Lesson 1: Edit an Audio File

In this lesson, you will open a new GarageBand file, modify settings, then name and save the project. You will import a song from your iTunes library and place the cursor at desired locations for editing. You will split, copy, paste, delete, move, and loop regions.



Would you lilke to look at a piece of paper instead of a web page? Click to download a reference guide (list of menu items and keyboard shortcuts) and the list of practice items for this lesson. Would you like to track your progress? Use the Practice Items pages as a checklist or download the Self-Assessment Rubric.

Reference Guide - Lessons 1-3: Edit, Loops, Arrange (PDF)
Practice Items - Lesson 1: Edit an Audio File (PDF)

Practice Items:

step 1Open GarageBand and iTunes.

step 2Prepare GarageBand Project.

  • File ⇒ New (⌘N).
  • Name and save project.
  • Modify settings: Delete on-screen keyboard and default track (⌘+delete), resize window so iTunes will be visible. (I always get rid of the metronome.)

step 3Move iTunes file into GarageBand Locate desired song.

  • Drag and drop into GarageBand timeline - If compatible, green +, if not choose another.
  • Play track.

step 4Edit track.

  • Select region:
    • Left click region to highlight.
    • Click on track headers to select all regions on a track.
    • Drag mouse over adjacent regions.
    • Shift+left-click on each of non-adjacent regions.
  • Move region: Drag sideways within track, drag vertically to new track (File ⇒ New Basic Track). Note: Active tracks/regions will be a brighter color than inactive tracks/regions.
  • Place cursor: Click above region at desired location or drag cursor. If you can’t get it in the exact right spot:
    • Deselect snap to grid: Controls ⇒ Snap to Grid. Snapping to grid can be a good thing if you’re trying to sync loops (next lesson) but if you are doing some picky editing, your in/out points will likely fall between grid lines.
    • Adjust zoom slider.
  • Split track: Edit ⇒ Split (⌘T) will divide region into separate regions at the point that the cursor is placed.
  • Delete: Edit ⇒ Delete if you no longer need that region.
  • Cut: Edit ⇒ Cut (⌘X) if you want to take the region out but use it elsewhere.
  • Copy: Edit ⇒ Copy (⌘C).
  • Paste: Edit ⇒ Paste (⌘V) region will be pasted wherever the cursor is placed. Paste into same track, or click different track to paste there.
  • Undo – Edit ⇒ Undo (⌘Z) to go back in the history to a previous step.
  • Redo – Edit ⇒ Redo/Repeat (shift+⌘Z) to repeat a step or go forward.
  • Repeat/loop region: Place cursor at upper right corner of region and drag for desired duration.


Remembering terms can be a challenge when working with new software. When working in GarageBand, mouse over controls/icons and a description will pop-up. Locations within the GarageBand window that we will refer to frequently are labeled on the diagram:

GarageBand project labels


I tend to use GarageBand more for editing than any other task. I love being able to edit pieces that I am going to play for my students. Listening lessons that use music longer than a minute or two will lose the interest of my students, particularly the younger ones, but I don't always want to have them hear the beginning of a song. I drag the song into GarageBand, split the track to isolate the desired segment and delete what I don't want. It's great when you want your students to hear a particular spot in the music but you don't want to spend class time searching for the exact right spot before you hit the "play" button. If you have an iPod and you can connect it to speakers in your classroom, you won't have to burn a disc for something you will only use for a few days.

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