File format

Updated 4 years ago
These are old instructions for MuseScore 1
For MuseScore 3 users, see File formats

MuseScore supports a wide variety of file formats, which allows you to share and publish scores in the format that best meets your needs. You can import files via FileOpen... and export via FileSave As.... In addition to the formats detailed below, you can save and share your scores on the web at FileSave Online.... See Share scores online .

MuseScore native format

Compressed MuseScore format (*.mscz)
MSCZ is the standard MuseScore file format and recommended for most uses. A score saved in this format takes up very little disk space, but preserves all the necessary information. The format is a ZIP-compressed version of .mscx files and includes images.
MuseScore format (*.mscx)
MSCX is the uncompressed version of the MuseScore file format. A score saved in this format will not lose any information, except images. It is recommended if you need to manually edit the file format using a text editor. Previous versions of MuseScore used the MSC file extension. However, MSC conflicts with a file extension used by Microsoft Windows and is blocked by some email providers. The new MSCX file extension supersedes the old MSC file extension, due to the problems outlined above.

Note about fonts: MuseScore does not embed fonts in the file. If you want to share a MuseScore file with other parties, choose a font for your text that the other parties have installed. When a computer does not have the fonts specified in the file, MuseScore uses a fallback font. Of course, the fallback font has a different appearance.

MuseScore backup files

MuseScore Backup File (.*.mscz, or .*.mscx,)
Backup files are created automatically and saved in the same folder as your normal MuseScore file. The backup file adds a period to the beginning of the file name (.) and a comma (,) to the end (for example, if your normal file is called "untitled.mscz", then the backup copy is called ".untitled.mscz,"). The backup copy contains the previously saved version of the MuseScore file and can be important if your normal copy becomes corrupted, or you need to look at an older version of your score. To open a MuseScore backup file, you need to rename the file by removing the period and comma. Since it is stored in the same folder as your normal MuseScore file, you also need to give it a unique name (for example, you might change the file name ".untitled.mscz," to "untitled-backup1.mscz").

In order to see the MuseScore backup files, you may need to change your view settings to "show hidden files". See also How to recover a backup copy of a score .

View and print (Export only)

PDF (*.pdf)
Portable Document Format (PDF) is ideal for sharing your sheet music with others who do not need to edit the music. Most computer users already have a PDF viewer on their computer, so they will not need to install any extra software to see your score.
PostScript (*.ps)
PostScript (PS) is popular as a page description language used in professional printing.
PNG (*.png)
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a bitmap image format widely supported by software on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The image format is particularly popular on the web. Multi-page scores export a PNG file for every page. MuseScore creates images as they would appear on the printed page. If you want to create images that show screen-only items, such as frame boxes, invisible notes, and out-of-range note colors, then go to EditPreferences... (Mac: MuseScorePreferences...) click on the Export tab and mark "Screenshot function" check box.
SVG (*.svg)
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) can be opened by most web browsers (except Internet Explorer before version 9) and most vector graphics software. However, most SVG software don't support embedded fonts, so the appropriate MuseScore fonts must be installed to view these files correctly.

Listen (Export only)

WAV Audio (*.wav)
WAV (Waveform Audio Format) is an uncompressed sound format developed by Microsoft and IBM, but widely supported by software for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. This is an ideal format for creating CDs, since no sound quality is lost in the process of saving the file. However, the large file sizes make it difficult to share via email, or the web.
FLAC Audio (*.flac)
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is compressed audio format. FLAC files are approximately half the size of uncompressed audio and just as good quality. Windows and Mac OS do not have built-in support for FLAC, but software such as VLC media player can play FLAC files on any operating system.
Ogg Vorbis (*.ogg)
Ogg Vorbis is intended as a patent-free replacement for the popular MP3 audio format. Like MP3, Ogg Vorbis files are relatively small (often a tenth of uncompressed audio), but some sound quality is lost. Windows and Mac OS do not have built-in support for Ogg Vorbis. However, software such as VLC media player and Firefox can play Ogg files on any operating system.
MP3 (*.mp3) (2.0+)
MP3 files are relatively small (often a tenth of uncompressed audio), but some sound quality is lost. To be able to create MP3 files, an additional DLL, lame_enc.dll, needs to be installed and MuseScore needs to get told about its location.

Share with other music software

MusicXML (*.xml)
MusicXML is the universal standard for sheet music and can be used by most of the currently available scorewriters including Sibelius, Finale, and more than 100 others. It is the recommended format for sharing your sheet music between different scorewriters.
Compressed MusicXML (*.mxl)
Compressed MusicXML creates smaller files than regular MusicXML. Compressed MusicXML is a newer standard and not as widely supported by other scorewriters at this time.
MIDI (*.mid, *.midi, *.kar)
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a format widely supported by sequencers and music notation software. However, MIDI files are designed for playback, and not score layout. Therefore, they do not contain information about formatting, pitch spelling, voicing, ornaments, articulations, repeats, or key signatures, among other things. To share files between different music notation software, use MusicXML. If you are only interested in playback, use MIDI.
LilyPond (*.ly) (Export only)
LY files can be opened by LilyPond , a free scorewriter. However, LilyPond export is currently incomplete and experimental.
MuseData (*.md) (Import only)
MuseData is a format developed by Walter B. Hewlett beginning in 1983 as an early means of sharing music notation between software. It has since been eclipsed by MusicXML, but several thousand scores in this format are still available on the web.
Capella (*.cap) (Import only)
CAP files are created by the scorewriter, "Capella". MuseScore imports these files fairly accurately (only version 2000 (3.0) or later, importing scores from 2.x doesn't work, the *.all format from 1.x versions is not supported at all) .
Bagpipe Music Writer (*.bww) (Import only)
BWW files are created by the niche scorewriter, "Bagpipe Music Writer".
BB (*.mgu, *.sgu) (Import only)
BB files are created by the music arranging software, "Band-in-a-Box". MuseScore includes experimental support for BB import.
Overture (*.ove) (Import only)
OVE files are created by the scorewriter, "Overture". This format is mainly popular in Chinese-language environments, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan. This is experimental.