How to move Garageband files from iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to a mac.  Using iCloud and not iTunes tethering to move the .band files.  How to activate the Mobile Documents folder if you don’t see it.

  • Go to iOS device settings.
  • Activate iCloud on your device by signing in, and turn “ON” the option for Documents and Data.
  • Now open Garageband.  You should be on the big screen showing all your files.  Click the PLUS icon in the top left (for iPad).  Set Use iCloud to “on”.
  • Press EDIT on the top right.  This will make all the files shake.
  • Tap once on the Garageband file or files you want to send to iCloud.  Then tap the little cloud symbol near the delete bin in the top left of the screen.  Choose “upload song to iCloud” from the popup, then Done.
  • The iOS Garageband file will now be uploaded to icloud.
Do not delete the iOS Garageband file yet.  iCloud is a backup service, not a file holding service, and you will lose both copies if you delete it!
Now we need to get the IOS garageband file onto our Mac.  This is the big problem, because Apple is Apple.  Garageband on the Mac does not have iCloud functionality…at all.  Yeah I know, this is unusual and ruins usability, but let’s get started.

Moving files from iCloud to Mac Garageband.

The key to all this will be a folder called Mobile Documents.  This magic folder is only created when you use iCloud on your Mac.  Since Garageband Mac does not use iCloud, it does not create or use the Mobile Documents folder.  So we need to:
  • Activate iCloud on the Mac.
  • Force a Mobile Documents folder to be created.
  • Find the Mobile Documents folder on Mac and set it to a nice position.
All these steps to setting up iCloud and Garageband files on a Mac are easy.  It just takes about 10 minutes.  So get ready, here we go.
Setting up iCloud.
  • On your Mac, click the little Apple in the top left and go to System Preferences.
  • Tap iCloud under “Internet and Wireless”.  Sign in to iCloud on your Mac.
  • Tick or untick the two options (it’s up to you).
  • On the next screen (the screen with Mail at the top and many tick boxes), Tick the box for Documents and Data.
  • Click Manage in the very bottom right and you will see the Garageband file from the IOS Garageband that we transferred to iCloud.
  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just drag and drop from iCloud straight to your Mac…well you can’t.  You need to do the next steps and create a Mobile Documents folder.  It just works.
We have now setup iCloud on the Mac and activated Documents and Data.
Now we need to generate a Mobile Documents folder in a Library folder.  Don’t ask why.
  • Go to the App store on the Mac.
  • Find any memo style App with iCloud support.  I used Notebox because it was free.  There are many, so just keep downloading free ones until you find one with iCloud if you don’t want Notebox.  Honestly, I wouldn’t pay for it if it was not free.
  • Make a memo or file in the app and save/send it up to icloud.
  • This will create a Mobile Documents folder for you on your Mac computer.  iCloud stores your files in this Mobile Documents folder every time it synchs.  We needed the notepad/memo app to synch the Mobile Documents folder.
Now we need to find the mobile documents folder.
  • Open Finder.
  • In the top menu bar choose GO and then GO TO FOLDER.
  • Type in ~/Library/ into the box.  That’s tilde, forward slash Library Forward slash.  Hit go.
  • Now in the folder that appears find the folder called Mobile Documents.  Inside is your Garageband file.  You can add this folder to your side bar for easy access later.    It just works :) .
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Wait, actually, no you can’t.  You will get the Action cannot do gray.  You need to make an “Alias”.  An Alias is basically a shortcut folder.

Drag and drop the Mobile Documents to your Desktop while holding CMD + ALT or CMD + OPTION key (it’s the same key, just a different name).  This will create a shortcut folder on your desktop for Mobile Documents.  Now drag and drop this shortcut folder your your finder favorites area as usual and it should work.

You can now use Garageband iCloud backup and files service from IOS to your Mac.

12 Responses to How to move Garageband Files from IPad to Mac without iTunes Using iCloud

  1. Craig Coggle says:

    Thanks for a great article. What a convoluted process to go through! The converter is downloading now and I trust it’s all ticketyboo after that. BTW I used ‘Corkboard in the Cloud’ for the mobile doc folder as Notebox is now 5. 99. Thanks again,

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the extra tip Craig. For anyone searching the page I’ll just repeat it here. If Notebox is expensive you can use the Corkboard in the cloud Mac app to help move the Garageband files.

  2. Sejong Camus says:

    Thanks for this! Really nice summary! When I did it (Mac OS X Mountain Lion 10. 8. 3), my GarageBand documents were in this folder, more specifically:

    ~\Library\Mobile Documents\FC8WD7GM7~com~apple~mobilegarageband

    So to anyone expecting it to look super-clean, it’s not quite like your docs are right in the “Mobile Documents” folder, but they’re in a subfolder with a messy name that ends in “garageband”.

    • Sejong Camus says:

      You single-handedly managed to save my iPhone and iPad from an intractable problem of a growing set of GarageBand files, after using it pretty extensively for just a year. We really need this, which gives us a way to archive old stuff without deleting creative work. Simply put, you rock. :) .

  3. Velanche says:

    Thanks for this; that was really sweet! I’ve decided over the weekend to start using Garageband for iOS on both my iPad and iPhone as a means to capture ideas for tunes and the like, and the natural inclination, once I saw that iCloud works with GB, was to find an easier way, other than tethering the USB cable to iTunes, to get the GB for iOS file into Garageband and, ultimately, to Logic Pro. I know that I can open up the file directly into Logic Pro, but I’d rather wait until I’m sure that it’s time to continue there. At least, if I wanted to, I’d still have the GB file in iCloud. Again, very neat! Thanks much. Velanche.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Velanche! It’s amazing how many people read the guide and never leave a thanks…it’s always appreciated :D .

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