Portable Audacity

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This page describes how you can take Audacity with you (for example on a USB stick) and use it on other computers whilst keeping all your personal program settings. All you need is the latest version of Audacity, or a third-party modification of Audacity.


Portable Settings in Audacity

Current Audacity provides a way for you to keep your Preference settings with the program, rather than in a global place for user settings. It works as follows:

On launch, Audacity checks if there is a "Portable Settings" folder in the same directory as the executable (audacity.exe or Audacity.app). If there is, it stores its settings there rather than in the user's home folder. Thus, a user can create a portable Audacity as follows:

  1. Extract the Audacity .zip or .dmg download to a USB stick or similar
  2. Create a folder called "Portable Settings" on the USB stick.

When no "Portable Settings" folder is present, Audacity stores user settings in in a home location on the computer as follows:

  • Windows 98/ME: (final Audacity version is 2.0.0) Windows\Application Data\Audacity
  • Windows 2000/XP: Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Audacity
  • Windows Vista/7 : Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Audacity
  • OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/audacity/
  • Linux: ~/.audacity-data/

The settings are stored in an editable plain text file called audacity.cfg which contains your preferences and other settings such as settings for some effects and generators.

Legacy versions of Audacity 1.2 to 1.3.0 inclusive do not support Portable Settings.

Audacity Portable

An independent third-party has created a portable version of Audacity called Audacity Portable.

Warning icon Audacity Portable is not maintained by Audacity Team and we can therefore not give technical support for it. For assistance, please contact Audacity Portable Support.

Once the application is installed to the portable medium such as a Flash Drive, simply launch the AudacityPortable.exe file. When you're done, exit Audacity and then wait for the activity light on your removable drive to stop flashing. Then select the "Safely remove device" option from the icon in the System Tray. If you remove the drive while it is writing, you may lose data. With Audacity Portable, Audacity's temporary directory is placed on the local computer within the %TEMP% directory. If there are no problems, this directory is removed when you exit Audacity Portable, leaving no unwanted traces of data on the computer that was used.

Audacity Portable is not a U3 compliant application. It can be installed on a U3 SmartDrive and launched from its location on the drive, but cannot be launched or shut down with the U3 Launchpad software.

Legacy Portable Settings problem on OS X

On Audacity versions prior to 1.3.7, the "Portable Settings" folder was not always picked up, and the default location was used instead. If you are on OS X 10.4 or later and encounter this problem, please upgrade to the latest version.
  • On OS X 10.3, we generally recommend the legacy 1.2.5/6 versions, but 1.3.3 may also work. If the "Portable Settings" folder is not recognised by 1.3.3, please follow the instructions below.
  • Easy fix: Go to the Audacity.app with finder, CTRL-click on the app, and choose "Show Package contents". A new finder window opens: navigate to Contents > MacOS and open that folder. Inside it, create a folder called "Portable Settings" next to the "Audacity" file. Then close the window. Audacity will now store portable settings in that folder, and you can move the Audacity.app around without losing the settings.
  • Advanced fix:
  1. Create a "Portable Settings" folder next to Audacity.app, as described above.
  2. Open the Terminal, and create a symlink "Audacity.app/Contents/MacOSX/Portable Settings", pointing to "Portable Settings". For example, if you keep Audacity in /Applications/AudacityFolder, make a new folder "/Applications/AudacityFolder/Portable Settings" in the Finder, then in the Terminal, type the following two commands:
cd /Applications/AudacityFolder/Audacity.app/Contents/MacOS/

ln -s ../../../Portable\ Settings/ Portable\ Settings

    After restarting Audacity, the audacity.cfg file, the AutoSave folder and other presets should now be in a "Portable Settings" folder inside "AudacityFolder".
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