Thursday, March 20, 2008

Audacity problems on a Mac

I have been spending my Spring Break trying to learn how to use my new MacBook computer, which I have found to be a frustrating but ultimately rewarding experience.

The most difficult problem I have encountered has been with Audacity. On my Windows computer it was possible to record non-digital music through an "I" cable that I could string between my source (a mini-disc recorder, a cassette player, a turntable, an external microphone) and my computer. My windows computer, which did not have an internal microphone, automatically recognized the source in Audacity. The MacBook does not automatically recognize the new source, and I was not able to find a way to turn off the internal microphone.

I am really proud to have found a solution to the problem, and by posting it here I hope that I might save someone a bit of frustration.

If you encounter the problem of not being able to change the "default import source" (and you will on a mac), go to the "Audacity Preferences" listing in the Audacity menu, go to the "Audacity I/O" tab, and change the "device" to "Built-in output." You can also change the "Channels" from mono to stereo here.


Another annoying mac-audacity problem is not being able to export files in mp3 format. When using audacity, it simply can't be done on a mac. To get an mp3 you have to save your file as a .wav file, and use a program like Switch (there is a free version) to convert the .wav into an mp3.


Herb Levy said...

Congrats on finding a solution within the program. In case you end up using other audio programs down the road, you might should know that among your system preferences there's a sound panel. This panel has three sections, one of which is labeled "input". From this screen, you should be able to switch between the internal microphone and the line-in port on the side of your laptop.

I'd recommend getting a book like David Pogue's Missing Manual for Mac OS X Leopard as a way of orienting yourself to the new operating system.

Yvonne said...

And if you ever want to graduate from Audacity to something with a similar mode of operation but more features and a much nicer Mac-friendly interface, consider Sound Studio (

I highly recommend it.

Just in Case said...

With the mac problem of converting to MP3, I've found that I can send the wave file to my desktop. Command click it to open in ITunes and inside there I command click to create an MP3 version.

woodenmask said...

Thanks! You just saved me a LOT of frustration. I save a lot of sound clips from my TIVO to use in PowerPoints in my classroom and I was about to get annoyed.