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Aug 26, 2009

Tutorial – Print Sheet Music from your GarageBand Tracks

by iCreate Team

If you plan to take a GarageBand project and have it played by a real band, you’re going to need sheet music. Here’s how to get it…

Picture 1If you plan to take a GarageBand project and have it played by a real band, you’re going to need sheet music. Here’s how to get it…

The ability to create music on a computer is something a lot of us take for granted; it’s extremely easy to do and even the least musical people can have great success making music on their Macs. The rub comes when you’d like to transfer the music you’ve made and play it with your own musical instrument or have another musician play it. They could listen to the track over and over again to see if they can work out the tune themselves, or you could just give them the sheet music so they can learn it exactly the way you have played it. Creating your own sheet music is incredibly simple. GarageBand’s ability to transcribe your work as you play is a wonderful example of just how powerful the software is. So you can easily print out all of the parts to your arrangement and have them played by a brass band, jazz trio or even the latest pop sensation.

Step1.tiff 2
Step 1: Get creative
If you haven’t already, create a musical masterpiece. Now click on the track that you want to create the sheet music for. You have to create sheet music for each separate part. Now click View/Hide Track Editor.

Step2.tiff 2
Step 2: From roll to score
You will now see the default Piano Roll window. Here you can check that all the notes you’ve played are in time before you print. Now click the Score button to be taken to the track in notation view.

Step3.tiff 2

Step 3: Super stave
You can now see all of your notes on a musical score. Even if it means absolutely nothing to you, you can be sure GarageBand has done all the hard work and a musician will be able to make sense of the score.

Step4.tiff 2

Step 4: Same as always
Now all you have to do is go to the top menu and click File and then Print. You will now get your arrangement printed and you can continue the process for every track in your composition.

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    • Xiow

      How do you write music in sheet music form? I want to take a few notes and move them around, and garage band is so frusturating! I have skills in reading music. It’s just the insane work to get it into sheet music form and easily manipulate it! how do you add notes? Any tips? I need some help.

    • Marieke

      Dear Xiow,

      You can write music with the help of the keyboard (Window, Musical Typing).
      Open the editor, so you can see what you create, and play away.
      Click away the keyboard and look at the musical notation, if the length is not correct, just drag the notes closer to each other, or further away.

      I have just created 4 pages, like this. My problem is now, how I can print this. (in the current printed pages the notes are all over the place). Anybody any advice?


    • Hey!

      Let’s say that I have a project with 4 tracks. And I want to print all 4 tracks in one sheet,,..and not 1 page per track…can I do so?? How? Thanks!

    • Dudeguy

      Some advice from the great Dudeguy:
      Instead of dragging each individual note, use the arrow keys to change the note and timing. It’s a lot easier than trying to use the strange dragging feature.

    • @Xiow,

      I cannot figure out how to add notes – other than Cmd-C and Cmd-V (copy and insert). I click on a note that I want to copy, then I click the top of the roll (the green area) to move the cursor where I want it; then, I paste the note in that I just copied. Once you paste it, you can adjust the actual pitch.


      Unfortunately I think it’s time for you to graduate to bigger/badder software for full score printing. What you are wanting GB to do is certainly the next step but this software is currently unable to do that.

    • OK Xiow Just figured out how to add notes!

      Add a piano then go to the score at the bottom. hold down COMMAND and put your cursor over the clef, and you’ll see the note you chose on the left (where it says “Insert” then the typ eof note, probably Quarter Note).

      Hope that helps Xiow!

    • Richard

      Or, you can write on the sheet music. Click on the piano software instrument. Hold ‘CMD’ and click on the track. a green empty box will appear. Next, drag out the box to the desired length of you piece. Next open the track editor and switch to score. you can insert notes by holding down ‘CMD’ and clicking in the desired area for you note to appear. You can change note qualities using the pop up menu.

    • Aaron

      Is there a way to have drumkit parts print out in percussion notation?

    • Lois

      what version of garage band will print? mine does not have a print option under file…

    • Amber

      I can’t see the option to show the sheet music for vocal tracks I recorded. It’s there for the software instruments but not for recorded vocal tracks.

      How can I convert vocal tracks to sheet music?

    • I am trying to print out the music i now see in the editor but i am unable to see a print option in the file menu. I have GB 3.0.5. All I get in choices under the file menu is new, open, open recent, close, save and save as. How do I print the music i see? Help!!

    • Alley

      I have created a composition that’s for my A-Level coursework, I’ve tried to print it out but it just comes out in some number code. Really don’t know what to do…
      Also, how do I print out all of the different instruments on the same page instead of having to try and print them al out separately and then cut and glue them onto one score. I’m really getting desperate here, please help asap!

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    • For the question about how to print a score with 4 parts ALL on it….maybe the answer is to record in overdub on one track? I don’t know myself yet bcuz THAT’S exactly what I am attempting to do….in other words print a score for acapella purposes.

    • Gavin

      I find this tutorial so poorly written that it shouldn’t be available online. The language is not particularly clear and the images are so uselessly small that it just adds to the confusion.

    • Freddie Harrison

      Hi Gavin,

      Thanks for taking the time to look around the site and share your thoughts! I’m sorry you feel that way about the tutorial. This particular tutorial was posted online two years ago in 2009, and since then a lot has changed. If you take a look at any of our more recent tutorials you’ll find the screenshots a lot bigger and much clearer. We’ll endeavour to change this one as soon as we get some spare time!

      Thanks again for your comments,


    • Nicolaas

      Is it possible to print out or show a chord diagram, so no notes, but just chords, like they also use in the tutorials.


    • Rose

      Thanks for this! The comment about adding notes by pressing cmd was really helpful!

    • Bonnie

      I just purchased the garageband and do not see anything that will allow me to write sheet music . I have clicked on the track and don’t see anthing like the View/Hide Track Editor…………… Do I have to purchase additionall software ??? Thank you.

    • Freddie Harrison

      Hi Bonnie,

      Unfortunately you cannot write sheet music directly into GarageBand, only create scores from existing notes played/recorded by software instruments (as detailed in this tutorial). To write sheet music you might want to have a look into Apple’s Logic or Sibelius (

      Hope this helps!


    • Bonnie

      Thanks Freddie but I see in the tutorial that you can take a track you recorded on garage band and then hit the “View/Hide Track editor” button and then a small sheet music for the track that you just recorded shows up..?? Not sure I understand…………. I know about Sibelius and other notation programs but I was under the impression that you can record your tracks on Garage Band, save them and then see the written notation for each track and then send it to a wireless printer to print out…………… I just don’t see that View/Hide Track editor button. Is there an upgraded Garage Band that I have to purchase for that ??? Anyone ??…………….

    • Piruz

      Hi Bonnie & Others, I couldn’t find the View/Hide Track editor button either. It is the one that has the scissors on it. Hope this helps.

    • To get all 4 tracks on 1 music score, if the intruments are all midi or “green” Just for the sheet music, highlight all the tracks and hit COMMAND “J”, this will combine all the notation, then follow procedure, file print. Good to go. for Live recordings like guitar or other instruments, you will still have to do 1 page at a time, real instruments cannot be mixed together…..nor have notation.

    • MIDIman

      The original article leaves out the most salient point – that ONLY SOFTWARE INSTRUMENT TRACKS may be printed in score format. All dragged in LOOPS and REAL INSTRUMENT tracks will not work in this manner.

      And trying to use the Score view even with the CMD-click trick is a pain in the rear. If you play an instrument, get a cheap Casio or other modern electronic keyboard and figure out how to convert its MIDI signal into USB for Garageband.. then create and record Software Instrument tracks – and print them – to your heart’s content.

    • I found this page and tutorial very helpful. When I click PRINT the score appears magicly!!!!
      BUT… Garageband decided where to put the notes. For example a left key arpeggio jumps to the right hand once it reaches B3. How can I control WHERE the notes go?

    • Will it ever be possible to export midi from GarageBand to use in other applications? I quite like using GarageBand as a creative tool but it certainly lacks in finishing capabilities especially in finishing scores. It is easy to import midi. Why not be able to export it? Thanks.

    • Rosebud Wolf

      I Was Really Looking For How To Play The Piano With The Keyboard But… Thatʻs Okay.

    • boris

      I have made a composition, and I want to print out the sheet music. I now how to do that, however all the notes in the G-clef have been written an octave lower than they should be (I know, because I can read sheet music). How do I get that right, so that the notes on the piano roll actually match up with the notes on the score?

      Thank you.

    • I don’t see a print option under file either. At no point in this thread is discussed what version of GB is needed to accomplish what individuals are looking for. Therefore, tireless, useless, and exhaustive.

      But what do I know?

    • Lynne

      Is it possible to transpose a piece before printing?

    • Kelly

      We do not have a mac computer, but an ipad. I would like to print out the sheet music from the ipad, is there anyway to do that?

    • Freddie Harrison

      Hi Kelly, the easiest way to do this is via AirPrint (Apple’s wireless printing technology that links printers and iOS devices). To do this you’d need an AirPrint compatible printer, a list of which can be found here: Hope this helps! FH

    • This blog post is amazing nice one for the share!
      I’ve undoubtedly discovered new things and I’ll for
      certain implement it for my music practice to enhance my
      musicianship. I’m sure if other musicians check out this article, they’ll greatly benefit.

      Here’s a haphazard tip for any other artists too. If you prefer to improve yourself, get heavily associated with social media optimisation. If you have good music, then people positive I will pass it around in their buddies and followers.

    • Thomas Chapple

      You can write the notes straight in by holding command and left clicking on the stave where ever you want!

    • katrum

      to write music, create a new project and select ‘song writing’. double click either the piano or bass default thingos that are to the left. (it should pop up the editor down the bottom). on the track press cmd click and it should show up with a green thing. you can change the length of it by dragging it (be careful not to loop it). at the top left of the editor at the bottom of the screen, click ‘score’ and it should show up with a fancy music stave (treble and bass clef). to put notes in press ‘cmd’ and hover over where you want the note to be, then click. voila!.

    • Colleen

      I have created a pice in two parts, e.g recorded and and right hand separately and so they are on different lines. Is there a way to turn one line just to the treble clef and another line into the bass clef and to have them show up as one piece?

    • Guy

      As far as I know, GarageBand can’t create sheet music for any live recordings like vocal or guitar tracks, it can only create sheet music for tracks that you entered in either through the score, piano roll, or by playing it on a keyboard connected directly to the computer via USB. It’s most likely that if you want sheet music for vocals, you’ll have to enter those in through one of the methods I just listed.

    • Guy

      Is there any way to view the entire score for all instruments without printing? I want to send a score as a PDF but I can’t see how.

    • Alex

      I’m trying to print-out a song I wrote but I want to add things to it.

      It’s entirely made of arpeggiated chords, and I want to put the chord diagrams (as they’d appear on a standard-tuned guitar) above each measure, and I’d also like to indicate that it’s to be played fingerstyle with all notes ringing throughout.

      But there seems to be no way to add playing instructions or chord diagrams to the document. Am I correct in assuming the software does not support those features, or if not, how do I do it?

    • Guest

      Yes, you can print it as a PDF through your normal printing procedure. After pressing cmnd-p (or picking the print option from the menu) you should get a window where you can choose which printer to use. In the bottom left corner there is an option for PDF. Press it and you can save it or open it as a pdf-file.

    • I know man, I am dying to know this also. The only thing that might work is opening a program like Ableton up while having GarageBand open and using Ableton as a slave, recording the MIDI that GarageBand is playing.

    • Ray

      can i create a lead sheet by importing finished matered track?