Open iPad GarageBand files on your Mac – a workaround

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Hints, iPad, Mac

Update: That didn’t take long! Apple has just released an update for GarageBand on the Mac that officially adds support for iPad projects. It’s 181MB and seems to include add all the software instruments found in the iPad version that were missing


So ignore the workaround below, update GarageBand and you’ll be all set.


At the time of writing (March 2011), the Mac version of GarageBand can’t open files created with the iPad version. Instead, you’ll get an error message and the file won’t open. This is presumably because the iPad version has some features, instruments and loops not yet available in the Mac version.

Apple has promised an update, but for the time being, I’ve found this workaround.

Before you  try this, let me stress that it’s a workaround with issues: your files won’t open perfectly, but at least you’ll be able to get some of your project onto your Mac. However, please do make sure you make a copy of your project file first.

The project on my iPad

Can't be opened on a Mac

First, copy the project file onto your Mac with iTunes. Then, right-click the project file and choose “show Package contents”. Find the “projectdata” file and open it, preferably with the Plist Editor, but a plain-text editor should work as well in a pinch.

Look a the “version” key with the value “45000” under “$top“.  Change that value to “40000” and save the file.

Now, when you open it with GarageBand, you’ll receive a warning (as opposed to the earlier ‘error’ message), but you should be able to open the file, albeit with some errors and warnings.

Just ignore the warnings


Note: There’s a reason Apple changed the version number and you’ll find a lot of things won’t work (e.g. certain Apple Loops and instruments will be missing – note the empty drum track in my screenshot). But if you just want to get the basic project information and the bits you played off your iPad onto your Mac, it’s worth a shot.

Presumably Apple will soon be releasing an update for GarageBand on the Mac, so hopefully this hacky workaround won’t be necessary much longer. If you’re reading this long after March 2011, make sure you have all GarageBand updates first.


  1. Nice job. Whats apples problem? They release an ipad app that wont do what they say it will.
    Apple COME ON NOW!

  2. What the fuck happened to Apple’s QC? I’m so tired of their shit not working lately. Steve Jobs needs to fire the dumb fuck who released this shit without interoperability. I spent about 4 hours on the road building a song, now I can’t even master it properly. Fucking junk!

  3. Hello,

    i want to say thank you for a great job you’ve done on your blog. I have a software download website and I also

    write articles for people to help them
    with their computers and software. Is it possible to place this article on your blog as a guest post?

    Andy G.

  4. Tried the workaround and tried to open the file. It still asked me to install the update. That gave me an error.
    Updated garage band on the mac to 6.0.4. Again while downloading
    the compatibility update, it still gives me an error when its ready to install.
    Dunno where am going wrong :(

    • The latest versions of Garageband will probably try to avoid any errors by enforcing you have the latest version. This tip was only required back in the day when it didn’t work at all.

      If the update isn’t installing, try deleting the app entirely and reinstall.

      • Thanks ill give that a go…


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