Clipping sound files with Windows Movie Maker

One thing Windows has never included is a real sound editing app. Sound Recorder is very feature limited and only edits WAV files, making it hard to quickly slice a sound byte from your favorite mp3 or wma, without investing in additional software. Fortunately, Windows XP users have a tool that is almost ideal for cutting audio tracks into smaller pieces--Windows Movie Maker.

To slice a section out of an audio track using Windows Movie Maker, follow these steps:

1) Open Windows Movie Maker

2)Click the File menu and select Import into Collections.

3) Add the clip you want to edit to the Movie Maker Collections.

4) Click the View Timeline button on the Storyboard, and then drag the audio track to the timeline.

5) Zoom Out the Timeline so that finding a precise point in the audio will be easier.

6) Play the track by clicking the Play button on the Timeline (if the point where you want to split the track is well past the beginning, move the marker closer to where you want to insert the split).

7) When the marker reaches the point in the song where you want to clip the track, click the Pause button.

8) Click the Split Track button under the video monitor to make a track division.

9) Continue playing the track until you reach the end of the segment you want to keep.

10) Pause the track and click the Split Track button again.

11) Discard the portions of the track you want to eliminate by selecting them and then clicking the delete key.

12) Save the finished audio clip by choosing File > Save Movie File (Ctrl+P) from the menu.

13) Choose My Computer as the location and click Next.

14) Name the audio file and choose a location to save it, and then click Next.

15) Click Show more choices, and then click Other Settings to select an audio quality from the dropdown menu.

When Movie Maker completes the save process, click Finish.

The final track will be in WMA format, which can be used in movies created with Windows Movie Maker, played back in most media players, or burned to CD as an audio track. The one useful feature Windows Movie Maker doesn't include is the ability to save audio tracks as WAV files, which are required to replace the default Windows system sounds.