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Getting Started with GarageBand

Installing GarageBand

  1. Installing GarageBand

Setting Up GarageBand

  1. Installing And Configuring Audio
  2. Configuring MIDI
  3. Testing Audio
  4. Testing MIDI
  5. Using the Virtual Midi Keyboard
  6. Changing Sounds Midi/Audio

Common Task

  1. Navigating Projects
  2. Making Selections

Installing GarageBand

In the App Store, download GarageBand.
Afterward, find GarageBand in your Finder application folder. Launch GarageBand.

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Installing And Configuring Audio

If using an external Midi or Audio Device, when initially setting them up, please consult their manuals or quick start guides to learn whether to first connect the device to the computer, or whether to first install their drivers.

  • If your midi or Audio Device has a USB (Firewire or Thunderbolt) cable, plug the cable into your computer.
    • If you want to connect your MIDI keyboard or device using MIDI (not USB) cables, connect a MIDI cable from MIDI out on the keyboard/Device into MIDI in on your audio/midi interface, and, from MIDI out on your interface into MIDI in on your keyboard/MIDI Device.
  • If you have a Midi keyboard/device that can connect to the computer over USB, you can just connect it directly to the computer using the USB cable
  • Install all drivers that came with your audio interface and/or midi keyboard/device. It’s recommended to download them directly from the manufacturer’s website instead of using the ones if any are included in the box. They are usually found under the download or support section of their website.
  • By now you should have Installed GarageBand. If so, open GarageBand. The first time you open GarageBand, the program will prompt you to download essential content, (loops and samples etc.). Once completed, you will be prompted to download additional content. Choose to proceed with the download of the additional content and on the subsequent screen, if you navigate to the end of that window there should be a select all option so you can choose all the additional content at once.
  • Once all that is done and GarageBand is loaded, you can press Command+comma to go to preferences, which is a dialog with a toolbar at the top where you select one of the different category of preferences for which you may want to adjust
  • Follow these steps: Interact with the toolbar. Navigate to and select audio. Stop Interacting.
  • Navigate through the audio device input and output pop up buttons and make your selection. )Audio device is also commonly called sound card or audio interface. They all mean the same thing.)

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Enabling Your MIDI Device

You do not need to enable Class compliant MIDI devices. They are automatically recognized and ready for use when connected to your computer. However, if your device came with drivers, you may have to install them before GarageBand can recognize your device.

if you connected your Midi device directly to the computer via USB, It will probably be displayed in GarageBand with the device name. If you used a Midi In/Out to USB cable or 2 Midi cables to connect the Midi in and out of your midi device to your sound card or audio interface, it may be displayed in GarageBand as something with the name of The sound card/audio interface device and midi.
VoiceOver users may have to use an actual mouse or trackpad as it’s hit or miss where the VO+Shift+Space keyboard shortcut for right click HotKey will work in GarageBand. If using a one button mouse or a track pad you can right click by holding the control key while clicking the mouse/trackpad or by doing a two finger press on the trackpad.

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Test Audio Recording

To see if your audio interface is set up properly, create a quick recording as follows:

  • Open GarageBand.
  • Press Command+N to create a new project.
  • Interact with collection, select empty project, and stop interacting.
  • Press VO + the end key to jump to the end of the window. (VO+FN+RightArrow if using a laptop)
  • Activate the choose button, and a new window will open.
  • The new window will prompt you for number of tracks, and type of tracks. Navigate towards the top of the window, and select “Audio – Microphone & Line In” track. Leave the number of tracks option on its default of one.
  • Navigate to the create button, activate it, and you will be placed in a new project.
  • Navigate to and interact with the tracks group, and navigate to the track header. Interact with the track header, and you will be placed on the single audio track in the project.
  • Press “R” to start recording and speak or play your instrument to capture it. By default GarageBand is set to a 1 measure count in, so you will have to let it count in for one measure before recording will be captured.
  • Press the SpaceBar to end the Recording.
    +Press Return to go back to the start of the project.
  • Press SpaceBar to toggle play/Stop of the recording.
  • Press Command+Option+A to add a new audio track to the project.
  • To record on a particular track, navigate to the desired track with Up or Down Arrows or VO+Up or Down Arrows. When on the desired audio track, press “Return” to move the playhead to the beginning. Press R” to start recording.

You can visit the KeyCommands overview for more keyboard commands for using GarageBand.

By default GarageBand will let you record onto a selected track without arming it. The currently selected track is the track you navigate to using Up or Down Arrows or VO+ArrowKeys in the track header area. Arming a particular track will tell GarageBand that you want to specifically record to said particular track no matter which track in the project is selected.
To arm a track, press Control+R, or interact with the track header and check the record enable checkbox. You will also have to remember to unarm the track before recording to a new track. You can toggle arming of the track off by pressing Control+R again, or by unchecking the record enable checkbox. As VoiceOver can be unreliable when speaking the state of the record enable button, if you are not recording to more than one tracks at a time it may not be worth arming a track and just relying on GarageBands ability to automatically record to the selected track.
By Default, input on each new track is set to input 1. If using an audio interface, you will need to have a microphone or instrument plugged into input 1 on the interface for it to be captured. If using Built in Audio Device/Sound Card, the default for each track will most likely be your built in microphone. If using an audio interface and you would like to record from inputs 2, 3 etc, stop interacting with the track group entirely, navigate to and interact with “Smart Controls” and navigate to and interact with the scroll area. In the scroll area navigate to the pop up button that says “1 (followed by the name of your audio device)”. Select it and then choose the input you would like to use from that menu. If Smart Controls is not on your screen, press the letter “B” to toggle “Smart Controls” back into view.

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Test MIDI Recording

Test if your midi keyboard is working within GarageBand by loading a soft synth onto a track as follows:

  • Press Command+N to create a new project in GarageBand.
  • Interact where it says collection near the top of the window. Then select empty project.
  • Stop interacting with Collection, navigate to the choose button towards the bottom of the window, and activate it.
  • The new screen will prompt you for number of tracks, and type of tracks. Navigate towards the top of the window and select “Software Instrument & MIDI”. Leave the number of tracks option on its default of one and navigate to and activate the create button.(“
  • You will then be placed in a new project. Interact with it and navigate to the track header. Interact with that and you will be placed on the single software instrument track in the project, by default the classic electric piano.
  • Press “R” to start recording. Let it count in for one measure, then play your Midi keyboard to capture it. By default GarageBand is set to a 1 measure count in. before recording will be captured.
  • Press the SpaceBar to stop the Recording.
  • Press Return to move the playhead to the start of the track.
  • Press SpaceBar to toggle play/Stop of the recording to confirm your recording was made.
  • To record to a new track press Command+Option+S to add a new software instrument track to the project. When in track headers, you can navigate between tracks with Up or Down Arrows or with VO+Up or Down Arrows. Once you are on this new instrument track you can press “R” to start recording again.

You can visit the KeyCommands overview for more keyboard commands for using GarageBand.

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Using The Virtual Midi Keyboard

If you do not have access to a hardware Midi Keyboard, you can use the Virtual Keyboard, which uses the computers regular typing keyboard to emulate a midi keyboard. GarageBand refers to this as the musical typing keyboard and you can toggle it on or off with Command+K. When the musical typing keyboard is active, your home row on the keyboard (A, s, D, f, etc.) are the white keys starting with middle C. The row above it will be your sharps or flats or the black keys on the piano. This starts with C sharp/d flat on the “W” key. Because the letters “R” and “Q” are not used for sharp/flat, their normal function of starting recording or quantizing respectively can still be performed without toggling the musical typing keyboard off. You can shift the keyboard note range down or up an octave with “Z” or “X” respectively. In addition, you may sustain notes by pressing the “TAB” key and pitch bend down or up by using the number “1” and “2” keys respectively. You may also modulate the software instrument by pressing the numbers “4” through “8”, and turn modulation off with the number “3”. What parameter gets modulated depends on the software instrument currently in use.

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Changing Sounds on either an Midi or Audio track

On a MIDI track, if you would like a different sound other than the classic electric piano. You will have to stop interacting with the track group entirely, navigate to and interact with “Smart Controls” and in there navigate to and interact with the scroll area. In the scroll area navigate to where it says”Vintage Electric Piano group”. Interact with it and then navigate to and select the list pop up button. From this list you can now choose the instrument you would like to use. Third party instruments can be selected from the AU instruments sub menu. If you don’t see the Vintage Electric Piano group, then Select the “Plug In” button to expand the scroll area first.
Alternatively you can go interact with the library and choose one of GarageBand’s many patches sorted for you already by instruments. If the library isn’t visible you can toggle it into view with it’s HotKey “Y”.
If you are on an Audio track, you can add a chain of effects in a similar manner. The Library will be organized by instrument type and once you select an instrument type, like say “Vocals” or “Guitar” you will find patches appropriately named by the sound they attempt to approximate. This is a great starting point to get to a more polished sound quickly.
Once you interact with the library browser you can navigate the list of categories with VO+Up/Down Arrows. Once you decide on a category you can use VO+Right Arrow to get to the list of patches or sub-categories, and continue to navigate through them with VO+Up/Down Arrows. Once you navigate to any patch its automatically loaded and you can hear what it sounds like by pressing space to play already recorded tracks, or play your keyboard etc to hear it in real time. You can use VO+LeftArrow to return to the previous list of categories or sub-categories. For adding individual effects to an Audio or Midi track, see the FX section on the “Frequently Encountered Scenarios in GarageBand” page. Be Aware that to be able to select a 3rd party Instruments or effect, you will have to go into preferences with Command+Comma, and select “Audio” from the toolbar. Under effects select “Enable Audio Units” toggle button.

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Navigating Projects

Move the playhead through a project time line as follows:

  • Period or Comma moves one measure forward or backward.
  • Return moves to the start of the project (Go To Beginning)

Moving in smaller increments

  • To move in smaller increments like a 16th note (or a division v value as GarageBan refers to it) instead of the Whole measure increment that period and comma moves by, you will need to interact with the “Tracks time ruler time line” and then interact with the “Playhead thumb value indicator”. This will usually say the current position of the playhead before saying playhead value indicator, for example “1 bar 1 beat 1 division 1 tick Playhead thumb value indicator”. Once you interact with the playhead value indicator, you can use VO+Shift+Left/Right arrow to move the playhead position in 16th note increments.

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Selecting All Or Portions Of Tracks Or Regions

First, use Up or Down Arrows or VO+Up or Down arrows to select the track you want to edit. If you want to select multiple tracks, use Shift+Up or Down arrows. Be aware that when selecting multiple tracks VoiceOver won’t speak. Next, move the playhead to where you want selection to begin. Then:

  1. Split the region at the playhead with Command+T
  2. Use one of above navigational method to move to where you want the end of selection, and split the region again at the playhead with Command+T
  3. Now you will have split the section of audio you want to work with into its own region. As what is to the right of the playhead is now selected, press the left arrow once to select your newly created region. Shift+Space will play from the selection start.
    Once verified that the right area is selected, you can copy (Command+C), Cut (Command+X) and move the playhead to wherever and paste it with Command+V. More details can be found on the Frequently Encountered Scenarios in GarageBand page. Once again, GarageBand KeyCommands can be found on this Apple help page .

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