Video Editing

How to Cut Audio in Audacity like a Pro

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Audacity is one of the inexpensive ways to edit audio files. In addition to being free, it is an excellent tool for cutting audio clips, whether you are a hobbyist, aspiring professional YouTuber, podcaster, or interviewer.

You can use it to split audio files, cut a section out of a song or extract a dialogue out of a movie or TV show. 

While it may seem like a hugely technical endeavour, it is pretty easy to cut audio in Audacity, regardless of your prior audio editing experience.

This blog will teach you how to import audio into Audacity and cut it like a professional, so you and your audience can enjoy the content media the way you envisioned.

How to Cut Audio in Audacity: Importing your Audio

To cut audio files with Audacity, you first have to download and install it. You can do that by visiting the official website here, and selecting the version that suits your device.

Once you have done that, the next thing you need to do is import the audio into the program by following these simple steps.

  1. Launch the application and click Open under File in the menu bar. Alternatively, you could simply press Ctrl + O after starting the program.
  1. Find the audio you want to cut in the dialog box. When you do, double click or select it and click open to import it into the program.

After doing this, Audacity will load your audio file, and you will even see a small window displaying the process. The program supports practically all audio file formats, including WAV, AIFF, MP3, M4A, FLAC, and OGG.

Also worth noting, Audacity will open multiple windows if you select multiple files at once when you import using Ctrl + O or Open. 

To import multiple audio files inside one window, you have to click Audio in the Import submenu under File or simply press Ctrl + Shift + I.

Once you have imported the file(s) into Audacity, you are ready to start cutting.

How to Cut Audio Files in Audacity

Cutting is an editing action that allows you to remove unwanted parts from the middle of an audio file. 

It is an effective way to remove dead space from a song, podcast, interview, or other types of audio content. You can also use it to remove filler words like uh and erm to make the dialogue more fluent, improving the overall quality of the content.

Additionally, cutting allows you to insert separate audio into an existing clip, such as sound effects, advertisements, intros, and outros.

Here is a quick, step-by-step guide on how to cut audio in Audacity: 

STEP 1 - Select the section you want to cut

To select the part you want to cut out of the recording, click the Selection Tool button. It is the capital I icon in the toolbar at the top of the editor.

Once you have selected it, left-click and drag your mouse over the area you want to cut. If you do it right, the highlighted section will be darker than the rest of the waveform.

If you wish to make changes to the selection, place your mouse within the highlighted area until the mouse icon changes into a finger. Then drag it in or out to make it accurate.

TIP - Use the Zoom tool (magnifying glass icon) to enlarge the waveform for easier and accurate selection.

Also, you can use the playback buttons to make sure you selected the correct part.

STEP 2 - Delete the section

The next step is to remove the highlighted section. To do this, simply press the delete key on your keyboard.

Alternatively, go to Edit in the menu bar and click Delete in the listed options or press Ctrl + K.

STEP 3 - Export the Audio

Once you are happy with the result (use the playback button to double-check), the final step is to export the edited audio.

Go to Export under File and select Export as MP3 or Export as WAV, depending on the output file format you prefer.

If the option you prefer is not on the list, click Export Audio to access a longer list in the Save As Type setting in the dialog box.

Then name the audio file in the dialog box and click Save.

That’s it. You have successfully cut an audio clip in Audacity.

As you can see, the process is quite easy. However, while straightforward, cutting the audio this way leaves zero space to insert an ad or an effect from the removed section.

To do that, you need to split the track. Here is how.

  1. Make sure the playback cursor is at the beginning of the now-deleted section. Then go to Clip Boundaries in the Edit menu and select Split. You can also press Ctrl + I.

You will see a dark line confirming that the audio file has been divided into two.

  1. Select the Time Shift Tool (double-sided arrow icon) to create a gap in the audio. Next, place your mouse beside the dark line and drag away to separate the divided file.

After successfully splitting and creating the gap, you can now insert any audio file you want in the space before exporting.

How to Cut Out Audio in Audacity at the Beginning or End

Cutting an audio clip at the beginning or end is referred to as trimming. It is an editing action for redefining the first and last thing the audience hears when they play the clip.

This form of editing allows you to reduce the length of a clip, focusing only on the meat of the content. Learning how to cut audio this way is great when you have limited time to work with.

Just like the other form of cutting, it is pretty easy to carry this out in Audacity. Of course, you can simply apply the cutting process explained above at the start and end times of the clip. 

However, there is an even easier way that allows you to cut both ends simultaneously.

STEP 1 - Select the part you wish to keep

Using the Selection Tool, mark the new start and end times by highlighting the parts you wish to keep. 

If it is a long piece of content, use the Zoom Out button to reduce the length of the waveform in the track to cover more areas with shorter drags.

Also, don’t forget to replay the highlighted section to ensure accuracy. You can do this by clicking the play button or the SpaceBar key.

STEP 2 - Trim the Audio

Audacity has a literal ‘Trim Audio’ feature that takes care of everything else from here. 

Once you are satisfied with the selection, press Ctrl + T.  Alternatively, go to Remove Special under Edit in the menu bar and click Trim Audio from the submenu.

Once you select the option, Audacity will automatically delete the unhighlighted sections, leaving you only with the selected parts.

Now you have a new start and end time for your audio. But as you can see, there is some dead space at the beginning of the track. 

If you want to insert an additional piece of content, like an intro in the case of a podcast, you can do that here. Otherwise, use the Time Shift Tool to remove the dead space.

Once you have selected the Time Shift Tool (again, double-sided arrow), place and hold your mouse on the recording.

Then drag it to your left until a yellow line appears, showing you have reached the beginning of the track.

STEP 3 - Add Fade In and Fade Out

You can add Fade In and Fade Out effects to the clip for a more professional finish.

To do this, use the Selection Tool to highlight the part you want to Fade In or Out.

Then, go to Effect in the menu bar and select Fade In for the beginning of the content and Fade Out for the end.

When you select either effect, you will notice a change in the waveform, confirming that it has been applied.

Replay the audio to listen to the change, then export to complete the process.

How to Cut Out Parts of Audio in Audacity (Background Noise)

Removing parts of an audio file at the beginning or middle of a clip is all well and good, but what about cutting out background noise? Yes, you can do that with Audacity too.

Unless you are recording in a studio, it is almost impossible to avoid background noise. And while you may not have the specialist tools used by big-budget productions, Audacity’s noise removal tool is a more than capable alternative.

It is also easy to use in a few short steps.

STEP 1 - Select a Noise Sample

Audacity needs to know the exact frequency you want to remove to cut unwanted noise from your audio. So, make sure you have a part in the recording that is just background noise.

Once you do, use the selection tool to highlight it, using the selection process you’ve used earlier.

STEP 2 - Apply Noise Reduction Effect

After selecting the noisy part, go to the Effects menu and choose Noise Reduction from the list of options.

The program will open a small window, asking for a Noise Profile. This is Audacity asking to know what to keep and remove.

When you see it, click Get Noise Profile.

Now that you told Audacity what frequencies to remove, select the entire track. 

Then return to Effect and Noise Reduction again to remove the background anywhere it appears in the entire track.

Listen to the audio to ensure the noise is gone, and you haven’t lost part of your content. If you are satisfied, export the audio.

If you are not, readjust the Noise Reduction settings. You can change the sensitivity, frequency, and decibel levels of the noise.

Here, you can preview the effect of each change in the settings before applying it. Once you get the right combination, click OK to remove the noise.

Is Audacity the best way to Cut Audio Clips?

Audacity is undoubtedly one of the best ways to cut audio clips. It is an open-source freeware that also happens to have plenty of professional audio editing features.

It is a simple multi-track audio editor that works on Windows, macOS, and other operating systems, giving it universal accessibility.

Besides being a useful tool to cut audio clips, you can also use it to record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital formats, add effects, copy, splice, and mix sounds.

Bottom Line

Having pitch-perfect sound is integral to creating high-quality videos, podcasts, or interviews. Since unexpected sounds and filler words are unavoidable during a recording, it is crucial to know how to remove them through cutting.

In this blog, we discussed how to cut audio in Audacity, one of the best audio editing tools around. Following these outlined steps, you will be able to cut, split, and trim audio content, as well as remove background noise from your recordings.

We hope you enjoyed reading it. 

For more tutorials on using simple and accessible tools like this to create excellent video and audio content, visit our learning page.

Hammad Akbar
Hammad Akbar
September 29, 2021