HomeAudio Production→ How to Fade Out in GarageBand: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Giri Rabindranath

28 July, 2022

How to Fade Out in GarageBand: Step-by-Step Tutorial


In music production, an effect that’s often applied to songs is a fade-out or a fade-in. You’ve probably heard it many times before.

Think of The Beatles’ Hey Jude, for instance—this well-known song has a long, drawn-out refrain as it slowly fades out into silence.

While fading out appears to be less popular nowadays, it’s still a useful feature in music production.

It can help to resolve a piece of music that has no obvious ending, for instance, or can provide a smooth transition between sections of music (by both fading out and fading in). It can also help to minimize the sound of stray ‘clicks’ or ‘pops’ that may have crept in towards the end of your recording.

In this post, we’ll explain—step-by-step—how to fade in and out in GarageBand using a Mac. It’s a versatile feature that’s easy to use in your audio or music projects.

The Master Track and the Master Track Header

In GarageBand, you can create a fade-out effect (at the very end) or a fade-in effect (at the beginning) for your whole song using the master track.

By default, the master track is hidden, so to see it you’ll need to reveal it. And when you do, it appears as a new track below the last track in the Tracks area of the GarageBand workspace.

The master track header shows the automation icon that’s used to toggle on or off the automation curves (or automation lines). These curves allow you to visualize the effects of select automation parameters that you can control, like the volume and pan of a track.

In this post, we’ll only look at the volume parameter, as that’s what we need to use to fade music.

The Master Track and Master Track Header with Automation Icon and Volume parameter

While fading out can be done automatically for a whole song, fading in can only be done manually.

You can also fade in or out of individual tracks in a song, although this, too, can only be done manually.

How to Fade out in Garageband Automatically

As mentioned, you can add an automatic fade-out effect to your whole song—but not to individual tracks in your song—using the master track.

Automatically Fade Out Your Whole Song

Step 1: Show the master track

  • Select Track > Show Master Track

Showing the Master Track

Shortcut: SHIFT-COMMAND-M to toggle on or off the master track

Step 2: Add the fade-out option to your mix

  • Mix > Create Volume Fade-Out on Main Output

Selecting the Fade-Out option

After doing these steps, the Automation controls should appear on all of your tracks.

Automation controls on tracks

Tip: To toggle on and off the automation controls, do any of the following:

  • Select Mix > Show Automation
  • Type A
  • Click the automation icon in the Tracks area menu bar

Step 3: Make sure that the automation menu is set for volume changes

  • In the automation menu (located in the master track header), select Volume

Selecting the Volume parameter in the automation menu

You’ll notice that a yellow line appears across the length of the track—this is the track’s automation line. It shows its volume level at all points across its timeline. If the automation line doesn’t appear, or if it’s faint, try clicking on the track.

The Master Track's automation line

Alter The Amount and Timing of Fade-Out Effects

The fade-out effect begins where the automation line starts to fall, i.e., where it starts to look like a curve.

There are four volume points that are set by default.

Volume point on the Master Track automation line

These act like “smart controls” that you can use to set the amount (intensity) and timing of the fade-out:

  • Select and move a volume point to alter the fade-out effect in its vicinity. Drag it vertically, up or down, to alter the amount, or drag it horizontally, left or right, to alter the timing.

Moving a volume point to adjust amount and timing of fade-out effect

You can also toggle on and off the fade-out for your whole song by clicking the automation icon in the Master Track header.

Enabling automation with the automation icon on the Master Track Header

How to Fade out in Garageband Manually

In addition to automatically fading out your whole song, you can manually fade your whole song. You can also manually fade out any one (or more) individual tracks in your song.

Manually Fade Out Your Whole Song

Step 1: Show the master track’s volume line

  • Follow steps 1 to 3 of “automatically fade out your whole song”

Step 2: Add volume points where you want to make adjustments

  • For each volume point that you wish to add, position your cursor at the location on the volume line where you want to add it and click

Step 3: Control the intensity and timing of the fade-out effect

  • Select and move one or more of the volume points to alter the fade-out effects (i.e., drag it up or down, it left or right) at each point’s vicinity

Manually Fade Out a Single Track

You can do this with or without the Master Track Fade-Out being on:

  • If the Master Track Fade-Out is on, it will work for your whole song (i.e., fade out the overall mix) regardless of your individual track fade-out selections
  • If you toggle off the Master Track Fade-Out, then only the individual track fade-outs that you’ve set will apply

Step 1: Set the Master Track Fade-Out to be on or off

  • Toggle on or toggle off the Master Track Fade-Out

Step 2: Select the track that you want to fade out

  • Toggle on the automation icon for the track that you want to fade out (you may find that all of the tracks are toggled on—this is ok, as they won’t fade out unless you ‘activate’ them as described in the following steps)
  • In the Automation menu for your track, select Volume—a flat automation line should appear that indicates there’s no fade-out applied yet

Step 3: Add volume points where you want to make adjustments

  • For each volume point that you wish to add, position your cursor at the location on the volume line where you want to add it and click

Adding a volume point for a single track

Tip: To remove a volume point, select it and double-click it

Step 4: Adjust the amount and timing of the fade-out for your individual track

  • Select and move one or more of the added volume points to alter the fade-out effects at each point’s vicinity

Moving a volume point for a single track

Tip: Check that the volume slider doesn’t accidentally move to zero. If it does, slide it back to where you want it.

How to Fade In Manually in GarageBand

You can do this for the master track or individual tracks (or both!)

Manually Fade In Your Whole Song

Step 1: Show the master track’s volume line

  • Follow steps 1 to 3 of ‘automatically fade out your whole song’—keep in mind that this will automatically add a fade-out effect to your song, so you can either keep it, remove it (double-click on each volume point that you want to remove) or alter it (follow the steps under ‘alter the amount and timing of fade-out effects’)

Step 2: Set up the fade-in effect

  • Place your cursor at a point on the automation line where you want to add a volume point and click

Adding a volume point to the Master Track's automation line for a fade-in

  • Repeat the above for each volume point that you wish to add

Step 3: Control the intensity and timing of the fade-in effect

  • Select and move one or more of the added volume points to alter the fade-in effects at each point’s vicinity

Moving a volume point on the Master Track's automation line for a fade-in

Manually Fade In a Single Track

This is similar to manually fading out a single track, but in this case, you set your volume points at the beginning of your track’s timeline where you want to fade in.

As before, you can do this with or without the master track’s fade-in or out effect being on.

Step 1: Set Master Track Fade-In (or out) to be on or off

  • Toggle on or toggle off the Master Track Automation icon

Step 2: Select the track that you want to fade-in

  • Toggle on the automation icon for the track that you want to fade in
  • In the Automation menu for your track, select Volume. A flat line should appear that indicates there’s no fade-in applied yet (and it may show fade-outs that you’ve already added.)

Step 3: Add volume points where you want to make adjustments

  • For each volume point that you wish to add, position your cursor at the location on the volume line where you want to add it and click

Adding a volume point to a single track's automation line for a fade-in

Step 4: Adjust the amount and timing of the fade-in for your individual track

  • Select and move one or more of the added volume points to alter the fade-in effects at each point’s vicinity

Moving a volume point on a single track's automation line for a fade in

Tip: Watch the volume sliders for your tracks to move left or right in sync with the volume curves as your song plays.

Conclusion

Adding an automatic fade to your song, customizing its settings, and controlling the fade parameters of individual tracks are easy to do in GarageBand. Fading in and out is a versatile feature that lets you enhance the volume dynamics of your mix and gives you additional scope for artistic expression.

So, the next time you feel the need for a smooth transition in or out of your song, or for only some of its tracks, your solution in GarageBand may be only a few clicks away.

FAQ

How do you fade out in GarageBand on IOS?

You can fade out a whole song automatically in GarageBand IOS by selecting the Fade-Out option under Settings. To fade out individual tracks, turn on Automation (tap the track and select from the pop-up menu) and adjust the automation curves.

Additional GarageBand Resources:

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