Audacity Quick Start Tutorial

In this brief tutorial Audacity will be used to edit and export an audio file.

Two audio files are provided for you to use during this tutorial. Save the two following audio files by right-clicking on the link and selecting (depending on your web browser) Save Target As…. or Save Link As... * background_music  and narration. Save to a new folder called "Audacity Tutorial" on your network drive.

Listen to the finished product here.

Import Audio into Audacity

1. Launch Audacity by clicking the icon located in the Multimedia folder. Select Project > Import Audio. Locate background_music.mp3 by browsing to the location you saved the audio file to earlier and select Open. This file will be added to the audacity timeline.

2. Import the narration.mp3 audio file as well using Project > Import Audio.

3. Your screen will look similar to the image below. Notice that there are two tracks on the timeline. One is background_music.mp3 and the other is the narration.mp3.

  1. To listen, press the Play  button. To stop, press .
  1. Notice that playback begins where the selection tool  is currently located. You can also click and drag to select a portion of the waveform and only that highlighted portion will be played back.
  1. Click the solo button  on the narration track to only hear that track.


Delete Unwanted Audio

  1. Delete unwanted audio by using the selection tool  to select the portion you wish to delete and hit the delete key.
  1. In the middle of the track named narration the narrator clears his throat. Delete this section by selecting that portion of the waveform and hitting the delete key.


Fade-In & Fade-Out

  1. Using the selection tool  highlight the first few seconds of the track named background. From the menu, select Effect > Fade In.
  1. Next, highlight the last few seconds of the track named background and select Effect > Fade Out.  

When played back, you will notice that the background track fades in and then fades out at the end.


Shift Tracks on Timeline

Use the Time Shift Tool  to slide tracks around on the timeline.

*      Set the background music to start playing briefly before the narration begins by using the Time Shift Tool to click and drag the narration track to the right a few seconds.


Track Volume

The volume of a track can be reduced or increased by using the volume control for the specific track.

*      In our example, the background music is too loud. To lower the volume, move the slider to -12dB.


Saving and Exporting

Audacity projects are stored with an .AUP file extension. This file stores information about your project so you can use Audacity to work with it later.

Audacity can export your project to a variety of formats depending on your audience and needs. The following table provides an overview of two common formats.

File Format

Audio Quality

File Size

Compatible with

Best for…

Audacity Project (.aup)



Only Audacity

Files you plan to edit later




Default uncompressed audio file for Windows or Mac

Audio CD’s, High Quality Recordings




Compressed format can be played with most media players

Web audio, portable music players

You can choose to export all tracks in a project or just selected tracks. If you have more than one track, Audacity will “mix down” your tracks. This means that it will combine separate tracks into one track.

Save Audacity Project Files

  1. Select File > Save Project As…
  2. Give it a name and click Save.

Export as an MP3

  1. Click File > Export as MP3…
  2. Choose a destination. Be sure to remember where you saved your exported sound file to so you can find it later.
  3. Click OK.
  4. If needed, enter information about the file.


You should now be able to open your newly created MP3 file with your favorite media player or insert it into PowerPoint, video, or other multimedia project.

* Background_music.mp3 file courtesy of:

Shastry, Nan. (2006). Background_music.mp3. Sound clips for presentations. Retrieved on December 12, 2006 from