GarageBand—Basic Editing

garage band

GarageBand is an ideal software package—easy to use, included on every Mac, and capable of editing interviews quickly. The process of editing audio content by editing waveforms is standard across all audio programs. The actual mechanics for making the edit may differ, but every software package will include a way to cut out unwanted material and join the sound you want to use.

This tutorial provides an introduction to audio editing through GarageBand.

You can download the raw file, a rough edit and the finished audio of the file used in this tutorial from the Apple web site. The files are in the right column.

Setting up GarageBand

Open GarageBand.

open garageband

GarageBand requires you to select a project type.

choose podcast

Choose Podcast (1) and click Choose (2).

podcast screen

This is the podcasting screen. The first step is to simplify the interface.

Simplifying the interface

Click the Edit button (1) and the Media button (2) to close those two panels.

simplified screen

This interface is less complex.

hide podcast track

Select Hide Podcast Track from the Track menu.

even less complex

The screen is even less complex.

ducking menu off

Turn off Ducking. [Ducking is a way to automatically lower the background sound when the foreground sound is louder.]

ducking off

Ducking is off and there are no ducking controls in the track head.

delete track

Delete all but one track—GarageBand requires at least one track.

position finder window

Position the Finder Window containing the audio source files at the top right of the Finder window.

Importing and Editing

After you setup a Finder window  in the upper right corner of your desktop drag a single file into a blank spot in Track Head area.

drag to track head area

Each file you drag will appear in a separate track.

audio imported creating new track

The imported audio will appear in a new track.

a closer look at an imported track.

The new track will have the imported audio file name as the track title. The track waveform will be orange. The orange track color indicates that this is an imported audio file. Voices and Real Instruments recorded directly into GarageBand are color-coded purple. Midi instruments are coded green. Loops are aqua.

bring up edit panel

Open the edit panel (1).

set edit point

Click the play control or press the spacebar to play the audio. Press the stop button or the spacebar to stop the playhead at an edit point. Note that the playhead in the multitrack view (1) and the playhead in the Editor (2) show exactly the same point on the waveform. The waveform in the edit window is larger and can be zoomed independent of the multitrack view. This permits precision edits on the waveform.

select "split" from the Edit menu

After you select an edit point, select Split from the Edit menu. Note the Command T keyboard shortcut. Most of the work in editing is making cuts.

first edit complete

The first edit is complete. Note the left edit has a unique region name—cryptobotany.raw.1—(1) and the right edit has a unique region name—cryptobotany.raw.2—(2).

Now that the first edit is complete, you’ll want to delete the left part of this edit—cryptobotany.raw.1 (1). However, after the edit note that both the left region, cryptobotany.raw.1 and the right region, cryptobotany.raw.2 are highlighted.

delete error

If you hit the Delete key with both regions highlighted the entire track will be deleted. This frequent mistake is easily corrected. Hit the Command and Z key to undo the mistake.

select left region

Select just the left region—cryptobotany.raw.1—and press the Delete key.

left region deleted

The left region is deleted and the edit is complete.

Here’s an example of garageband’s non-destructive editing capabilities. Press Command and Z to undo the delete. Now, select just the right region—cryptobotany.raw.2—and press the Delete key.

Non-destructive Editing

Notice the special cursor that appears when the mouse is positioned over the lower right corner of the track in the precision editing window.

Non-destructive Editing Step 2

Click and drag the track to the right. The material that was just deleted reappears.

Removing a section in the middle of the track is only slightly more complicated.

making an edit in the middle of track

Make a cut (split track) on each side of the sound section that will be removed.

deselect all track regions

Deselect all track regions by clicking in an empty grey area.

select section to delete: GarageBand

Select the section to delete and press the Delete key.

section deleted: GarageBand

The section is deleted. The next task on the edit is to close the gap between the two remaining regions and join the two regions together.

select the right region and move it adjacent to the left region.

Select the right region in the multitrack (upper) window—you cannot move a region by clicking in the Edit panel—and move the region to the left until it is adjacent to the the left region.

highlight both the left and right regions: GarageBand

Highlight both the left and right regions.

Select Join from the Edit menu: GarageBand

Select Join from the Edit menu.

two regions join: GarageBand

Two important changes occur. First the two regions are joined. The region label reads cryptobotany raw.3.merged. GarageBand has merged the two files and has written a new temporary file. GarageBand can now handle this file in the same way as a sound recorded directly into a GarageBand project.

Editing an interview primarily consists of cutting out reporter questions and removing segments of the interview that are not necessary for the report or project.


After finish editing, you need to export the interview.

finished editing: GarageBand

Move the End Marker before exporting.

end point close-up: GarageBand

Click the End Marker in the Multitrack window ruler and drag the maker to the end of the interview.

end marker moved: GarageBand

The End Marker is correctly positioned and the project is ready for export.

select share from top menu and select Export Song to Disk

Select Export Song to Disk from the Share menu.

export uncompressed: GarageBand

If you are using this sound project in Final Cut Pro or any other program that will import uncompressed sound files, do not check the Compress checkbox.

export compressed: GarageBand

If you are using this sound project in SoundSlides or any program that requires a compressed file, check the Compress checkbox and select the method of compression and the settings. This setting is for Soundslides and is set to the required MP3 file format and uses the 128 kbps setting.

save the sound project: garageband

Give the export a name (1) and check the location (2) to make sure you know where the file will be saved. Then click the Save button (3).

About this Tutorial

Jerry Monti is a technology trainer for the Knight Digital Media Center.

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