Completed: Proposal Binding Effects to Hot-Keys

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Revision as of 12:19, 16 November 2013 by PeterSampson (talk | contribs) (Trimmed the stuff that has been moved to the now proposal)
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Peter 3Nov13: I believe that now that we have Leland's excellent rework of the Keyboard Preferences dialog for 2.0.6 that the GUI examples in this Proposal are largely redundant as I think Leland's is a superior alternative. Infact most of this proposal is now redundant now that we have the ability to bind effects to hot-keys. What appears to remain outstanding is Gale's proposal for multiple bindings per effect (to deal with different parameter setting values)
ToDo-2Accordingly I think we should spin that off into a small proposal of it's own and delete the rest of this proposal as "completed".
Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to enable the Binding of chosen effects to buttons or keyboard shortcuts.
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 Effects list has grown very long in Audacity, most users use only a small subset of these effects and finding the ones they need in the long list is difficult (and requires at least two or more clicks).

A typical user's use of effects means that they will use a small subset - but each item will be used many times in the editing process.

Proposed Feature

Keys (and key combinations) to be assignable to commonly used effects.

The keys used and the effects to be bound to them to be definable by the user.

Developer/QA Backing

  • Peter - the 2.0.1 partial solution is perfectly adequate for me for LP/tape transcription use (using shortcuts for fades is particularly valuable).
  • Greg Kozikowski
  • Ed Musgrove--though neither QA nor Developer, I am going to vote here. +1 for the concept of allowing shortcut key binding for effects; -1 for limiting the number.
  • Bill Wharrie:
    • I intensely disliked effects categorization as previously implemented - in some case I had to go three deep in the menu to get the effect I wanted. Much for fiddly than scrolling a long menu.
    • I would prefer a system where the user can choose which effect they want to bind keys to.

Use Cases

User transcribing LPs or tapes This user will typically be repeatedly using the following five effects: Fade In, Fade Out, Click Removal, Noise Removal and Amplify (or Normalize). In particular the Fades are used at the beginning and end of each track, so several time for each LP, these involve 2 clicks each to activate. Each use of the effect. The other effects will often involve more than two clicks to activate.


  • Keys (and keystroke combinations) to be assignable to commonly used effects. The keys used and the effects to be bound to them to be definable by the user.
  • The keys to be usable in combination would be: Ctrl, Alt and Shift (as for the existing keyboard bindings).
  • Although 5 to 7 key-bindings for effects are likely to be ample for most users, there is no real need to limit the number as there are plenty of available keys that are not currently assigned in Preferences>Keyboard.
  • Audacity to check that the user is not attempting to define a key which already has a binding, either here or in Preferences>Keyboard - in which case the binding would be denied and a warning/error message raised.
  • For effects that have no parameters (and thus no radio buttons or dialog box) when the user strikes the hot-key combination with some audio previously selected then Audacity will immediately activate the bound effect on the selected audio.
  • The assigned hotkeys will be inoperable if no audio is selected (as is the current behavior with the items in the Effects menu).

GUI Examples

As implemented.

Feature Requests relating to this proposal

This is one of the "Highest Rated" items in Wiki Feature Requests. It is possible the votes are a slight overestimate because prior to the 2.0.1 implementation the request was titled "Bind effects to buttons or keyboard shortcuts: including particular parameters thereof". The votes may thus include some users who were happy just to have a shortcut to open the effect dialog. From recollection, Gale thinks most users actually wanted parameter binding.
  • Bind particular parameters of effects to buttons or keyboard shortcuts: e.g. one for amplify + 3 dB, another -3 dB, another to Compress with -6 dB threshold (46 votes)
    • Effects for which this has been requested: Amplify; Change Speed; Fade In/Out; Generate Tone; Insert Silence; Noise Removal; Normalize; Repair; DC removal ; Chris' Compressor

Related Feature Request

The following high-rated Feature Request is related to this current one in that if this proposal for effects binding to hot-keys is implemented then the objectors and objections to a structured Effects menu might disappear.

  • Effects Categorization: Allow the effects drop-down menu capable of sub-folders or categorisation so that the user can organize his plug-ins however he wishes. (32 votes)
    • Only 2 levels deep (Effects > Category), not 3 levels as tried before (Effects > Category > Sub Category). Sub categories are just too fiddly and too much clicking. With just one level of categories, the menu will open by hovering the mouse, making locating a specific effect much quicker and easier. (5 votes)
    • Preference setting to turn categorisation off. (3 votes)
    • Customised categories and sorting of entries (3 votes)
    • Include "Favourites" folder at the top for frequently used plug-ins (could be either autogenerated and sorted by number of calls, or rely on user adding items) (10 votes)
    • Set the menu to automatically detect and display subfolders of the Plug-Ins folder as categories. So if you have a folder called /Plug-Ins/MyEffects/ the menu shows Effects > MyEffects > (effects in the MyEffects folder). This should allow full customization of categories without having to do a major re-design.
        1.3.6 Beta had incomplete categorisation of Nyquist and LADSPA plug-ins. Categorisation has a penalty in more difficult navigation, and was withdrawn from 1.3.7 until there is (at least) a way to turn it on and off.

This feature request is now included as part of the Proposal Effect Menu Categorization