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How Apple could make GarageBand better for podcasters

Jason Snell | April 1, 2013
In 2006 Apple introduced GarageBand 3, an update that put features for podcasters at the fore. In the intervening seven years, GarageBand has reached version 6 (or, if you prefer, '11), but Apple has done little to make it more useful to creators of spoken-word audio.

In 2006 Apple introduced GarageBand 3, an update that put features for podcasters at the fore. In the intervening seven years, GarageBand has reached version 6 (or, if you prefer, '11), but Apple has done little to make it more useful to creators of spoken-word audio.

I've spent hundreds of hours editing podcasts in GarageBand, including Macworld's own. And I've met countless podcasters, with audiences both large and small, who rely on GarageBand to create their shows. Every Mac comes with the wood-grained multitrack audio editor, and that's awesome. But it could be better--a lot better.

Learning from Logic

Recently I started editing podcasts using Apple's $200 Logic Pro, and I'm vastly more productive as a result. Logic Pro is overkill for most podcasters, but if GarageBand could pick up just a few new features, it could become a podcaster's dream.

A keyboard shortcut to select all following segments, as in Logic, would be a boon to GarageBand.

Select All Following. When you're editing a podcast, sometimes you need to snip out a passage that's off topic. What you're left with is a gap where that part of the conversation was. The logical next step is to close the gap by sliding everything in your project backward in time. To do this in GarageBand, you have to use your cursor to lasso every single item in every track that's in front of the gap. If you've got a big project, that means zooming out as far as you can, then doing a lengthy click-and-drag-and-scroll from top left to bottom right. Once it's all selected, you zoom back in to where your gap is (this probably requires a lengthy side-scroll to orient, and don't misclick or you'll lose your selection), and then a click-and-drag to close the gap.

It's all ugly and unnecessary. In Logic, I can click on the next object in the project and press Shift-F--the shortcut for Select All Following. One short drag and the gap is closed. I can't tell you how much time this has saved me. And the feature's cousin, Select All Following of Same Track, can be useful if you just need to slide a single track a little bit one way or another.

In Logic it's easy to quickly select and delete part of a segment.

Arbitrary region deletion. In Logic, you can quickly clip out a region of an audio segment (a cough or a stammer, for example) by holding down the Command key and clicking and dragging the cursor over the region in question, then pressing the Delete key. It's fast and it's easy.

In GarageBand, by comparison, I'd select a region, position the playhead at the start of the part I wanted to remove, and use the Split Clip command. Then I'd either shorten the region by clicking on its edge and dragging, or just by repositioning the playhead again, using Split Clip, and then deleting the new extraneous clip. An alternate method would be to use the Audio Region pane, which does let you select a region and press Delete--but you have to be sure you've selected the right track and moved the playhead to the right location. With Logic, you can see a bit you don't want and make it go away in no time, without fiddling with the playhead or item selection.

 

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