How to Cut Audio: Editing in Audacity

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Audacity has become a go-to editing tool for podcasters. The free software enables users to clip, edit, and mix audio, eliminating the need for expensive editing software. Although the software is intuitive, having a definitive guide on using the tools and interface is helpful. That’s what this guide is for, to give you detailed instructions needed to edit your podcast audio. You can refer to it when you need to reference the aspects of Audacity how to clip audio, edit, and mix your audio. Before you know it, you’ll be navigating Audacity’s editing suite like a pro.

If you prefer to edit your podcast on iMovie,  Anchor, or GarageBand, we also have you covered.

Find a File to Edit

You can record, edit, and export files within Audacity. If you do it this way, you won’t have to find a file to edit. However, most podcasters prefer recording their audio on a separate program and then importing that recording into Audacity. If you do it this way, you’ll have to find a file to edit. You can import the most common audio files, including WAV, MP3, and AIFF. However, to import formats not typically supported by Audacity, like WMA files, you’ll need to install the plugin FFmpeg library.

Then to import a file into the editing suite, you’ll need to Open Audacity.

Once you’re in the program, you can follow the steps detailed below.

To make it easier to follow this step-by-step guide, consider starting with a five-minute audio recording, like your podcast intro. You can then try to edit this clip with the steps below.

Import the File into Audacity

If you haven’t already, launch Audacity. To import one file, select menu file, then open.

A dialog box will open, find the file you want to work on, and double click.

Then select “open” at the lower right of the dialog box.

You can also use a keyboard shortcut by clicking Ctrl + O to find the file you want to import.

Alternatively, you can also try the drag and drop method to import the entire track or audio file by dragging the file directly into Audacity.

Start by ensuring the file you want to import is saved to your desktop. Then depending on your operating system, follow the steps.

  • Windows: With Audacity open, minimize it. Then find the file you want to use and drag it into the Audacity window.
  • Mac: Drag your file to the Audacity icon on the Dock.
  • Linux: Minimize Audacity, then find the file you’re importing and drag it into the Audacity window.

If you want to import several audio files at once, navigate to the menu bar, select file, followed by “import” in the submenu. You should be able to select multiple files. This is perfect if you want to edit an entire podcast episode but have multiple clips or recorded guest audio separately.

Related: Can You Use Final Cut Pro To Edit Podcasts?

A keyboard shortcut for this process is to click Ctrl + Shift + I. A dialog box will also appear.

If you’ve imported the wrong audio file, click the entire track you want to remove, use Ctrl + A (for Windows) or Command + A (for Mac), then right-click and select delete.

Now that you have the audio files you need to start your project, the fun begins. You can edit your audio.

Editing Audio

Before you can start editing your audio, listen to what you’ve imported. One listen-through gives you a starting point, an idea of what your clip sounds like before you begin editing, so you know what you need to do to create a seamless podcast.


If you don’t carry out this listen-through, you can over-edit the piece, making it sound unnatural and choppy.

Listening to it, you get a sense of the major offenders, really long pauses, redundant segments, and potential segues.

We compiled a list of editing tips to help you with the process.

Now that you know what it sounds like unedited, let the cutting begin.

You know what your podcast should sound like, so we’ll focus more on technical aspects than stylistic choices.

Of course, if you know these basics, you can implement your stylistic choices.

Here’s where Audacity becomes intuitive. Editing on Audacity is similar to editing a word doc. Select what you want to edit, then choose what happens to it.

Edit A Clip

To edit a clip, the zoom tool and selection tool will be your best friends. Zooming allows you to be precise with what you edit, enabling you to focus on a fraction of a second of audio.

To use the zoom tool to zoom in, press Ctrl + 1. To zoom out, click ctrl + 3.

To use the selection tool, left-click the capital “I” in the editing menu. Then drag the selection tool to the part of the audio clip you want to edit or cut. Start dragging at the starting point of the audio and stop where the clip you want to edit or remove ends.

This section should be highlighted.

You can then right-click that section if you want to remove it or navigate back to the editing menu for other options.

If you want to playback the section before editing, click the space bar.

Move a Clip

If you want to move a clip so that it starts sooner or later, you’ll need to use the time shift tool. Before, this was a separate tool, but Audacity’s recent updates have made it simple for users to time shift. Now, you can click on the top of the waveform and drag it to move it.

Time-shifting can come in handy after you’ve clipped a section and you want to make it appear as though the conversation kept flowing.

Control/Change Volume

Then, to control the volume of your audio clip, you can use the envelop tool. The envelop tool, which looks like a severed hourglass with a crooked line through the center, makes two thick blue lines appear on either side of the waveform. From here, you can manipulate these lines to increase and decrease the volume of a section using control points. Control points are tiny blue circles you can manipulate by dragging to increase or decrease volume.

Split Delete

To split delete a clip, move your cursor to the section you want to delete and right-click. Then click edit > Remove Special > Split Delete.

Related: How To Delete an Audio Section in Audacity: Your Guide to Editing Audio in Audacity

Mixing Audio

If you’re happy with the final sequence of your podcast after editing, it’s time to mix. Mixing allows you to remove background noise, include background music, and add sound effects.

Removing Background Noise

Let’s start by removing any background and unwanted noise.

You can do that by finding a sample within your sound file that contains the isolated background noise. Use your selection tool to highlight that section and then navigate to the effects menu.

Under the effects menu, you’ll see the option for noise reduction. Clicking that option will cause a dialog box to appear. Click on “Get Noise Profile.” Audacity will pull the noise profile of the selected audio.

Now that Audacity knows the noise profile you’re targeting, select the entire audio track and return effects menu. Click on Noise Reduction again, but this time click “OK.”

You can also toggle with how sensitive you want the noise reduction.

Before you continue with any other editing, click the play button to listen to how the project sounds now that you’ve reduced noise.

Sound Effects

While Sound effects aren’t common in podcasts, you may play around with adding some to make the listening experience more pleasant for listeners. The most common sound effects will be fading out. Many podcasters use this to have listeners hear the last conversation or bit of audio as the podcast reaches its conclusion.

To fade out, move your cursor to the part of the audio you want to fade out from; once there, click on “Select” above the edit menu. Then click on “Region,” Followed by “Cursor to Track End.” This will highlight the area from the position of your cursor to the end of the track.

Now, click on Effect — also above the edit menu — and click “Fade Out.”

You can also fade out using the selection tool followed by clicking Effect > Fade out.

Adding Other Effects

If you want to experiment with other effects, always use the selection tool or cursor and then navigate to the Effects menu. Since effects are more stylistic, you’ll have to explore the menu to discover what you can accomplish within Audacity.

Exporting Audio

To upload your file onto podcasting platforms, you’ll need to export the audio into a usable file.

But before you do this, ensure you’ve given the project one final listen-through to ensure you’re satisfied with the quality and final project.

Also, before you export your audio project, be sure to save it as an Audacity project in case you pick up on issues after you’ve exported the file and want to pick up editing where you’ve left off.

To save as an Audacity project, navigate to file in the menu bar, select “Save Project As,” click “Audacity Projects,” create a file name, and click OK.

After saving your podcast as an Audacity Project, you can export it.

To export, navigate to file again, and then “Export,” followed by “Export Audio.” Select the type of format you want to export your file to; for podcasts, WAV is ideal.

Audacity also allows you to export separate clips.

Use the selection tool to highlight a clip you want to export and follow the same steps until you get to “Export.” Instead of clicking “Export Audio,” you’re going to select “Export Selected Audio,” choose a file name and format before exporting.

Keyboard Shortcuts

When you start getting into audio editing, you’ll notice how tedious it can be to repeatedly have to move your cursor to do the most basic of tasks. Having shortcuts for some of these processes makes editing easier and enables you to focus on your workflow. These are 10 of the most necessary shortcuts for Audacity.

  1. New Project: Ctrl + N
  2. Open: Ctrl + O
  3. Save Project: Ctrl + S
  4. Export Audio: Ctrl + Shift + E
  5. Import Audio: Ctrl + Shift + I
  6. Undo: Ctrl + Z
  7. Redo: Ctrl + Y
  8. Cut: Ctrl + X
  9. Delete: Ctrl + K
  10. Split Delete: Ctrl + Alt + K

If you’re working on a Mac, replace Ctrl with Command key.

These basics detailing the ins and outs of Audacity how to clip audio, edit, and mix, are the foundation of editing using Audacity. If you understand these fundamentals, you can change a few steps to learn an entirely different process.

But, for podcast editing, knowing much more than this won’t be necessary unless you’re creating a music podcast. In that case, you’ll need far more detailed instruction.

If you don’t have time and you just want to focus on creating the content, you can find out how much cost to edit your podcast.

Related: The Best Adobe Audition Alternatives For Your Android Tablet and The Best Microphone Software For Recording Voice (2022)