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How To Add MP3 Support to Audacity (to Save in MP3 Format)

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You may have noticed that the default installation of Audacity doesn’t have built-in support for MP3s due to licensing issues.  Here’s how to add it in yourself for free really easily in few simple steps.

Photo by bobcat rock

Step 1: Download and Install the LAME MP3 Encoder

On Windows

Head over to the LAME Download page and scroll down to where you see “For Audacity on Windows”.

image

Left click on the link to download the .exe file, and install it as you would any other piece of software.

On Mac OS X

Head over to the LAME Download page and scroll down to where you see “For Audacity 1.3.3 or later on Mac OS X”.

 image

Left click on the link to download the .dmg file, and install it as you would any other piece of software.

On Linux

Linux users can just download the “lame” and “libmp3lame0” libraries quickly and easily.  Ubuntu users can open up a terminal and just pop in the following command:

sudo apt-get install lame libmp3lame0

Be sure to have multiverse repositories enabled!

Step 2: Point Audacity in the Right Direction

If you followed the instructions above to install LAME then Audacity should see it without a problem the next time you start it up.  However, if you installed LAME differently for various reasons, then you can show Audacity where to find it.

Open up Audacity’s Preferences and click on the Libraries tab.

aud-prefs

Click on the “Locate…” button.

locate

Hit “Browse” and navigate to wherever your LAME encoder library happens to be, and click OK.  If you’re using Ubuntu, you’ll see something more like this:

Screenshot-Locate Lame

You only need to do this once, and Audacity will remember this location in the future for all of your mp3-editing goodness!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 01/11/11

Comments (12)

  1. Seasider

    Thank you so much for this. I have wanted to use Audacity for a while, the lack of an mp3 save option was the only thing stopping me. Audacity is now truly awesome.

  2. Hatryst

    I think it should be bundled with Audacity. Don’t know why it isn’t…

  3. Anon

    What version of audacity is this?? im using 1.2.6 and there is no libraries tab under preferences. should i uodate to version 1.3.12 to see this menu??

  4. Chronno S. Trigger

    @Hatryst

    The MP3 codec is copyrighted by someone, I don’t know who. If Audacity wanted to include it in their install they would have to pay for it. It’s the same reason that Linux doesn’t include MP3 support by default.

    Several years ago I used Audacity. When I tried to export as MP3 it told me what DLL it was missing. I just had to search for that DLL and point the program at it. Did that message change in recent versions so it’s harder to figure out?

  5. John

    Thanks so much for this post! I recently reformatted my PC and needed to reinstall Audacity. I was a bit hazy when it came to reinstalling LAME. I’ve been using Audacity for years now. It works great for simple, multi-track recording.

  6. Kevalin

    Sweet! I haven’t had cause to use Audacity of late, precisely because of the necessity of using a whole other program to convert the resultant .wav or audacity file to mp3 wasn’t available. I can use it more often for projects

  7. Kevalin

    Sometimes, Swype is a real pain in the a#&!

  8. dave

    I wish you guys would stop doing this! You keep posting these how to’s about 2 days AFTER I need them.

  9. kiwichick

    @Anon: Yes I think you will have to upgrade to see that menu – I’m pretty sure it’s new. But, using your current version, go to Preferences / File Formats then click the Find Library button. You will receive a a popup allowing you to locate the lame_enc.dll file.

  10. Anon

    @kiwichick
    thanks alot! it worked!

  11. kiwichick

    Awesome!! Glad to be of help.

  12. Greg Steward

    I am not enough of an audiophile that I look down on the mp3 format, but I do have this concern that when you do any editing of an mp3 file that you are first decompressing and then recompressing with additional loss of quality. mp3directcut (freeware) works on mp3 files without decompressing and recompressing but you can only cut and splice, normalize, adjust gain, and fade in/out. You can’t do any “effects” work.

    Can anyone confirm that this would be the case with audacity when working with lossy formats: the file will be decompressed and then recompressed? Anyone know of any research that has been done about resultant quality loss.

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