Proposal Binding Particular Parameters of Effects to Hot-Keys

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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to enable the binding of particular parameters of 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

In 2.0.1 a partial solution was implemented whereby keyboard shortcuts could be assigned to effects (and to the generators and analyzers) to invoke the effect. These are settable via the existing Keyboard Preferences in Audacity which have been extended to facilitate shortcut setting for Generate, Effect and Analyze.

For effects with no settable options or parameters the effect is invoked immediately on striking the shortcut key combination. For effects with settable options or parameters the effect's dialog box is invoked, populated with the last-used settings, enabling the user to either proceed with their recent settings by clicking on OK/Enter or they can alter those settings in the dialog box prior to using the effect.

While the current implementation will be perfectly adequate for some users (especially those using effects that have no settings dialog), it is still not possible to use a shortcut to run settings-dependent effects without dialog, using predefined settings for that effect.

See Completed: Proposal Binding Effects to Hot-Keys

Peter 13Nov13: this link will be updating if and when we mark the former proposal as completed

Proposed Feature

Bind particular parameters of effects to buttons or keyboard shortcuts e.g. one keystroke to amplify by + 3 dB, another keystroke to amplify by -3 dB.


With the 2.3.0 switch from Chains to Macros and the improvements added, this is now possible to achieve with Macros

  1. Create a Macro with the effect and the required parameter settings
  2. create a shortcut to the Macro

Developer/QA Backing

  • Gale

Use Cases



  • The effects bindings to keys to be managed by the user through a new Preference page called "Effects Shortcuts" (see GUI mockup below).
    • An alternative approach would be to use two tabs in the Effects dialog of Edit>Preferences, the first being for the existing Effects dialog and the second being for key bindings for effects (also see GUI mockup below).
  • Two radio buttons to be provided for each effect (where appropriate) for "Use Last Values" or "Use Default Values".
    • If "Use Last Values" is checked, the effect dialog will be populated with the last used parameter values for the effect enabling the user to change any of those values if required prior to pressing the execute command, the "OK" button (or execute on <ENTER> key, just as it is now).
    • If "Use Default Values" is checked, the effect dialog will be populated with the Audacity default parameter values for the effect enabling the user to change any of those values if required prior to pressing the execute command, the "OK" button (or execute on <ENTER> key, just as it is now).
    • Only one of "Use Last Values" or "Use Default Values" can be selected "on" at a time. Clicking on the radio button that is not currently selected will select that one and de-select the previously selected one.
    • Both radio buttons for any particular effect to be off and un-settable until a hot-key combination is typed for that effect by the user. At that point Audacity will set the "Use Last Values" as the default setting to retain compatibility with current behavior.
    • If the user clears the hot-key setting for the effect then Audacity will uncheck the currently checked radio button leaving both radio buttons unchecked.

Gale wrote (archived on nabble):

  • I do feel some special interface would be needed to manage multiple parameters for an effect, possibly the shortcut would be created in the effect itself?
  • I can see possible value in allowing a much wider range of keyboard input to trigger multiple bindings per effect. For example on pressing a shortcut that activated typing of an "effect shortcut", someone could then type "a-6" to remind them of a created shortcut that amplified by -6 dB, or "n32" for a shortcut that applied noise reduction of 32 dB.
  • If this was extended to a typed syntax that Audacity understood e.g "nr:r-32 s15" that automatically ran Noise Removal with a noise reduction of 32 dB and sensitivity of 15 dB, you have something really efficient for power users. It could also be another way of running a chain of effects.

GUI Examples

The example below shows the Effects mapping as a separate entry in the Edit>Preferences dialog tree.

Effects mapping to keys no tickboxes.png

It may be preferred instead to tabulate the dialog box similar to the current Effects>Keyboard dialog, but with three columns: effect, shortcut and the radio button pair. This would have the benefit of keeping the shortcuts and the radio button pairs neatly lined up vertically.

The example below is the alternative proposal using tabs in the Effects dialg of Edit>Preferences


Thanks to Ed Musgrove for supplying the originals for both these mockups.

Please see the Talk page for further relevant details of the forum thread discussing this proposed GUI (and for an image of Ed's original proposed extended GUI derived from real code).

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 dropdown menu capable of sub-folders or categorisation so that the user can organize his plug-ins however he wishes. (34 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 plugINS(could be either autogenerated and sorted by number of calls, or rely on user adding items) (11 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