Picture the scene –  you’re happily working away on your amazing new Garageband project, perhaps you’re recording an awesome Piano track or putting the finishing touches to your podcast when – seemingly out of no where – that spinning beach ball of doom shows up and you get this most dreaded of error messages…..



 “This song has too many tracks, effects, or notes to be played in real-time.To optimize performance, see the ‘Optimizing GarageBand performance’ page in GarageBand Help.”


I’m sure you’ve encountered it before and have the same feelings of disgust and loathing for it as I do…


So what can we do to optimize Garageband and stop the above message from raising it’s ugly head??



The Fix 



First off, it’s useful to know that  Garageband actually let’s you know how hard you’re pushing things. Keep an eye on the colour of the play head. It changes colour the harder you make your Mac work –


Optimize Garageband


A White Play head is a happy play head. Silky smooth playback and good times abound…



GB PlayHead Yellow


You’re giving your Play head a workout now. Nothing major you understand – the equivalent of a light jog in the park on a bright, sunny morning….



Optimize Garageband


Sh*t just got real….. You may notice a few stutters here and there as your Play head struggles to keep pace.



Optimize Garageband


ABORT! ABORT! Your Mac will initiate it’s built in  iDestruct mechanism if you carry on like this, blowing every man, woman and child within a 5 mile radius to smithereens.

What’s worse, you’re mere seconds away from seeing the dreaded ‘Optimize Garageband’ message…..





As a quick fix for your Mac refusing to play ball, you can’t beat locking tracks that you are not currently editing (especially Software Instruments).


This can really help free up some processing power and will definitely make Garageband run a lot smoother – it’s my go-to solution if things start getting sluggish or freezing up.


In the most recent version of Garageband the track lock icon is hidden by default – to magically reveal it, hit Option + Command + L together, or select ‘Track Lock‘ from the track menu in the toolbar.


Locking tracks that have large amounts of effects added or Software instruments really helps to keep things ticking over!





Speaking of Software Instruments, you might have noticed that using a lot of them in your Garageband projects can really bog things down and affect performance. You can fix this by actually swapping out some of your Software Instrument loops into processor friendly Real Instrument tracks!


When dragging a Software Instrument loop from the loop browser, simply drop it into a real instrument track. It’s really that easy!





Another sure fire way to lighten the load on your Mac’s processor is by having a fiddle with the System Preferences.


Open System Preferences and click on ‘Energy Saver’ The option to ‘Put Hard Disks To Sleep When Possible’ is ticked by default – go ahead and de-select it.


While you’re there check to see if there is an option button visible (it’s not present in every Mac’s System Settings). Once clicked, you’ll see a performance slider – pick ‘Highest’. Done!



All Better!


Put these strategies to good use and  not only will you keep Garageband healthy, happy and purring like a kitten – with any luck you’ll never have to see that heinous error message ever again!


This post was inspired by  Owen Thomas, who got in touch with his optimization question via The Garageband Guide Facebook Page.


Got a question of your own? Leave it in the comments below or come join the fun on Facebook.