File manager context menus

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Revision as of 09:52, 5 March 2008 by Galeandrews (talk | contribs) (explain projects, add text for moving and renaming projects, and split into project and audio files sections)
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Project files and folders

What is an Audacity project?

An Audacity project lets you save unfinished, complex work and return to it later exactly where you left off, preserving all your edits and recorded or imported tracks.

When you save an Audacity project, it creates two items inside the folder you specified for the project:

  • a _data folder bearing the name of the project, containing its audio data (in the form of many 1 MB-sized uncompressed .au files).
  • an .aup project file bearing the same project name, which is merely a text file that references the _data folder.

To reopen a saved Audacity project, click File > Open and open the saved .aup file (not the .au files in the _data folder).

When you have saved a project and exited Audacity more than once, an *.aup.bak backup project file is created which references the state of the project the previous time you saved and exited. Although the .aup.bak file provides some insurance if the .aup file is accidentally deleted or corrupted, it's important you always open the .aup file if you have it, not the .aup.bak file. Otherwise, Audacity internal file errors can occur.

In the event of there being no saved .aup file (for example, because of a crash or power outage), see our crash recovery page.

Note that only Audacity can open its own projects - they cannot be played in other media programs. To save your finished work so you can hear it in other programs or burn a CD from it, you must use one of the Export commands in the File Menu . This exports an audio file such as WAV or MP3 which other media programs can understand.

Similarly, if you want to send your work to others, it's best to export to an audio file and send them that. This is because it's necessary to send the other user both the .aup file and the _data folder, and because the _data folder itself can be very large.

Audacity projects should not be used for long-term storage of audio. When you are completely satisfied with your exported file(s) and are certain you won't need to export further files from the project, delete the .aup file. the .aup.bak backup file (if there is one), and the _data folder, to save disc space.

Moving and renaming project files and folders

As the .aup file references the _data folder, both must be kept together inside the same folder in which you created the project. If you want to move either the .aup file or the _data folder, you must move both to the same new location.

For the same reasons, you should not rename the _data folder, even if you leave it in the same folder it was created in. If you want to rename an existing project, the safest way is to do it in Audacity, which creates a new .aup file and matching _data folder with your chosen name:

  1. Click File > Save Project As...
  2. In the "Save Project As:" dialogue, enter the new name for the project in the "File name" box. Audacity will offer you the current name of the .aup file, so overwrite it with your new chosen name.
  3. Click the "Save" button.

To avoid confusion between the differently named versions of the same project, delete the previous .aup file and .aup.bak file (if any), together with the previous _data folder. The only legitimate reason for keeping the original project file and folder would be if you wanted to retain a snapshot of your project at a particular point in time before making further edits in the renamed project. If you do this, we recommend giving the renamed project the same name, but differentiating it by including a version number in the name.

Note that if you absolutely know what you are doing, you *can* rename the .aup file to another name, as long as you keep the original name of the _data folder, but this is not recommended. If you do want to rename the Project manually and have the _data folder carry the revised Project name, then you have to edit the .aup file in a text editor to reflect the new name of the _data folder. Again, this is not recommended unless you know exactly what you are doing. To change the name of the _data folder in the .aup file, look for the second line near the top of the file that starts

<audacityproject projname=""

and change the text inside the quotes. For example, if you renamed your .aup file to newname.aup, the start of the second line of the .aup file should be changed to:

<audacityproject projname="newname_data"

Loss of project audio due to missing dependent file

1.2.x and 1.3.0/1.3.1 (Beta) versions of Audacity.

By default, Audacity imports uncompressed files such as WAV or AIFF by reading them directly from the file. This is normal practice with media editors and both speeds up the import considerably and avoids the rapid consumption of disc space that copying the file would involve. However, this means that you need to keep the imported WAV or AIFF file available for Audacity to use in the exact file path it existed in when you imported it.

If you do any of these:

  • move the file to another location
  • delete it
  • rename it
  • do not make accessible the removable source it resides on

you will find your Project will have either no sound, or sound only in places, even though you can see the waveform on the screen. If there is sound in any of the Project, this will be only in those sections where you edited the Project while the original audio was in place. Where you did this, Audacity saved that edited data in the Project folder.

If you are in this situation, simply open the .aup Project file in a text editor such as Notepad. The file(s) that you originally used to read data into the project are marked in the .aup file as "aliasfile". Use the text editor's "Find" function to search for "aliasfile" (without quotes), and note the full path to these files that is noted in the .aup file e.g. aliasfile='C:\My Music\Music22.wav'

If you can restore the files noted as aliasfiles to the exact path noted in the .aup file, the Project will have full sound again.

To avoid this problem in future when importing uncompressed files, either retain the original audio file (in its correct location) or set Audacity to make a copy of the file, which will then be stored in the Project's _data folder when the Project is saved. Set Audacity to make a copy of the imported file by going to the Preferences > File Formats tab > "when importing uncompressed audio...." section and check the radio button "make a copy of the file before editing (safer)".

Note: this issue does not arise if importing compressed data such as an MP3 or OGG file, as Audacity automatically makes a copy upon import.

1.3.2 and later Beta versions of Audacity

In Beta versions 1.3.2 onwards, Audacity by default will show a dialogue every time you save a Project if it's dependent on other audio files, and give you the option of copying them into the Project so that it's self-contained. The dialogue also gives you the option to always copy data into the Project, never do so, or always ask what to do. These three options can also be accessed on the Preferences > File Formats tab exactly as in 1.2.x.

Audio files

Directory write-protected or disk full error when writing WAV/AIFF

This tip applies to 1.2.x and 1.3.0/1.3.1 versions of Audacity.

You will receive the above error if you both:

  • when importing uncompressed audio data such as a WAV or AIFF file, use Audacity's default behaviour of reading the data directly from the original file, and
  • export your Project's audio data to the same file name and directory as the file you imported

The problem occurs because Audacity cannot delete the original file in order to overwrite it when it is already reading it. (This issue does not arise if importing a compressed audio file such as an MP3 file, because in the case of compressed audio Audacity automatically makes a copy upon import.)

To avoid this problem in 1.2.6, either

  • save your exported WAV or AIFF to another file name or another directory, or
  • set Audacity to make a copy of the imported file. You do this on the Preferences > File Formats tab > "when importing uncompressed audio...." section and check the radio button "make a copy of the file before editing (safer)". You need to exit and restart Audacity before this Preference change takes effect.

In 1.3.2 and later Beta versions of Audacity, this problem is handled differently, and you do not need to take the steps necessary in 1.2.6 as above. If you have Audacity set to make a copy of the original file, you can overwrite the original file just as in 1.2.6. If you have Audacity set to read directly from the original file, it will rename the original file by appending "-old1" to its filename, allowing you to export the edited audio as the original filename. Once you are happy with the newly exported file, simply delete the original file with the "-old1" suffix.

Error importing file with spaces in filename from right-click context menu

This error occurs on pre-Vista versions of Windows with all versions of Audacity, when you create a custom right-click Explorer context menu item for a particular file type, using the "Folder Options" applet in the Windows Control Panel. For example you might want to create a custom context menu item to edit .WAV files with Audacity, but leave the default action when you double-click a .WAV file such that it plays with Windows Media Player. The symptoms of the error are that Audacity gives multiple warnings that it cannot open files which each have a name corresponding to one word of the file name. Note this error does not occur when using the Windows built-in "Open With" context menu item. To correct this problem in pre-Vista versions of Windows:

  1. Click Windows Start button > (Settings) > Control Panel > Folder Options.
  2. Click on the File Types tab.
  3. Navigate to the file extension for your context menu item, e.g. WAV, and click "Advanced"
  4. In the "Actions" window, select your right-click menu command and click "Edit"
  5. In "Application used to perform action", enclose the %1 after the path inside quotes, for example:
    "C:\Program Files\Audacity 13 Beta\audacity.exe" "%1"
  6. Click OK, OK and Close.

Now you can right-click over the file in Explorer, click your context menu item and the file will import properly.

Unfortunately, Vista lacks any direct way to either create or edit custom context menu items, so to create such you will need a third party application. You can try File Type Doctor from the Creative Element Power Tools  (shareware) or Fast Explorer  (freeware - but to edit any existing context menu such as those added by other programs, you have to delete them then recreate them).

As an alternative workaround to stop Audacity trying to open each word of a file as a separate file, for each file you want to open from your context menu, replace the spaces in the filename with an underscore e.g.


There is also another way to open a file without having to launch Audacity first and use its "Import Audio" command. This is to drag the file onto the Audacity icon (for example, on your desktop or in your Program_Files folder).

Error opening more than one file from right-click context menu

Using 1.2.x versions of Audacity under Windows, you cannot right-click and open multiple files using your custom context menu, or right-click and open any files once Audacity is already running; you will simply receive an "Audacity already running" error. If you need to open multiple files from right-click, or open them from right-click when Audacity is already running, you will need to use the Beta 1.3.3 version of Audacity . Even then (due to a current bug), if you import multiple files from right-click, Audacity will import each file after the first one twice.