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Learn great keyboard shortcuts in GarageBand – iLife Tutorial

Follow this handy step-by-step guide to learn the best keyboard shortcuts in GarageBand so you can work faster in this great music production application.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - 10-minute beginner's tutorial
GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts Tutorial
Most applications for the Mac have a set of hidden keyboard shortcuts, and GarageBand is no exception.
If learnt thoroughly enough to become second nature, these can substantially accelerate your workflow, which in turn can reap dividends when you just need to get that latest great idea down really fast. The most obvious way to speed things up is to master the keyboard commands for navigating your way around the song. Things flow much better if you can just press a key or two to shoot the playhead up to the beginning of a selected region, rather than dragging it there manually with the mouse. Zooming in and out and changing the part of the song currently on screen are other base level functions that can be achieved with a quick tap. In this tutorial, we’ll show you some of the most useful shortcuts, and give you the lowdown on how to discover the rest.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts Tutorial - Step-by-Step

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 1

Step 1: (Return to) Zero
Pressing the Z key on its own returns the playhead to the top of the song (the Return key does the same thing). Alt+Z takes you to the end.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 2

Step 2: Zoom
GarageBand’s arrange window zooms horizontally, and this is achieved by dragging the slider beneath the track list. The shortcut is Alt+Cmd+Left/Right arrow.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 3

Step 3: Go to region start
Hitting the Function key + Ctrl + Left arrow will whizz the playhead to the start of the selected region. Tap the Right arrow to take you to the end of the region.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 4

Step 4: Shift window
Another display trick is flicking the arrange window along by the visible width of the timeline. Hold down the Function key and flick the Up/Down arrows.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 5

Step 5: A for Automation
Hitting the ‘A’ key at any point reveals the automation curve for the selected track, equivalent to clicking the small triangle button in the track header.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 6

Step 6: O for over and over again
Select a region and hit the ‘O’ key and GarageBand will loop the region to fill the space up until the next region or the song’s end, whichever comes first.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 7

Step 7: Split & Join
Regions can be cut at the playhead position using the ‘Split’ command – the shortcut is Cmd+T. To repair a split, use the ‘Join’ command – the shortcut is Cmd+J.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 8

Step 8: Record and cycle
Hit the ‘R’ key while the song is playing to drop into and out of recording on the currently selected track. The ‘C’ key toggles the cycle mode on or off.

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Step 9

Step 9: Track manoeuvres
Hit Cmd+D to duplicate the selected track (but not the regions it contains) and Cmd+Backspace to delete it. Speedily create a new track with Cmd+Option+N

(Click the image below to zoom in and view the annotations)

GarageBand - Keyboard Shortcuts - Annotated