To make your life easier, Garageband has come up with many keyboard shortcuts that keep you from having to use your mouse to open menus for every single thing. In fact, memorizing shortcuts will save you tons of time and energy when you record, track, edit, mix and master your Garageband projects.
Another great way to save time and energy is to use the Logic Remote, which I should’ve started using ages ago. You can download that in the App Store on your iOS device. Let’s dive into a comprehensive list of practically every keyboard shortcut, however, we’ll first look at some of the most common keyboard shortcuts for Garageband:
Command + X = Cut
Command + C = Copy
Command + V = Paste
Command A – Select All
Option + Command + N = Create a new track
Option + Command = A Create a new audio track
Option + Command + S = Create a new software instrument track
There are all kinds of shortcuts and keyboard key combinations for Garageband – what you just saw here is only a few. For whatever reason, Apple hasn’t released a full list (or even a manual for that matter). Some shortcuts are shown in Garageband’s toolbar where you can manually implement certain actions, but many of them aren’t there, in fact, most of them are not. Luckily for you, the list below has nearly every keyboard shortcut for Garageband and I also have a table of contents to quickly get you where you need to be.
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Every GarageBand Keyboard Shortcut Imaginable
Command + Shift + ? (Question Mark) = GarageBand Help
- Using the (Command + Shift + ?) shortcut will bring up the help menu so you can learn about functions, windows, and other controls in GarageBand without ever having to leave the application.
If your question isn’t supported in Quick Help, try the User’s Guide here on Apple’s website.
Note: A second shortcut for GarageBand Help is Shift + Backslash (/)
Command + H = Hide GarageBand
- With Garageband open, using Command + H will hide your entire session so you can work in other programs on your computer.
- You can also use Command + M to do the same thing.
This will not close GarageBand.
Command + Q = Quit GarageBand
- Using the (Command + Q) function will allow you to quit GarageBand entirely, before asking you to save your project first.
Command + , (Comma) = Open Preferences Window
- Use (Command + ,) in Garageband to open the preference window to access changes for Audio/MIDI, Loops, and more.
Cycle Mode can be great for practicing, repeat a part for listening or recording multiple takes. Make sure it’s set to “Merge” in the preferences as you can see in the image above.
Option + T = Configure the Track Header
- With your Garageband project open, use the (Option + T) function to bring up the Track Header to show what capabilities have been enabled on the track region. This is also where you can enable the Groove Track, Recording, Track Lock, or Mute and Solo.
Option + Command + H = Hide Other Applications
- Use (Option + Command + H) or (Option + Command + M) in Garageband to minimize all other application windows outside of your project.
Command + N = Create a New Project
- With Garageband open, use the (Command + N) function to start a new session or project. This will give you the option to save your current project before continuing as well.
Command + O = Open an existing project
- Use the (Command + O) shortcut to open the list of existing projects in GarageBand. Locate and select the project you want to open and then click on it.
Command + S = Save the Current Project
- Use the (Command + S) shortcut to save your current Garageband project without giving it a new name or location. This is the shortcut to use if you’re simply trying to save the changes you have recently made.
Make sure you save room on your computer by saving projects to an external hard drive like this one from Amazon.
Shift + Command + S = Save Current Project As
- Use (Command + Shift + S) to save your Garageband project with a different name or in a different location. This is also the shortcut that you’ll use if you want to save the project as an entirely separate file.
B = Show/Hide the Smart Controls Window
- With Garageband open, hit ‘B’ on your keyboard to bring up or hide the Smart Controls. This allows you to adjust the smart controls when editing and hide it automatically once you are done.
Smart controls usually include reverb, EQ, tone controls, plugins, the master track, and more. It inhabits the space that’s also taken up by the Drummer Track, Piano Roll, Score Editor, or Audio Editor.
N = Show/Hide the Score Editor
- With Garageband open, press ‘N’ on your keyboard to bring up the Score Editor which shows MIDI regions as standard musical notation. You can add notes and edit any notation using the Score Editor.
This is very useful for transposition purposes.
Command + W = Close the Current Window Project
- Using the (Command + W) shortcut in Garageband allows you to quickly close the current project you’re working on.
O = Show/Hide the Loop Browser
- Press ‘O’ on your keyboard to bring up the Apple Loops browser which will display all available loops. They’re organized by a number of parameters, including key signature, tempo, instrument, genre, and descriptor.
- Command + L also works for opening the Apple Loops browser.
Filter loops by categories and subcategories inside the loop library. You can also make your own (my guide).
Y = Show/Hide the Library
- Hit (Y) on your keyboard with Garageband open to bring up the library which will give access to all of the instruments, settings, and patches for your project.
You can also use this shortcut to quickly minimize the library that way you have more space for your project and less distractions.
Option + Command + O = Open Movie Window
- Use the (Option + Command + O) shortcut in Garageband to open the window where Movie files are stored, that way you can create a soundtrack in real-time.
You can only use one movie per project, and you cannot edit the movie, only the sound.
Option + Command + G = Show/ Hide the Alignment Guide
- In Garageband, the (Option + Command + G) shortcut turns on the function by which guides appear when the edges of a region you’re moving align with another region.
Snap to Grid and Alignment Guides work together. Turning off one or the other will impact both of them.
P = Show/Hide the Piano Roll Editor
- In Garageband, hitting (P) on your keyboard will open the Piano Roll Editor which shows MIDI regions as small green rectangles on a grid. You can add and edit notes by extending the duration of the note or by increasing the velocity. Piano Roll is capable of much more as I’ve explained in my Piano Roll tutorial.
You can quantize note timing by region (my guide on this), and the editor also shows time divisions for precise timing.
Option + Command + P = Show/Hide the note pad
- Using the (Option + Command + P) shortcut in Garageband brings up the Note Pad where you can write, edit and save notes for your project.
This is an incredibly useful tool for many different reasons. I often use the Note Pad if there is something I have to remember about the project for the next time I open it. Additionally, I can make notes for myself on what needs to be improved or considered.
Shift + Command + O = Show/Hide the Movie Track
- The (Shift + Command + O) shortcut will bring up the movie track in Garageband. This will show frames of the movie as thumbnails above the audio track so you can edit along with them.
To see more or less thumbnails, zoom in or out of the movie track.
Command + X = Cut
- In Garageband, you can use the (Command + X) shortcut to delete or move parts of your recording, whether it be a drummer track region, audio region, or midi region.
Shift + Return = Rename the Selected Track
- Use (Shift + Return) to choose a new name for your instrument, audio, or drummer track header in Garageband. This isn’t for the region, however, only for the main track header.
This won’t open the Track Dialog to let you save in a new place
Command + C = Copy
- In Garageband, you can use the (Command + C) shortcut to quickly copy a part from any type of recording.
Command + V = Paste
- Use the (Command + V) shortcut in Garageband to paste a copied recording to another part of the track or to an entirely different section.
You can paste external files into GarageBand with this shortcut too.
Delete = Delete
- With Garageband open, press (Delete) on your keyboard to delete anything that you don’t want in your recording.
Command + A – Select All
- Use the shortcut (Command + A) in Garageband to select all tracks in your session.
Shift + N = Rename Selected Regions
- Use (Shift + N) to rename the region that you’ve selected in Garageband. Note that this renames the region itself rather than the name of the track header.
Command + Z = Undo
- In Garageband, use the shortcut (Command + Z) to undo changes that you’ve recently made. Usually, you can undo every single action that you’ve done in the project over the last single session.
This is especially useful if you’ve made a mistake. Without question this is the shortcut I most frequently use.
Shift + Command + Z = Redo Delete
- Use the (Shift + Command + Z) shortcut in Garageband to redo changes that you’ve recently made. This is similar to the regular undo command, except it’s meant for restoring a previous deletion.
Q = Quantize Selected Events
- With Garageband’s piano roll or audio editor open, press (Q) on your keyboard to turn on the quantization function in Garageband.
Option + Command + Q = Turn Off Quantization
- Using the (Option + Command + Q) shortcut in Garageband will turn off the quantization.
Command + J = Join Regions or Notes
- Use the (Command + J) shortcut to join audio or MIDI regions together in Garageband.
Note that you’ll often get a prompt that you’ll need to create a new region for a “non-contiguous” audio file. Additionally, the latest Garageband update allows you to merge more than one track together in a stereo or mono file, similar to how it’s done in iOS which I wrote about here.
E = Show/Hide the Editor Window
- With your Garageband project open, hit (E) on your keyboard to bring up the Editor window where you can control the Piano Roll, Audio, or Score Editor. This is the same location as the drummer track and Smart Controls as well.
Control + Command + F = Enter/Exit Screen Mode
- Hit (Control + Command + F) on your keyboard to make Garageband fit the entire screen. Screen Mode leaves no excess background around your project that way you don’t get distracted.
Option + Command + N = Create a new track
- The shortcut (Option + Command + N) in Garageband allows you to add a new track to your existing project. Unlike the other commands, it allows you to choose which track type from the main “Choose A Track Type” menu.
This is useful mostly for the sake of fixing your input and output settings. It’s faster than going into the Preferences, and it also allows you to put the track in stereo or mono similar to the Smart Controls option.
Option + Command + A = Create a New Audio Track
- The (Option + Command + A) shortcut inserts an audio track into your Garageband project. It will not open the main “Choose A Track” option; it will automatically insert an audio track into the project.
Option + Command + S = Create a New Software Instrument Track
- The (Option + Command + S) shortcut inserts a new software instrument track into your Garageband project.
Option + Command + U = Create a New Drummer Track
- The (Option + Command + U) shortcut inserts a new drummer track into your Garageband project.
Command + Delete = Delete the Selected Track
- Use the (Command + Delete) shortcut in Garageband to delete the entire track and everything in it in contrast to just the “Delete” option which will delete the contents of the track but not the whole track region.
Command + D = Duplicate Track
- In Garageband, use the (Command + D) shortcut to duplicate a track with the exact same track settings as the one highlighted.
This will not duplicate the actual audio, drummer, or MIDI region of the track; it will only duplicate the header including all of the settings, plugins, and effects.
Shift + Command + V = Paste and Replace the Current Section
- Use the (Shift + Command + V) in Garageband to copy a section and replace another selected region in the exact same way.
Command + T = Split the Selected Region
- In Garageband, the (Command + T) shortcut will split an audio, MIDI, or drummer track right at the playhead arrow.
Control + Shift + Command + Delete = Delete All Automation on the Selected Track
- The (Control + Shift + Command + Delete) shortcut allows you to delete all of the automation points on a selected track in your Garageband project. Make sure the track has been highlighted first.
Make sure not to select any regions, or they too will be deleted.
Control + Shift + O = Add Selected Region to the Apple Loops Library
- In Garageband, use the (Control + Shift + O) shortcut to save a region of your project in the Loop Library. Once you’ve given it a name, you can use it in any other project.
Command + Shift + i = Add Audio from Library
- Use (Command + Shift + i) to quickly import an audio file from your library, into an audio track region in Garageband. Just make sure you’ve actually selected the audio track before you use the command, otherwise, it won’t work as intended.
If you’re looking for a quick way to load up a sample into Garageband (my guide on this), this is how you do it.
Shift + Command + X = Show/Hide Transposition Track
- In Garageband, use the (Shift + Command + X) shortcut to bring up the transposition track which contains transposition events for pitch changes.
Transpose MIDI regions and audio files over a designated amount of time by using the transposition track.
Command + Shift + T = Show/Hide tempo Track
- Use the (Command + Shift + T) shortcut to bring up or hide the tempo track in Garageband. This allows you to change the tempo wherever you see fit according to an automation line. I’ve talked all about this before in my tempo guide.
Since GarageBand 10, you can now change the tempo in the middle of a project by adjusting the Tempo Track. I’ve also written a guide on this.
Shift + Command + A = Show/Hide the Arrangement Track
- In Garageband, use (Shift + Command + A) to show or hide the arrangement track. This allows you to rearrange entire sections of your composition in whatever order you wish. The arrangement track uses common songwriting terminology like verse, chorus, bridge, intro, and outro.
Playhead Arrow Shortcuts / Navigation
Home = Scroll Backward One Page
- Pressing (Home) on your computer keyboard will scroll backward in your Garageband project by one page (the visible width of the timeline).
Return will also go to the beginning.
End = Scroll Forward One Page
- Pressing (End) on your keyboard will scroll forward in your Garageband project by one page.
Space Bar = Start Playback From Selection
- With Garageband open, press the Space Bar on your keyboard to start your playback from the section designated by the playhead arrow rather than from the beginning of a track region.
Shift + Space Bar = Start Playing From the Beginning
- Using the (Shift + Space Bar) shortcut in Garageband will start playing the recording right from the beginning if the entire project has been selected, however, you can use this shortcut also to select audio, MIDI, and drummer track regions and begin playing from there.
Option + Return = Go to the End of the Region
- Use the (Option + Return) shortcut to scroll to the end of whatever region you’re working on in Garageband. This shortcut functions similarly to the ‘End’ keyboard shortcut.
Shift + Command + . (Period) = Move the Cycle Range Forward by One Cycle Range
- Using the (Shift + Command + Period) shortcut in Garageband will move the cycle range forward by one cycle which is determined by the original’s width.
Shift + Command + , (Comma) = Move the Cycle Range Backward By One
- Using the (Shift + Command + Comma) shortcut in Garageband will move the cycle range backward by one cycle which is determined by the original’s width.
Left Arrow = Select the Previous Region on the Selected Track or Event in the Editor
- Use the Left Arrow on your keyboard with Garageband open to move from region to region from right to left.
Right Arrow = Select the Next Region on the Selected Track or Event in the Editor
- Use the Right Arrow on your keyboard with Garageband open to move from region to region from left to right.
, (Comma) = Move the Playhead Arrow Back One Bar
- Using the (,) or Comma symbol on your keyboard with Garageband open will move the playhead arrow back by approximately one notch. Moving the playhead back by one bar moves it back one full bar on the timeline.
. (Period) = Move the Playhead Forward One Bar
- Use the (.) or Period symbol on your keyboard to move the playhead arrow forward by one bar in Garageband. Moving the playhead forward by one bar moves it forward one full bar on the timeline.
Up Arrow = Select Next Higher Track
- With Garageband open, use the (Up) arrow on your keyboard to move upward from region to region. When working on multiple tracks, this shortcut allows you to easily move to the next highest track to edit or for playback.
Down Arrow = Select the Next Lower Track
- With Garageband open, use the (Down) arrow on your keyboard to move down from region to region. When working on multiple tracks, this shortcut allows you to easily move to the next lowest track to edit or for playback.
] = Next Patch, Effect, or Instrument Setting
- Use the ] key on your keyboard with Garageband open to move down through large libraries of patches, effects, or instrument settings.
Note: You have to have the library open to use this feature.
- Move quickly through large libraries of patches, effects, or instrument settings.
[ = Previous Patch, Effect, or Instrument Setting
Note: You have to have a library open to use this feature.
Tab = Change Focus to Next Area in GarageBand Window
- Use (Tab) on your keyboard with Garageband open to shift focus between different parts of the interface. For example, you can scroll between the Library, Smart Controls, or the Workspace by using this shortcut.
Note: This only works if more than one window is open in the workstation.
Shift + Tab = Change Focus to the Previous Area in the GarageBand Window
Use (Shift + Tab) on your keyboard with Garageband open to shift focus between different parts of the interface. For example, you’ll scroll between the Library, Smart Controls, or the Workspace, however, you’ll move to the previous section.
Note: This only works if more than one window is open in the workstation. Additionally, this function is different in the sense that it shifts focus in the opposite direction.
Recording and Playback
Space Bar/Enter = Play
- Using the Space Bar on the keyboard with Garageband open will allow you to play whatever is in your project without having to click the playhead arrow in the workspace.
This shortcut allows you to easily play or stop your recording without having to use your mouse.
Zero (on Numeric Keypad) = Stop Playback
- With Garageband open, use the (Zero) key on the numeric keypad to stop the recording from playing, and then press it a second time to rewind all the way to the beginning. The difference between this and the space-bar command is that the space-bar command won’t rewind to the start of the recording.
Note: This only works on the numeric pad on the right-hand side of the keyboard, rather than on the main numbers directly above the letters.
R = Start Recording
- Hit (R) on your keyboard with Garageband open to start recording from the playhead arrow.
C = Turn Cycle Region On/Off
- Use (C) on your keyboard with Garageband open to turn on the Cycle option. When Cycle Mode is turned on, it is displayed as a yellow strip in the upper part of the timeline ruler. When the Cycle Mode is turned off, it will no longer be visible.
- L = Will also loop the selected region continuously.
When you play a project, the playback will start from the current position of the playhead unless cycle mode is turned on. If cycle mode is turned on, it plays from the beginning of the cycle area.
K = Turn Metronome On/Off
- Press (K) on your keyboard with Garageband open to bring up the metronome. Use the metronome while you record to keep in time with the beat. Or turn it off if you don’t need it while you record.
Shift + K = Turn Count in On/Off
- With Garageband open, use the (Shift + K) shortcut to turn on the count-in button. This gives you a 4-second count-in before the recording begins. Note that this only works for recording and not for playback.
Control + R = Turn Record Enable for the Selected Track On or Off
- Use the (Control + R) shortcut with Garageband open in order to enable a track for recording. Note that this doesn’t start recording; it makes it so the track is capable of recording.
If the Record Enable buttons are not visible, you can configure the track headers to show them.
Option + Command + Delete = Delete the Selected Arrangement Marker
- With GarageBand open, use the (Option + Command + Delete) shortcut to delete the arrangement marker after it has been selected.
Option + T = Configure the Track Header
- With GarageBand open, use the (Option + T) shortcut to bring up the track header configuration. This will pop up a window with track controls like Mute, Solo, Restore Defaults, in addition to the ability to turn on Record Enable, Input Monitoring, as well as the Groove Track.
Shift + Space Bar = Start Playback from Beginning
- Using the (Shift + Space Bar) shortcut with Garageband open will start the recording back from the beginning of the project.
Master Volume Shortcuts
Command + Shift + Left Arrow = Lower Master Volume
- Use the (Command + Shift + Left Arrow) shortcut to lower the master volume of the Garageband project.
Command + Shift + Right Arrow = Raise Master Volume
- Use the (Command + Shift + Right Arrow) shortcut to increase the master volume of the Garageband project.
Command + Shift + M = Show/Hide the Master Track
- Use the (Command + Shift + M) shortcut to bring up Garageband’s master track. The master track is a channel by which you can add effects, automation, panning, processing, and more on the entire project as a whole, rather than just on individual track regions.
Note: Command B also works.
You can add, edit, reorder, and remove effects on the master track by clicking the master button in the smart controls menu bar.
Dynamics and Volume Shortcuts
M = Mute/Unmute the Selected Track
- With Garageband open and a track highlighted, hit ‘M’ on your keyboard to turn it on Mute so you don’t hear the track during playback.
Muting a track is useful when you want to hear the project without that specific track in it. I most commonly use this for mixing.
Control + Option + Command + S = Turn Solo On/Off for All Solo’d Tracks
- Using the shortcut (Command + Control + Option + S) in Garageband will solo the very first instrument track in your project, however, using ‘S’ on your keyboard is a much better way of doing the same thing because it gives you the option to move between tracks.
This is great is you are isolating tracks for editing or listening
Note: For whatever reason, this command only works for the top track region, rendering it useless. It doesn’t matter what track you’ve highlighted.
A = Show/Hide Automation Lanes
- Pressing ‘A’ on your keyboard with Garageband open will bring up the automation lines. Automation points help with precise volume control and many other features. By the way, I’ve written about automation before.
This is especially useful to fade in/fade out parts of the song that ring out too much or for too long. It’s also good for increasing or decreasing volume in cases where the performance’s amplitude is inconsistent, for example, during a vocal performance.
Control + i = Turn Monitoring for the Selected Track On/Off
- Use the (Control + i) shortcut with Garageband open to turn monitoring on for your audio track region. When you turn on monitoring for a track, you hear the sound coming from the instrument or microphone connected to that track’s input. Turn it off and you won’t be able to hear yourself record.
Turning monitoring on can be good for setting audio levels or practicing parts before you record them. Having this button turned off is the main reason why people can’t hear themselves record as I’ve explained before.
Option + Space = Preview the Selected Audio
- Press (Option + Space Bar) on an audio track in Garageband to preview the audio in solo.
This only works in the Audio Editor, and it’s very useful for checking your performance by itself, rather than in the context of the mix.
Option + Up Arrow = Transpose Selected Notes Up One Semitone
- In Garageband, use the shortcut (Option + Up Arrow) to increase the pitch of a note by one semi-tone in the piano roll, audio editor, or score editor.
Option + Down Arrow = Transpose Selected Notes Down One Semitone
- Use the keyboard shortcut, (Option + Down Arrow) in Garageband to transpose the note down in pitch by one semi-tone with the piano roll, audio region, or score editor open.
Option + Shift + Up Arrow = Transpose Selected Notes Up One Octave.
- With Garageband’s piano roll or audio editor open, use (Option + Shift + Up Arrow) to increase the pitch of every note by one octave.
Option + Shift + Down Arrow = Transpose Selected Notes Down One Octave
- With Garageband’s piano roll or audio editor open, use (Option + Shift + Down Arrow) to decrease the pitch of every note by one octave.
How Do I Create A Shortcut in GarageBand?
Create a keyboard shortcut for Garageband by going to your macOS Systems Preferences menu in the top left corner. Click Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts, and then the “+” icon. Select Garageband from the drop-down menu and type in the appropriate Menu Title you want to make a shortcut for.
If you come up with shortcuts that are rejected it’s because the system is already using it. You may have to try several before the system will accept one that is not already in use. Frankly, I haven’t quite figured out what this even does yet, but maybe some other users could figure it out.
How Do I Bring Up Keyboard Controls in GarageBand
Command + K = Show Onscreen Keyboard
- With Garageband open and a track selected, use (Command + K) to bring up the Musical Typing feature, which is a digital keyboard that work with the keys on your typing keyboard. In other words, it’s an alternative to an actual MIDI keyboard like the Arturia KeyLab 88 from zZounds (arguably the best one).
You can use this keyboard like you would a piano when you’re recording, however, only a couple of octaves will show at a time.
How Do You Zoom in On GarageBand?
Command + Left Arrow = Horizontal Zoom Out
- Use the (Command + Left Arrow) shortcut to zoom out of your Garageband project so you can see everything together.
Use this feature to look at your project from start to finish.
Command + Right Arrow = Horizontal Zoom In
- Use the shortcut (Command + Right Arrow) to zoom in to your Garageband project to see more details of one specific section in the workspace.
This is especially useful if you need to edit minute details that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see or isolate. This is a great way to make sure the smallest details can be focused on and edited.
How Do You Snap To the Grid in GarageBand?
Command + G = Turn Snap to Grid On or Off
Use the (Command + G) shortcut to turn on the “Snap to Grid” feature in Garageband. Because the tracks are aligned on a grid, it helps to align points to time divisions found on the ruler. When snap to grid is on, the notes that are added will automatically snap to the next grid line.
Important Things to Note About Keyboard Shortcuts
1) Shortcuts Can Do Just About Everything in GarageBand, But Not Everything
There is a colored shortcut keyboard cover and mouse pad you can purchase on Amazon that may help you edit faster (on Amazon at the relevant links). They’re primarily used for Logic, which is GarageBand’s big brother from Apple, however, many of the keyboard shortcuts do translate the majority of GarageBand’s shortcuts.