Cut, Copy and Paste in Audacity

The terrific trio of cut-copy-paste is something we’re all used to from our experience with computers.  We use it so much now that we don’t even think about it.  We find our fingers habitually hovering over the command key and the c/v/x keys.

We’re all used to using cut-copy-paste on our computers with words and pictures.  Like if you copy a url to send to your friend on facebook, rather than retyping every symbol.  But the cut-copy-paste functionality is useful for more than just this stuff.  In Audacity, the cut-copy-paste functionality is very useful for mixing various sound bites together.  Before I explain how that works, let me quickly explain how “cut” works (a lot of people are surprisingly unfamiliar with it).

When you use “copy”, your thing is copied, and available for youto paste it.  When you use “cut”, you delete your thing, and the thing you just deleted is also copied, to make it available to be pasted.  So cut is basically just delete plus copy.

And now for how to do this in Audacity.  The first thing you’ll want to do is select a clip to be copied/cut.  Use the selection tool to do this.  Once you select a clip, you’ll see that clip be a darker shade of grey on the screen, as evidence that you selected it.  You can also expand or contract this selected clip to make it the desired length.

One your clip is selected, it’s now time to cut-copy-paste!  The easiest way to do these things is to use the keyboard shortcuts.  Pressing the command key and the c key at the same time will copy the clip.  Copying the clip doesn’t alter anything; it just allows you to paste what you just copied.  It will also leave the same clip selected.

Pressing the command key and the x key at the same time will cut that clip.  As explained before, this will delete it, and copy it for future pasting.  As far as remembering the keyboard shortcut goes, it should be intuitive: x = delete.

Finally, in order to paste, the first think you’ll have to do is choose what part of the track you’d like to paste to.  To do this, simply click that portion of the track.  Once you d this, all you’ll have to do to paste is press the command key and the v key at the same time.  Whatever the last think you copied (using copy or cut) will then be pasted into that portion of the track.

Good Luck!

– Adam Zerner


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