How to Open Keyboard in GarageBand

You can open the keyboard in GarageBand by pressing Command K to see the musical typing window. This will bring up an image of your computer keyboard set up like a musical keyboard, and you can control software instruments and other aspects with this.

My name is Donovan, and I spend most of my days writing and recording music. I have a lot of experience using GarageBand and other audio production apps, so I know how to access useful tools like the keyboard easily. 

This post will show you how to open the keyboard in GarageBand. I’ll walk you through the simple steps to do this on your Mac and iPhone and provide some other tips to keep in mind along the way. 

Let’s get rolling. 

Key Takeaways

  • The quickest way to pull up the keyboard in GarageBand for your Mac is to hit the shortcut Command K. This will pull up the musical typing window, which works like a keyboard. 
  • You can open the keyboard in GarageBand for iPhone by selecting the KEYBOARD option when creating a new project or track in a current project. 
  • Knowing how to open the keyboard gives you better control over playing and recording software instruments within GarageBand. 
  • If you are a serious keyboard player, you should consider getting an external MIDI keyboard to use with GarageBand or any other audio recording software.

Can you Play Keyboard on GarageBand? 

One of the best things about GarageBand is that it is free and simple to use. You don’t need much except a Mac or iPhone to start using the app and recording music. And if you are looking for a keyboard, you can play that in the app without having an external instrument. 

In GarageBand for your Mac, opening the keyboard is known as musical typing. This is a separate window that you can pull up that basically turns your regular computer keyboard into a musical keyboard.

You can control many different elements of GarageBand with the musical typing keyboard, from regular piano and keyboard sounds to other software instruments. 

In the iOS version of GarageBand for iPhone and iPad, you have the option to play the touch keyboard. This is a little more intuitive to use than musical typing and is a definite advantage of playing music in GarageBand on your mobile devices. 

But even though you can play the keyboard on GarageBand pretty easily, you might not want to if you are an experienced keyboard or piano player. Using an external keyboard connected to your computer or phone feels more natural to many people who like regular-sized instruments. 

How to Open Keyboard in GarageBand Mac

Opening the keyboard in GarageBand for your Mac is really easy, and you can use a shortcut to pull up the musical typing window whenever you want to use it. This comes in useful during the recording and editing process. 

To open the keyboard in GarageBand on your Mac, follow these steps: 

1. Open the GarageBand app on your Mac. 

2. Open the project you want to work on. 

3. Press Command K to pull up the musical typing window. A keyboard appears within the GarageBand project, similar to the image below. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

4. With the musical typing window open, you can now control software instruments within GarageBand by using the correct keys on your computer keyboard. You can change octaves, pitch bend, and alter the velocity of the track here as well. 

It can take some time to get used to playing keyboard on the musical keyboard, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a really efficient tool to help you record music if you don’t want to use an external keyboard. 

Quick Tip: You can get rid of the musical typing window by pressing Command K again whenever you want to clear up room on your screen for other aspects of your project. 

You can also open up a touch keyboard that you can control with your mouse. To do this, go to the Window tab on the main menu and then select Show Keyboard. A small keyboard will appear on the screen. You can also access musical typing here as an alternate method. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my Mac)

What to do if musical typing is not working?

If the GarageBand musical typing feature is not working, try closing out of the app and restarting it. This fixes most minor glitches, including losing access to the musical typing feature. Make sure to save your progress before you restart the app!

How to Move Keyboard

You can easily move the location of the touch keyboard or musical typing window in GarageBand for Mac. Just click and drag the window around like you would any other window on your computer. You can move it anywhere on the screen you want. 

How to Open Keyboard in GarageBand iPhone

The keyboard is also easy to access on GarageBand for your iPhone, but it’s done differently than in the Mac version. I think using the touch keyboard on your iPhone is easier than the musical typing or touch keyboard on your Mac. 

To open the keyboard in GarageBand on your iPhone, follow these steps: 

1. Open the GarageBand app on your iPhone. 

2. Open a new project or add a new track to an existing project. 

3. Select KEYBOARD from the available options when starting a new project or adding a track. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my iPhone)

4. Tap any of the options below the main keyboard or just open up the keyboard in the project window. You’ll now be able to use the keyboard to play and record in the app. 

It will appear as a full-screen touch piano, and you can play it with your fingers rather than using a keyboard as you do with musical typing. 

Quick Tip: To switch between the project view and the keyboard in GarageBand, press the icon indicated in the image below. To return to the touch keyboard, press the keyboard icon in the same location. 

(Screenshot taken in GarageBand on my iPhone)


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to how to open the keyboard in GarageBand. 

How do you open the piano roll in GarageBand?

The piano roll is a great tool to help you use software instruments within GarageBand and edit the parts you record. To access the piano roll, select the track or tracks you want to edit and then click the editor’s button in the control bar. The piano roll will appear at the bottom.  

How do I use the keyboard in GarageBand for iPad?

You can use the keyboard in GarageBand for iPad the same way you use the keyboard for iPhone. Both of these devices use the same version of the app, so the controls are the same. Choose the keyboard option for a new project or track, and the touch keyboard should appear. 

Final Thoughts

Everyone should know how to open the keyboard in GarageBand. Having access to the keyboard gives you a lot of control when playing MIDI and other software instruments and can make recording easier when you don’t have an external keyboard. 

I do recommend getting a MIDI keyboard if you plan on doing a lot of audio recording. A larger keyboard is easier to use than the keyboards that come built into the app, and I think this results in a better workflow. 

What sort of projects do you use the keyboard in GarageBand for? Do you use the built-in keyboards, or do you prefer having an external keyboard? Let me know in the comments below.

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