Garageband mac to ios

Garageband mac to ios DEFAULT

I can’t tell you how much I love GarageBand on the iPad. But even though it’s a fantastic app, and totally self-contained, sometimes you need to use a Mac. That’s because the iOS version lacks several features of the desktop version. But that’s OK, because the Mac can open iOS GarageBand projects easily. And today we’re going to see how to do it.

Why move iOS GarageBand projects to Mac?

Take your iOS GarageBand projects to your Mac.

There are several reasons to move a GarageBand project to the Mac. There are more instruments and Drummers on the Mac, for instance. You can also use a master track on the Mac, whereas this requires a hack on iOS. The Mac version lets you automate effects, whereas the iOS only automates volume levels. And so on.

Or perhaps you use Logic on the Mac, and you use the iPad version to sketch out ideas before moving there. (Today’s how-to also applies to Logic Pro.)

In my case, I like to get my loops and guitar recordings out of GarageBand to use in other iPad music apps. That’s possible on iOS, but a major pain. It’s a lot easier to copy the project to the Mac, extract the recording there, and then send them back to the iPad. Let’s get started.

Step one: Export GarageBand projects from iPad

The very easiest way to get projects from GarageBand on iOS to GarageBand on the Mac is to store those projects in iCloud Drive. If you do that, all you need is to double-click the project in the Finder on the Mac, and it’ll open in GarageBand. When you first import the project, you will see a prompt to save it somewhere on your Mac — or in iCloud Drive if you prefer. And you’re done.

If you want to make some changes and then send the project back to iOS, you can do so — in a limited form. We have a how-to about that.

If you don’t use iCloud Drive, there are a few other ways to share. One is to open up the Files app, navigate to the On My iPad > GarageBand folder, and share from there, however you like. Or you can share from within GarageBand itself, like this:

Choose ‘Project’ to, and then follow along to share via AirDrop, or whatever you prefer.

Step two: Move to Mac

The easiest way to get a file from your iPad to your Mac is to use AirDrop. Alternatively, you could move the project file or a Dropbox folder, or however else you like to share files between machines. One note — a GarageBand project is really just a special folder with all the project’s contents inside. If you try to open it with some non-Apple apps, you’ll see inside the folder. That can be great in some cases, and tricky in others.

Step three: Open on Mac

To be honest, step three is so obvious it doesn’t need an explanation. You just double-click the GarageBand file to open it up. The only thing to note is that any iOS-only plugins you used in your project won’t be available on the Mac.

Tap to merge.

If you used iOS-only plugins on some tracks, you should merge those tracks in GarageBand for iOS before you export the project. Merging can combine several tracks into one. But if you do it on a single track, it simply renders it as a pure audio file that will play anywhere. To merge a track, just tap on one of the pictures of an instrument in the main track view, then pick Merge. In the view that opens, check the track you want to merge, and go ahead.

Repeat with all your single tracks. (Note: Do not pick more than one track at a time unless you actually want to merge them into a single track.) Annoyingly, GarageBand creates a duplicate project every time you do this, so you’ll have to go back and delete them all.

And you’re done. Now all I have to do is find out how to export my stems and samples on the Mac. I though it would be easy.


GarageBand’s most recent update for macOS adds a few neat new Mac-only features, but perhaps its biggest addition is for iPad users. Now the Mac version of GarageBand can sync a cut-down version of any song with the iPad or iPhone, allowing you to add new tracks, then sync them back with the master project back on your Mac. It’s a feature that only came to Logic in January of this year.

This is big, because it lets musicians use the full power of the Mac GarageBand in their studio or bedroom, and still add tracks to that project from a phone. You could, for instance, take a mix with you to band practice, lay down some new tracks on your iPhone, then sync them back.

How GarageBand syncs

GarageBand may be one of Apple’s most overlooked pro apps, possibly because it’s free (and because it gets overshadowed by its “real” pro big brother, Logic). And yet GarageBand offers enough tools and power to record a whole album, and keeps adding new features all the time.

Remotely add tracks to a Mac GarageBand project with iOS.

Mac GarageBand is still more powerful than iPad GarageBand, but with this update, that difference doesn’t matter anymore.

Previously you could import any of your iOS-created projects into the Mac, but it was a one-way street. You couldn’t send anything back the other way. Now, GarageBand on the Mac can create an iPad-compatible version of the project and send it to the iPad via iCloud. This special project will show up automatically in your iPad and iPhone’s GarageBand, so you can add tracks to it.

The special projects are very limited. Essentially, everything you have recorded so far is mixed down onto one track and shared. Track settings like key and tempo also get saved. This means that there’s no way to edit those existing tracks on the iPad, but as you’re already doing that on the Mac, you don’t need to.

When you reopen your project on the Mac, any new tracks get added to the existing master project. Also, if you apply any remix FX filters to the basic mix-down track you sent to the iPad or iPhone, those get added back as automations on the master track.

GarageBand for Mac update: That’s not all …

There are a few more neat additions in this GarageBand for Mac update. You’ll find three new Drummers in the Pop, Songwriter and Latin categories, along with a whole new kind of loop, called a Drummer Loop. This is like dropping a regular loop into your project, only you can customize it to fit your song.

Also, if you’ve got one of the latest MacBook Pros, you can now use the Touch Bar to control the app.

GarageBand just keeps getting better. It also seems ripe for an update under iOS 11 to let it take advantage of the great new drag-and-drop features in Apple’s new mobile OS. Right now, getting music in and out is one of GarageBand’s weakest links. iOS could fix that right up.

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There are many differences between Garageband macOS and the iOS version, and while one might assume that one is superior to the other – specifically macOS over iOS – the truth is that both versions have their strengths and weaknesses.

My personal preference is macOS, however, there are many who prefer to use Garageband iOS for a couple of reasons which we’ll explore in more detail down below. Personally, I enjoy the much larger interface and the ability to install more advanced plugins and VSTs, but I digress. On the whole, there are really only a few key differences.

The main difference between Garageband iOS and macOS is that the iOS version is used on iPads and iPhones whereas macOS Garageband is for laptops and desktop computers. The macOS version also has more nuanced controls and capabilities, compared to the simpler and more user-friendly iOS Garageband.

Although, as time passes, it seems like the iOS version is slowly creeping up on Garageband macOS. For example, I explain later in this article that Apple seems to be putting more resources into the iOS version which is probably a sign of what’s to come in the future. It’s definitely harder to argue now that macOS is better due to multiple updates and improvements to Garageband iOS. Either way, here’s a list of some of the features of both, and where they differ.

by the way, I have a list of all the best products for music production on my recommended products page, including deals, coupon codes, and bundles, that way you don’t miss out (including 50% off Melda Productions MCompleteBundle which is on sale NOW).

MacOSiOS Features Notes
✔︎XAdvanced Plugins Like Melodyne 5, Komplete 12, and OthersWhile Garageband iOS does have the ability to install third-party software in the form of AUv3, the ones that are available to macOS users are more premium, ie, Komplete 12, Melodyne 5, IA’s 808 Studio II, etc.
✔︎✔︎Alchemy SynthAt one point in time, Garageband iOS’ Alchemy Synth was actually quite a bit better than what the macOS version had, but that has changed.
✔︎ ~AutomationGarageband macOS has way more options for automation, including for processing, effects, etc. Garageband iOS is lacking when it comes to automating effects, although, there are some ways of getting around its limitations.
✔︎XAuto-Normalization FeatureThis is a feature that levels out the volume of a track automatically supposedly at its limit before it’s exported. Truthfully, it’s not that useful but either way, macOS has it and iOS doesn’t.
✔︎~Amp Designer Garageband iOS does have an Amp Designer, but the one with Mac comes with more options for amps, microphone positioning, cabs, and the incredible bank of presets.
✔︎XArrangement Markers You can indicate which part of the song is a chorus, verse, interlude, introduction, or outro.
✔︎~AU Dynamics ProcessorsGarageband Mac has things like the AUMultiband Compressor, AUDynamicsProcessor, AUPeakLimiter, and other more visual processors.

iOS has some of these, but not as many, also, you can get plugins like these from the iOS App Store, but macOS has default versions that are pretty good.
X✔︎Beat Sequencer and Live LoopsGarageband iOS has a special Live Loops and Beat Sequencer setting that allows you to create songs very simply. This is more of a toy, however, than a digital audio workstation.
~✔︎Drummer TrackBoth Garageband iOS and macOS have Drummer tracks, however, in recent updates, the iOS drummer has actually gotten more advanced including the option to choose from Acoustic Drums, the automated Drummer, the Beat Sequencer, as well as a Drummer Track that looks nearly identical to the one macOS has.
✔︎XEnable Flex (Quantization)Enable Flex allows you to quantize notes in real-time, ie, recorded guitar parts and other instruments.
✔︎✔︎iCloud FunctionalityYou can use the iCloud for both devices, which means you can load a project from anywhere.
✔︎XInstall DriversYou can’t install MIDI drivers and other drivers into Garageband iOS, which means not every device and MIDI keyboard will work with the iOS version.
✔︎XKeyboard Shortcuts Garageband macOS, by virtue of actually having a keyboard, has keyboard shortcuts whereas iOS doesn’t.
✔︎XLessons Library Garageband macOS comes with lessons for the guitar, piano, and more. There’s also a lesson on chords and other basic music production.
~✔︎Lightning to USB AdaptorGarageband iOS typically necessitates a lot more adaptors like the Thunderbolt to USB-Female, example.
✔︎✔︎Loops and SamplesBoth DAWs use Loops and Samples, but there are more capabilities and variations in Garageband Mac. However, the App Store is continuing to add more loops and Sound Packs for iOS.
✔︎XLogic Remote Garageband macOS can be controlled externally with the Logic Remote on iOS. You can’t control iOS Garageband with another iPhone or iPad through Logic Remote.
✔︎XMaster TrackYou can set up all kinds of controls, including automation and effects, on the master track in Garageband macOS. It’s also much easier to master songs using the macOS version.
✔︎✔︎Merge Tracks FeatureA cool feature in iOS where you can simply merge a bunch of tracks together quickly. There was a time where you couldn’t do this in macOS, but you can now.
✔︎XMultiple-App Functionality Whenever you exit out of Garageband iOS, it immediately stops running. This means you can’t run Guitar Pro on your device and Garageband like the way you can in Garageband MacOS
✔︎~Musical TypingGarageband Mac has the musical typing feature, but iOS doesn’t. However, iOS does have the ability to turn the screen into a drum kit, a guitar, violins, bass, or a piano.
✔︎✔︎More Export OptionsGarageband macOS and iOS can both export as WAV, .aif, mp3, and a few other mp3 formats.
✔︎XNumbered Faders Garageband iOS doesn’t come with ‘dB’ on the faders, which is odd, considering it seems like such an easy thing to put onto the software.

This is one of the reasons why Garageband Mac is better for things like mixing and mastering, although it doesn’t have a mixing console like the way Logic Pro X does.
✔︎~PresetsGarageband Mac has a lot more options for presets for not only the Amp Designer, but also for the plug-ins, effects, and instruments.
✔︎XMaximum Plug-In CapabilityiOS has a limited number of plug-ins per instrument track, usually 4 compared to 16 on macOS. Additionally, there are way more controls for the plug-ins in Garageband macOS, including for things like the Channel EQ.
✔︎~Piano Roll Both Garageband versions have Piano Rolls and they’re similar although macOS has faster ways of performing the same functions.
X✔︎Ring-Tone Creation iOS Garageband has the ability to simply and easily make ringtones right in the interface.
X✔︎Smart Drums User-friendly interface for making drums, including Acoustic Drums, Drummer, the Beat Sequencer, and a Drummer Track very similar to what can be found in macOS.
X✔︎Smart GuitarUser-friendly interface for making guitar sounds. On the iPad, the guitar is even more realistic.
X✔︎Smart StringsUser-friendly interface for strings. All of the smart instruments are better on iPad than they are on iOS.
X✔︎Smart Piano User-friendly interface for piano (same as above).
✔︎XScore Editor Garageband macOS has a score editor where you can turn MIDI notes into standard notation (sheet music for musicians).
X✔︎Sound Library PacksGarageband iOS has a lot more updated sound packs which seem to come out every three months.
✔︎XTime DisplayGarageband Mac clearly displays the time signature, what bar, the BPM, etc.
✔︎XTransposition Track You can automate key changes in Garageband macOS.
✔︎XUSB Compatibility Garageband macOS can use almost anything that uses a USB cable.
✔︎XUnlimited Tracks iOS has a maximum of 32 tracks, whereas you can use nearly as many as you want in macOS

“✔︎“ indicates the device has the feature
“X” indicates the device does not have the feature
“~” indicates the device has the feature but in an inferior format or with a special exception.

Features That MacOS Garageband Has and iOS Doesn’t

1) Master Track

Garageband iOS doesn’t come with a master track at all, so you can’t load plug-ins, effects, processors, or volume automation on a master track, which is definitely a disadvantage. When you have a master track, you can control the processing of the entire project as a whole, which is very useful in the mixing stages. I use the master track before I export my project for mastering all of the time.

Essentially, it’s a way to see what your track will sound like after having put the finishing touches on it, before actually doing it. The reason this matters is because it takes a good amount of time to export the track each time and test out more dynamics processors on it like the AUPeakLimiter, for example. With that said, you can still mix/master songs in iOS Garageband, it just won’t be as efficient.

2) Time Display

In Garageband Mac, there is a clear time display at the top-center of the interface. It can clearly tell you a number of things, including what key the song is in, the BPM, the number of bars, the beat, the time signature, and also whether your MIDI controller is working.

Additionally, Garageband Mac has the ability to switch between settings like “Beats and Time,” and “Beats and Project.” This is convenient if you want to know just how long your song is. In the era of super short songs, this is even more important.

3) USB Compatibility and the Ability to Install Drivers

Garageband Mac has the ability to install MIDI Drivers and other software in a way that Garageband iOS doesn’t. For instance, if you need to use a third-party MIDI controller, drum pad, or some other device, you may have to install a separate driver so it actually works.

iOS doesn’t come with this capability, so if you have a device that needs a software or a driver installed, iOS won’t be able to support it. I once tried to get a Korg control surface to work with Garageband, but then I found out that you can just use your iPhone with the Logic Remote.

I talked about it more in my guide on how to make metal songs. To get keyboards to work in Garageband iOS, you need one of these Thunderbolt to USB adaptors (from Amazon). You can see what it looks like in the image shown above.

4) Auto-Normalization Control

Garageband iOS doesn’t have the ability to export things auto-normalized. I already admitted in my article all about the auto-normalization feature that I almost never use it because I don’t see the purpose of it. It’s almost always better to determine your own volume levels when exporting projects for mixing, mastering, or if you want to send it to your friend. 

I think maybe the purpose of the auto-normalization function is for people who want to export a project quickly and effectively without any problems. I know I always have it turned off though because I use the AUPeakLimiter to get the volume up.

5) Presets

Garageband macOS has awesome presets for nearly everything, including for effects like reverb, delay, chorus, and dynamics processors like the Channel EQ, compressors, limiters, and multipressors, etc. These presets provide a great jumping-off point for understanding how to use effects and dynamics processors.

The fact Garageband iOS doesn’t have such an extensive library of presets is one of the biggest drawbacks. A lot of people like to talk badly about presets, but the fact of the matter is that many of them sound pretty good. Personally, I love them and think they’re great, and as I just stated, they’re a good way to get started.

6) Musical Typing

iOS doesn’t have Musical typing, but as far as I’m concerned, there are way more options available for more user-friendly interfaces in iOS, like the Smart Drums, Guitar, Strings, Piano, and Bass. One of the nice things about using the macOS interface is that you don’t invalidate other features by using an external MIDI keyboard like the KeyLab 49 from Arturia (one of the best keyboards that goes for a surprisingly good price on zZounds).

The same thing can’t be said about the iOS version of Garageband. I previously explained in my article on connecting the MIDI controller to iOS that when you connect a keyboard to Garageband iOS, you make it so that you can’t use things like the Smart Piano in the regular iPhone interface anymore. Although, it’s a not a terribly big deal, it’s just that you won’t be able to use the in-built automatic chord function .

7) Plugins Like Antares Auto-Tune Pro, Komplete 13, or IA’s 808 Studio II

The plugins are an advantage and a disadvantage simultaneously, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, iOS plugins are far less expensive than the gear you can get for macOS, but they also aren’t always as good.

You won’t be able to get Native Instruments’ Komplete 13 (one of the best deals on zZounds) on iOS Garageband in the same way that you would for iOS. And the same thing can be said for Antares Auto-Tune Pro (from Plugin Boutique) which is the best Auto-Tune you can use.

Like what I already said in my iOS 808 guide, iOS does have excellent sample packs but I prefer using Initial Audio’s 808 Studio II from Plugin Boutique because it has a really cool interface, it sounds great, and the sampler is intuitive.

8) Larger Plug-in Limit

Garageband Mac has the ability to use a lot more plug-ins on software instruments and audio tracks as well. For example, you can have up to 16 plug-ins on each track, I believe, which means there are far more options for customization. Admittedly, there is no need for that many plug-ins on one track, but regardless, Mac has this option if you need it. 

More On Shared Features Between MacOS Garageband and iOS

1) Automation

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages over Garageband iOS is that macOS Garageband has a lot more automation controls. In iOS Garageband, it is possible to use automation but only on the volume, and not on things like Channel EQ or effects. This can prove to be a nuisance, and it’s ultimately what makes Garageband Mac a far better mixing tool. 

Garageband Mac has the ability to automate compression, channel EQ, delay, reverb, and pretty much every other effect and plug-in that you can load in the plug-in menu of the smart controls, in fact, I have a whole guide showing how to do this. More importantly, I find it’s just way easier to set up automation in Garageband macOS.

2) Drummer Tracks 

This is more of a tricky one, because while there are some key differences between the Drummer Track in Garageband and the Drummer in iOS, which one you like ultimately depends on the user. For instance, iOS Garageband has a cool Acoustic Drum feature where you can actually see each part of the drum kit as if you’re sitting at the kit. 

Additionally, Garageband iOS comes with a Beat Sequencer which is a very useful feature, and the Smart Drummer works a bit differently as well, in the sense that it allows you to adjust the complexity and volume of each part of the kit in a different but more user-friendly way. 

With that in mind, there are also way more options for drum kits, drummers, presets, etc, in Garageband Mac. For instance, there are individual drummers that come with more presets, like the Hard Rock drummer, who comes with around 9 different playing styles, however, I recently discovered that iOS Garageband has a drummer that looks just like what macOS has to offer.

You can see what it looks like in the top-left hand corner of the image above. Sure, there may be more stock options for macOS and the Drummer Track might be a little bit easier to use, but it’s honestly hard to say that the macOS version is better considering the iPhone version has not one but 4 different interfaces you can use.

3) Amp Designer

macOS Garageband’s Amp Designer really has 3 advantages over the iOS Amp Designer, and those are the massive library of presets, the ability to adjust the microphone type and location, and the ability to switch between different heads and cabinet combinations. You can choose 2x12s, 4x12s, etc, it’s pretty cool.

This doesn’t make much of a difference for me, however, on account of the fact I prefer using BlueCat Audio’s Axiom because it’s much better than the Amp Designer. Getting the Axiom as part of the Axe Pack (from Plugin Boutique) was one of the best decisions ever, but I digress. I’d say the macOS Amp Designer is a clear winner over the iOS version, even though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the image alone.

4) Can Install Third-Party Plugins (But MacOS Can Get More)

You can install third party plugins via the App Store on iOS but, as I said earlier, the plugins you can get on macOS are just way better. You can get Melodyne 5 – Editor (from Plugin Boutique), Komplete 13 which I mentioned earlier, and a ton of other really great stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, the App Store has a lot of great plugins as well, and another advantage of them is they have all been vetted by Apple so you know they work, but that being said, the quality of instruments and samples you can get for macOS is just higher unless we’re talking about random free plugins that you find from the corners of the internet.

5) Loops and Samples

You can also get a lot more loops and samples for macOS using sites like Loopmasters and others, however, iOS Garageband is gaining speed fast. You can download all kinds of sample packs and loops for iOS with the App Store, and Apple seems to update these on a regular basis.

Additionally, you can use the same sounds, loops, and samples from macOS on iOS, so it’s not like you have to choose one or the other. But with the attention that Apple is putting into the sample/sound-pack library, it’s getting easier and easier all of the time to use the iOS version instead.

The growing loops library for iOS Garageband, (among a few other factors which we’ll touch on shortly), leads me to believe that iOS will eventually take over the macOS version of Garageband. As of now, I personally would much rather use the macOS version but the time will come when the version you can use on your iPhone or iPad will just be a lot better, at least in terms of features and the time and resources put into it.

Garageband iOS Features That MacOS Doesn’t Have

1) Smart Guitar, Smart Strings, Smart Piano, and Smart Bass

Garageband iOS is a lot more fun because it has features such as the Smart Guitar, which essentially turns the entire screen into the strings of a guitar and you can strum chords automatically in a way that’s nearly impossible to sound bad because all of the parameters are part of the key signature. In my opinion, this stuff is more of a toy than anything though.

Similar to the Smart Guitar, Smart Strings is a cool feature where you can play certain notes on stringed instruments, like on the Ehru, for instance, and have it sound pretty good regardless of what note you’ve played. Although, this is also what makes Garageband iOS more of a toy because you’re losing the ability to create music with actual mistakes and errors, which is part of what makes music, music.

Note: macOs does have a Smart Drummer but not in the format shown above on the bottom left-hand side.

2) Much Smaller interface

There’s no question that Garageband iOS has a much smaller interface, and you have to slide between each screen if you want to access additional controls. For instance, you can’t use the Beat Sequencer while seeing what’s happening in your workspace at the same time. You have to switch between the two. 

While Garageband iOS does have more user-friendly interfaces that are designed to be fun and cool, Mac Garageband is set up more in a way that’s in line with traditional DAWs. For example, you can load up your Channel EQ plug-in and see the analyzer all while continuing to have your workspace in a clear view. 

This is a pro or con depending on the user, which is why I put it in this section. For some people, the tiny interface is precisely the feature they need because maybe they use it on the train, on the bus, or in the back of the class while their teacher is standing at the board. But for me, I’ll probably always prefer a large screen.

3) Plug-ins Are Usually Cheaper  

Garageband macOS has the ability to download a lot more plug-ins, including more sophisticated software like Celemony’s Melodyne which I’ve explored in my guide, however, the Garageband iOS plug-ins tend to be far less expensive. For instance, you can download an awesome amp simulator for $20 or so, and there are other plug-ins that cost between $3 and $10. 

Garageband macOS plug-ins and software bundles can range anywhere from $20 to upwards of thousands of dollars. The plug-ins, themselves, are a lot better, more versatile, have more capabilities and features, presets, settings, etc, but there’s no question they’re usually far more expensive than Auv3 plug-ins (the ones made for Garageband iOS). 

4) Sound Library Packs – iOS

iOS seems to be coming out with a lot more sound packs and libraries for Garageband iOS users. It almost seems like Apple is trying to tell us something, that being, that they’re starting to take iOS Garageband and mobile DAWs a lot more seriously. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, mobile DAWs became way more commonly used than any desktop program. However, desktop DAWs will always remain supreme, because desktop computers typically have more space and power, although, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the future. 

Other Differences Between MacOS and iOS Garageband

1) You Can Use More Than One App at a Time While Using macOS

One of the things that I like about using macOS Garageband is that I can have it open while using other software. Sometimes I use Blue Cat Audio’s Axiom while looking at YouTube videos, with ultimate-guitar open, or with Guitar Pro 7 running.

I just recently purchased Guitar Pro 7.5 from Plugin Fox for both iOS and macOS but the downside is that you can’t have it open while using iOS Garageband. That’s a significant disadvantage for me, and one of the main reasons why I prefer using the macOS version instead.

If I want to get around that problem, I use the iOS version of Guitar Pro on my iPhone while I play through my Hughes and Kettner Amplifier (from Sam Ash), Mesa Boogie 2×12, which is mic’d up with a Shure SM57 (from Amazon) and sitting in a bass drum K&M mic stand (also from Amazon), all of these which can be found at the relevant links. Also, check out what that looks like here:

Cons of iOS Garageband and Cons of MacOS Garageband

Other Cons of macOS Garageband

I feel like this article did a fairly good job of explaining where macOS is better than iOS, but it failed to talk about some of the downsides of using the desktop/laptop version. There are definitely some flaws that are unique to the desktop version.

1) macOS Opens the Last Project Every Time You Open the Application

The way macOS Garageband opens your last project every time you turn on the application is one of the more annoying things about it. I’m not sure why they made that feature, but I don’t find it that convenient. They should give us the option to choose what we want to do when we first open it, rather than open up what we were working on last.

2) The AUSampler for 808s isn’t Great

As I explained in my article on sampling in Garageband, not everyone likes the default sampler. For me, I don’t mind that much because I use Initial Audio’s 808 Studio II from Plugin Boutique anyway (and you should too because it’s cheap and it’s good), so I never cared much about what the AUSampler does and doesn’t do.

3) Samples Seem to Disappear Sometimes

If you aren’t careful, you can unintentionally delete your samples for macOS, which is one reason I created a folder on my local drive specifically for Garageband. It’s just called “Samples” and it’s in a spot where I can find it in the case that I lose my samples.

Maybe this is just a setting that I have turned on or something, but I feel like losing your samples randomly shouldn’t be an issue. By “lose samples,” I mean if you have them saved in the drop-down menu of the AUSampler so you can use them later, they simply won’t show up. I haven’t ran into this issue though since I started saving them in a dedicated file folder on my local drive.

4) You Can’t Export to iOS But You Can Export From iOS to macOS

macOS does come with the ability to export your fully project as a fully rendered audio file into the iOS interface, however, you won’t be able to mess around with the tracks individually anymore, which is unfortunate. You can see what this looks like in the image above.

Before I exported that from macOS, it was about 15-20 tracks, not just one big audio file. However, you can do it vice versa, which means a project made in iOS can be exported as a project into macOS, with all of the individual tracks still in tact.

How Do I Convert Garageband Tracks from macOS to iOS?

To convert your Garageband macOS files to iOS, just go into the tool-bar and click on “Share,” and then select, “Project to Garageband for iOS.” This will save the file in your iCloud drive which can then be accessed by your iPad or iPhone.

You’ll remember earlier when I said that the plugins that work on macOS won’t work on iOS, so how will this feature work then? Essentially, it’ll just render your entire project from a series of tracks to one giant audio recording. This makes it no good, in my humble opinion.

What iOS do you need for GarageBand?

Garageband is compatible with all iPhones that are 3GS or newer, all iPads including iPad Mini, and the third generation of iPod Touch or higher. Some Auv3 plugins won’t work with older version of iOS and not all instruments will either.

For the most part, you should be able to find a version of Garageband for nearly all iOS operating systems. Just go into the App Store and try to download Garageband, and if it doesn’t work, you should get a prompt to download the last version that was compatible like the way this user here pointed out.

Is GarageBand on Every Mac?

Garageband doesn’t come pre-installed on iOS and macOS devices as some users have stated. You have to go into the App Store and download it from there. It’s not that hard to download as I showed in my guide as well as in the short video here:

What Version of GarageBand Do I Have On My Mac?

To figure out what version of Garageband you have on your Mac, open Garageband, and then click on the option that says, “About Garageband.” It should take you to a small prompt which then says what version you’re using.

How Do I Sync My iPhone and macOS GarageBand?

You can sync your iPhone to your macOS version of Garageband through a couple different ways. One way is to sync it with the iCloud which is done through your Apple ID. The other way is to use a cable and connect it to your Music/iTunes App.

To connect your iPhone (iOS) and macOS version of Garageband through your iCloud, open your System Preferences, then select, “Apple ID,” then “Options” next to “iCloud Drive,” and then make sure Garageband’s box has been ticked off.

Can you send GarageBand files from Mac to iPhone?

As I already stated earlier, you can send Garageband files from your macOS device to iPhone, but it won’t be in the project file format. Instead, the file will be shared as a rendered audio file. If you try sending from iPhone instead, however, the file will still be in the Project format.

Does GarageBand work on Macbook Air?

A MacBook Air is capable of using Garageband, however, due to the limited storage space, processor speed, and RAM, it’s not the best device. A much better device for using Garageband is a 16″ MacBook Pro with upgraded specs like this one from Amazon. I’ve talked about it before in my guide on the best MacBook for Garageband.

Apple MacBook Pro 16-in 2.3GHz 8-core i9 32GB 1TB 5500M 4GB Space Gray (CTO)

iPhone Versus iPad Garageband (iOS)

1) The Advantage of the Larger Touch Screen

The biggest advantage of using the iPad version of Garageband over the iOS version is that the screen and interface are much larger, the processor speed, storage speed, and RAM specifications can be a lot better, and the device is generally a lot better at handling the software’s needs as a result. This is the reason why I recommended getting the iPad for Garageband rather than a MacBook or iPhone in my guide.

Also, you can use the iPad touch screen for playing the drums and other Smart instruments in a way that you just can’t with the iOS. The Acoustic drums are one great example of this as is the Smart Guitar which can actually be played kind of like a guitar. Simply put, all of the Smart features are cooler on iPad.

Important Things to Note About Garageband iOS and macOS

1) It Looks Like iOS Garageband Will Phase Out macOS Garageband

Apple has been continuously refining, updating, and improving various aspects of the iOS version of Garageband for quite a long time now, compared to macOS Garageband which rarely gets updates anymore. The writing is on the wall. Garageband iOS appears to be the future.

Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball, but when comparing the number of iOS updates to macOS updates, it’s clear Apple cares a lot more about the iOS Garageband. Additionally, it seems like new plugins are added to the App Store daily, and there are quarterly additions to the Sound Library (every three months or so, it seems).

Gear Mentioned

1) Thunderbolt to USB adaptors (from Amazon)

2) Native Instruments’ Komplete 13 from zZounds

3)Antares Auto-Tune Pro (from Plugin Boutique)

4) Initial Audio’s 808 Studio II from Plugin Boutique

5) BlueCat Audio’s Axe Pack from Plugin Boutique

6) Melodyne 5 – Editor (from Plugin Boutique)

7) Guitar Pro 7.5 from Plugin Fox

8) Hughes and Kettner Amplifier (from Sam Ash)

9) Shure SM57 (from Amazon)

10) Bass drum K&M mic stand (also from Amazon)

11) 16″ MacBook Pro, 1TB, 16GB, i9 from Amazon

Categories Common QuestionsSours:

Share a song in GarageBand on Mac

Whether you’ve completed music mastery or are seeking some help with your song, you can share a tune that you create in GarageBand easily and in a variety of ways.

Want to share it to your iTunes library and listen to it daily? Want to send it to your friend for their input? Want to export it to a disk for a physical copy? We’re here to help; here’s how to share a song in GarageBand on both Mac and iOS.

Share a song in GarageBand on Mac

You have a few different avenues for sharing your GarageBand song if you use the app on your Mac. So, open GarageBand to your tune and do one of the following.

Share to iTunes

1) Click Share > Song to iTunes from the menu bar.

2)Complete the details for your song including title, artist, composer, album, iTunes playlist, and quality.

3) Click Share.

GarageBand Share to iTunes Mac

After a few seconds, you’ll see iTunes pop open right to your song.

Share to the Media Browser

Click Share > Song to Media Browser from the menu bar. You’ll see the process as the song is sent to your Media Browser for use in other GarageBand creations on your Mac.

Share to SoundCloud

1) Click Share > Song to SoundCloud from the menu bar.

2) Log into your SoundCloud account if prompted.

3) Select Bounce at the top to share the current song. Complete the remaining details for your song including title, artist, composer, album, quality, visibility, and permissions.

4) Click Share.

GarageBand Share to SoundCloud Mac

Send via email or AirDrop

1) Click Share > AirDrop… or Share > Mail… from the menu bar.

2) For either option, you’ll receive the same pop-up window. Select Song at the top and then optionally adjust the title and quality. Click Share.

GarageBand Share to AirDrop Mac

3) For AirDrop, you’ll see the AirDrop window open for you to choose a recipient. For Mail, a new email window will open with your song in the body.

4) Finish the process for AirDrop or Mail and your song is shared.

Export to a disk

1) Click Share > Export to Disk from the menu bar.

2) Adjust the name, tags, and location for your song.

3) Select the file type from AAC, MP3, AIFF, or WAVE and optionally choose a file quality.

4) Click Export.

GarageBand Export to Disk Mac

Share a song in GarageBand on iPhone or iPad

Open GarageBand on your iPhone or iPad and then follow these steps to share your song.

1) On the main GarageBand screen (Your Songs) tap and hold the song you want and select Share.

2) Choose Song.

3) Select the audio quality, adjust details if necessary, for artist, composer, and album, and optionally choose a cover image. Tap Share.

GarageBand Share Song iPad

4) Pick from your sharing options like Messages, AirDrop, Mail, SoundCloud, or iTunes, and then follow the prompts to complete the sharing.

GarageBand Share Options iPad

Wrapping it up

If you want to share your GarageBand song, it’s easy to do on any of your devices and you have a variety of sharing options.

Are you going to share your musical creation with a friend or family member? Or maybe you want it in your iTunes or SoundCloud library for yourself? Let us know!

GarageBandHow toMusicShareSharingTutorial


Ios to garageband mac

Garageband IOS: How To Move Your Projects To Mac OS X

Like most musicians, inspiration usually strikes me at the most awkward moments.


I’ve lost count of the number of dead cert hit singles (honest…) and killer vocal lines i’ve cooked up while lying in bed, at work or when visiting the family…. and forgotten before I could get them even roughly recorded.


I’m sure you’ve been there too, right?


Luckily all that changed when the Garageband app for IOS came along…

I love the flexibility of Garageband on the iPhone/iPad. Having a mini recording studio in my pocket means that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing – when that flash of inspiration strikes, i’m able to capture and record those fickle melodies, fleeting tunes and sneaky beats whenever they pop into my head.


There often comes a point however, when I go as far as i can with the Garageband App and want to take my project a bit further – give it the full on Garageband ’11 treatment, you know?


Luckily, it’s easy enough to transfer your Garageband projects from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac.





 Step 1


How To Use Garageband IOS #3


In your Garageband IOS project window, hit the arrow in the top right corner and select ‘My Songs’ from the drop down menu.

Hold down on the song you want to transfer to your Mac for a second – you’ll know you’ve done it right when your song icons start to shake – don’t worry, they’re not scared. They’re just really excited about what’s to come……



Step 2


How To Use Garageband IOS #1


Hit the share icon in the top left hand corner of the screen to bring up this menu. From here, select ‘Share song via iTunes’.



Step 3


How To use Garageband IOS


You’ll then be greeted by this screen. Choose to send your song to iTunes as a Garageband file.



Step 4


How To Use Garageband OS X


Now, connect your iPhone/iPad to the Mac you intend to transfer it to, then open iTunes and select your device from the sidebar. From here, click ‘Apps’ from the device’s menu bar.



Step 5


Garageband Tutorial


Scroll down to your selection of file sharing apps and select Garageband from the list.   The project you sent to iTunes will be visible in the list to the right – select it, choose ‘Save To…’ and plonk it wherever you see fit.



Step 6


Garageband IOS Tutorial


From here, it’s simply a case of opening your transferred project the same way you would any normal Garageband project, though if you haven’t already, you’ll have to download an IOS compatability update before you’re able to dive in.




There you have it – transfer your Garageband IOS Projects over to Garageband ’11 in 6 easy steps.


This article was inspired by the lovely Rosa Naccarato’s query on The Garageband Guide Facebook Page, where she was wondering how to transfer a Garageband project from her iPad to her son’s Mac.


Got a Garageband question that needs answering? Come and post in on Facebook – I answer every single one as best I can!

Connecting iPad as a MIDI controller for Logic Pro (or GarageBand) on Mac OS using a charger cable

Use iCloud to share a project to an iOS device from GarageBand on Mac

You can share a special GarageBand for iOS-compatible version of your GarageBand project to iCloud. The project appears in the My Songs browser of on your iOS device, as a new song with a single track containing a mix of the entire GarageBand project. You can add, edit, and arrange new tracks in GarageBand for iOS, then share the updated song back to iCloud. When you reopen the project in GarageBand, the new tracks are added to the original project. If the reopened song contains a Remix FX track, the Remix FX appears as automation on the Master track.

In the GarageBand for iOS app, you can also share the project as a ringtone to your iOS device. For more information, refer to GarageBand Help on your iOS device.

Note: Sharing a project to GarageBand for iOS requires an active Internet connection and iCloud login.

Share a project to GarageBand for iOS

  1. In GarageBand for Mac, choose Share > Project to GarageBand for iOS.

  2. In the Export to GarageBand for iOS dialog Save As field, GarageBand defaults to naming your shared GarageBand project with the same name as your GarageBand project. If you wish to change the name, type the new name here.

    Export to GarageBand for iOS.

    WARNING: If you change the folder from GarageBand for iOS—iCloud, your shared project won’t appear in the GarageBand for iOS My Songs browser.

  3. Click Save.

    To return to GarageBand without sharing the song, click Cancel.


Now discussing:

Question:Q:How to transfer a garageband file from Mac to iPad?

Looks like no one’s replied in a while. To start the conversation again, simply ask a new question.


Recorded some tracks on Garageband on the Mac; and want to transfer the file to my iOS device.

Tried emailing a .band file and an .mp3 ; but neither would open up in Garageband on the iPad.

Even put the file onto iTunes on the mac and synced to itunes on the iPad; but still can't figure out how to even open an mp3 file ; nevermind a band file on iOS Garageband

Any help appreciated


iPad 2, iOS 4.3.2

Posted on Mar 20, 2013 8:35 PM

Recorded some tracks on Garageband on the Mac; and want to transfer the file to my iOS device.

You can only sync GarageBand projects from your mac to the iPad that originally have been created on your iPad. Creating a project on the iPad, then sending it to a mac, opening it on the Mac, doing some edits (but nothing that is not supported on the iPad), then upload it again to the iPad will work. But sendind a Mac-created GarageBand project to the iPad is not possible. The applications are just too different.

You can open your mp3 in GarageBand on the iPad, however. Sync it to the iPad using iTunes, so you see it in the on your iPad. All songs there can be accessed from the Loop Browser on the iPad, see: Import a song from the Music app

To sync projects between iPad and Mac use iTunes.

To send a song from the iPad to your mac as a project, share the song to iTunes > GarageBand.

Sync your iPad with your computer.

In iTunes, the exported song appears in the Documents list in the File Sharing area when GarageBand is selected.

To send the project back to the iPad, add it to garageBand's Documents list in iTunes.



Posted on Mar 21, 2013 11:07 AM

View answer in context

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Mar 21, 2013 11:07 AM in response to raspberryaddiction In response to raspberryaddiction

Recorded some tracks on Garageband on the Mac; and want to transfer the file to my iOS device.

You can only sync GarageBand projects from your mac to the iPad that originally have been created on your iPad. Creating a project on the iPad, then sending it to a mac, opening it on the Mac, doing some edits (but nothing that is not supported on the iPad), then upload it again to the iPad will work. But sendind a Mac-created GarageBand project to the iPad is not possible. The applications are just too different.

You can open your mp3 in GarageBand on the iPad, however. Sync it to the iPad using iTunes, so you see it in the on your iPad. All songs there can be accessed from the Loop Browser on the iPad, see: Import a song from the Music app

To sync projects between iPad and Mac use iTunes.

To send a song from the iPad to your mac as a project, share the song to iTunes > GarageBand.

Sync your iPad with your computer.

In iTunes, the exported song appears in the Documents list in the File Sharing area when GarageBand is selected.

To send the project back to the iPad, add it to garageBand's Documents list in iTunes.



Mar 21, 2013 11:07 AM

Mar 21, 2013 11:30 AM in response to léonie In response to léonie

Thanks; I had put the song in itunes then synced; just didn't see the little loop browser button....;-)

Mar 21, 2013 11:30 AM

Jun 19, 2013 5:55 AM in response to raspberryaddiction In response to raspberryaddiction

You can convert Mac garageband songs to load on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch models that run Garageband, so Mac x to ios and ios to Mac X is indeed possible.

I did a video which I uploaded to youtube using my fixed1t name which shows how I constructed a song on the Mac Garageband and iPad Garageband by sending the song backwards and forwards adding a track and converting the song as required. There is also a video showing a converter Mac Garageband song running a a 4th Generation iPod.

I spent some time doing this manually then I wrote a converter which I sell for a modest £15 - £22 UK pounds, the video talks about using my converter because thats what I used to do the conversion.

In line with list policy I openly state: "I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link."

But you don't have to buy I am happy to provide a trial, then if you want to do it manually for fre

Jun 19, 2013 5:55 AM

Mar 5, 2017 11:22 PM in response to raspberryaddiction In response to raspberryaddiction

I, too, want to work on a GB project, switching between my Mac (Sierra) and my iPad (10.1.1). I am able to get the files from the iPad to the Mac, and I can then work on them on the Mac. But, even when I simply rename the project or if i delete one track, and then put the file into iTunes sharing for GB, when I attempt to access them on the iPad, I get the message "Cannot Open Song-This song was created with GarageBand on Mac and cannot be opened. Please select a song created with GarageBand for iOS."

Any ideas?

Mar 5, 2017 11:22 PM

Mar 5, 2017 11:50 PM in response to donfromberkeley In response to donfromberkeley

It is not possible. You can open iPad songs in GarageBand on the Mac, but not a song modified on the Mac on the iPad. It is one-way. You can only bounce the Mac song as an audio file to iTunes and sync the song as an audio file to your iPad. Use that to add additional tracks in a new project.

Mar 5, 2017 11:50 PM

Jun 21, 2017 1:33 PM in response to fixed1t In response to fixed1t

Hello, does your software work in current 2017 versions?


Jun 21, 2017 1:33 PM

Jun 22, 2017 12:36 AM in response to fanaticguitars In response to fanaticguitars

The newest GarageBand for Mac, version 10.2.0 has a new Share command: Share > Project to GarageBand for iOS.

User uploaded file

If you save this project on iCloud Drive, you can open it in GarageBand on the iPad. But all tracks will be mixed as one single audio track. You could as well share the mixed song to iTunes.

Jun 22, 2017 12:36 AM

Nov 16, 2017 7:37 AM in response to léonie In response to léonie

I have transfered a Garage Band song done on the Mac to my iPad by sharing each track individually via Airdrop to iCloud then importing them each into the iPad version in a new song. Go to Loops, audio file and drag each one into the GB timeline. Works perfectly and I don't know why Apple does not explain this.

Nov 16, 2017 7:37 AM

User profile for user: raspberryaddiction raspberryaddiction

Question:Q:How to transfer a garageband file from Mac to iPad?


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