If GarageBand for Mac won't open or play back your project

Learn what to do if GarageBand won't open, won't open your project, or won't play back your project.

Follow the recommendations below in the order in which they’re listed until you've fixed your issue.

Make sure GarageBand is up to date

Make sure you're using the latest version of GarageBand. Choose Apple menu () > App Store, then click Updates in the toolbar. If a GarageBand update is available, click the Update button to download and install it.

Check device or software compatibility

If you're using an external audio interface, MIDI interface, storage system, or plug-in not made by Apple, make sure it's compatible with the latest version of GarageBand. Contact the manufacturer for support. If an update is available, follow the manufacturer's instructions to update the device or software. 

Check your external audio interface

Sometimes an incompatible or malfunctioning external audio interface can cause issues with GarageBand. If you're using an external audio interface, first try using the built-in audio on your Mac instead of the interface. If the issue continues to occur, open GarageBand without audio input and output.

If you aren't using an external audio interface, try disabling Audio Units plug-ins to continue troubleshooting your issue.

Use built-in audio with GarageBand

  1. Unplug your external audio interface from your Mac.
  2. Open GarageBand, then choose GarageBand > Preferences > Audio/MIDI.
  3. Choose Built-in Output from the Output Device pop-up menu.
  4. Choose Built-in Microphone (or Built-in Input, depending on your computer) from the Input Device pop-up menu.
  5. Open and play back a project that has been experiencing issues. 

If the project opens and plays back properly, you might need to update or service your audio interface. Contact the manufacturer for support.

Open GarageBand without audio input and output

  1. Open GarageBand and immediately press and hold the Control key before a project opens.
  2. In the alert, click Don’t Launch.

If GarageBand opens, it can indicate the following:

  • You might need to update or service your external audio interface. Contact the manufacturer for support.
  • An Audio Units plug-in might be damaged, or it might not be compatible with your version of GarageBand. You can try disabling plug-ins to troubleshoot your issue.

Disable Audio Units plug-ins

If you're using Audio Units plug-ins, try disabling them. Damaged or incompatible Audio Units plug-ins can create unexpected behavior in GarageBand.

To disable Audio Units plug-ins:

  1. Open a project in GarageBand.
  2. Go to GarageBand > Preferences > Audio/MIDI, and deselect Audio Units. 
  3. Play back a project that has been experiencing issues. 

If the project opens and plays back properly, a plug-in you're using in the project might be damaged or incompatible with your version of GarageBand. Check with the manufacturer of the plug-in for support. 

Create a new project

Create and test a new GarageBand project. GarageBand projects can occasionally become damaged, causing unexpected behavior.

To create and test a new project:

  1. Open GarageBand and choose File > New.
  2. Choose Empty Project in the New Project window. 
  3. Add audio files or Apple Loops to the new project.
  4. Play back the project. If the new project plays back properly, the previous project might be damaged.

Try using another user account

Reset GarageBand preferences


Resetting preferences doesn't affect your project files, presets, or patches. However, you do lose any custom preference settings you might have made.

Before resetting preferences, choose GarageBand > Preferences and note any specific settings you've made. That way, after resetting preferences, you can go back and reapply your custom settings. For information on different preferences, see GarageBand preferences overview in GarageBand Help.

To reset GarageBand preferences:

  1. Quit GarageBand.
  2. In the Finder, choose Utilities from the Go menu. 
  3. Open Terminal.
  4. Paste the following command into terminal, and then press Return:

    defaults delete com.apple.garageband10

  5. If you ever updated from a previous version of GarageBand, also paste the following command into terminal, and then press Return.

    defaults delete com.apple.garageband

  6. Restart your computer.

After your Mac restarts, open GarageBand and try to reproduce the issue you were experiencing. If the issue no longer occurs, open GarageBand preferences and reapply your custom settings.

Reinstall GarageBand

If you still can't resolve your issue, reinstall GarageBand. You don't have to remove everything related to GarageBand, such as projects. You just remove and reinstall the GarageBand application.

To reinstall GarageBand:

  1. In the Finder, choose Applications from the Go menu.
  2. Locate the GarageBand application and drag it to the trash.
  3. Open the Mac App Store
  4. Click Purchased in the Mac App Store toolbar.
  5. Sign into the Mac App Store using the Apple ID you first used to purchase GarageBand.
  6. Look for GarageBand in the list of purchased applications in the App Store. If you don't see GarageBand in the list, make sure it's not hidden. See Hide and unhide purchases in the Mac App Store for more information.
  7. Select Install to download and install GarageBand.

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