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The nightmare that is GarageBand, and iMovie and Rebuilding your mac

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Well, I rebuilt my Mac completely last month because I thought I had horrible problems with Zoom and crashes. It turns out that it probably wasn’t that at all, but actually something much simpler which was that the connection was not seated properly with the camera. But since I rebuilt it, I kind of just trusted that all my data was somehow backed up on iCloud Drive. And this is true, if you store things in Documents, you can look in iCloud Drive and you can see *all* your Mac’s various versions of documents. And of course, with your music, you don’t really own it anyway and that is in Apple Music. And your photos are in iCloud photo storage. So I thought I was safe.

But not Garage Band.

As a result, I lost all my old podcast files including the intro music and so forth.

But it turns out there is an important things to know about Garage Band is that it doesn’t store it’s data on anything that is on iCloud because your ~/Music/GarageBand which is the default is *not* backed up. And the simple is so ridiculously simple. When you choose Save with GarageBand the default isn’t backed up, but there is a folder called GarageBand for MacOS which is on the iCloud Drive. So just save there. I’m not sure why they don’t make this the default. Probably because those files are huge and you can easily overrun the 100MB of free storage, but you’ve been warned.

Also this directory is very strange. You can’t do simple things like copy an MP3 into the magic directory iCloud Drive > GarageBand for MacOS it appears that you only save to it from Garage Band.


The same by the way is true of iMovie (for that matter). The raw files are not saved in any place that is backed up by iCloud. There is a magic file in ~/Movies called iMovie Library.imovielibrary that has all your edited videos and this is also not backed up.

The bizarre thing is that if you go to Finder and choose iCloud you can see an entry for iCloud for Movie but it is not offered as an option with iMovie. Note that GarageBand for some reason does not have such an entry, it is magically in the Save as, but doesn’t appear in iCloud.

And if you try to copy that .imovielibrary file to iCloud Drive and then locate it with iMovie, it says you can’t do this, so that’s pretty useless. It does work with Dropbox or Google Drive because these look like local files, so here is one place where you cannot really use iCloud Drive except by remembering to copy and paste every so often.

I’m really confused about how iCloud Drive works, it is like magic and has a directory structure that isn’t part of root.


The final strange thing is that now when you click in iCloud Documents, this has a list of all documents across all your machines including your local ones. One result of this is that you can have lots and lots of duplicates if you are not careful. It does seem like you really want to live in the iCloud rather than the normal Favorites, so I advise dragging the iCloud Drive as the top-level favorite. I do that with Google Drive as well.


So, I’m back to recreating my GarageBand stuff, the first thing is to go to pixabay.com and find some good intro and outtro music. A shoutout to Zen_Man for cool ambient music and MichaelKobrin too.

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