Windows Vista OS

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Revision as of 20:14, 17 November 2007 by Galeandrews (talk | contribs) (put hint in Intro now we know how to put links in it)
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There is no separate or special Audacity download for Windows Vista. You simply install from the normal Audacity Windows installer available from the Audacity downloads page .
Note that if you are installing the latest Beta version of Audacity, you need the Unicode version of Audacity marked as "Windows 2000/XP/Vista".

System requirements

Here are the recommended memory (MB or GB of RAM) and processor speed (GHz) requirements for using Audacity with the different versions of Vista:

Version Recommended RAM/
processor speed
Minimum RAM/
processor speed
Vista Home Basic 2 GB / 1 GHz 512 MB / 1 GHz
All other Vista versions 4 GB / 2 GHz 1 GB / 1 GHz

Note that the minimum system requirements as defined above (i.e. those that allow the operating system to run, ignoring what is required to run applications) are much greater than for Windows XP. If your computer does not significantly exceed these minimum requirements then you may have problems doing more intensive tasks in Audacity such as recording for long periods or editing a large number of long tracks, or may need to close other programs and processes before you can do so. Please be aware that the cheapest "deals" for new Vista machines may well only include the Vista Home Basic Edition and system specifications little in excess of the Vista minimum requirements.

Sound Device Drivers

On Vista systems it's especially important to have dedicated drivers for your computer's sound device which are both specific to your computer hardware and specifically meant for Vista. Vista has a different sound architecture than earlier Windows versions, e.g. the new user-mode audio stack called Universal Audio Architecture. Put more simply, the drivers on a Vista system need to communicate with the hardware and the operating system differently than they do on earlier Windows systems, and so need to be designed for Vista.

Drivers are the piece of software that tells your computer how to talk to the specific hardware you have installed or connected to your computer. These are normally made by the manufacturer of the sound device or motherboard, and not by Microsoft. If you only have Microsoft sound drivers (for example because no Vista drivers matched to your hardware were available when the system was built), these will be generic drivers which won't be specifically matched to your hardware, and may cause problems sooner or later.

Or if you've installed Vista over a previous XP installation, you may well be using the drivers meant for XP. Just as in the case where you are using Microsoft generic drivers, this may well cause problems with playback or recording, or Audacity may not even launch.


If Audacity does not launch the first time you launch it, make sure first of all that your system default sound device is set to one that Audacity can work with, which probably means your inbuilt sound device. Click Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound then on the "Recording" tab, choose a "working" device offered by your inbuilt sound device. Click the "Playback" tab and choose "Speakers" for your inbuilt sound device. Try launching Audacity again. If this works, go to the Audio I/O tab of Preferences and explicitly choose the same devices you just chose in the Control Panel. If Audacity still won't launch it may have installed in the wrong "compatibility mode". Go to Section 3.1 below to fix this, then update the sound drivers as below.

Even if you don't have any immediate playback or recording problems, it's strongly recommended on any new Vista machine or any system upgraded to Vista that you try to update your sound device drivers, using Windows Device Manager. If Device Manager cannot obtain drivers other than from Microsoft, or if you are having recording or playback problems even with the latest non-Microsoft drivers it can obtain, you should then seek appropriate drivers direct from the sound device or motherboard manufacturer.

Updating the sound device drivers

Access Device Manager by clicking the Windows Start Button > Control Panel > System and Maintenance, then scroll down and click on Device Manager. If you have "Classic View" enabled, there is a direct link to Device Manager in the Control Panel. Then expand Sound, Video and Game Controllers" by clicking on the + sign, right-click over the sound device and click Update Driver.

After the update (even if more recent drivers were not found), you should right-click over the device again, click Properties and then on the Driver tab to check the "Driver Provider". As stated above, you don't want drivers from Microsoft. So, if you have now got updated non-Microsoft drivers, try them and see if they work fine or if any problems you were having are cured. Otherwise, note the name of the Driver Provider (if it's Microsoft, note the name of the sound device you right-clicked over), and visit the manufacturer's website. You can search Google or Yahoo to find the correct internet address of the manufacturer.

If you have a PCI or external soundcard you would go to the website of the soundcard manufacturer. If you have integrated motherboard sound, try first at the website of the Driver Provider or stated manufacturer of the device. If this manufacturer does not offer driver downloads, go to the site of the motherboard manufacturer for assistance. When you visit the motherboard manufacturer's website, you will need to know details of your motherboard. If you don't have details to hand, the CPU-Z utility  will help you gather relevant information.

Always look for a driver update which is specific to your computer model and to your version of Vista (e.g. 32 or 64 bit). Be sure to uninstall the old drivers of the device (right-click over the device in Device Manager > Uninstall) before installing the new ones.

Known Issues

Compatibility Mode

Audacity may install on Vista in compatibility mode for Windows 95, and this may cause problems or error messages, or cause Audacity to crash when launching. If so, try disabling compatibility mode, and if any problems persist, run Audacity in compatibility mode for Windows XP. To change compatibility modes, right-click over audacity.exe in Windows Explorer, then click Properties.

Association with Audacity Project Files

When running the installer, you can optionally associate Audacity Project (.aup) files with Audacity, so that double-clicking an .aup file will launch Audacity if it is not already running. However on Vista, the .aup extension does not get associated with Audacity as it should, and instead an "access denied" error occurs when double-clicking an .aup file. As a workaround for now, you can right-click the .aup file and select Open With > Choose Program, select Audacity and check the box "Always use the selected program...". This should be fixed in the current Beta (1.3.3) version but will still be a be a problem in Audacity 1.2.6 until the next stable (1.4.0) version is released. The fix is made by setting the association for each user on the machine, if association is requested when installing. As a result, should Audacity not detect the association with .aup for a particular user when launching (for example if it had been changed by another program), a warning will display that .aup files are not currently associated with Audacity, even if another user on the machine has already set this association.

No Mixer Toolbar input sources

On Vista, recording sources such as microphone, line-in and "stereo mix" are no longer treated as sources belonging to one device as they always were in previous Windows versions, but as individual recording "devices" in their own right. As a result, the Mixer Toolbar dropdown selector will be permanently greyed out and you cannot choose recording sources there. Instead, input sources are chosen at Edit > Preferences > Audio I/O tab in the "Recording Device" dropdown. The input volume however is still adjusted using the input volume slider (by the microphone symbol) in the Mixer Toolbar.

The inputs will be shown in the Audio I/O tab as an appropriate source for each physical device. So if you have more than one physical device (e.g. inbuilt sound and an external USB soundcard), you may have more than one line-in or microphone source to choose from, as in this example:

  • Line-In: Realtek High Definition Device
  • Microphone: Realtek High Definition Device
  • Line-In: USB Audio
  • Microphone: USB Audio
  • Stereo Mix: USB Audio

Note that the "Recording Device" dropdown can only show devices that are enabled in the Windows Control Panel. If the input you require is not listed in the dropdown, or is not apparently recording properly, try going to the Windows Control Panel to enable and select it (see the next section).

Control Panel issues

Accessing the system mixer in the Windows Control Panel and trying to select your required source there may often allow you to record into Audacity, even if the source you want isn't in Audio I/O "Recording Device" dropdown, or isn't apparently recording properly.


There is often confusion over what source to use for recording sounds the computer is playing, and worse, this source often needs to be specifically enabled in the system mixer before it can be used. The required source can go by various names such as: "Stereo Mix", "Wave Out", "Sum", "What U Hear" or "Loopback". The exact name (and even if you have such a source option) depends on the drivers of your sound device. Try to enable and select a suitable option in the system mixer as described below, then if necessary update your sound device drivers. If all else fails, try connecting a cable from the line-out (green) port of the computer to the line-in (blue), and choose the line-in as recording source. If you need to hear what you're recording, you can buy a single stereo to double stereo adaptor that will give you a spare jack to plug the speakers into. Alternatively, try Freecorder  which is a virtual sound driver distinct from your sound device and installs as a browser plug-in, or buy an external USB soundcard. These normally offer a "stereo mix" type of option, but check its compatibility with Vista.

The quickest way to access the system mixer is to right-click over the speaker icon in the System Tray > Recording Devices. Or click Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound (if you're using "Classic View" there's a direct link to "Sound" in the Control Panel), then click on the "Recording" tab.


Simply click to highlight the input device you want to use. Then make sure its input volume is turned up. To do this, click the Properties button bottom right, then the Levels tab, move the volume slider to right, and click OK.

If the input you want is not shown, you can view all the potentially available inputs by right-clicking over any device in the list, and put a check mark by "Show Disabled Devices" and "Show Disconnected Devices". To enable a particular device, right-click over it and put a check mark by "Enable". Note a device may still show as "currently unavailable" if it does not have a connected input.

Once you have enabled and selected the input you require in the Control Panel, go back to Audacity and if necessary, exit and restart it. The input you want to record from should now be selected in the "Recording Device" dropdown, and should record. If it does not, or if you still cannot see your required input in the Control Panel, you should update the drivers of the sound device.