How to Convert a Folder of Audacity Files to MP3

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The MP3 conversion chain and a few sample WAV files.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Manually converting dozens of audio files to MP3 format can be time-consuming, unless you use Audacity's batch convert chain. The chain performs all the procedures necessary to convert any audio file supported by Audacity 2.0 to an MP3 file. The process is completely automated, and Audacity can convert hundreds of files in a folder to MP3 files -- a process that would take you many hours to complete -- in a matter of minutes. Note that the The LAME codec is required for the conversion.

Step 1

The LAME for Windows download link.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Arturo Busleiman

Download the LAME software codec before attempting to convert the audio files to MP3 format. Audacity needs LAME to encode MP3 audio data.

To download LAME, open the MP3 for Audacity page, scroll to the To Download LAME and FFmpeg for Windows section and click the Lame_v3.99.3_for_Windows.exe link.

Step 2

The LAME setup wizard.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Arturo Busleiman

Double-click the file to start the setup wizard and click Next. You are advised to close all applications -- especially Audacity, if it is running -- before starting the setup, but this is not mandatory.

Step 3

The LAME Licensing Agreement.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Arturo Busleiman

Click Next if you agree to the terms of the LAME Licensing Agreement to proceed to the next step.

Step 4

The default destination folder and the Next button.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Arturo Busleiman

Click Browse if you want to change the destination folder. LAME needs about 2MB of free disk space, so there is no need to change the default folder in most cases. Click Next.

Step 5

The setup settings and the Install button.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Arturo Busleiman

Review the setup settings and click Back if you need to change them. To cancel the setup, click Cancel. Install LAME by clicking the Install button. The wizard installs the program in just a few seconds; click Finish after the process is complete.

Step 6

The Apply Chain option in the File menu of Audacity.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Launch Audacity, click File and select Apply Chain from the menu. Audacity comes with a single pre-installed chain: the MP3 Conversion chain.

Step 7

The MP3 Conversion chain and the Apply To Files button.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Select the MP3 Conversion chain from the list of available chains and click the Apply to Files button to apply the chain to an entire folder. If, on the other hand, you wish to convert only the audio tracks in the project, click Apply to Current Project.

Step 8

Some sample WAV files in a folder and the Open button.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Select the folder that contains the audio files and then select the files you want to convert to MP3. Select everything in the folder by pressing Ctrl-A. Select specific items by holding Ctrl and clicking each file. Click Open.

Step 9

The Make a Copy... and Read the Files Directly... options.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Select the Make a copy of the files before... or Read the files directly option. The first option is safer -- but slower -- because it copies each file into the project and then edits it. The latter option is faster because Audacity reads the files directly from their location without copying them into the project.

Check the Don't warn again... box to prevent Audacity from prompting you to make a choice for every file in the batch. Click OK.

Step 10

The converted WAV samples in the Cleaned folder.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of the Audacity team

Open the folder that contains the original audio files and then open the Cleaned sub-folder that was created by Audacity to store the MP3 files. Verify the MP3s to ensure the conversion was successful. Do not delete the original files before you verify the results.

Tip

If Audacity does not find the "lame_enc.dll" file when you attempt to apply the chain, click "Browse" to locate the file manually. Open the folder that contains LAME -- C:\Program Files\Lame For Audacity, in most cases -- and select the DLL file. Click "Open" and then "OK" to point Audacity to the DLL.

Audacity can work with WAV, AIFF, OGG, FLAC, MP2 and MP3 files natively. If you install the FFmpeg library on your computer, Audacity can also work with AC3, MP4, WMA, M4A and AMR formats.

Warning

Don't delete the original audio files before you verify the converted MP3 files. If Audacity doesn't convert the files correctly, you may be unable to recover the originals.

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