Audacity icon with headphones and waveform in between

How to Move Audio in Audacity

Moving audio clips around the Audacity Timeline is an essential part of editing and creating a podcast. To get a finished product, you'll need to take all your recordings and bring them into the workspace to arrange them chronologically, apply transitions, and make additional edits.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to move clips in Audacity and piece sections of audio together, so they flow into one seamless episode. 

Download: Audacity (Mac, Linux, Windows)

How to move audio clips in Audacity 

Let's start by defining some terms to avoid confusion! Audacity defines an audio track as "one instrument in your symphony, or one voice in your podcast." Background music, voiceovers, and individual guest recordings could each have their own independent track, but in the end, they all blend into one final output.

You can split up each track into individual audio clips — a separate section of a track you can individually manipulate. Pretty straightforward. Now that we're on the same page, let's look at how to move tracks and clips around the Timeline.

Moving clips horizontally using the Time Shift Tool 

Moving and arranging clips is a basic function you'll use all the time in your podcast's post-production. 

Once you open Audacity and import audio, you'll notice the waveform appear on the Timeline. All your tracks appear on this Timeline and can move to the right or the left using the Time Shift Tool (we'll get into up and down movements later.)

Audacity waveform

The Time Shift Tool does exactly what it sounds like: it allows you to shift the point in time where an audio file starts playing. We'll use this sample audio file as an example. 

First, take your Selection Tool (looks like a cursor) and isolate the portion of audio you want to move — you can double click to select an entire clip or track.

Arrows pointing to the Selection tool and Time Shift Tool

Now you can select the Time Shift Tool — the button with the bidirectional arrows located at the top of your workspace — and move the clip back and forth on the Timeline to adjust the waveform to a specific time point. 

For example, you can adjust the waveform to start exactly at the one minute mark, so it starts playing one minute into the episode. 

Pro tip: It helps to zoom in on your clip Cmd + 1 (or Ctrl +1) so you can configure your tracks more accurately. 

Splitting tracks into individual clips

If you want to split up a track into smaller segments, grab the Selection Tool. With this tool selected, you can choose a point on the Timeline, let's say at the five-minute mark. 

Once you highlight your selected audio segment, go to Edit Menu > Clip Boundaries > Split, or press Cmd + I (or Ctrl +I) to split the audio clip into two different segments. Splitting clips is an editing action you'll probably use a lot, and keyboard shortcuts can save you a ton of time.

Audacity workspace with a green pop up with keyboard shortcuts for clip splitting

If you go back and reselect the Time Shift Tool and return to the waveform, the second half of the track is its own clip that can move independently around the Timeline with its own audio features.

Waveform after a Split Delete show a gap in the middle of a clip

If you want to delete a section of audio, use the Selection Tool to highlight the unwanted clip, and go to Edit > Remove Special > Split Delete. This function will delete the highlighted segment and leave a gap in its place. If you don't want a gap where the audio clip once was, you can simply press the Delete key on your keyboard.

At this point, you know how to move clips left or right, but how can you move them up and down or to another track altogether?

Moving clips up and down across multiple tracks

At some point in your audacity project, you'll probably want to take a segment of your audio recording and move it to a different track — whether it's background music, voiceovers, interview segments, etc. When working with multiple tracks, you'll need to move your audio clips up and down. But first, you'll need to create a new track! 

To add a new track, go to the top toolbar and select Tracks > Add New > Mono Track. With the Time Shift Tool still selected, you can click on a track or clip, drag it down, and align it with the top clip so it starts playing when the segment before it ends.

Audacity timeline with two tracks and a red arrow pointing to the second track

Note:  Remember, you can only move mono clips to mono tracks and stereo clips to stereo tracks. Most podcasters only use mono tracks — stereo is a setting used mainly for music projects. 

The Time Shift Tool does have some limitations, though. For instance, while you can use the Time Shift Tool to place a single clip between tracks, you have to create room for it by splitting tracks, or else the clip won't have a place to move.

To create space for a clip, remove the selected audio by going to Edit > Remove Special > Split Cut. Now, you can use the Time Shift Tool to drag the clip up into the blank space.

Audacity timeline with two tracks and a red arrow pointing to where to move the clip

You can also use copy and paste keyboard shortcuts to paste a clip in the middle of a track. Just select the audio you want to move and press Cmd + C (or Ctrl + C) to copy it. Then, take the Selection Tool, choose the time point on the track to move the clip, and press Cmd + V (or Ctrl + V)

You'll likely need to play the track several times and make adjustments to the clips to ensure you have smooth transitions. Just press the play button (or your keyboard's spacebar) for quick playback.

More Audacity tutorials 

That's all you need to know to move audio in Audacity! Pretty easy, right? Audacity is an excellent audio editing tool, widely used by digital audio creators. These tutorials can help you get more comfortable so you can use Audacity to edit your own content!