Using Garage Band with VoiceOver

I've been trying to learn how to use Garage Band with VoiceOver, however, there was only so much I could learn myself by just looking around the application. I was wondering if there's any help available online for VO Garage Band users. Like tutorials or written guides?
Does anyone know of anything that could be helpful?


i'd like to second that

i would pay someone to teach me how to do multitrack recording with garage band logic x pro and main stage free, money is not an issue at all.

Re: Garage Band

As for Logic, music production side with it isn't too accessible. But as for garage band, I really would like some online resources to be available out there for VoiceOver users. Because you can only learn so much by just playing around with the software.


I agree with the above comments - with all the resources available on this site, I'm actually really surprised that some GB pro out there hasn't posted a series of podcasts, or even a "Getting Started" post with some written instructions. I think that if someone was to provide something like this, it'd be invaluable to the community.

Garage Band

Yes, when I searched on here I was very surprised that there was nothing there. I did expect that there will be at least something. I've been playing around with it, but there's only so much you can find by this method.

Re: Garage Band

I'm actually wondering the same thing. Last I checked, which was about a year or so ago, Garage Band was only marginally accessible as far as I could tell. I think Mac for the Blind had some stuff on it but that was out of date. It might've been updated though, I haven't had much time to check. But when I last was in Garage Band, I could not get any of the sounds to play other than VO and one short video about guitar playing..

Getting Help with Garage Band

There is a very helpful e-mail forum for blind musicians, audio production, and music enthusiasts. A number of the people on that list have experience with Garage Band using VoiceOver. The list is called the MidiMag list and one can subscribe by sending an e-mail to:

Just write a note introducing yourself and asking questions. Everyone is friendly and knowledgeable.

Hope that helps.


Just Subscribed

Thanks for this. I just subscribed to that list. It seems to be run by one of the ACB affiliates.

Using GarageBand 10 With VoiceOver - Some Actual Instructions

Folks, because I really struggled with learning to use GarageBand with VoiceOver myself, I want to share some basics with you. There is undoubtedly more than one way to do this but here is one way that works. If you discover faster ways then please share with this group. What follows is very detailed so I hope you can follow my explanations.

To edit a drum track and to create and record an audio track do the following:

1. Create a new project using the songwriter option. Don't worry right now about key or meter settings.
2 Press tab key until you hear Tracks Group and interact with it. by pressing Shift+VO keys+down arrow.
3. Press VO+right arrow until you hear Track Headers group and interact with it.
4. For the sake of simplicity, delete all tracks leaving just the SoCal drum track. (Select a track to be deleted and press Command+Delete.)
5. Stop interacting with Track Headers group (Shift+VO keys+up arrow). Press VO+right arrow until you hear Track Contents group and interact with it.
6. SoCal is already selected since it is the only track. Interact with it. Using VO keys+ left or right arrows you will cycle through two regions named Verse and Chorus. Each happens to be predefined to be 16 bars long. Again, use VO+left or right arrows to cycle between the two regions. When you hear verse, the verse region is selected. When you hear chorus, the chorus region is selected.
This concept of which region is currently selected is critical to performing edits.
7. Select the chorus region and cut it using Command+X. Check that the chorus region has really been cut by trying to cycle through the regions as described above. You should now only hear "verse". Remember that the chorus region has been cut and is now in the clipboard. We will come back to it later.

As I previously mentioned, the two initial regions were 16 bars long for a total of 32 bars. The verse region begins at bar 1 and extends through to the end of bar 16. Before cutting it, the chorus region started at the beginning of bar 17 and extended through to the end of bar 32. In 4/4 time which is the default for the Songwriter project, each bar is subdivided into 4 beats. Each beat is subdivided into 4 divisions, and each division is subdivided into 240 ticks. (These levels of subdivisions allow for very fine adjustments to the playhead position.)

Now, press the return key to send the playhead to the beginning of the timeline. You should hear "1 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick". If not, press the spacebar and let the drums play for a few seconds and press spacebar again to stop playback. Press the return key to send the playhead back to the beginning of the track.

Okay, as an example I will describe how to build up a drum track consisting of a 2 bar intro, two 16 bar verses, 1 16 bar chorus, 1 more 16 bar verse and 2 final 16 bar choruses.

The first thing to do is to place the chorus region farther along the track timeline in order to make room for 3 verse regions. The first of these three verse regions will eventually be cut down into a 2 bar verse region which will become the 2 bar intro. But in order to keep the math simple, we will shorten the first verse region as the final step in creating our drum track.

Note: Since the initial verse and chorus regions are each 16 bars in length, think in multiples of 16 with regard to the timeline. Sorry but it will take some basic math and some planning ahead to build up a drum track.

The 1st 16 bars start at 1 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick (1st verse)
The 2nd 16 bars start at bar 17, beat 1, division 1, tick (2nd verse)
The 3rd 16 bars start at bar 33, beat 1, division 1, tick 1 (3rd verse)
The 4th 16 bars start at bar 49, beat 1, division 1, tick 1 (1st chorus)
The 5th 16 bars will start at bar 65, beat 1, division 1, tick 1 (4th verse)
The 6th 16 bars start at bar 81, beat 1, division 1, tick 1 (2nd chorus)
The 7th 16 bars start at bar 97, beat 1, division 1, tick 1 (3rd chorus)

1. Remember that we were just interacting with SoCal in the Track Contents group and that we cut the chorus region and placed it on the clipboard. Now, use the VO+I command and enter "bar" to search the screen for occurances of "bar". . Arrow down until you hear "1 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick". The next four items in the search results list are "1 bar," "1 beat," "1 division," and "1 tick". You can interact with each of these in order to make increasingly smaller adjustments to the playhead position. For now, select "1 bar" and press the return key. Focus is now on that control so interact with it. By using VO+left or right arrow keys you can change the value of the bar control. Looking at our chart above, we see that we want to paste the first chorus region into the area of the timeline which starts at 49 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick. So, interact with the bar control and increment to the desired value.
2. Press the tab key until you hear Tracks Group and interact with it. Select Track Headers group and interact with it. SoCal, being the only track in the project, should already be selected.
3. Paste the chorus region into the SoCal track using Command+V.
4. If you want to check that the chorus region was really pasted into the SoCal track, stop interacting with Track Headers group and interact with Track Contents group. Interact with SoCal and use VO+left or right arrow keys to determine how many regions are present. You should hear verse region and chorus region. When you hear "chorus region" and then press VO+right arrow, you should hear an audible click that tells us that we went past the end and returned to the first (leftmost) region which in our case should be the verse region. The difference from when we first started this process is that instead of the chorus region being adjacent to the verse region, they are now separated by a 32 bar gap into which two verse regions will be later pasted. Unfortunately VoiceOver doesn't tell us about the empty area. We just have to trust that it is there.

Since the chorus region is still in the clipboard, lets paste it two more times into the SoCal track at the appropriate places as determined by the playhead position on the timeline.

5. Use VO+I and type "bar" as we did earlier and again arrow down to the bar control and press the return key. Interact with bar control and increment the bar value to 81 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick as specified in our chart above.
6. Press the tab key until you hear Tracks group and interact with it. Select Track Headers group and interact with it. SoCal is already selected. Paste the chorus region using Command+V.

Repeat the previous two steps only incrementing the bar value this second time to 97 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick.

Let's go back to check on our progress by interacting with SoCal in Track Contents, we should now hear verse, chorus, chorus, chorus. Unspoken is the fact that there is a 32 bar gap between the verse region and the first chorus region and a 16 bar gap between the first chorus region and the second chorus region.

Since we are already interacting with the SoCal drum regions, let's now fill in the missing verse regions. Select the existing verse region and then press Command+C to copy it into the clipboard. Repeat steps 5 an 6 above three times. For the first time, set the bar value to 17 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick. For the second time set the bar value to 33 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick. For the third time set the bar value to 65 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick.

Let's again check on our work by interacting with SoCal in the Track Contents group. We should now hear verse, verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus. Pressing VO+right arrow once more we should hear a click and be returned to the first verse region.

Pressing the return key at any point in the above process and then pressing the spacebar to start playback will let you hear the results at any step along the way. Of course, if there are gaps you will hear corresponding sections of silence.

The final step in creating our drum track is to cut the first 16 bar verse region down to a 2 bar region which will become the two bar intro.

I. Since we are currently interacting with SoCal in the Track Contents group, select the first verse region. If you are really on the first verse region, VO+left arrow will cause a click and a wrap around to the last chorus region. VO+right arrow will produce a click and a wrap around in the other direction to the first verse region.
II. Repeat step 5 above setting the bar value to 3 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick. (If you want a four bar intro you would set the bar value to 5 bar, 1 beat, 1 division, 1 tick.)
III. Repeat step 6 above but instead of a copy or paste command, press Command-T to split the first 16 bar verse region into a two bar region and a 14 bar region.
IV. Interact with SoCal in the Track Contents group. Using VO+right arrow you should now hear verse, verse, verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus. Pressing VO+right arrow once more you should hear the click noise and wrap around to the first verse region which is only 2 bars long. Press VO+right arrow once more to select the second verse region which is now 14 bars long. Stop interacting with SoCal. Stop interacting with Track Contents.
V. Interact with Track Headers group. SoCal is already selected.
VI. Press VO+M to access the GarageBand menu bar. VO+right arrow until you hear Edit. VO+down arrow until you hear "Delete and Move." Press the return key(enter key). This should delete the 14 bar region and cause all the remaining regions to the right to move left filling in the gap that would have otherwise been created if, for example, we had used the cut command which would have left a 14 bar gap.

You should now have a customized drum track consisting of a two bar intro, two sixteen bar verses, a sixteen bar chorus, another sixteen bar verse, folloed by two more sixteen bar choruses. You should be able to generalize the above instructions in order to build any drum track configurations that you need for your projects.

The final thing that I will briefly describe is how to create and record an audio track using a mic or a line in input.

1. PressOption+Command+N to create a new track.
2. You will be asked to select a track type. Press VO+right arrow until you hear the audio mic, line-in option. Then press VO+spacebar to select it.
3. VO+right arrow over to the details group (you may need to expand it first) and interact with it in order to set your input source (E.G., built-in mic input or external audio interface with multiple inputs to choose from.)
4. Stop interacting with Details and VO+right arrow to the creat track button and press VO+spacebar.
5. Interact with Track Headers group and select the new audio track.
6. Press "R" to begin recording.

Look folks, I know that this was a lot of detail but I hope that it helps some of you get going with GarageBand. Once you've mastered the above process, other GarageBand features start making more sense. I hope that some of you will share what you learn with the rest of us.


Excellent Instructions...Now if only

These are excellent instructions. Now if only you or someone else who really knows what they're doing and knows how to communicate it properly without tons of errors, could do something like this about iTunes that'd be awesome. I realize iTunes is off topic for this thread and is probably a whole different thing, but just saying.

I can't change effects

I'm getting back into music after over 20 years' hiatus, long enough to raise a kid. Well, I got a bass guitar and just started looking at Garage Band.
A friend from high school uses it, though he's not blind.
I was able to figure out how to load the tracks, set up my input source. I'm guessing though that I need to establish preamps, etc., because my bass is barely audible. I used to be a keyboards guy / synthesist back in the late 80s early 90s, so am well acquainted with at least the hardware version of what should be happening.
But what I am dealing with, I can load a patch by selecting it in the table, but cannot modify any of the settings. I select a modern stack, but can't see the specs for that amp. I did select to monitor the instrument so I can hear it.
How do I set the preamp, EQ, power amp, effects pedals, etc.?
Weird since when I do play out, I never use effects with bass, a bit of contrast compared to the big techno stuff I used to do.
I feel like I must be missing something obvious here, but can only see the browser list, and the Save button. Save seems pointless if I can't modify the patch at all.
If I was doing MIDI through, that wouldn't be as important as I could do it from the synthesizer, presuming we can even do that with synthesizers anymore. Anyhow, with something like a bass, my second instrument, I need to be able to modify the effects. I'm pretty sure that's why I can barely hear it, I need to set the gain / preamp, as I would on a real amp.
The other stuff on here was really helpful. I can see how once you learn this it could be really useful. I feel a bit dysphoric looking at it, knowing I should be able to change the amp and settings, knowing what I would change, but not having any idea how.
This is with Mac OS Sierra.
There is a tutorial with what is probably a really old Garage band, the guy is using a MIDI controller keyboard, and has access to a ton of popup buttons. I can't see a single one, no pedals, no effects. I know this must be possible as my friend continues to send me Facebook Messenger links from his Garage Band that sounds like what we used to do with thousands of dollars worth of gear. You shouldn't need a direct box to take an input at line level. And while I can see patches, I can't set a gain.

Editing Effects in GarageBand for the Mac


Patches are edited in Smart Controls. Once edits have been made, the edited patch can be saved under a new name as a custom patch in the Library editor.

When a track is selected in the tracks area which has a bass guitar patch applied to it such as Modern Stack, a virtual bass amp can be tweaked within Smart Controls. Output level, gain, bass, mids, treble, etc., can be adjusted to taste.

To access the virtual bass amp, open the Smart Controls Group by pressing the letter "B" which is the Smart Controls shortcut key. Once the Smart Controls window has opened up, interact with the Smart Controls Group. There are initially two sub items within the Smart Controls Group, namely, Smart Controls Toolbar and Smart Controls Layout Area. Interact with the Smart Controls Toolbar. You should find that it contains the following six items:

Show Inspector checkbox
Master button
Compare button
Controls radio button, 1 of 2
EQ radio button, 2 of 2
Amp checkbox

Check the Amp checkbox. The sighted user will see a graphic of a generic basss amp appear on the screen. The VoiceOver user will be taken to a bass amp dialog box. Unfortunately, VoiceOver doesn't speak the names of the various parameters that can be tweak. You will need the help of a sighted friend to write down the name of the various parameters. But for now, here is how to get to the parameter that increases the output level of the amp:

1. Press Control+Option+Home. This will jump the VoiceOver cursor to the text field that describes the selected track in the tracks area, in this case, Modern Stack.
2. Press Control+Option+Left Arrow one time and the VoiceOver cursor will move to the Close button.
3. Press Control+Option+Left Arrow once more and VoiceOver should say: 30.7% slider. This is the output volume slider.
4. Interact with the output volume slider
5. Press Control+Option+Right Arrow to turn up the output volume and press Control+Option+Left Arrow to turn down output volume.
6. Stop interacting with the output volume slider.
7. Press Control+Option+Right Arrow one time to bring the VoiceOver cursor to the Close button.
8. Press Control+Option+Spacebar to close the virtual bass amp dialog box.

FYI, for the past year, I have been writing a tutorial to teach VoiceOver users how to use GarageBand on the Mac. The section on Smart Controls is very long and very detailed. I expect the tutorial to be ready early in 2017. When it is, I will post information on how to obtain it on this site.

I realize that the instructions above may not be detailed enough for a beginner but it sounds as though you already have some ability to navigate around in GarageBand.

Hope this helps.

some ability

Perhaps I could create some audio tutorials

I have taught myself how to use garage band, and I regularly use it to create music for my podcast. You can check out some of that music with the link below. I created all of the music in this piece with GarageBand, With the exception of the opening songs that play while the podcast hosts do the intro.
I would be willing to make a series of audio lessons, illustrating how to use GarageBand. However, to do a good job I believe I might have to charge for the tutorials; I was thinking around 30 dollars would be reasonable, since similar tutorials for Amadeus Pro and Pro tools cost more then that.

I believe I could cover all major aspects of GarageBand, with the caveat that, as far as I can tell, a few things are not accessible. For example, I have never figured out how to use automation.

Let me know if your interested, and what you would like me to cover in a hypothetical series of lessons. If there is enough interest I could finish the project in a few weeks; I would send a link to the audio lesson files to each individual who is interested, upon which they would send the agreed upon money to me through Pay pal. We would work out all of the finer details through email.

Forgive me if my offer is not compelling, or if I'm breaking any Apple vis rules by posting this; I just saw that people were interested, and I would love to help, just need to pay the bills at the same time.

Garageband tutorials

Hi Guys, Any luck finding tutorials? I've been putting together a resourse website for blind engineers and this fits what I'm trying to find. I can add Garageband tutorials to my list of things to do. I am hoping to start making youtube vids on how to record as a blind engineer since for some reason no one else has. My site is Pro Audio Work Arounds for the Blind .wordpress for now any ideas email me at

SoundAbility, thanks for your instructions

Nicely done and thank you. I am now wondering though if I need a guitar interface cable, because when I direct in with my bass and start moving around Garage Band with the Voiceover cursor, it goes to busy an awful lot. Someone I know who's sighted says he thinks it's because Garage Band is trying to calculate the line input signal. The USB interface cable will allegedly make things easier. Is that right? I only have 8 gb of RAM which is more than plenty for basic things, but was wondering if that was making VoiceOver go busy in Garage Band. But if you remove the patch cable from the line input, busy stuff is all done away with and it's fast again.

Thank You So Much

Thank you so much Aaron. I've actually been able to figure out a few more things in GB on my own, but I'll certainly check out your site. The whole GB interface--or most of it anyway--just seems a bit odd even when compared with iTunes. The only reason I specifically mention iTunes is that there's a lot you can do with it, and I have found that interface to be quite nice.



Thank you for your kind words. I cannot reproduce your problem because my 13 inch MacBookPro doesn't support direct audio input except via the built-in microphone. I use an external audio interface--Steinberg UR22.

One possibility that occurs to me is that your sound card might be struggling to process both audio from your direct in and VoiceOver at the same time. If input monitoring is on, sound is likely being processed even if you are not playing at the moment. Try turning off input monitoring when not actively playing to see if that helps when navigating around in GarageBand. In fact, it is good practice to turn off input monitoring for all audio tracks when not actively recording to avoid unwanted noise.

Even with an external audio interface, GarageBand gets "busy" way more than I would like. In fact, all too often it never gets "unbusy" and GarageBand has to be forced to quit. Tip: if GarageBand locks up on you but you haven't saved your work, simply reach over to the power button and shut down your Mac. Check the option to reopen currently running apps and when your Mac boots back up, your project should be as it was before GarageBand got "busy". Of course, immediately save your work.

Resizing tracks and recording vocals

Hey everyone, I was using an old version of GarageBand before and had created a project there. Since then, I've upgraded to the latest version on the Mac and hadn't used it for awhile. I wanted to work on this file again and, after doing some troubleshooting to get my loops and everything back, I've run into a few problems I was hoping someone could help me with.

Honestly, it's simple enough -- I just want to shorten some of the tracks in the project. The method I used for resizing tracks in the old version doesn't work anymore, so if someone could tell me how to do it now, that would be a great help.

On top of that, I was hoping to record some vocals from my digital microphone. How do I add a vocal track to the project and experiment with different vocal effects?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Maybe I should add...

I'm not sure if it makes a difference but I forgot to specify that the tracks I'm looking to shorten are loop tracks. I want to cut down what I have by about half (so 12 bars instead of 24) and have other loop tracks end at different points in the project. Thanks again for any help you can provide!

Editing Loops in GarageBand

Loops are edited by interacting with the Tracks Contents Group. Use the VO+Up and Down Arrow keys to select the contents area for any track that you are interested in. Let's say that you have a loop track in your project called Tambourine. In the Tracks Contents Group, VoiceOver will identify that track as "Tambourine track background". Interact with "Tambourine track background. The VoiceOver cursor will be on the first region in that track's track background, i.e., that track's contents area. If the track contains more than one region, use the VO+Left and Right Arrows to navigate between them. If you hear the label "partially hidden" as part of the region name or if you think that there should be more regions than VoiceOver is disclosing, try pressing Command+Left Arrow about ten times to zoom horizontal zoom all the way out. All regions in the track background should now be revealed.

Loop regions can be shortened using two different methods.

1. Use the Comma and Period keys to move the playhead to the desired full measure boundary and then press Command+T to split the region at that point. Delete the unwanted part of the region using the Delete key.


2. Interact with the region and use the VO+Arrow keys to locate either the Left or Right Border Handles. The border handles don't usually work to increase the length of a loop (region) but they can be used to shorten a region. In other words, you can take the right handle (right edge of the region) and move it to the left in order to decrease the length of the region. The opposite is true for the left handle. To move a handle, bring the VoiceOver cursor to it and then press Command+Option+Control+Accent key (the accent key is located just underneath the Escape key). You can then use the right or left arrow keys to move the handle. The feedback that VoiceOver gives is in terms of overall length of the region, not the position of the handle on the timeline. When done, press the Escape key to terminate the move item function. The amount of movement caused by each press of an arrow key is determined by the horizontal zoom setting.

Note: Method two is fraught with nuance and inprecision too detailed to go into now. Method one is usually the better choice because it is much more straight forward for the VoiceOver user.

The starting position of a region can be moved in two ways also.

1. Cut and paste. Cut the desired region. It will be placed in the clipboard. The Comma and Period keys can be used to position the timeline on whole measure boundaries. If the desired position is somewhere in between full measure boundaries, use the playhead positioning controls in either the Control Bar Group or in the Tracks Time Ruler Time Line. Then paste the region to the new starting position.

Important Note: Editing regions will be frustrating until you learn the difference between selecting a project track and selecting a track's contents area (track background). They are not the same thing. In other words, they can be selected independently of one another. Therefore, we use the VO+Arrow keys in the Tracks contents Group to only select a trak background. this has no effect on the selected project track. The reason that this is important is that the paste command only pastes the contents of the clipboard to the selected project track and not to the selected track background unless they happen to be the same. To change the project track in the Tracks Contents Group, the up and down arrow keys must be used without the VO keys. However, this is largely unsatisfactory because VoiceOver doesn't speak the names of the project tracks as they change in this way. The only thing that VoiceOver will speak is amessage alerting you to the fact that you cannot move any further up than the first track in the project or further down than the last track in the project. The best thing to do, especially for a beginner, is to stop interacting with the Tracks Contents Group and interact with the Tracks Header Group. In the Tracks Header Group, the project track can be changed using either the VO+Arrow keys or the arrow keys alone. In either case, VoiceOver wil speak the name of the project track as it is changed. Once the desired project track is selected, go back and interact with the Tracks Contents Group. There, you can use the VO+Arrow keys to select between the various track backgrounds and initiate cut, copy, split and join commands. But when you do a paste, you need to understand that the contents of the clipboard will only paste to the selected project track. I realize that this may still be confusing but just know that being able to select track bakgrounds separately from the project track adds a lot of flexibility to the process of editing regions.


2. A region's starting position may also be moved by first selecting it and then pressing Command+Option+Control+Accent and then using the left or right arrow keys to move the item. Press the Escape key to terminate the move item function. This method can be useful but it can suffer from the same limitations as described earlier.

By the way, per your first post, Option+Command+N opens the new track dialog from where a new audio track may be created.

Hope this helps