How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand (macOS/iOS)

Written By : Andrew Siemon

The set-up for this on both macOS and iOS devices is comparable. The key is to configure the track headings with “Record Enable” and then select the correct input channel for each instrument.

Option + T to Configure the Track Header (Record Enable)
To multitrack record in GarageBand, select a track, then use (Option + T) to Configure the Track Header.
Select, “Record Enable” and then press the red record button on each of the track headers.

On iOS, click the Gear icon > Advanced > Multitrack Recording. Then press the red button to record.

How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand (macOS)

How-to-Connect-a-Mic-to-a-Scarlett-2i2-Image (Updated)
In case you don’t know how, here’s one way to connect an audio interface to a computer with GarageBand turned on (here’s my guide specifically on this).

1) With Your Track Selected, Press (Option + T)

GarageBand Image (option+T
) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
This is what you should see after you press Option + T. You can also right-click on the track header to use the Configure Track Header option.

The other way to open this window would be by going up to the Toolbar on the top center, pressing the “Track” button, and then clicking on the “Configure Track Header” option.

2) Check the “Record Enable” Box

GarageBand Image (record enable) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
You don’t have to do this for every track, as the option will automatically appear next to each one going forward.

3) Set Your Audio Interface Inputs in the Smart Controls

Inputs in GarageBand's Smart Controls - 1
You do this by selecting the Input/Output device in the Smart Controls.

if your audio interface has three ports on it, you need to ensure that the track is correctly connected to the corresponding input on your device.

3) Set Your Audio Interface Inputs in the Smart Controls
I have my Scarlett connected instead, but the principle is the same. Pretend it says “1 (Saffire)” and “2 (Saffire).”

For example, on your 3rd input, you would set that up to “3 (Saffire 6USB2.0)” in the Smart Controls. If the Saffire had more than 2, anyway. I’m just using it as an example.

4) Click the “Record Enable” Button on Each Track 

Record Enable in GarageBand macOS - How to Set Up Multitrack Recording in GarageBand
Make sure you do this for every track you want to record onto.

However, you do have to actually click the button once you’ve brought up the Record Enable option.

5) Hit Record and Start Recording On Both Your Tracks

4) Hit Record and Start Recording On All Your Tracks
Once you’ve started recording, the red bar and regions will appear so you know you’re recording.

And that’s pretty much it for GarageBand macOS. I’ve got some tips and other troubleshooting solutions toward the end of the article. But first, let’s take a look at how to do this in GarageBand iOS.

How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand (iOS)

The same rule applies for multitrack recording in GarageBand iOS. You’re going to need an audio interface like the Scarlett 2i2 or 4i4. If you’re unclear, I have an entire guide on this.

Connecting Scarlett 2i2 to an iPhone - How to Use the Scarlett 2i2 With A Microphone [EXPLAINED]
Here’s the infographic I made a while back on how to configure mobile devices with GarageBand iOS.

If your devices are relatively new, a USB-C cable should be fine, but if they’re older, you can get some adapters on my product page. Older devices will likely need a Thunderbolt to USB-A or Thunderbolt to USB-C.

1) Create a Separate Track for Each Instrument

GarageBand Image (separate tracks) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
After you plug everything into your device, you should create a separate track for each instrument or microphone.

2) Select the Right Channel Input for Each Track

GarageBand Image (input channel) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
To open this menu, click on the microphone icon in the toolbar on the top.

Each of your plug-ins should have its own input channel. For example, if your microphone is going into input 1, the guitar should be going into channel 2.

Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the monitor levels for each instrument that you’re recording (on the right of the screen).

3) Turn On “Multitrack Record” In The Settings

GarageBand Image (open settings) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
Open the settings on the top left of your screen and click on “Advanced” settings.
GarageBand Image (multitrack recording) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
Turn on “Multitrack Recording” in the advanced settings.

This should show the “Record Enable” buttons next to each of your tracks.

4) Select the “Record Enable” Button

GarageBand Image (record enable) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
You should do this for each track that you want to record.

5) Click Record & Start Recording On All Your Chosen Tracks

GarageBand Image (record) - For How to Multitrack Record in GarageBand
Click on the “Record” button in the toolbar at the top center of your screen.

A helpful tip for multitrack recording on GarageBand iOS is to save the input setup configuration as a separate project that you can access later.

This is going to save you a lot of time in the future since you won’t have to set everything up again.

That all said, recording in GarageBand iOS comes with limitations. The first – and arguably the biggest one – is that you’re not able to assign different output channels.

This might become a bigger problem if you are looking to mix or master a song in GarageBand on your device with sophisticated inputs, outputs, and buses.

The macOS however does constrain the option to assign different output channels for your tracks.

But if you’re using GarageBand, you already know that the lack of a proper mixer is one of its limitations.

1) You’ll Need An Audio Interface With More Than 1 Input 

3) You’ll Need An Audio Interface With More Than 1 Input 
As we discussed earlier, multitrack recording cannot be done with an audio interface that has only one input channel.

Each of your instruments should be going into their own input channels in order to be able to record them at the same time.

The more inputs your audio interface has, the more tracks you can record at once.

2) This Works for Software Instruments & Audio Tracks 

1) This Works for Software Instruments and Audio Tracks .jpg
As I demonstrated earlier, multitrack recording can be done with both software instruments & audio tracks.

You can record any instrument you want in GarageBand with the exception of Drummer Tracks. This is because Drummer Tracks don’t require you to record them, instead, they come as their own separate track.

3) You Can Control Multiple Tracks With Musical Typing/MIDI Keyboard

Musical Typing Keyboard - How to Set Up Multitrack Recording in GarageBand
Musical Typing in GarageBand.

You can record tracks using a MIDI keyboard or using the stock GarageBand keyboard (it’s also called musical typing).

To open the stock keyboard, use (Command + K), and a keyboard will appear (more on keyboard shortcuts here).

4) This Is How You Record One Instrument With Multiple Mics

Additionally, you can use different microphone techniques in order to record one instrument with multiple microphones.

For example, you can use the XY technique to record the guitar, or the OH technique to record the drums.

The one that always comes to mind for me is one mic on the 12th fret of the acoustic guitar and another on the soundhole.

Having one in the back of your amplifier and another in the front speaker is cool too.

The key here is to either use different microphones or place them in different positions.

5) This Is Also How You Record Podcasts 

Most podcasts that have multiple people on them are done through multitrack recording. So you’ll set things up pretty much in the same way.

You have an audio interface or mixer with multiple inputs, connect your microphones to each input, and then map each input to a track in GarageBand. Hit record and then you’re done.

One of these days, I’ve got to update my podcasts with GarageBand article because it could use refurbishing.

6) Multitrack Recording Is Also How You Use MIDI Guitar 2

A MIDI Guitar 2 is a guitar-to-MIDI converter. In simple terms, you have to set up your guitar on the audio track and then a software instrument track on another.

With MIDI Guitar 2 enabled, you’ll be able to control the software instrument with your guitar. It’s super cool. I have an article about the MIDI Guitar 2 specifically, as well as one on MIDI guitars more generally.

7) Ensure You’ve Exported Individual Tracks As Separate Files for Mixing 

This is done because you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you spend a lot of time recording multiple tracks separately, then exporting them as one big file.

Isolate the track > Click “Share” > Export Song to Disk > Select the “Export cycle area or length of selected regions” > Export. I showed you how to do this in my article on creating stems for all DAWs.

8) You May Need A Much Stronger Computer

There might be a few problems associated with multitrack recording in GarageBand. The first, and the most common problem, is that your computer may lack sufficient processing power and RAM.

The CPU is usually the root of the issue when it comes to older computers. In that case, it might be more difficult to record multiple tracks at the same time, and might be worth considering recording each track separately.

My chart below gives some ideas on what you need for production:

Specification The Novice The Intermediate The Professional
RAM 8GB 16GB 16GB (all you need, but 32GB is great)
Processor Dual-Core Processor (i5 or i7) Quad-Core Processor i5 or i7 Quad-Core Processor i7 or i9
Storage 512 GB 1TB 5TB and Beyond
Recommended Computer Don’t even bother with a MacBook Air. MacBook Pro (my favorite one to recommend) iMac Pro (if the MacBook isn’t enough for you)

For example, I’m running a 2017 MacBook Pro with 8GB of RAM and an i5 processor and it’s not nearly powerful enough for what I’m trying to do with it every day.

I’d recommend a much newer MacBook Pro with the M1 chip and at least 16 GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. I’ve linked to one on my products page. 32GB would be better, but 16GB will work.

9) Latency Can Also Be A Problem. Here Are A Few Solutions

Do not use Bluetooth speakers for monitoring. This includes AirPods.

You might also find yourself running into some latency problems. Latency is the delay in time between when the note is played and when it’s heard.

I explained latency in greater detail in this article and covered different ways for how you can fix the issue.

There are a few ways to fix or at least address this problem and most of them I’ve addressed in the aforementioned article, but here are just a few of them:

  • Turn off energy-intensive browsers and programs in the background.
  • Close all other applications that are not in use
  • Empty your PC’s trash
  • Save your project and restart your computer before trying again
  • Freeze tracks in your GarageBand project
  • Have all your instruments, loops, and sounds stored on SSD (my guide on this)
  • Make sure any CPU-heavy plugins are turned off
  • Ensure you’ve turned off monitoring on all of your other tracks

Questions or concerns? Let me know what you think of GarageBand’s multitrack recording feature in the comments below. I’d be curious to know how you use it most.

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Andrew Siemon is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to all things music, including music production, music theory, recording, and how to use the most popular DAWs. Starting out as a metal guitarist, Andrew has since moved into other areas of music production including hip-hop and fusion

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