How to import audio files into GarageBand on iPad

Importing audio files in GarageBand: why do that?

Let’s say you or your students have created an audio file in another app or software program – maybe on a laptop even – and now you want to import that audio file into GarageBand because you’d like to use the Smart Drums to add a backing.
Or perhaps you want students to use GarageBand to record their voices over the top of a drum part they created elsewhere.
If you want to do this on the iPad only, you will need to use Apple’s iCloud Drive service as the “go-between”. Any audio files that have been placed into iCloud Drive can be imported into GarageBand (I have few tips below).

If you have the audio file in one of the other commonly-used cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox or the audio file is in your email inbox, you can still transfer it to GarageBand – you’ll simply need to get it from that location to iCloud Drive (and then import it into GarageBand from there).

Here are some instructions for a few different scenarios. Yep, it’s a bit fiddly and involved but it works and it’s WAY easier the second time you do it!

From iCloud Drive into GarageBand

If you have an audio file in iCloud Drive, here’s how you can import it into the GarageBand app:

  1. First open GarageBand
  2. Tap the “+” button and then choose Create New Song (DON’T choose Import from iCloud Drive!)
  3. Select the Audio Recorder (microphone) from the instrument selector
  4. Tap the Tracks View button
  5. Tap the Song Sections button (the “+” at top right of the screen)
  6. Tap Section A and turn Automatic on (this will allow GarageBand to accommodate the length of the file you’re importing. If the song section is too short, the file will be cropped)
  7. Tap the Loop Library button and choose Audio Files
  8. Tap Import from iCloud Drive
  9. Tap on the audio file you want to import. GarageBand will add it to the list of files
  10. Drag it into your project: tap and hold your finger on the audio file and drag it across into the empty audio recorder track (or even underneath the empty track – it doesn’t really matter)

From Google Drive into GarageBand

Basically you will save a copy of your Google Drive file into iCloud Drive first and then follow the steps above to get it into GarageBand.

  1. Open the Google Drive app on your iPad
  2. Locate the audio file you want to import into GarageBand
  3. Tap the vertical 3 dots that appear next to the file name and choose Send A Copy
  4. Tap Open In
  5. Wait while the file exports
  6. Then tap the Add To iCloud Drive option.  It doesn’t feel like anything happens at that point (!) but it will be added to iCloud Drive
  7. Follow the instructions in the From iCloud Drive To GarageBand section above

From Dropbox into GarageBand

As with Google Drive, you will save a copy of your Dropbox file into iCloud Drive first and then follow the steps in the From iCloud Drive To GarageBand section above to get it into GarageBand.

  1. Open the Dropbox app on your iPad
  2. Locate the audio file you want to import into GarageBand
  3. Tap the “…” button at the top right of the screen
  4. Choose Export and then choose Open In
  5. Wait while the file exports
  6. Then tap the Add To iCloud Drive option.  It doesn’t feel like anything happens at that point (!) but it will be added to iCloud Drive
  7. Follow the instructions in the From iCloud Drive To GarageBand section above

From email attachment to GarageBand

Instructions for this depend on which email client you are using (Gmail, Apple Mail etc), but the overall steps are:

  1. Open your email app
  2. Locate the email with the audio file attachment you want to import into GarageBand
  3. Save or export the audio file into iCloud Drive (exact instructions vary depending on email app used)
  4. Follow the instructions in the From iCloud Drive To GarageBand section above

 

From another music app to GarageBand

If you have created something in another music app on your iPad – like a wicked-sounding drum pattern from DM1 or a looping masterpiece from Loopy HD – and you want to transfer it directly to GarageBand, here are some options:

  1. Use the Audiocopy or Inter-App Audio feature.  This article from Tuts+ has a great explanation of how to do that.
  1. Use the Audiobus app which is an alternative to GarageBand’s inbuilt the Inter-App audio feature.

Further reading

Apple’s help article on importing audio files into GarageBand can be found here (includes instructions on how to import audio using iTunes).