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Part of the AudacityForBlindUsers section of the Wiki.

Selecting audio with the keyboard

The most difficult part will be working with the selection. You can use the keyboard to fully manipulate the selection. The main limitation is that there's no easy way to listen to just the end of a selection, without using a mouse. Use the arrow keys along with the shift key to manipulate the selection, then hit the spacebar to listen to what you have selected. Shift plus right-arrow extends a selection to the right, and shift plus left-arrow extends a selection to the left. To contract a selection, hold down control and shift. For example, control shift right-arrow contracts the left edge of the selection to the right. At any point, you can select from the current position to the beginning by typing Shift plus Home. To select to the end, type Shift plus End.

It's probably useful to first select all of your audio (control-a in Windows), then fit all the audio onto the screen using control- f.

The reason for this is that the edges of the selection are moved using the left and right cursor keys, and one tap on either of these keys moves one of the selection edges by one pixel on the screen.

As a result, the longer your audio is, the more time will be covered with one cursor movement.

Basic commands for selecting audio

move cursor to start of audio: home key move cursor to end of audio: end key select from start to cursor: shift-home select from cursor to end: shift-end

To select audio at the start, hit the home key, then tap the right arrow key a few times (or hold it down for a few seconds). Select audio from the start of your project to the cursor by hitting shift-home. Listen to your selected audio by tapping the space bar. (You can stop playback by tapping it again.) To extend the selection further right, repeat these steps as necessary.

Similarly, to select audio at the end, tap the end key and move the cursor left with the left arrow key. Select from the cursor to the end by tapping shift-end. Listen to your audio by tapping the space bar. To extend the selection further left, repeat these steps as necessary.

Selecting audio in the middle of a track takes a few more steps. This is how I would do it:

1. Select all your audio with control-a. This sets start and end markers at the start and end of your audio.

2. Move the cursor to the start of the track with the home key.

Important! After this point do not tap either the home or end keys, as that will break the selection edges.

3. Move the start marker right using the right arrow key.

Important! After this point do not tap either individual left or right arrow keys, as that will also break the selection edges.

4. Select from the start marker to the end of the track using shift-end.

5. Listen to what you have selected by tapping the space bar.

6. If you want to move the start marker further to the right (forwards in time through the audio), tap control-shift-right arrow a few times, or hold down a few seconds. Again, listen to what you've selected with the space bar. Repeat this step as necessary.

7. To move the end marker to the left (backwards in time, toward the start of your audio), tap control-shift-left arrow a few times or hold down for a few seconds. Listen to what you've selected with the space bar. Repeat as necessary.

Note: When you tap control-a at the very start of your selection process, Audacity automatically places start and stop markers at the start and end of the audio. So when you are working with moving either marker, you do not need to move the cursor to the start or end position: the control-shift-right arrow and control-shift-left arrow sends a command to either marker directly.

More tips

If the selection is growing or shrinking too slowly, you need to zoom out. Audacity extends the selection by one pixel at a time, so when you are zoomed out, you will grow the selection faster. As a good starting point, type Control-F, which fits the entire file on the screen, then practice to see how long you need to hold down the right arrow to get from the beginning to the end of the song.

For example, here's how I would cut out the beginning and end of an audio file.

  1. Select All
  2. Home
  3. Control-F
  4. Hold down right-arrow for a couple of seconds.
  5. Play (spacebar) for a few seconds, then Stop (spacebar again).
  6. Keep adjusting the position of the cursor by nudging the left and right arrows, then listening again, until I've found the point where I want my file to actually start.
  7. Select from this point to the beginning by typing Shift plus Home.
  8. Backspace (or Control-K) to delete
  9. Jump to the end by pressing the End key.
  10. Go backwards a little using the left arrow.
  11. As before, listen and keep nudging until I am where I want to start cutting off audio.
  12. Select from this point to the end with Shift plus End.
  13. Backspace
  14. Type Home, then listen to everything to make sure I like it. If not, use Undo and try again.

Question: wouldn't it make sense to have shortcuts that drop in and out markers at the current position?

So, to select something from the middle, you could do:
  1. home
  2. space to play till you find where you want to start
  3. drop in marker (control+leftBracket or something like that)
  4. play till the end of the selection
  5. drop out marker (control+rightBracket)

--RichCaloggero 15:50, 27 April 2006 (PDT)