Completed Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

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Revision as of 11:21, 9 November 2016 by PeterSampson (talk | contribs) (Details: Add a FAQ for "How do I get the automatic "Select All" for any users who lose this functionality as part of a re-install with a reset and can't find the Preference.)
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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to not gray out the editing cammands tha relu uopn a selection when no selection is present.
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

Now that we have addressed for 2.1.3 the issue of grayed-out commands while in Pause mode there remains the issue of grayed-out commands when no selection is present.

Users are often confused that their editing commands can appear grayed-out and inoperable. This occurs when they issue a command that relies on the presence of a selection and they have not made a selection.

We addressed this problem earlier by adding the "Select all if none selected" preference with the default setting of "on". This mitigated the problem in that the user always had an automatic "selection" even if they had not explicitly made one and thus the commands were not grayed-out if this remained "on", but it did little or nothing to educate the user about the importance of selections in Audacity - plus it made the GUI more opaque that it need be. This is exacerbated as when such an automatic select all in in force as the GUI does not apply the dark gray background to the selected waveforms to indicate the selection with a visual cue.

Further if the user has turned off the "Select all if none selected" a while back and forgotten about it they can then get confused by the graying out and lack of action and can't figure out what to do (and the current GUI is of no assistance in this situation).

Users really do need to learn about making selections, it is one of the fundamentals of Audacity usage.

Proposed Feature

Do not gray-out the commands if a command is invoked that requires a selection with no selection present, then we pop an informative help message to the user telling them to make a selection.

This would be both easily "discoverable" and at the same time educational - and would make for a much clearer GUI.

We could even add a Help button in the dialog to take the user the the page on Selecting Audio in the Manual (like the one we have in the new Timer Record setup dialog).

Developer/QA Backing


Use Cases

  • Many reports on the Forum of confusion caused by Grayed-out commands
  • Users are particularly confused when they have an automatic (and invisible) Select All present and then they hit the Delete command and all their audio disappears.


  • A pop-up modeless "reminder"
    • "Please select some audio for <name of command> to act on, then click OK"
  • Add a Help button in the "reminder" dialog to take the user the the page on Selecting Audio in the Manual
  • User makes the audio selection that they want (not our guess, which we acknowledge will frequently be wrong) and clicks the OK button.
  • On clicking OK, the "reminder" closes and the effect UI pops up (or for effects with no UI, the effect is applied).
  • We should probably retain the existing "Select all if none selected" preference, but turn it "off" by default for new installations and for those users who opt to accept the offered "reset" on re-installation or version uppgrade. All other existing users would have their .cfg unchanged.
    • Add a FAQ for "How do I get the automatic "Select All" for any users who lose this functionality as part of a re-install with a reset and can't find the Preference.

GUI Examples

The Message (message box title - No Audio Selected):

Cannot apply Reverb effect: No audio selected.

Select the audio that you wish to apply Reverb to,
then press "OK" to continue.

[Help] [Cancel] [OK]
  • The message names the selected effect/generator/analyzer/command.
  • The OK button remains grayed out until there is an audio selection.
  • The Cancel button closes the dialog and cancels the effect.
  • The Help button opens an appropriate page in the manual.

We do not explain in the dialog how to make a selection. The few users who can't guess can click on Help. Verbose messages believed to be counterproductive

When a selection is subsequently made, the OK button becomes active, and clicking on it will:

  1. Close the message dialog.
  2. Launch the selected (named) effect or command.

Select All on None

  • Default setting for select-all-on-none would be set to disabled, rather than removing that setting entirely.

Previous Feature Requests relating to this proposal