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Tutorials + Resources

Introduction to GarageBand

Esther Lu, Allen Brown, Bryan Tor, Thomas Sawano | Last Updated: Fall 2019

Whether you want to record a podcast, music, or audio narration that requires editing afterwards, GarageBand can pretty much do it all. It comes pre-installed on all Mac OSX devices, and features cross-compatibility with other, more-robust sound and music editing platforms.


Opening GarageBand

To open GarageBand, select the "Podcasting and Audio" folder on the Dock and click the guitar/amp icon.

Or .... Type in 'GarageBand' into the search bar on the upper-right-hand corner of the screen and press Enter.

Once you open GarageBand, a gray window will pop up.

If you are recording a vocal narration click on the silver microphone icon labelled 'Voice.'

Once you have selected a project, to the far left top corner of the GarageBand Window you will see four icons.

Library, Help, Smart Controls, and Editors Buttons

  • Library (icon looks like a filing drawer)
  • Quick Help ( icon is a question mark)
  • Smart Controls ( icon looks like a clock)
  • Editor's Button ( icon is a pair of scissors)


The Library Menu with Instrumental Categories

Click on the Library icon. On the far left-hand side, you will see a library of different 'Sounds,' organized into three categories: Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, and Electric Guitar and Bass.

Click on the Voice category. Then you will see a popout list of different voice filter options. Click on 'Narration Vocal' (7th on the list).

Attach a Separate Microphone

Note: If you are using your computer's built in microphone then don't worry about this step


Selecting Preferences for Garage Band

1. On the ToolBar click on the Garage Band tab and then click on Preferences.



Changing Input Device under System Settings

2. In the Preferences Box , click on the Audio/Midi icon.

3. There are two pop-down bars under 'Devices.' 'Output Device' allows you to select the set of speakers or headphones GarageBand plays sound on. By default, 'System Setting' will output audio on the computer's built-in speakers, or if you have a pair of speakers or headphones plugged into the station's audio jack, one of those devices. 'Input Device allows you to select the microphone GarageBand uses to make new recordings. If you have already plugged-in a microphone, the program should have already detected this, and its name will selectable on the Input Device tab.


On the top of the GarageBand window you will see playback/forward, stop or play buttons. The last button next to those options is a red dot (the record button). Click on the record button to start recording your vocal narration. The same button will allow you to stop recording.

Be ready to record by having your script or outline near by. You will want to record in a quite, close space without much echo. Keep your mouth close to the microphone, but not too close.


To edit out parts or cut your narration together look on your blue track to see a long vertical bar on the track. You can drag that bar onto any part of your track.

Then, on the ToolBar, click on Edit and click on Split region at play head. That will cut that part of the track into it's own piece that you can delete or place at a different section of your narration. Make sure that the audio clip that you want to Split is created into it's own separate track, so you don't end up deleting the rest of your recorded track.

If you regret splitting your tracks you can always go back to the ToolBar and click on Edit to Undo Split Regions.

Other Tools for Editing

Now look to the far left, top corner of the GarageBand Window, you will see four icons.

Library, Help, Smart Controls, and Editors Buttons

  • Library (icon is a filing drawer)
  • Quick Help ( icon is a question mark)
  • Smart Controls ( icon looks like a clock)
  • Editor's Button ( icon is a pair of scissors)

If you want to edit the sound quality of your narration click on the Smart Controls Icon. that will take you to a blue audio box on the bottom of the page where you can experiment with qualities such as how much background noise you'd like to add and volume etc.  
Next to the blue audio box, on the left hand side towards the bottom of the window you will see two tabs, one that says Master and the other that says Compare.
If you click on Master for the first time it will switch to a red audio box where you can directly adjust the volume. If you click on Master for the second time it will switch back to the first blue audio box.


Saving—Best Practices

On the ToolBar, click on File and click Save As so you create two versions: an original and an edit. This way, you can always undo any edits or return to the original file for any reason.


On the ToolBar, click on Share and then click on Export Song to Disk...

Then Save As your work and save to one of the areas on your computer: Documents, Desktop etc.

There will be three file options (AAC, MP3 , AIFF)  on the bottom of the Export Song to Disk window. Export your file as an MP3. Click on the MP3 option and click Export. Once you have that done, open the file where you saved it to access your audio recording!