Proposal Easy cfg Reset

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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This proposal page is about adding a "Reset Preferences" command to Audacity.
Proposal pages are used on an ongoing basis by the Audacity development team and are open to edits from visitors to the wiki. They are a good way to get community feedback on a proposal.

  • Note: Proposals for Google Summer of Code projects are significantly different in structure, are submitted via Google's web app and may or may not have a corresponding proposal page.


The Problem

The audacity.cfg file can become corrupt leading to unexpected behaviours in Audacity that can only be fixed by "initializing" the contents of that file to NewPrefsInitialized=1. Trashing the file is not an option as Audacity may read previously-installed 1.2.x preferences and that preferences file may be corrupt. So the user must edit the audacity.cfg in a plain text editor and overwrite the file in its original location without changing the file extension. On Windows and Linux the user must show hidden files in order to open audacity.cfg.


  • VST plug-ins can stop Audacity starting properly, so a feature within Audacity, for example menu item or preferences reset-button might not work.
  • Display preferences can leave Audacity not appearing, i.e. underneath other windows, so again features to resolve this within Audacity might not be enough.

The Proposal

An easy way for users to reset the audacity.cfg file to a clean state - in effect setting the contents to "NewPrefsInitialized=1" or filling it with the default values that Audacity would use on first launch when it finds an audacity.cfg file that contains only "NewPrefsInitialized=1".

This is listed as #363 P4 enhancement on Bugzilla.

Developer/QA Backing

  • Peter 14Apr11: this was discussed earlier by QA folk on the Forum where there was almost unanimous support for this (with a couple of partial votes): Bill, Koz, Bruno, Peter, Ed 0.75, Steve 0.5 - see this forum thread:
  • Gale: +1. It has been discussed before that thread above as well.
  • James: +1 on a reset button.
    • Also +1 on making VST safer and +1 on safe-mode after an abnormal terminate or on special-launch.
  • Ed: +1 on the general concept (the +.75 was for the offered implementation)
  • Bill Wharrie:
    • +1 for a flexible reset system i.e. one where the user can choose a complete wipe, or remove/reset-to-default some defined subset of preferences
    • +1 for being able to start Audacity in "safe" mode or similar, which would involve launching with a modifier key held down and would temporarily or permanently reset preferences.


A "Reset Preferences" menu command

Where does it go in the menu structure and how does it behave? What warnings are given and how are they worded?

  • There is consensus that some warning at least should be given.
    • A UI Q&A site has some recommendations about 'are you sure' wording. The gist is to keep it short, be specific and label the buttons specifically, not just Yes/No.

Current suggested wording:

Title: Reset Audacity Preferences?
Reset Preferences?  

We could have a hyperlink to online help. Specifically NOT local help in case the location for that is messed up. Hyperlink won't help if the user does not have a normal browser, but could help many users.

  • Bill: I prefer "Reset" over "Delete". It's what we're doing, and I believe most apps use that word.
    • +1. So do I. James 16:53, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
    • +1 Ed
    • +1 Peter

Alternative suggested wording:

Title: Reset Audacity Preferences?
Reset Audacity preferences to default values?
[Reset|Cancel] where Cancel is the default
  • James: A bit wordy? 'Audacity' becomes 'verbosity'? See the tip in the UX link.
    • Gale: I think a little "verbosity" could be needed until we have a help system or specific help button. Thinking about it, "Preferences" is a little misleading. Cfg covers more than what is exposed in the Preferences. "Restore default settings?"
    • James: Then for consistency we should change 'preferences' to 'settings' throughout.... to me there is not enough in it to make the change. Would having the help hyperlink I suggested be enough to mollify you over the shorter prompt?
      • Gale: Hyperlink and shorter text and not in its own pane are all OK for me.
      • Ed: +1 hyperlink. +1 "settings" over "preferences"

A "Reset" pane in Preferences

The avoids adding another menu command at the expense of a new prefs pane. What would this pane look like? What would it say and what steps would the user need to perform in order to reset preferences.

  • Gale: I think a Prefs pane would look pretty bare with just that. If we want more than an Edit menu button, then this Prefs pane could have e.g. save a copy of current .cfg. (and reload it), a bit like a "Theme" - could be e.g. a particular set of floated toolbars; or direct editing of .cfg.
    • James: Another option, we could put it on a general panel.

A "Reset" button in Preferences


Credits: Image by Ed

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