Alex Wurman is busy writing the music for The Movie, which in this digital age means a lot of files shuttling back and forth. Rather than tapes, we have QuickTimes for each reel, with timecode burned in for reference. When Alex wants us to listen to a cue, he sends an mp3 with instructions for where it lines up.

This hand-off works great when we’re in the editorial office, with the Avid churning away. But since Alex is working on weekends and after hours, I wanted to be able to preview new tracks on my home computer (a MacBook Pro).

My first instinct was to fire up Final Cut Pro. It worked, but it was kind of grizzly. Neither the QuickTimes nor the mp3’s are native formats for FCP, which meant a lot of rendering or a lot of dropped frames. Plus, it felt like overkill to build a project with just two assets. Apple’s Soundtrack would be a more natural choice, but I hadn’t installed it.

Then I vaguely remembered that the most recent version of GarageBand — which came installed on the computer — had some sort of basic Soundtrack-like features designed to work with iMovie. It turned out to be exactly what I needed. The program happily churns through both QuickTime and mp3, making it easy to sync music to picture. The video preview window is a fixed size, but it’s fine for these purposes. Plus, it’s more or less free. In a market of $999 super-apps, it’s easy to overlook the gems that came with the computer.