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Transferring GarageBand Files into other DAWs (Pro Tools, etc…) April 21, 2008

Posted by ConnorSmith in : Digital Audio Workstations, GarageBand, Pro Tools , trackback

If you have a session going in GarageBand, and want to transfer to another DAW (like Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Cubase etc…), you can.  It’s not as clean as transferring from GarageBand to Logic (since you can just open the file up), but this will work just fine for you.

The basic process is going to be soloing each track you have and individually exporting it to disk.  Then, once all tracks are exported, you will import them into your DAW (such as using the Import Audio command in Pro Tools).

Let’s look at this GarageBand demo song.

Daydream Demo Song in Garageband

There are 8 different tracks that we need to individually export.   Start by soloing the Rock Kit track and choosing Share>Export Song to Disk.  (Notice that the yellow headphone icon is highlighted on my Rock Kit track, indicating that the track is soloed).

Rock Kit Track

When you choose this, a dialog box will open asking you where you’d like to save the file.  I would go ahead and make a folder to put the tracks into.  (You’ll see later that I am exporting all my tracks to a folder on the desktop called “Daydream Export”).  Repeat this export process for each track in your song.  Be sure to label the exported files properly so that when you import them into the new DAW you can easily identify them.

Now that my files are all exported, this is what my folder of files looks like:

Folder of Exported Files

This is an easy way to transfer your GarageBand files into Pro Tools (or whatever DAW you may be using).  Just keep organized, and this process runs very smoothly.

(You can also use the freeze tracks function, described in the comments below.  This is a little faster way to do it, but a little more complicated)


The Studio Files


1. Michael Dees - October 6, 2008

Thanks. I was curious about this. I’d purchased an ausio interface (m-audio profire 2626) that works with pro tools m-powered and I have LE. So I wanted to use another program just to capture the signal and then transport those files to pro tools for editting. I knew you could import audio files into pro tools but wasn’t sure how best to do it from garage band. This helps a lot.

2. Patico - October 28, 2008

I have been struggling with SoundFlower to do the same at once for 16 chanels of a GB song transferred into Digital performer.
I know it is possible…However, due to he cplexity, loneliness and frustration, I think I will do with the method you indicated…

3. liquidice - January 3, 2009

if ur dealing w/ large track counts, this could take a while. here’s a more elegant solution:


4. Damon Sink - January 3, 2009


I checked the link, but the only different technique that I see is to extract .aif files from the .band package contents. This will work if every track is continous from the beginning. If your individual tracks have more than one section, then you’ll need to mix them down one by one. If I’m missing something cool, please help me out.

[@ Patico] Sorry I missed this. I have done this with DP, it will work. Did you create an aggregate audio device in Core Audio? You have to do this so that your sound card/interface works at the same time as Soundflower. Once you have done so, then Core Audio gives you the option to use different I/O selections from different devices (including Soundflower) simultaneously.

The Studio Files

5. Arvie Lowe, Jr - January 3, 2009

My adventures into this have been met with both JOY and PAIN!!LOL I must say that the bouncing was my only option but I’m having the Darndest time getting ALL my tracks into PT LE cuz they all come in as STEREO files, I need em to be MONO when they get into PT but HOW??? It’s driving me insane!

6. ConnorSmith - January 5, 2009

Although the files coming out of garageband will be 2-channel, it has the same information that your mono tracks in Garageband have.

Any specific reason why you need true mono?

7. ARVIE lowe Jr - January 6, 2009

Here’s the interesting bit, I’m running PTLE an I would loose stereo tracks importing all those aiff files into PT so 1 or more wouldn’t play.. To solve the issue, I took the aiffs that I didn’t want to be stereo (L+R) trks, converted them to single mono wav’s in QuickTime and walla. I now have the trks set up the exact way I wanted them from GB in PT, works awesome.. The sound quality bouncing trks from pro-tools VS GB is so much better!! I just needed some edge and more control over mixing and although I’m a novice producer, this seems to be a wicked combo! Thanks to all u guys for the input!! Now if I could just get better PT plug INS (lost my ilok) then I’m hitting the ground running.. I must say GB’s plug-in’s are so sick!!

8. ARVIE lowe Jr - January 6, 2009

Quick question for Damon…

In the diagram above, why do all your tracks u bounced from GB look like .m4a’s not. What’s the deal with that bit of business??

9. Damon Sink - January 6, 2009


They are m4a (MPEG-4) which is the container. Connor can elaborate (this is his post) but I think what’s contained is an Apple Lossless file?


10. Arvie Lowe, Jr - January 6, 2009

Oh, okay, Thanks Damon. Cuz when I do the export in GB, my default for it is .aiff, just wondering was there a setting in preference or something that I’m missing or is M4a like BETTER? lol
just wondering..

11. Bill - January 8, 2009

Precisely the info I needed. Thanks for posting!

12. david smith - March 18, 2009

I’d like to export separate gband trax so I can take these to another DAW in a studio where each track can be manipulated, mixed and mastered.

Using the technique you describe for gband exporting does each track end up on disk mono or stereo? Can that be controlled during the export process. If stereo is the only option, can each track be manipulated by the DAW/studio (like a protools or Cubase) into mono. Thanks!

13. mo - May 27, 2009

I have been attempting to either import Garageband files into Reason 3.0 or vice versa without any success………….

14. ConnorSmith - May 27, 2009


Reason does not handle audio files (or recording them)- it is MIDI and virtual synth/instruments program. Reason is not a DAW (although Propellerheads is releasing one soon)

That being said, Garageband now supports Rewire. You can use Rewire from within Garageband to “talk” to Reason instruments and effects.

15. j - July 15, 2009

but then wouldnt it be hard to line them up?

16. Dj Vic - August 19, 2009

I want to record my dj mix in garageband and then take it to pro tools for editing. How would I go about doing that?

17. ConnorSmith - October 28, 2009

@DJ Vic
This should help -

18. Martin Harp - October 30, 2009


You can bring audio into Reason, you just have to use one of the samplers to do so.

For everyone looking for the fastest way to transfer GB tracks into other DAWs: Freeze the tracks you want to export!

Open the GB file and freeze all of the tracks you want to export by clicking the lock icon next to the solo button.
With the tracks frozen, press play once (you don’t have to play the whole song, just press stop when the freezing is complete). Save the file, if you like, and close GB.

In Finder, goto the GB file and right/control-click, “show package contents”) and open the folder “Freeze Files”. There should be a number of stereo interleaved .aif files that correspond to the amount of tracks you froze (they should also be about the same size as each other). Alt-drag those to a new folder and import them into whatever DAW you prefer, assuming that DAW accepts .aif files. I say alt-drag because if you just drag them out of the folder GB won’t find them the next time you open that project, which may or may not be a big deal since they are just freeze files and can be replaced by repeating the steps above.

Note: If the track you froze is a mono track, the freeze file will still be a stereo file, but panning is ignored. Stereo tracks produce freeze files that retain their stereo image. All freeze files are pre-master track, meaning any effects you have on the master track do not effect the frozen files. Any effects within the track’s own effects chain is rendered when freezing (the purpose of freezing is to free up CPU if you’re running out of processing power).

Send me an Email if you have any questions regarding Garageband or Logic Pro.

19. ConnorSmith - October 31, 2009

^^Right, you can export the audio out of your DAW and load it up into say an NNXT or a Dr. Rex (with a few steps in between), but I’m pretty sure Mo was referring to trying to use Reason as a DAW.

Thanks for the freeze tracks addition – another reason why Garageband is such a cool program.

20. Robert Bryant - August 14, 2010

I’m trying to export Garageband tracks to Cubase Studio 5. I followed the directions above, but got an error message that says “not enough space on disk available for import”. I’ve got plenty of space on my hard drive. I’m running a Macbook Pro. I want to record in Garageband and edit in Cubase Studio 5.

21. Robert Bryant - August 14, 2010

I’m trying to export Garageband tracks to Cubase Studio 5. I followed the directions above, but got an error message that says “not enough space on disk available for import”. I’ve got plenty of space on my hard drive. I’m running a Macbook Pro. I want to record in Garageband and edit in Cubase Studio 5. Anyone help?

22. Beth - October 7, 2010

This is just a side note-
Opening a GB project with Logic automatically saves the GB audio files into the “audio files” folder in the project. So if you do have Logic, it’s way easier to open the project and use those audio files rather than exporting every track from GB.

23. Raf Pulejo - November 4, 2010

I just drag all the audio files from the Media folder in the Garage Band project into a blank project window in Cubase, opt for each file on a different track, then solo or mute as necessary

24. Garage Band 2009 - December 7, 2010

I was scratching my head to find this info. Finally I’ve got it.

25. Kris Baldani - December 31, 2010

do you compress them first and then export to disk?

26. Donovan Fraser - February 18, 2011

I want to send a single midi drum track to my friend in Nashville so he can tweak it as only a real drummer can. How do I make and then send via email, a single midi track in GarageBand ? I want the track to be a standard midi track because he has an older version of GB.

27. ConnorSmith - February 18, 2011


So… unfortunately you can’t actually export MIDI from Garageband.

1) Open up your Garageband file in Logic and export MIDI from there
2) If you are adventurous, install a plug-in called MidiO, which provides some export options from Garageband. To be honest, I’ve never used it, but I have seen it in action.

28. James Patrick - February 24, 2011

Is anyone still following this thread? I have a question about exporting from garagband into a Yamaha AW16G. I can transfer the individual garage band tracks into my machine (using the “show package contents” method mentioned above AND after converting to wavs) but the effects on the track are missing! Can someone help me with this?

29. ConnorSmith - February 24, 2011


Are you exporting using the method described above? That will bounce your tracks as they are heard in the project file.

30. James Patrick - February 24, 2011

Yes, but I’d like the individual track .wavs to retain the effects, that’s all.

31. ConnorSmith - February 24, 2011

To be honest, I haven’t used Garageband in a long time. However, I know that when you export a “song” (in this case a track) in this way, it prints all the effects.

What effects are you using/how are you using them? Feel free to email me a screenshot or two (email is up in the “Who We Are” tab) – that will help.

32. IFF - August 16, 2011

[...] As far as direct compatibility with GarageBand (GB), it will not directly open GB files. There is a way of exporting the files using AIFF files, and a trick to get all of them at once by using the Freeze command (here). [...]

33. Rich - September 23, 2011

Don’t know if you guys are still on thread but I’ve just built an audio pc to master my technophobe mates gb files am I right in thinking that I can copy individual gb tracks then import them to cubase ( had to do it this way cos macs are so expensive !)?

34. Drea - December 13, 2011

how do you open garageband file in logic

35. szabo miklos - December 26, 2011

hola me llamo miki y me gustaria saber como transportar un proyecto del garageband al cubase

36. szabo miklos - December 26, 2011

no se que a pasado pero yo no e escrito naciones unidas

37. Garageband daw | Shouldwepatent - May 15, 2012

[...] The Studio Files » Transferring GarageBand Files into other DAWs …If you have a session going in GarageBand, and want to transfer to another DAW (like Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Cubase etc…), you can. It’s not as clean as … [...]

38. ivano - August 18, 2012

ciao ho capito come traferirli per ad esempio se crei un loop a 126 bpm in garageband poi lo suoni in ableton con il tempo sett a 126 bpm il loop non và a tempo con il live perché??se il tempo è il medesimo come mai non viene riconosciuto da 2 daw diverse??

39. ivano - August 18, 2012

scusate correggo il tutto creato un loop a 126 bpm in garageband esportato riportato poi in ableton live settato a 126 bpm con altri brani il loop non segue il tempo del live ne il live riconosce il suo automaticamente nella casella del tempo bisogna rifare il warp da capo e perché se il tempo è il medesimo.

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41. Shecky - April 24, 2013

How do I import a friends song from GarageBand, sent to my email into my garageband?

42. Van - May 3, 2013

Can i still work on the separate tracks in my other DAW?
For example if I have some midi sounds from Garageband will it be set to a similar sound (like in Logic) or will it just come through as an audio file, just like importing a song in?

Thank you

43. Pete - October 4, 2013

I can export discreet tracks from Garageband using the “freeze” folder AIFs. But these files do not include my volume automation. Is there a way to do that?

44. Matt - March 25, 2014

If your tracks are pretty clean, I find it best to just go to the source.

The .band file is really a directory. Right-click->Show Contents. There’s a subdirectory called Media/ with all of your original .aif clips in it.

Create a new directory for them and cp/paste them all – file browsers can’t navigate through the .band file so your DAW won’t be able to get to the originals.

I use terminal and do it all from the command line, but if you’re not a Unix person, I think cp/paste will work from a browser.

In Reaper, I create a new track and insert media. Presto.

Hope that helps.

45. Darrell - September 26, 2014

ok you mentioned you have to open up a new folder to put the garage band files so do you drag the files individually in protools editing mix window or do you click on the whole file and drag the whole file into protools.another thing will the files be located on your desk top or do you have to locate them somewhere else on your computer? also can you add plugins or edit or and tracks after you convert? HELP!!! thanks so much

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