To work with Audacity, you’ll need three things, linked below:
1. Install Audacity
At the link above, pick your operating system. Audacity is open source software and so is available for every major operating system. Make sure you download Audacity from the link we’ve provided. This is the official website to download the program, and other websites are not guaranteed to deliver you an up to date version of the program or a version without a virus.
Once you have the software downloaded, double click it and follow the instructions. Note that Mac users might be asked to change a setting allowing software from non-Apple sources.
2. Install LAME
Once you’ve installed Audacity itself, you’ll want to install the LAME library so that you can export MP3s. At the link above, Windows and Mac users can select their operating system and then double click on the file once it downloads. The instructions on screen will help you finish the installation.
Linux users will want to skip the above step entirely and instead use their distribution’s package manager. For example, Ubuntu users could use the command:
sudo apt-get install lame libmp3lame0
Note: The reason Audacity does not come with MP3 support by default has to do with the licensing issues surrounding the MP3 format. For similar reasons, the Writing and Design Lab encourages you not to use pirated audio in your project and instead buy music legally or find music on websites such as archive.org. For more information on Archive.org and other sources of free media, check out our “Resources” section.
Once you’ve installed Audacity itself, you may want to install the LADSPA plugins for Windows/Mac. This download is not completely necessary but adds an extra suite of effects some users might be interested in. If you don’t think you’ll need the extra plugins, don’t worry about the next section.
To obtain the extra plugins, download the correct set for your operating system . Windows users have it easy: just double click the installer and the effects will be ready to use in Audacity the next time it’s opened. Mac users will need to unzip the folder and drop the files in Audacity’s plugins folder. This plugins folder should be located in Finder’s “Applications” under Audacity.
Linux users and advanced users who wish to learn more about plugins and Audacity in general should consult the Audacity wiki.