How to Connect Keyboard to GarageBand

You can connect a keyboard to GarageBand for your Mac by connecting a USB chord from the keyboard to your computer or by using an audio interface. You can also connect compatible Bluetooth MIDI keyboards to GarageBand iOS. 

I’m Donovan, and I love to write and record music. I’ve used GarageBand extensively over the years to do many different music projects, and I’m very familiar with connecting a keyboard to the app. 

This post will show you how to connect a keyboard to GarageBand. I’ll walk you through the steps to connect an external keyboard to your Mac or iPhone and provide you with some other important information to keep in mind. 

Let’s get after it. 

How to Connect Keyboard to GarageBand Mac

Connecting a keyboard to GarageBand on your Mac is easy. You can connect a keyboard directly to your computer or use an external audio interface. Either of these will let you control software instruments and perform other tasks within the app. 

Before we get into the details of how to make this happen, you need to ensure that you have all the necessary cables to connect your keyboard. Without these, there is no way to actually connect the keyboard to your computer unless it’s a Bluetooth keyboard. 

Most keyboards connect via some type of USB connection. But you still might need an adapter or expansion port to connect this to your computer, especially if you have a newer Mac. I have a 2019 MacBook Pro, and I use a port to give me several standard USB 3 inputs. 

Each brand and model of keyboard can have different required cables, so it’s always good to have these on hand when you want to start using yours with GarageBand or any other audio recording app or software. 

Follow these steps to connect a keyboard to GarageBand on your Mac. 

1. Connect your keyboard to your computer using the required cables or ports. Make sure that the keyboard is powered on if it has a power switch and that the connector cables are in place and secure. 

2. Open the GarageBand app on your Mac. 

3. Open a new or existing GarageBand project. 

4. Click the Add Track button. This button looks like a + and is right above the main track window. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

5. Once you press the add track button, you’ll see a window with a few options for what type of track you want. Select the Software Instrument option on the left. 

6. Select Create.  

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

7. A new track will appear, and your keyboard should be connected as the controller. You can select any of the built-in software instruments and use your keyboard as a MIDI controller. Make sure that the volume is up and the track is unmuted to hear sounds. 

You can add as many additional software instrument tracks as you’d like, and they will all be connected to and controlled by your keyboard.

How to Connect Keyboard to GarageBand Mac with Audio Interface

Follow these steps to connect your keyboard to GarageBand in Mac using an audio interface. 

1. Connect your audio interface to your computer using the proper cables. Ensure the interface is plugged into a power source and turned on. 

2. Connect your keyboard to one of the inputs on the audio interface using the proper cables. 

3. Open the GarageBand app on your Mac. 

4. Open a new or existing project in GarageBand. 

5. Select a track you want to be controlled by your keyboard. 

6. Select the Smart Controls button to pull up the track menu. 

7. Select your audio interface for the input source on the track. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

8. Your computer should now be connected to GarageBand through your audio interface, and you can control software instruments and other features in the app.   

How to Connect Keyboard to GarageBand iPhone

The iOS version of GarageBand is a bit different than the version for Mac. Some people don’t connect a keyboard to their iPhones or iPads because they like to use the touch keyboard that is included. 

But you can still connect a keyboard directly to your iPhone if you have a Bluetooth keyboard. If you have the cables to connect your keyboard directly to the port on your iPhone, all you need to do is plug and play. 

With the keyboard hardwired to your phone, it will automatically control the touch keyboard when you open GarageBand and start working within the app. 

Follow these steps to connect a Bluetooth-compatible keyboard to GarageBand on your iPhone. 

1. Turn your Bluetooth keyboard on and make sure it is in Discoverable mode. 

2. Tap the Settings icon on your iPhone. 

3. Tap Bluetooth. 

4. Tap the name of your keyboard from the list of available devices. It might take a few seconds, but it should pair, and then you’ll be able to use your keyboard via Bluetooth. 

Quick Note: I don’t always like to use Bluetooth connections for audio recording, if possible. You will more commonly experience latency issues (a delay in response from keyboard to audio workstation) when using Bluetooth rather than physical cables and connections.   

What to Do If MIDI Keyboard Is Not Working in GarageBand

If you are having trouble connecting your MIDI keyboard to GarageBand, don’t panic. The most common fix if your keyboard isn’t working is to close the app and restart it. This fixes many different glitches, such as GarageBand not recognizing a keyboard. 

If restarting the app doesn’t work, ensure all your cables are correctly connected and don’t look broken or worn out. A faulty cable will prevent your keyboard from connecting, and you might need a new one. 

You can also try unplugging all of the cables from your Mac and restarting the computer. This reset can fix minor glitches and often works to help connect a MIDI keyboard that isn’t working in GarageBand. 

About 90% of the time I’ve had issues with a keyboard not working in GarageBand, simply restarting the app or computer did the trick. This is good to keep in mind for any minor annoying glitches you might experience, as it works for other issues too.  

FAQs

Here are a few quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions relating to how to connect a keyboard to GarageBand. 

How do I connect my Bluetooth keyboard to GarageBand? 

You can connect your Bluetooth keyboard to GarageBand by using your Bluetooth settings on your iPhone. Make sure your Bluetooth keyboard is turned on and in discoverable mode. Then go to the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone and connect the device. 

What keyboards work with GarageBand? 

There are a number of different makes and models of keyboards that will work with GarageBand. Popular MIDI keyboards from brands like Yamaha, M-Audio, and Casio all work, and many others as well. Just make sure you have a Bluetooth option to use with your iPhone.

How do I connect my MIDI keyboard to the audio interface?

You can connect your MIDI keyboard to an audio interface using a USB cable or other compatible cable. You connect your keyboard to your audio interface and then the interface to a computer to use the MIDI keyboard as a controller and instrument. 

Final Thoughts

Connecting a keyboard to GarageBand is pretty simple. You can either connect a keyboard directly to your computer with the proper cables or through an audio interface when using the macOS version of the app. 

Using an external keyboard gives you a bit more control over playing and recording music. I always prefer a larger instrument’s feel to the virtual options in GarageBand. But you can make good music either way!

Have you used a connected keyboard in any of your GarageBand projects? How did it affect the final version of the song? Let me know in the comments below.

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