Using Windows Movie Maker to edit audio clips — yes, audio clips

When you run into a problem, sometimes the solution you’re looking for is right under your nose and you don’t know it.

And so I came to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit audio for my podcast. And now, I’m going to show you how to do the same.

My problem was editing audio clips of interviews taped with my digital voice recorder — the fact that I still call it a “digital tape recorder” probably gives away my age.

I have an Olympus-brand recorder (my second Olympus-brand recorder), and it allows the user to plug the recorder into a PC through a USB connection and download the audio recordings from it as Windows Media Audio (.wma) files.

So, when I recently launched a podcast/live Internet radio talk show on open government issues through, I thought I could pre-record telephone interviews with my guests and then use free Audacity software to edit it down.

Or so I thought. But when the time came — two days before my second show aired — to edit the audio, I found out the hard way that Audacity, as awesome as it is, will not edit .wma-format audio.

I thought about trying to convert the audio from .wma to a format Audacity does edit, like .mp3 or .wav, but I didn’t want to pay for yet another conversion program that turns out not to work — been there, done that. Is there no program anywhere that edits .wma?

There is. And it was on my computer the whole time: Windows Movie Maker.

My friend and colleague Emily Sweeney has already posted a primer on how to use Windows Movie Maker to edit video clips. But it will also edit audio-only files, too.

Here’s how to do it:

First, download the audio file from your digital voice recorder.

Now, open up Windows Movie Maker. In the upper-left corner, hit “import media” and pick out the .wma file you want to edit.

When it imports, look at the timeline down at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see that your .wma file shows up in the “audio/music” track in the timeline, showing you a waveform pattern for the sound — big hills represent lots of noise, the valleys are the silent parts on the audio track. (Don’t be bothered by the fact that there’s nothing in the “video” track of the timeline.)

Now, you can edit the audio track the same way you would edit a video clip in Movie Maker. Use the “play” and “rewind” buttons on the timeline to manuever the green time bar to the points in the audio track where you want to make cuts. Use the “split” function to make a cut where the green bar is standing. To cut out a section, make a cut on each end of the section you want to excise, then put the cursor on that section, right click and pull down to “remove.” (You can also hit the “delete” key with that section selected.)

Once you’ve got it edited the way you want it, you’re ready to make the program spit out the edited-down audio as a .wma file. So go up to “publish movie.”

It will ask, “where do you want to publish your movie?” Pick “This computer” and hit “next.”

Now, give the edited file a name and tell it what folder to place the finished file in. Next, it’ll ask you for some setting information — I usually don’t change any of these — and you can hit “publish.”

And when it’s done, you’re done. You’ve got an edited .wma file ready for podcasting or uploading to the Web for whatever purpose.

Jennifer Peebles is chairman of SPJ’s Digital Media Committee and is deputy editor of Texas Watchdog, a nonprofit online news site based in Houston. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @jpeebles and @texaswatchdog. And if you’re into FOI and open government, her Internet radio show/podcast airs Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central.

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