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I'm apparently rather fussy about my user interfaces; when things aren't right, it slows me down, raises my stress level, and may even prevent me from getting anything done if I can't figure out how to access a certain feature (or spend a lot of time trying to find one that isn't there).

Let's start with the positive, just to be clear that I'm not trying to completely trash Audacity; it's a fabulous tool, technically well-executed, with some annoying gaps and oversights that really shouldn't be that difficult to fix for someone who has worked on Audacity's source code for any length of time and knows the layout.

What they got right

  • The transport runs smoothly.
  • The magnifying glass tool works as it should (mostly): left-click to zoom in, right click to zoom out.
    • ...although the "join" feature when you click on the edge between two adjacent clips isn't right. If left-click is join, then right-click should be split... and this should be a separate function from zooming.
  • All of the basic interface metaphors: wave display, tracks, movable clips, etc.

What they got wrong

(Items tagged with "BUG" may have been fixed since I originally typed this.)

  • Effects previews are limited in length; you can't adjust them while previewing; you can't adjust parameters while previewing
  • (BUG) What plays when you select a clip does not exactly match the clip you get when you "save selection". What you hear also seems to be off a bit from what is being displayed.
  • (BUG) What plays when you select a clip does not exactly match what plays when you trim the clip to the selection.
  • There should be right-click functions. Having to go up to the toolbar and select a different tool every time I want to change functions is annoying. (I'll excuse the "zoom" tool because it uses right-click for good purpose.) With a right-click, I should be able to:
    • mute individual clips (N/A)
    • time-lock individual clips (N/A)
    • split off a marked section of a clip
    • duplicate a marked section of a clip (N/A?)
    • duplicate an entire clip
    • insert a splitpoint at the cursor
    • manually edit the starting time, time offset, and length of a clip (N/A)
    • delete a clip
    • delete a track (yes, I know this is easy to do -- but it took me a long time to find it)
    • insert a track below/above current
    • turn envelope view on/off (preferably per clip, which is N/A)
    • zoom in to selection
    • zoom in/out vertically (N/A except by manually adjusting each track, as far as I can tell)
  • Functions marked "N/A" above are not, as far as I can tell, available at all in Audacity. They should be.
  • (BUG?) Dragging clips from one track to another sometimes doesn't work. There seems to be some hidden rule-set at work; I usually end up dragging things around until it will let me move the clip where I want it to go. (2013-09-06 this may have been fixed; it's not happening anymore)
    • The UI designers have apparently made the decision not to allow clips to overlap each other; in CoolEdit Pro (CEP), I find the awkwardness of overlapping clips to be less annoying than the awkwardness of having to put a clip into a separate track just so it can overlap for half a second at one end. Audacity could improve on CEP by showing the overlapped area in a different color.


  • The "multi-tool mode" is closer to what I want, but there are still some anomalous behaviors.
    • The default right-click behavior should not be "zoom".
    • Ctrl-scroll sometimes seems to zoom in and out (good) and sometimes seems to scroll the content left or right. This is probably because the user is "zooming in" on empty space, and it is pushing the content off-screen. It should be visually more obvious where the content has gone... and it should be less easy for this to happen.
      • If you ctrl-scroll one way to zoom out, then (without releasing ctrl) scroll to zoom in, you can make the content disappear -- even though intuitively, scrolling one way and then scrolling the other way the same amount should have no net effect. What seems to be happening is that the "cursor" -- the focal point of the zoom -- is being updated when you change scrolling directions. This should not happen, especially if you don't lift up the ctrl key.
      • Possibly there should be some kind of restriction to prevent the content from being completely scooted off the screen. This could be a user preference, in case someone really wants to have that ability. I'd suggest a preference like "minimum % of screen width allowed to have content", and set it at something like 10 initially. Stop the content scrolling or zooming out if less than this percentage of the screen will have audio content after the next (zoom/scroll) operation.