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David Kirk Digital Scholarship Commons

Recording with Garage Band

Below are step by step instructions for creating an audio podcast or recording in Garage Band. For more detailed help or instructions for using additional tools, visit the Apple Support page for Garage Band ➚.

Getting Started

Open Garage Band, Create new Library 

Click the guitar/amp icon on the Dock or click on Finder, under Favorites on the left hand side, click on All my Files. Then in the search bar on the top right hand corner type in Garage Band and click on that program icon that shows up. 

Once Garage Band is opened, a gray window will pop up with three categories, (1) Software Instrument, (2) Audio, or (3) Drummer. If you are recording a vocal narration click on the silver microphone icon underneath Audio. 

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

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

Click on the Library icon once you will see on the far left hand side, a Search Library and instrumental categories: Vocal, Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar and Bass. 

Click on the Library icon a second time it will take you to a full view of the audio recording track. 

You want to be on the Library icon page where you see on the far left hand side, a Search Library and under Search Library there are three instrumental categories: 

  1. Voice
  2. Acoustic Guitar 
  3. Electric Guitar and Bass

Click on the Voice category. Then you will see a list of options for what style of voice you will do. Click on Narration Vocal (the 7th option down from the list). 


Adding a Microphone
**If you are using your computer's built-in microphone then don't worry about this step. 

On the Tool Bar click on the Garage Band tab and then click on Preferences. In the Preferences Box, click on the Audio/Midi icon. If you are only working with a plug-in microphone, make sure that the Output Device is on System Setting. That way when you play your recording over again the sound will come out of your computer speakers. The Input Device needs to sync with your plug-in Microphone. The program should have sensed that you have plugged in a Microphone so click on your plug-in Microphone title that will show up.  

Now that your microphone is set up, close out of Preferences and return to start your recording! 

Start & Stop Recording

On the top of the Garage Band 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.

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


Editing your audio

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 Tool Bar, click on Edit and click on "Split region at play head". That will cut that part of the track into its 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 its 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 Tool Bar and click on Edit to Undo Split Regions. 


Other tools for editing

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

  1. Library (icon is a filing drawer) 
  2. Quick Help (icon is a question mark)
  3. Smart Controls (icon looks like a clock) 
  4. 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 & Exporting

Save As: Best Practice

On the Tool Bar, 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.


Sharing your work

On the Tool Bar, 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 on Export. Once you have that done, open the file where you saved it to access your audio recording! 

Playing your Recording

To press play, move the measure bar to the track that you want to play, click on the track to select it and then press the space bar or play > button in order for your track to play back what you just recorded. By pressing on the stop button, the measure bar will stop on the same track that you clicked on to play.