Using GarageBand With VoiceOver

Hello all.

The question is entirely in the subject, but... Is there any tutorial explaining how to use GarageBand with Voiceover on MacOX? I tried to figure out by my self, but I get lost within multiple layers with interactions and sub interactions and sub-sub-interactions. Any help will be very appreciated. Thanks in advance.


#1 Using GarageBand with VoiceOver


I have been working on a GarageBand tutorial for VoiceOver users on MacOS for a little over a year now. It is currently more than 250 pages long. I hope to complete it in the next few months. I too had a hard time figuring out how to use GarageBand in spite of being a former computer programmerand I too searched for tutorials for the VoiceOver user with no luck. The need for a comprehensive tutorial is still unmet. I haven't decided how to publish my comprehensive tutorial yet but that will come. I will post to this forum when it is available.

In the meantime, I will be happy to try to answer specific questions if the effort to provide an answer isn't too much of a burden on my time and energy.

A quick tip for MacBook Pro users is that a full external keyboard is the only way to go.

#2 Please ignore

Sorry, I didn't realize I should reply to a previous post instead of posting a new one.

#3 Resizing loops and adding a vocal track

I'm not ridiculously skilled in GB but need some help with a couple of problems in the latest version of the app on the mac.

First of all, I brought in a project from an old version and everything seems intact. I had some trouble with the loops library at first but after having my wife drag and drop them in from a folder in finder, they’re all back where they belong. The project plays fine with all of the loops I put in it when I press play.

While I’ve figured out how to get to the resize loops menu option, I cannot figure out how to resize the loops. It’s probably something insanely simple but when I try moving my arrow keys, it just tells me that the item can't be moved any further in the corresponding direction. It’s insanely frustrating and I’m just trying to figure out what I’m missing here.

I also want to record vocals over top of what’s currently in the project. How can I do so while the track is playing along in my headphones? I’ve never done vocals in GarageBand so I want to make sure I don’t record over top of everything instead of adding it to the mix. I also want to add effects to the vocals — is there a way to do that as well?

Sorry for all of the questions. I’m just extremely new at using this latest version of GB (I was using 6.0.5 before) and with very limited knowledge, it’s a very steep learning curve.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. The loops are the most important thing if you don’t have time to reply to all of my questions.

#4 Need More Volume? Adding the Gain Plug-in to a GB Track

Adding the Gain Plug-in to a GarageBand Track

Have you ever encountered the situation where you have maxed out the volume of a track and it still isn't loud enough? One way to deal with this situation is to turn up the volume on the Master track (press Command+Shift+M to show the Master track). After raising the volume of the overall project, you can then turn down the volume on individual tracks as needed. This effectively raises the volume on those individual tracks whose volume is not turn down. Another technique is to double a track. It should become somewhat louder because now there are two of them.

Or, you can use a plug-in to add additional gain to the track. Here's how.

Note: In the following instructions the letters VO are shorthand for VoiceOver. When VO is used in combination with other keys to describe a keyboard shortcut, VO means that you are to use the Control+option keys in combination with other keys. For example, VO+Spacebar means that you are to simultaneously press the Control key plus the Option key plus the Spacebar.

1. In the Tracks Header Group, select the track that needs gain.
2. Press the letter "B" to open the Smart Controls Editor window.

Note: If, after pressing the letter “B,” VoiceOver fails to say, Smart Controls Group, press the letter “B” two more times. This will close and reopen the Smart Controls window. For some reason, VoiceOver almost always speaks when the window opens the second time.

3. The VoiceOver cursor should now be on the Smart Controls Group. Interact with it by pressing Shift+VO+Down Arrow (Shift+Control+Option+Down Arrow).
4. VoiceOver should tell you that the VoiceOver cursor is on the Smart Controls Toolbar. Interact with it.
5. VoiceOver should tell you that the VoiceOver cursor is on the Show Inspector checkbox. Press VO+Spacebar to check it.
6. Stop interacting with the Smart Controls Toolbar by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow.
7. VoiceOver should tell you that the VoiceOver cursor is back on the Smart Controls Toolbar. Press VO+Right Arrow one time. VoiceOver should say, “Scroll Area.”

Note: Checking the Show Inspector checkbox in step 5 caused the Scroll Area to appear in the Smart Controls Group. Conversely, unchecking the Show Inspector checkbox will cause the Scroll Area to be hidden.

8. Interact with the Scroll Area by pressing Shift+VO+Down Arrow.
9. Locate the Plug-ins button at the bottom of the Scroll Area. Pressing VO+End will often jump the VoiceOver cursor right to it. Otherwise, use your VO+Up and Down, or VO+Left and Right Arrow keys as needed to locate the Plug-ins button.
10. With the VoiceOver cursor on the Plug-ins button, press VO+Spacebar to activate it.
11. Press VO+Right Arrow several times until the VoiceOver cursor lands on the Audio FX group. This is the name of the Plug-ins table.
12. Interact with the Audio FX Group by pressing Shift+VO+Down Arrow.
13. The VoiceOver cursor should now be on the first entry in the plug-ins table. Press VO+End to jump the VoiceOver cursor to the last entry in the table.
14. If the VoiceOver cursor lands on either an Insert pop up button or an Audio FX pop up button, press VO+Spacebar to activate it. Otherwise, press VO+Left Arrow until the VoiceOver cursor lands on either an Insert pop up button or an Audio FX pop up button. Then press VO+Spacebar to activate the button.

Note: Since the Plug-ins table can contain four or more plug-ins, these last two steps make sure that when the Gain plug-in is added to the table, it will be added to the end of the table.
The Insert pop up buttons and Audio FX pop up buttons are essentially the same thing. They both represent empty slots where plug-in can be added to the table.

15. When either an Insert pop up button or an Audio FX pop up button is activated, VoiceOver should say something like: menu, checked, No Plug-in.
The VoiceOver cursor should now be on the first item in a menu. Except for the first item, the menu contains a list of Plug-in categories. When the first item, No Plug-in, is checked, it means that this slot in the plug-ins table is currently empty. This is what you want because your goal is to add a Gain plug-in to the table. To do this, press VO+Down Arrow until the VoiceOver cursor lands on the Utility submenu.
16. Press Right Arrow one time. VoiceOver should say, Gain. This may be the only plug-in currently in the Utility category.
17. Press the Enter key to select the Gain Plug-in. This will add the Gain plug-in to the table, and open the Settings window for the Gain plug-in.
18 When the Settings window first opens, VoiceOver should speak the name of the track that you selected back in the Track Headers Group. This track name text field lets you know that you haven’t accidentally selected a different track along the way. Press VO+Right Arrow several times until VoiceOver tells you that the VoiceOver cursor has landed on the Scroll Area.
19. Interact with the Scroll Area. VoiceOver should say something like:
“In scroll area 3 items Gain:” The VoiceOver cursor is on a text label that says, "Gain:".
20. Pressing VO+Right Arrow one time brings the VoiceOver cursor to the dB slider. Pressing VO+Right Arrow a second time brings the VoiceOver cursor to the percent slider. Changing the value of one slider automatically changes the value of the other slider, so choose which control you prefer to adjust. For example, you could adjust the percent slider up to 90 or 95% to boost gain above the default value of 80%.
21. When done, stop interacting with the Scroll Area by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow.
22. Press VO+Command+Home to jump the VoiceOver cursor to the Setting Window Close button. Press VO+Spacebar to activate it.
23. The Settings window should close, and the VoiceOver cursor should be in a new window that you haven’t yet seen in this exercise. It is the Gain plug-in’s main window. It contains three controls:

• Bypass checkbox – Checking this box turns the plug-in on, and unchecking it turns the plug-in off.
• Setting button – Takes you to the Settings window you just visited. Here you can adjust the gain level.
• List button – Takes you to the menu of plug-in categories that you were in earlier. Here you can replace the current plug-in by selecting a different one. Or, you can select the No Plug-in option to remove the currently selected plug-in from the table.

24. Stop interacting with the Gain window by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow. VoiceOver should say something like: Out of Gain Group. The VoiceOver cursor should now be back in the Plug-ins table on an item labeled Gain Group. The Plug-ins table may contain other plug-ins such as Compressor Group or Channel EQ Group. And it should contain some empty slots labeled either Insert pop up button or Audio FX pop up button. Interacting with a plug-in (group) allows you to make changes to it.
25. Stop interacting with the Plug-ins table by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow. The VoiceOver cursor should be back in the Smart Controls Inspector Scroll Area.
26. Stop interacting with the Inspector Scroll Area by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow. The VoiceOver cursor should be back in the Smart Controls Group. Stop interacting with the Smart Controls Group by pressing Shift+VO+Up Arrow.

Note: There are navigation shortcuts but in the instructions above, I chose to demonstrate step-by-step navigation so that people with less experience may better understand the overall process.


You have now added a Gain plug-in to your track. You may need to interact with the track to adjust its volume control.

The above steps are intended to show you how to quickly add a Gain plug-in to one of your project tracks. Of course, you can generalize these instructions to add any of the other available plug-ins to a track as well. There is much regarding plug-ins that I didn’t discuss. For example, the order in which plug-ins occur in the table makes a difference since the outputs of earlier plug-ins become the inputs to subsequent plug-ins. You can search the Web for suggestions on order of placement (such as guitar effects chains) or you can just experiment.

Unfortunately, VoiceOver doesn’t speak the labels for all plug-in controls. The Gain plug-in happens to be easy to use. Some plug-ins, however, contain many more controls. When VoiceOver doesn’t tell you what slider controls or buttons are for, it becomes more of a challenge to use those plug-ins without sighted help.

Good luck

#5 Selecting in Garage Band

So one of the things I remember from my studio session days when I was younger; the engineers would, even with software, be able to quickly back up and replay a small segment. Just a bar, half a bar, etc.
Now I get using regions, etc. But what about when you're trying to specify a region? You want to be able to select and play in place. I see this described with the mouse all the time, dragging along a line, etc. Any way we can select in a track with VoiceOver? Seems like you could more quickly remove something by selecting it and then removing it if it's just one small sour note, etc.
Are there VO methods for doing this?



#6 Repositioning Regions on the Fly


Let's look at a scenario. I created a new GB project using the Empty Project template. This automatically opened the New Track dialogue where I created a software instrument track. Next, I went to the Apple Loops Group and interacted with the Loops table. There are groupings or families of loops whose members all work well together. One such grouping is the family of loops whose names all begin with "Two Step". I copied an electric bass loop into my project, made sure that it started at bar one, and looped it so it plays for twelve bars. I did the same with a drum loop. Then, I copied in a two bar organ loop and left its length as two bars.

Next, I extended the cycle region to twelve bars so that the twelve bars loop over and over. Only the organ plays from bars 1 through two. The idea of this scenario is that the organ loop will be the object of "listening" as I move it around to a place that sounds good to me while the other tracks are playing.

A sighted mouse user can simply place the cursor on the organ's region and drag it left or right to adjust its starting position. Or, drag on the left or right edge of the region to change its length. Note that Lengthening software or audio regions only adds silence before or after the initial region. And shortening these regions permanently erases the data that the edge (border handle) passes over. Undo doesn't recover the erased data so save your work prior to changing the length of a region in ccase you want to go back to where you started.

A mouse user can click anywhere on the time line during playback and the playhead will jump to that point and begin playing. The closest thing that a VoiceOver user can do on the fly is to use the Period and Comma keys during playback to move the playhead forward or backwards.

By the way, since it can be hard to tell when a cycled region starts over each time, you can record a single note to an empty track at the first beat of the cycle region. For example, the New Track dialogue created an empty Classic Electric Piano track. Select that track, press the Enter key to jump the cursor to the beginning of the track, press Command+K to open the Musical Typing window, press R to begin recording, listen to the default one bar count in, and type the letter A on beat one of the next bar. Note that if you press during the count in, the note will not record. Press Command+K to close Musical Typing. Now, everytime the cycle region starts over, you will know it because you will hear that single note. Delete that track when no longer needed.

So, the cycle region begins as we hear the single note, the two bars of organ play, and the rest of the twelve measures of bass and drums. All this repeats until the cycle region is turned off.

Now we want to reposition the organ region by ear. Go to the Tracks Contents Group, and select the organ track. If there is only one region it will be selected automatically. With the region selected, press Control+Option+Command+Accent to start the Move Item function. Note that the Accent key is beneath the Escape key.

Recall that the cycle region is playing all this time. The left and right arrows will move the entire region to the left or to the right. How much the region moves with each press of an arrow key depends on the Horizontal Zoom value. This control can be found when you first interact with the Tracks Group. When Horizontal Zoom is set to zero percent, each press of the left or right arrow may move the region by four or five bars. When Horizontal Zoom is set to one hundred percent, each press of an arrow key may only move the position of the region by a sixteenth note, a thirty-second note, or perhaps even less (I haven't checked it out lately.). Note that Command+Left and Command+Right arrow are shortcuts for changing Horizontal Zoom.

Once the region is where you want it, press the Escape key to terminate the Move Item function.

As I said, this can be done while the cycle region is running. To try to do this without the cycle region would seem overly tedious to me.

Slicing a region on the fly seems problematic for a VoiceOver user. The slice command (Command+T) depends on the position of the playhead, and since the playhead is in motion, it is hard to slice with precision. It is better to stop playback, position the playhead precisely, and then press Command+T so that the slice occurs exactly where you want it.

I don't know if this scenario answers your question but it is all that I can think of for a VoiceOver user to do. Unfortunately, using VoiceOver commands is much clunkier than using a mouse.

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#7 Using the GarageBand Tuner with Greater Speed and Accuracy

Using the GarageBand Tuner with Greater Speed and Accuracy

Though the tuner in GarageBand is accessible using VoiceOver, as with any digital tuner, it can be frustrating at times. This post discusses my method for improving the speed and accuracy when using the GarageBand tuner.

Before I had access to a digital tuner, I tuned my guitar by ear, using recordings of the six pitches of standard tuning. This seemed to work well enough, but once I had access to a digital tuner, I realized that tuning to the six recordings wasn’t very precise, given my less than perfect hearing. So, the discovery of accessible digital tuners was exciting. Talking Tuner for iOS is one such tuner. GarageBand on the Mac is another.

If you are familiar with digital tuners, you know that you pluck a string, perhaps on a guitar, and the digital tuner indicates whether the string is below the desired pitch, or above it.
If the string is below the desired pitch, you tighten the tuning peg, and if the string is above the desired pitch, you loosen the tuning peg. You incrementally adjust the tuning peg until the digital tuner indicates that the string is in tune.

The way the GarageBand tuner on the Mac works is that you pluck a string, and a small display in the tuner dialogue indicates the closest note (pitch). For example, if you pluck the six string on your guitar, the note “E” might appear in the display. Suppose that you want to tune your six string to “D”. Loosen string six until the display indicates “D”. Since the display shows pitch in semitones, on the way from “E” to “D,” “D#” will appear before “D”. The next, step is to fine tune the string. Following the note display is the number of cents display. The cents display indicates how far above or below the string is from exact pitch by showing a number between positive fifty and negative fifty, with zero being exact pitch. So, for example, if the pitch display indicates “D,” and the cents display indicates negative 27, you tighten the tuning peg a bit. You repeat the process of plucking the string and checking the cents display until you arrive at zero. If you go too far and end up with a positive number, you know to loosen the tuning peg. In this way, you tighten or loosen the string until the cents display indicates zero. Therefore, when the note display indicates “D” and the cents display indicates zero, the guitar string is perfectly tuned to “D”.

Note: To hear numbers spoken as negative, you will want to set VoiceOver verbosity to speak most or all punctuation.

Now, if only getting the cents display to zero was as easy as it sounds. Actually, it is easy sometimes. But at other times, the cents value seems to resist getting to zero, jumping above, below, above again until you want to pull your hair out. So, to preserve your sanity, you might have to accept that negative two or positive one is close enough. And, instead of taking only a few minutes, tuning six strings might take a half hour. This is not just a Mac problem, I experience the same issue on iOS.

As discussed above, tuning my guitar by ear is not reliable, given my less than perfect hearing. And, using just the digital tuner has its own challenges. I have discovered that combining the two methods increases reliability and speeds up the process of tuning.

First, I created a GarageBand project which I named Standard Tuning. I then added a new software instrument track for each guitar string I wanted to tune. I created six tracks for the standard tuning of a six string guitar, and four tracks for the standard tuning of a four string electric bass. Interacting with the Tracks Header Group, the following tracks are shown in my project:

Track 1 “E4” group
Track 2 “B3” group
Track 3 “G3” group
Track 4 “D3” group
Track 5 “A2” group
Track 6 “E2” group
Track 7 “Input 1, Acoustic Guitar” group
Track 8 “Input 2, Electric Guitar/Bass” group
Track 9 “Bass G2” group
Track 10 “Bass D2” group
Track 11 “Bass A1” group
Track 12 “Bass E1” group
Track 13 “Master Track” group

My external audio interface supports two input channels. When I want to tune an acoustic guitar, I plug an instrument microphone into input one. Note track seven above. My interface has an hi-z switch on input two, so input two is where I plug in an electric guitar or bass. Note track eight above. Both tracks have Input Monitoring enabled.

Each guitar/bass track contains a single MIDI note. I have also created a one measure cycle region, and the cycle function is turned on by default. Furthermore, all guitar and bass tracks are muted by default (but not tracks seven and eight) .

Following is the procedure I use for tuning

1. After opening the Standard Tuning project, and ensuring that the guitar to be tuned is plugged into the appropriate input source, arrow up to either track one (guitar) or down to track nine (bass).

2. After selecting a track, press the letter “S” to solo the track. (Soloing a track overrides the muted status.)

3. Press the Spacebar to begin cycled playback of the soloed track.

4. Arrow down to either track seven or track eight, depending on the type of guitar to be tuned.

5. Jump the VoiceOver cursor to the Control Bar Toolbar, and check the Tuner checkbox. If The Tuner checkbox is dimmed, go back to the Tracks Header Group and make sure that either track seven or eight is selected.

6. When the Tuner dialogue opens, VoiceOver should verify (speak) the selected input source.

Note: Recall that the selected track is playing all the while.

7. Press VO+Semicolon to turn on VO lock.
With the VO keys locked, you can press the left and right arrow keys simultaneously causing VoiceOver to speak the item under the VoiceOver cursor. It is faster to pluck a guitar string and then quickly reach up to simultaneously press the two arrow keys than using two hands to press VO+F3. If the VO keys are not locked, pressing the two arrow keys will toggle quickNav on/off. I don't use QuickNav with GarageBand.

8. Since VO lock is enabled, simply right arrow past the 440 Hz reference pitch indicator, and stop on the note display. If a guitar string hasn’t been plucked in the last few seconds, the word “None” should be displayed.

9. Pluck the guitar or bass string corresponding to the selected track’s note, i.e., the note that is currently playing. Then reach up and simultaneously press the left and right arrow keys. VoiceOver should speak the name of the note, for example, “E”. If this is the note you want, go to the next step. Otherwise, use the string’s tuning peg to tighten or loosen the string, and then recheck the note display by simultaneously pressing the left and right arrow keys. Repeat this step until the desired note is displayed.

10. Next, right arrow one time to the Cents display. Pluck the guitar or bass string corresponding to the selected track’s note. Then reach up and simultaneously press the left and right arrow keys. VoiceOver should speak the number of cents. If the number is a positive number, loosen the tuning peg a bit and recheck the display by simultaneously pressing the left and right arrow keys. If the number is negative, tighten the tuning peg a bit and recheck the display. Repeat the process until zero is reached.

Note: If zero is reached, then great. However, if the tuner resists landing on zero, you can at least hear both the reference pitch (the track being played) and the pitch of your guitar. On those occasions where the cents number seems to jump above, below, above, you can hear that it isn’t the guitar string’s pitch that is jumping around, but rather, it is the tuner itself. Because you can hear both pitches, you have far greater confidence that the guitar string is acceptably in tune, even if the best number you can arrive at is something like positive one or negative one.

Note: I prefer to approach zero from the negative number side. In other words, I prefer to arrive at zero by slowly tightening the guitar string rather than loosening it.

11. Once the string is fine tuned to your satisfaction, press VO+Semicolon to turn off VO lock.

12. Press VO+J. This command will jump the VoiceOver cursor out of the tuner dialogue and into the Tracks Time Ruler Time Line. Press VO+J a second time and the VoiceOver cursor jumps to the selected track in the Tracks Header Group. The selected track should be either track seven or track eight.

Note: VO+J is the Go To Linked Item command. It is one of my most used navigation commands. If you are not familiar with it, play around with it with various combinations of editor windows open. One very important use for this command is when the Piano Roll editor is open. VO+J will eventually jump the VoiceOver cursor to the selected MIDI note in the Piano Roll Layout Area.

13. Arrow to the track whose guitar note is currently playing, and press the letter “S” to un-solo the track. The track’s muted status should resume and the note should stop playing.

Note: In the Tracks Header Group, I try to use the arrow keys without the VO keys because, for some reason, the VO+Arrow Keys don’t always move focus to the newly selected track, as they should

14. Arrow to the track corresponding to the next guitar string to be tuned, and press the letter “S”. That track’s note should start playing.

15. Arrow back to either track seven or track eight to reselect the appropriate input source.

16. While holding down the VO keys, press F2 twice to open the Window Chooser dialogue. Down arrow to the tuner dialogue and press the Enter key. The VoiceOver cursor should be back in the tuner dialogue. Press VO+Semicolon to turn on VO lock again

17. Repeat steps ten through sixteen until all strings are tuned. Once finished, you can simply close the Standard Tuning project.

Note: Guitarists will know that E2 is the note (pitch) designation for string six on a six string guitar in standard tuning.
It is important to understand that different manufacturer’s of MIDI software and hardware may have somewhat different note designations for the exact same pitch. For example, GarageBand designates standard tuning E2 as E1. This means that to match standard tuning E2, the note in the GarageBand Piano Roll Layout Area must be:

Note at 1 bar 1 beat 1 division 1 tick , E1 layout item

If you are not familiar with how MIDI data is represented in the Piano Roll editor, the word “Note” specifies that the item is a MIDI note event.
At 1 bar 1 beat 1 division 1 tick, is the starting position of the note on the time line. E1 is the pitch of the note.

Therefore, to match standard tuning E4 , the note in the Piano Roll Layout Area must be E3.
Standard tuning B3 must be designated in the Piano Roll Layout Area as B2.
Standard tuning G3 must be designated in the Piano Roll Layout Area as G2.
Standard tuning D3 must be designated in the Piano Roll Layout Area as D2.
Standard tuning A2 must be designated in the Piano Roll Layout Area as A1.
Standard tuning E2 must be designated in the Piano Roll Layout Area as E1, and so on.


All of the above may seem overly complicated, or even overkill, but the process goes very quickly once you know what to do. The benefit , at least according to my experience, is that I can tune my guitars and bass with much greater speed and accuracy.

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#8 Is Quick Help in Garage Band no help at all?

In GarageBand the second item in the control bar is the ‘Quick Help’ button. Is there any way to get VoiceOver to read the coaching tips that it provides? Thanks to Bo Jingles for helping to make the Accessibility features of Mac OS more Accessible.



#9 Automation?

Has anyone had any luck using automation in Garageband, I, E, setting a parameter to change during a track. automation is a super essential tool in audio editing, and it's the one thing I have never figured out how to do in Garageband. I'm pretty sure that it's simply not accessible.

#10 Automation

Automation is not accessible using VoiceOver and-or the OS Mouse Keys function. In essence, automation is based on the ability to move control points around on automation curves, and to select values for each condtrol point. The one automation feature that VoiceOver can take advantage of is the Fade Out function. Fade Out is a good example to illustrate how automation works. A control point is moved to a point on the time line. Let's say that you would like to begin fading out at around eleven seconds before the end of the song. A control point would be moved to that point and then you would select the volume parameter and the volume level. You would then set another control point at, let's say, seven seconds, this time choosing an even lower volume level, and so on. Fortunately, the Fade Out function does a good job, because the VoiceOver user can't access the controls to adjust the duration of the Fade Out. It would be nice to have a Fade In funcgtion, or to be abel to construct one, but, unfortunately, we can't do it. The only global control I've ever been able to access is transposition track.
It involves use of both VoiceOver and extensive use of the OS Mouse Keys function. It is incredibly tedious and time consuming to achieve. So much so, that I didn't attempt to write up the procedure at the time that I learned it.

Accessible automation is high on my wish list. Another wish is accessible meter levels.

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#11 Logic Pro X

This isn't directly related to the topic but I've heard the Logic Pro X is completely accessible if not more accessible that Garageband. I even took a basic class on it.

#12 Reaper

Again, not completely related, but Reaper is also highly accessible even with the Mac. It's a fully featured DAW, though it does unfortunately not come with its own virtual instruments like Garage Band. Still one of the best workstations on either Mac or PC in terms of power and accessibility - not to mention the low, low cost.

#13 Automation

Regarding automation, I also own Logic Pro X. It is true that the VoiceOver user can do more with it than with GarageBand. However, some of the same limitations are found in both apps. For instance, automation. In other words, automation is currently not accessible in Logic Pro X, nor in GarageBand. The reason is that automation was designed as a graphical control requiring the use of a pointing device to manipulatemultiple control points.
VoiceOver just can't deal with this type of graphical control. It would be nice if alternate method accessible to VoiceOver would be added to both apps. Until then, be nice to your sighted friends.

Recall that I mentioned the fade out function in GarageBand (it is also available in Logic). By simply clicking the button, a routine (perhaps an Apple Script) is triggered which automatically creates a fade out on the Master Track. The main reason that Logic can do more than GarageBand is that there is an extensive library of routines (Apple Scripts?) that can perform various functions. Many of these functions have keyboard shortcuts assigned, to them by default, but many others do not. It is possible to assign your own keyboard shortcuts to any of the available functions.

With regard to the app named Reaper, it is nice to have options. I wonder if documentation specific to VoiceOver users exists. In other words, 99% of the available documentation for GarageBand (and Logic for that matter) is written for the sighted user and, as such, is inadequate for the needs of VoiceOver users.

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#14 Mapping nobs for automation

Any decent Digital Audio Workstation should allow you to map automatable parameters to the jobs and sliders of an external device, like a midi controller. This whould allow you to record automation with little fuss. I use Reaper, and so have no idea how to set something like this up in Garage Band or Logic.

#15 copying midi data from one track to another?

The first track is just something I played on my keyboard using the default sound.
Now I'd like to take the data on that track, then copy it to another instrument track, so I would not have to play the same thing over again.
Kind of like layering piano with strings.

#16 Automationwith external MIDI Controllers

In response to Remy:

You make a good point with regard to MIDI controllers. GarageBand is capable of responding to, and recording, MIDI data from external MIDI keyboards and controllers. Your point is that even if you can’t manually create and edit automation events in GarageBand because VoiceOver cannot deal with automation’s graphical controls, it should at least be possible to create automation events by means of external MIDI controllers. For example, lets say you have a cool synth sound and you would like to cause it to pan around in the stereo field at certain points in the song. The implication is that you have an external MIDI controller with knobs or faders or pedals that can be assigned to various MIDI control parameters such as volume or pan. Then, the knob or fader or pedal assigned to pan would be adjusted in real time while the synth track is being recorded.

The answer posted by stevel on the following forum gives a good overview of the process and things to consider:

While the possibility of achieving automation through performance is good, it has its limitations. Primarily, a VoiceOver user won’t be able to edit the performance after the fact unless a sighted friend helps out. In any case, your insight on achieving automation via external MIDI control is a good one.

#17 Upgrading from GarageBand to Logic Pro X: A Primer for VO Users

Dear VoiceOver User:

If you are wondering whether it is worth the time and money to upgrade to Logic Pro X, the short answer is yes. While there are still some limitations to accessibility, not only can you do everything that you can do in GarageBand, but you can do so much more.

Even though GarageBand and Logic pro X share the same basic user interface, I quickly discovered that Logic Pro X is organized very differently. With my struggles to figure it out fresh in mind, I decided to write this primer to make it easier for GarageBand users to upgrade to Logic Pro X.

Who Is This Primer For?

This primer is written for people who are already familiar with VoiceOver and GarageBand. For example, if I say "navigate to the Smart Controls Group and interact with it," or, "open the Loops Browser and copy a certain loop into the Tracks Header Group," it is best if you already know how to do these things without needing step-by-step instructions. To get the most out of this primer, you should have access to both GarageBand and Logic Pro X, so that you can follow along as you read. You will be switching back and forth between GarageBand and Logic. As of this writing, the current version of GarageBand is 10.3.2, and the current version of Logic is 10.4.4.

This twenty-two page primer is free. I wrote it as a service to the blind community but, truth be told, the effort deepened my own understanding of both GarageBand and Logic Pro X. You may request a copy by emailing me at:

#18 Upgrading from GarageBand to Logic Pro x: A Book Recommendation

Upgrading from GarageBand to Logic Pro x: A Book Recommendation

I purchased the following book from Peach Pit Press:

Logic Pro X 10.4 - Apple Pro Training Series: Professional Music Production
David Nahmani
Copyright © 2018 by David Nahmani

The book costs approximately $50 and it can be downloaded in several formats including EPUB and PDF. The book guides you through step-by-step exercises using the included project files.

I personally learned a lot from this book. As a result, I can do far more using Logic than I ever could with GarageBand. Do I recommend this book? The short answer is maybe. Here's why.

The book was written for sighted users. As such, the instructions and exercises are oriented towards using a mouse and selecting from menus of various specialized mouse tips. As I worked through the exercises, I had to first comprehend what the author was instructing the reader to accomplish with the mouse, and then I tried to figure out an alternate method for accomplishing the same thing using some combination of VoiceOver and OS Mouse Keys. It is hard to know exactly, but I probably figured out work-a-rounds for 70-80 percent of the exercises. For me, this was well worth the time and money. But for others, it might not be worth it.

If you are stout hearted enough to attempt this book like I did, I am open to collaborating on work-a-rounds. I will tell you that the book only scratched the surface of Logic's features so I am not a good source for answering general Logic questions. I will point out that there are a lot of good resources online. As an example, I typically begin by formatting a search query as follows: logic pro x VCA. In this case VCA is a specific concept/feature of Logic. True, these resources are almost entirely for sighted users but knowing what a feature is, and how it is designed to work, is half way towards a potential solution.

I can be reached at:

#19 Editing Midi Notes in Garage band or logic

Hi. So I have just started to get into midi and music production and I should hopefully be getting a mac very soon with garage band and logic. My question is, is there an accessible way to edit Midi notes, for example if you make a wrong note in a performance and need to change it's pitch or velocity? Thanks in Advance.

#20 Editing Midi Notes in Garage band or logic

Yes, MIDI notes can be edited in GarageBand and Logic. You can edit pitch, velocity, note duration, and note start time. Not only can you edit notes from a performance, you can create MIDI sequences from scratch without playing an instrument at all. Furthermore, you can edit software instrument loops from the loop library to customize them to your liking.

While GarageBand and Logic are designed with the capability to edit other MIDI event types such as pitch bend, modulation, sustain, volume, pan, etc., those edit features are not currently accessible using VoiceOver. However, anything you can perform from your MIDI controller will be captured. So, you may need to perform over and over until you get it right. Suppose that you have a performance that is just right except for one thing. If the mistake is a MIDI note, you can edit it using VoiceOver. But, if the mistake is on some other MIDI event type, you will need to perform it again until you get it right.

Now, here is an interesting thing. If you reccord over a previously recorded software instrument track section with the Merge function enabled, you can first perform your sequence of notes and then subsequently add pan, volume changes, etc, by turning knobs or faders on yur external MIDI controller. If you didn't get the panning just right, for example, you can undo and try again. Even without an external controller, you can create pan changes, for example, by changing the pan control in the track header while recording. While it can be done, it may be awkward to get the exact results you want.

I am relatively new to Logic, so I don't have a firm grasp of what all you can and cannot do with MIDI control events. On the surface, the limitations seem to be the same as in GarageBand but I suspect that there may be a bit more possible in Logic.

There is currently a bug in Logic that I have reported. What is happening to me is that essentially, VoiceOver is failing to accurately report velocity values. There is more to the bug but I'll leave it at that. I will note that Logic seems to be working correctly. The problem seems to be with VoiceOver. Hopefully the problem will be fixed with the next release of Logic/VoiceOver.

#21 How to change the pitch of a note?

Awesome! It's cool to find out that I can do that. Another question, what are the steps to adjust the pitch of a note with voiceover?

#22 How to change the pitch of a note?


Email me at: and I will send you a write-up on the Piano Roll Editor. I wrote it for GB version 10.1.6 but it should still be mostly accurate since not too much has changed in the Piano Roll Editor.

Be Well