Audacity FAQ – Installation and Plug-Ins

Installation and Plug-Ins
  • How do I download and install the LAME MP3 encoder?
  • How do I install VST plug-ins?
  • Why do some VST plug-ins not work or display incorrectly?

How do I download and install the LAME MP3 encoder?

Because of software patents, we cannot distribute MP3 encoding software ourselves. Follow these instructions to use the free LAME encoder to export MP3 files with Audacity.


  1. Go to the download page
    Left-click this link, do not right-click.
  2. In “For Audacity on Windows”, left-click the link Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe and save the file anywhere on your computer.
  3. Double-click “Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe” to launch it (you can safely ignore any warnings that the “publisher could not be verified”).
  4. Follow the Setup instructions to install LAME for Audacity, making sure not to change the offered installation location of “C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity” (or “C:\Program Files (x86)\Lame for Audacity” on a 64-bit version of Windows).

You should now be able to export MP3s without any further configuration, choosing File > Export… then selecting “MP3 Files” in the File Export Dialog.


Occasionally, there can be .dll conflicts on the computer. Try right-clicking this alternative 3.98.4 build of lame_enc.dll. Choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” and save it to “C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity” or “C:\Program Files (x86)\Lame for Audacity” according to where you installed LAME previously. Accept any prompts to replace the old file with the new one. Then try exporting an MP3 again.

If there are still problems, they will likely be due to a conflict with Audacity still trying to detect the path to an older lame_enc.dll file. To correct this:

  1. Ensure there are no older versions of lame_enc.dll in any locations where Audacity detects it, namely:
    • C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity (where the installer puts the new .dll)
    • the Audacity installation folder (usually C:\Program Files\Audacity) or in the Plug-Ins folder inside that
  2. Exit Audacity and navigate to the 1.3 preferences .cfg file at:
    • Windows 2000/XP: Documents and Settings\<user name>\Application Data\Audacity\audacity.cfg
    • Windows Vista/7: Users\<user name>\AppData\Roaming\Audacity\audacity.cfg.
  3. Open audacity.cfg in a text editor such as Notepad, and delete the two lines starting with:
    • [MP3]
  4. Save the changes to audacity.cfg and restart Audacity
In order to see audacity.cfg, you may need to set the operating system to show hidden files and folders. See instructions for Windows 7 and Windows versions before 7.

Note that the above four steps will remove old paths to lame_enc.dll for Audacity version 1.3 and later only. If you still use (or have ever used) Audacity 1.2, that version will continue to look for the .dll in the location stored in its own Preferences setting.

Warning icon Merely exiting Audacity and deleting audacity.cfg will not remove old paths to lame_enc.dll for 1.3 if you have ever previously used a 1.2 version. In that case Audacity 1.3 and later would still look up the path from the 1.2 Preferences setting.

Mac OS X

On OS X 10.6 or later, Administrative (and occasionally, root) permissions may be needed on some machines to read the LAME library the installer places in /usr/local/lib/audacity.In case of difficulty, please download the zip version “” from “Alternative zip download for Lame 3.98.2” below and follow the instructions.
  • Installer
  1. Go to the LAME download page.
  2. Download Lame Library v3.98.2 for Audacity on OSX.dmg.
  3. When you have finished downloading, double-click the .dmg to mount it, then go to the Finder (in Safari, the “Lame Library v3.98.2 for Audacity” virtual disk image will be extracted and mounted automatically after downloading).
  4. Double-click “Lame Library v3.98.2 for Audacity.pkg”; the standard OS X Installer will start
  5. Click through the steps in the Installer, accepting the defaults in all cases; this will install the LAME binary “libmp3lame.dylib” in /usr/local/lib/audacity.
  6. Audacity should detect LAME automatically when you export as MP3. If Audacity cannot find LAME:
    1. Click Audacity > Preferences then choose “Libraries” on the left.
    2. Click “Locate…” under “MP3 Export Library”, then “Browse…” in the “Locate Lame” dialog.
    3. The “Where is libmp3lame.dylib?” window will open at /usr/local/lib/audacity; select “libmp3lame.dylib”, click “Open” then “OK” and “OK”.
  • Alternative zip download for Lame 3.98.2
  1. Download
  2. Extract the contents of the zip to a folder called “Lame_Library_v3.98.2_for_Audacity_on_OSX” anywhere you have full permissions (such as your Desktop) then follow the instructions at steps 6.1 to 6.3 above to locate “libmp3lame.dylib” using the Libraries Preferences. This is a good solution if Audacity does not recognize libmp3lame.dylib when installed to /usr/local/lib/audacity.

You should now be able to export MP3s without any further configuration, choosing File > Export… then selecting “MP3 Files” in the File Export Dialog.


How do I install VST plug-ins?

Audacity supports almost all VST effect plug-ins and should scan automatically for these when run for the first time. VST instrument (VSTi) plug-ins are not currently supported.

To install new VST effects, place them in the “Plug-ins” folder inside the Audacity installation folder. On Windows, this is usually under Program Files (or Program Files (x86) on 64-bit Windows); on Mac OS X, it is usually in the “Applications” folder. VST effects will also be found if they are added to (or already exist in) various system locations. To display the newly added plug-ins:

  1. Go to the Effects Preferences
  2. Under “VST Effects”, put a check mark in “Rescan VST effects next time Audacity is started”
  3. Exit Audacity and launch it again.


Why do some VST plug-ins not work or display incorrectly?

Audacity will by default display VST effect plug-ins with a full graphical interface where the plug-in supplies this. Any plug-in that requires to be left open while processing audio will not work correctly. VST instrument (VSTi) plug-ins are not currently supported.

If any plug-in displays incorrectly, you can uncheck “Display VST effects in graphical mode” in the Effects Preferences to display a simpler tabular interface for the plug-in (this also affects all other plug-ins).