information that we can reproduce the bug ourselves, otherwise it's unlikely that we'll be able to fix it.

Be sure to let us know what operating system you run (such as Windows 98, MacOS 9.1, RedHat Linux 7.1, etc.) and any other information about your computer that you think might be relevant.

Then, can you reproduce the bug? If it happens consistently, tell us the exact sequence of events which causes the bug to occur. If you get an error message, make sure you send us the exact text of the error message.

We want to squash all of the bugs! Thanks for taking the time to help us track them down.


From the browser, select the option to "Run from current location". This launches the Audacity setup program, which will install the Audacity program files and create an entry in the start menu.

If you already downloaded the file, just double-click on it to start the installer.

If you prefer not to use the Installer program, you can also download Audacity as a ZIP file, which you can decompress using WinZip.

Audacity can be uninstalled by opening Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. Select "Audacity" from the list and click the button "Add/Remove". This launches the Audacity uninstall program.

You need a recent version of StuffIt Expander. StuffIt Expander comes with all Macintoshes and is usually configured by default with all Mac web browsers. If Audacity does not decompress automatically, drag "audacity.sit" to StuffIt Expander to decompress it.

There is no need to install Audacity. Just drag the Audacity folder to your Applications folder, or wherever else you would like to put it. To uninstall, just drag the entire folder to the trash.

First, ensure that the wxGTK is installed; a link can be found from our Linux page - Be sure that you use the appropriate version of wxGTK - Audacity 1.0 requires wxGTK 2.2.9, and it will not work with any other version.

This could be one of two problems:
- If you installed the wxWindows RPM, be sure to run "ldconfig" (as root) so your system knows about the new library.

- If you installed wxWindows from source, it may have been installed in /usr/local, but /usr/local/lib may not be in your library path. Add /usr/local/lib to the file "/etc/" and then run "ldconfig". You may also want to add "/usr/local/bin" to your path, so that programs can find the "wx-config" utility.

Using Audacity

Audacity mixes automatically. All you have to do is import two tracks into the same project, which you can do using the "Import Audio" command in the Project menu, or simply by dragging the two audio files to Audacity. When you press the record button, Audacity generates a new track automatically, also.

In order to save your mix, you can either Export the project, which will automatically mix all of your tracks together, or you can select your tracks and use the "Quick Mix" command in the Project menu.

With some stereo recordings, it is possible to remove the vocals because of the way in which the recording was mixed at the studio. Often, the vocals are placed in the exact center of the recording, while all other instruments are slightly off-center. If you subtract the right channel from the left channel, the vocals get completely canceled out, leaving only the other instruments.

This only works on some recordings!

To attempt this in Audacity, import a stereo recording, then click on the track pop-up menu (the little down-arrow next to the name of the track) and select "Split Stereo Track". Now select the lower track (the right channel) and use the "Invert" effect (from the Effect menu). Finally, use the track pop-up menus to make both channels Mono channels, and then mix them together using Quick Mix. If you're lucky, the vocals will be gone.

This is normal and it happens because there is a small delay between when Audacity starts playing sound and when it actually reaches your speaker. Audacity does not automatically try to correct for this delay, and you must do it manually.

To correct this delay, use the Time Shift tool to slide one of the tracks over until they line up. Note that you can use the tool while you are listening to the recording.

Unfortunately, the algorithm to encode or create MP3 files is patented, and Audacity would not be able to include an MP3 exporting algorithm without either charging a fee or violating the law in many countries.

As a compromise, Audacity comes with the ability to use other MP3 encoders, which you must download separately. It is up to you to make sure you are in compliance with any licensing restrictions imposed by MP3 encoders.

For more information, see the page on Exporting MP3 files.

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