MIDI input is not working on GarageBand? How to fix

If your MIDI input doesn’t connect or work on GarageBand, we’re here to help. Our troubleshooting guide will take you through possible reasons your GarageBand recognizes MIDI but won’t play the files.

In other instances, GarageBand doesn’t recognize MIDI completely. We’ll explain why these issues may occur and how you can fix them.

How to connect and enable MIDI input on GarageBand

Depending on the model, there are three ways to connect your MIDI keyboard to Garaband successfully. Here is how to go about it:

1. Connecting MIDI keyboard to Mac using a USB-MIDI interface

If your MIDI keyboard has the traditional outputs, you’ll need a USB-MIDI interface to connect the USB-to-Firewire cable with the MIDI keyboard to your Mac.

  • First, you’ll connect the USB cable to your computer.
  • Next, connect the USB cable to the Firewire adaptor.
  • Connect the Firewire cable to the USB-MIDI interface, then plug it into your keyboard.
  • If you have MacBook Pro, you can connect the USB Firewire cable directly to the MIDI keyboard without an interface.
  • Open the GarageBand program on your computer to see if the keyboard is detected.

There are a variety of quality USB-MIDI interfaces available. Take your time to search for some reputable brands.

READ: List of the best GarageBand plugins for vocals

2. Connecting to a MIDI keyboard with a USB port

If the keyboard has a USB output/USB-host, you can connect to your Mac directly using a standard USB printer cable. You simply plug into the right ports, and it’s good to go. However, ensure you follow your keyboard’s setup manual.

3. Connecting MIDI keyboard using Bluetooth

Currently, manufacturers are incorporating the Bluetooth feature into MIDI keyboards. So, you can connect wirelessly to different Bluetooth-enabled devices if the MIDI input is not working on GarageBand.

Why GarageBand won’t recognize MIDI

After connecting the MIDI keyboard to your MacBook, it’s supposed to work immediately. If the program doesn’t recognize the device, it could be due to:

  • A faulty cable
  • Incorrect cable connection
  • Damaged USB port
  • Bad settings
  • Outdated software and drivers
  • System glitches and bugs
  • Mute is enabled

How to fix Garageband’s MIDI input issues

Now that you know the source of your GarageBand input problems let’s discuss the troubleshooting solutions.

1. Restart your device

The first solution is to turn off everything and disconnect the entire setup so the system can refresh and correct minor glitches it might have picked up during start-up.

Before you restart, plug in the MIDI cable on both devices, then power on your keyboard, followed by the Mac. Finally, launch GarageBand and see if the MIDI input is working.

2. Change the cables

Ensure the connecting cable is working. Check if it has any physical damage.

Next, switch it around so that the end connected to the Mac connects to your MIDI keyboard and vice versa. If that doesn’t work, get a new cable.

3. Check the ports

Your GarageBand won’t recognize MIDI input when the USB ports on your Mac and MIDI are either clogged with dirt or damaged. To fix the former, get a clean rug and wipe the dirt and dust around the ports.

You’ll need a pin to remove accumulated grime inside the port. However, be careful not to damage any parts. Also, you can connect to a different USB port.

If you notice any damage to the USB ports, you’ll have to contact an experienced technician, preferably from the company that owns the device.

READ: These are the best GarageBand plugins for vocals

4. Check your MIDI configuration

Your Mac has a default configuration for MIDI devices. You should check it out to see if any changes might trigger the MIDI input malfunction on GarageBand. Also, you can make adjustments and see if they’ll help.

To see your MIDI configuration:

  • Launch the Audio MIDI set-up app on your Mac.
  • Select Window, followed by Show MIDI Studio.
  • Click on the Choose MIDI configuration pop-up menu.
  • Select the configuration that you want to view.
  • You can view it in either the show icon view or show list view.
  • If a device is not connected, it will be dimmed.
  • To view information about a device, double-click on it.
  • If you want to edit the configuration, relaunch the MIDI set-up app again, then go to Window > Show MIDI Studio > Click on Choose MIDI configuration pop-up menu > Edit configuration.
  • You can change the configurations name and then edit different properties. For instance, you can edit a device’s name and color, change the ports, set the channels, and even select MDI-CI profiles for interface devices.
  • When you finish editing, click Done.

5. Check the MIDI drivers

Ensure you have the latest MIDI drivers and they’re compatible with the OS version running on your Mac. You can visit the manufacturer’s website to see if there’re any updates. Install them on your device and see if it corrects the MIDI input malfunction.

The next option is to re-set the drivers. Open GarageBand and go to Preferences > AUDIO/MIDI > re-set the MIDI Drivers.

6. Update software

Outdated software can cause many performance and security issues. In this case, you need to check your macOS and the GarageBand app. Download and install software updates, then relaunch the app to see if your MIDI is working.

In cases where the MIDI input stopped working after an update, you should consider downgrading to the previous software version.

7. Unmute your MIDI

If the indicators show your MIDI input is working on GarageBand, but you can’t hear anything when you play, the mute feature is enabled, or a track is soloed. Ensure the volume isn’t set at zero and the headphone’s icon isn’t lit up.

READ: The best alternatives to GarageBand