Editing and Overwriting an Audio File

One thing that is quickly learned about Audacity, is that it is NOT a DAW* (digital audio workstation), and is NOT a wave editor. It is a full featured multi-track audio recorder and editor. When “opening” an audio file for editing, the file itself is never modified by Audacity – the audio data is copied from the file into the Audacity project.

When working in Audacity, you are always working with a “project” rather than directly with an audio file.

However, some common editing tasks do not require the full range of features provided by an Audacity project. Sometimes we just want to make a quick modification to an audio file, and that’s all. In such cases it would be useful if we could easily overwrite the original audio file, but Audacity does not make that as easy as it could be.


There is of course a risk in overwriting the source file, and this warning cannot be overstated – Unless you have a backup, once you have overwritten a file and closed Audacity, there is no going back. If you have messed up the file and don’t have a backup, hard luck – treat it as a learning experience and make backups in future.

The Problem

When you wish to overwrite an audio file, the problem is that the default Export directory will probably NOT be the directory where you imported the file from. Recent changes to Audacity have changed the exact behaviour, but no official versions of Audacity use the last used Import directory as the default.

The Solution

A simple but effective solution is to use a plug-in to import audio rather than Audacity’s usual File menu command. By using a plug-in, the default behaviour may be overridden.

The plug-in

When installed, this Nyquist plug-in, it adds a “Import Audio” command to the “Tools” menu. If you then import audio using this new command (rather than using the Import command from the “File” menu), the default export folder is automatically set to the folder that you imported from.


For convenience, you may also want to add a keyboard shortcut to launch the new plug-in. See: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/key … ences.html


* Not a DAW:
Since Audacity was taken over by Muse Group, the direction of Audacity development has moved more in the direction of becoming a digital audio workstation, though it is still a very long way from being a fully featured DAW. Some authors have described the current direction as “Spork development”.

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