Here is a simple guide on how to add plugins to Garageband. This guide also covers how to use plugins and troubleshoot common problems.
GarageBand is a free and easy-to-use digital audio workstation packed with professional features. To make the program even better, you can add free and paid 3rd party plugins to add more functionality and sounds to the software.
Even better, the internet is packed with free VST plugins and Audio Unit Plugins for Mac to add more sounds and effects to your music production setup: 50 Best Free Mac VST Plugins.
There are two types of plugins that you can add to Garageband.
- Virtual Instruments such as strings, pianos, guitars, and more.
- Audio Effects include reverb, delay, autotune, and more.
So let’s get started with how to install and use plugins in Garageband.
At the time of this tutorial, I am using macOS Monterey 12.6.1 and Garageband Version 10.4.7.
- How to Install Plugins ( Summary )
- How to Add Plugins Into GarageBand
- How to Use Plugins in Garageband
- Troubleshooting Tips
How to Install Plugins into Garageband ( Summary )
This is a summary of the plugin installation process.
- To install a plugin in Garageband, copy the plugin .component file to Finder > Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plugins > Components.
- Restart your computer.
- Open Garageband and add a new “Software Instrument” track.
- Select the virtual instrument you added.
- A security alert may appear. Go to Apple Preferences > Security & Privacy, click “Allow Anyway” and re-add the instrument in Garageband.
Related: 35 Best Free Garageband Plugins
How to Add Plugins to Garageband
Installing plugins into GarageBand is a simple process. Just follow the steps below.
Important: You will need to restart your computer for new plugins to appear in Garageband.
1. Download the plugin you want to install. Related: 50 Free Mac VST Plugins
2. Unzip the zip file.
3. Open “Finder” and go to New Finder Window > Macintosh HD > Library > Audio > Plug-ins
4. Drag the .component file into the Components folder.
- If the file ends with .vst, drag it to the VST folder.
5. Enter your password to approve adding the new file to the folder.
6. Restart your computer.
7. Open Garageband.
8. In Garageband click the “+” icon to add a new track.
9. Select “Software Instrument” and click the “Create” button.
10. In the Smart Controls window, toggle open “Plug-ins”, and click the arrows next to the instrument name.
11. You may get a warning saying the plugin cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified. Click cancel.
12. To approve the plugin to use:
- Click the Apple icon at the top left of your computer.
- Click System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General
- Click “Allow Anyway.”
- Close the pop-up window.
13. In Garageband, select the virtual instrument in the dropdown menu again.
14. You may get another alert message. Click the “Open” button to allow the program to use the plugin.
15. Play the instrument with your mouse, keyboard, or MIDI controller.
How to Use Plugins in Garageband
These are the steps to add a virtual instrument track to your music projects, such as synths, guitars, pianos, and more.
1. In Garageband click the “+” icon to add a new track.
2. Select “Software Instrument” and click the “Create” button.
3. Click the track you want to edit.
4. In the Smart Controls window, toggle open “Plug-ins”, and click the arrows next to the instrument name.
5. In the dropdown, select the plugin you want to use.
6. Play the instrument with your mouse, keyboard, or MIDI controller.
Switching Sounds: If a plugin has multiple sounds or audio presets, you will see a dropdown menu to select the sounds.
Click the dropdown menu arrows to view the available sounds.
1. New Plugins Don’t Appear in Garageband
If you are sure you added the plugin to the correct folder and restarted your computer, but the plugin still does not appear in Garageband. You want to make certain “Audio Units” is enabled in Garageband.
- In Garageband click “Garageband > Settings”
- Click Audio / MIDI.
- Check Enable Audio Units.
- Restart Garageband.
- Try to add the virtual instrument again.
2. Installing PKG Files
If you attempt to install a PKG or DMG file, you may get a message that says Unidentified Developer.
1. If you want to proceed with installing the plugin, hold CTRL on your computer keyboard and click the PKG file to open the plugin installer file.
2. Follow the installation process.
3. Restart your computer.
4. Open Garageband.
5. In Garageband click the “+” icon to add a new track.
6. Select “Software Instrument” and click the “Create” button.
7. In the Smart Controls window, toggle open “Plug-ins”, and click the arrows next to the instrument name.
8. Play the instrument with your mouse, keyboard, or MIDI controller.
We hope that you found this article helpful with installing plugins in Garageband.
Related: How to Use Garageband