Sending your work to others

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Revision as of 07:33, 12 June 2011 by Frungi (talk | contribs) (Sending Projects to others: Mac has its own built-in zip functionality)
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If you are working with other users, can you send your multi-track Project to them so they can contribute to it? Can you send an audio message with some music and e-mail it to a relative? Or what if you want to open your Project on another of your own computers running a different operating system?

Sending Projects to others

It's quite possible to send an Audacity Project to another person or open it on another computer of your own, so that the Project can be opened in another copy of Audacity with all the tracks, label and envelope information in situ. However when opening the .aup Project file you need to have its associated _data folder with the same name as the .aup file present in the same folder. For example, if you were sending a Project to someone else you could include these in the contents of an attached .zip archive compressed with 7-Zip for Windows, the built-in compression tool for OS X or similar program. The zip compression is lossless, so does not reduce the space on disk very much. Then have your recipient extract both the .aup file and _data folder to the same directory and open the .aup file from inside that folder.

In practice, the problem with sending such a folder to someone else is the size of the _data folder. At Audacity's default 32-bit float sample format and 44100 Hz sample rate, stereo Projects take up 20 MB of space per minute, and more as soon as you start editing them. This rules out most e-mail transfers. You can transfer larger files over the internet with a service like (a how-to video appears here) but for very large files this is unlikely to be free. For example, the free service permits sending files up to 100 MB in size, with a charge for larger files. However you can always combine your .aup Project file and _data folder in a .zip folder, burn this to a data CD and send it by snail mail.

Note that in current Beta versions of Audacity, you may produce a much smaller compressed project for distribution to others, using File > Save Compressed Copy of Project. The audio data is in the form of one OGG file per track of the project. The OGG file is very slightly lossy, whereas when saving a project by File > Save Project, the .au files in the _data folder are lossless.

There are other restrictions on opening an Audacity Project on another computer:

  • If the Project contains audio data that was imported into Audacity from a WAV or AIFF file, you must have previously set Audacity to make a copy of that original audio when you imported it, so that it's included in the _data folder. Set this on the File Formats tab of Preferences: ("when importing uncompressed audio....make a copy of the file before editing"). This Preferences tab is called "Import / Export" in current Beta versions, and the preference worded slightly differently. Note that when importing compressed audio like MP3 or OGG, Audacity always copies the audio into the _data folder.
  • If the person you are sending the Project to has a 1.2.x version of Audacity you will need to save the Project in a 1.2.x version of Audacity, because 1.2.x versions of Audacity cannot open Projects created in 1.3.x versions. If the person you are sending the Project to has Audacity 1.3.2 or later, they should be able to open it even if you created it in 1.2.x, but ask them to back up the .aup file and _data folder first to be sure. However, once they do save that project in 1.3.x and send it back to you, then you will need 1.3.x yourself to open it.
  • If the person you are sending the Project to uses Audacity 1.0.0 (users on Mac OS 9 are limited to this version of Audacity), you must create the Project in 1.0.0, because 1.0.0 cannot open Projects created in 1.1.0 or later. If that person sends you a Project created in 1.0.0, you should generally be able to open it in 1.1.0 to 1.2.6, but Audacity's conversion of a 1.0.0 Project to the new format used by 1.1.0 or later does not always work. You should not open Projects created in 1.0.0 in the Beta 1.3.x versions of Audacity.
  • If the person you are sending the Project to is on a different operating platform (e.g. you are on Windows and the other user is on a Mac), you must create the Project using Audacity 1.2.2 or later, and the other user must be using 1.2.2 or later. Prior to 1.2.2, .aup Project files are not portable between different operating platforms.

Sending an exported audio file

You can also send an exported audio file from your Project to the other user. To export your Project as audio file(s), use the File > Export As... command. Choices:

  • Exporting as a WAV or AIFF file creates a file with no loss of audio quality, but this takes 10 MB of disc space per minute for CD quality (44100 Hz, 16 bit stereo).
  • Exporting from Audacity as FLAC provides lossless compression and reliably reduces file size by about 40% compared to WAV or AIFF.
  • Exporting as an OGG or MP3 greatly reduces the size of the exported file, at the expense of some quality loss. OGG tends to have slightly higher quality than MP3 for the same file size, but not all software players can accept OGG, and most web sites hosting audio files expect MP3. Audacity's default MP3 export bit rate of 128 kbps gives very reasonable sound quality for about 1 MB of space per minute. To compress the MP3 to a still smaller file (at the cost of further quality loss), go to the File Formats tab of Preferences, and in MP3 Export Setup, reduce the bit rate in the dropdown menu:

    For example, a 64 kbps MP3 would take up 0.5 MB (500 kb) per minute, because 64 kbps is half the bit rate of 128 kbps. In Audacity 1.3.3 and later, choose the required MP3 bit rate in the "Options" button after clicking File > Export and choosing MP3 as the export format.

To export MP3s you must add the LAME encoder to your computer. Instructions for doing this are at Lame Installation.

For all formats except MP3, you can reduce the exported file size further by reducing its sample rate. Do this by changing the project rate dropdown bottom left of the screen. Reducing the project rate below 44100 Hz is only recommended for speech.

Sending files by e-mail

You should always attach your audio file to the e-mail message. Some e-mail clients can embed the audio inside HTML e-mail messages so that the recipient hears the audio on opening the e-mail without having to open an attachment. However whether the recipient will hear the audio depends on the recipient having an HTML e-mail client (or having HTML enabled without any security restrictions in place). Many e-mail users disable HTML e-mail due to its perceived security risk.

Sending files greater than 5 MB by e-mail is usually out of the question due to server bandwidth and storage restrictions. Some webmail services such as GMail do allow files up to 10 MB to be transferred. The solution is to use a web-based transfer service like or burn the exported audio file to an audio CD and send it by postal mail.

If you want to burn to an audio CD you need to export 44100 Hz, 16-bit stereo WAV or AIFF files, and tell your burning software to burn an "audio" or "music" CD. For instructions on how to do this, see How to burn CDs. Audio CDs will retain the full quality of the original track in Audacity, can contain 74 – 80 minutes of music and can be played in computers and on any standalone CD player (and some standalone DVD players).

Exporting from multi-track projects

If your Project only contains one stereo or mono track, only Project–specific information such as label and envelope data will be lost by doing this. But if you have multiple tracks in your Project, Audacity 1.2.x will always mix these down to a single mono or stereo track when exporting to an audio file. To workaround this you can:

  1. Send each track separately to the other person. To do this, select the first track, choose File > Export Selection As... then repeat in turn for the other tracks. The recipient can then shift-select and multiple import each file into separate tracks of an empty Audacity Project.
  2. Use Audacity 1.3.2 Beta or later which can export the individual tracks in a Project as one multi-channel audio file. So if you had a Project with six mono or left/right tracks, it could be exported as a one six-channel audio file, and any 1.2.x user of Audacity can open that file and see the channels displayed as individual tracks. To use multi-channel export you must go to the File Formats tab of Preferences (Import / Export tab in current Beta versions) and enable "Advanced Mixing Options " or "custom mix".