This document is written for blind and visually impaired users of MuseScore 3. It is not intended to provide a full description of all of the features of MuseScore; you should read this in conjunction with the regular MuseScore documentation.
Eventually we hope to support other screen readers such as VoiceOver and Narrator. Currently, unsupported screen readers will usually read menus and dialogs, but reading the score note by note currently requires one of the supported screen readers.
Beginning with MuseScore 3.3, most of the features of MuseScore are fully accessible, it is viable both as a score reader and editor. Previous versions were more limited with respect to editing.
When you run MuseScore for the first time, you will be asked some questions on startup. We recommend you accept the defaults, but answer "no" to the question about showing tours, since these unfortunately are not yet accessible.
When MuseScore starts, the first thing you normally see is the Start Center window. This shows you a list of recent scores that you can access via Shift+Tab and then using the left and right cursor keys. You may find it easier to open scores directly from the File menu, however so you can press Esc to close the Start Center if you prefer. In fact you may want to permanently disable it. After closing the Start Center, open the Edit menu (Alt+E), choose Preferences, and in the General tab, uncheck Show Start Center, then close the Preferences window.
MuseScore includes keyboard shortcuts for many of its commands, and others that do not have shortcuts defined by default can be customized later, in Edit, Preferences, Shortcuts.
The user interface in MuseScore works much like other notation programs or other document-oriented programs in general. It has a single main document window within which you can work with a score. MuseScore supports multiple document tabs within this window. It also supports a split-screen view to let you work with two documents at once, and you can have multiple tabs in each window.
In addition to the score window, MuseScore has a menu bar that you can access via the shortcuts for the individual menus:
Hint: once you have opened a menu, it may take several presses of the Up or Down keys before everything is read properly. Also, if at any point the screenreader stops responding, a useful trick to kickstart it again is to press Alt to move focus to the menu bar, then Esc to return to the score. Sometimes switching to another application then back can help as well.
In addition to the menu bar, there are also a number of toolbars, palettes, and sub-windows within MuseScore, and you can cycle through the controls in these using Tab (or Shift+Tab to move backwards through this same cycle). When you first start MuseScore, or load a score, focus should be in the main score window.
If nothing is selected (press Esc to clear any selection), pressing Tab takes you to a toolbar containing a series of buttons for operations like New, Open, Play, and so forth. Tab will skip any buttons that aren't currently active. The names and shortcuts (where applicable) for these buttons should be read by your screen reader.
Once you have cycled through the buttons on the toolbar, the next window Tab will visit is the Palettes. This is used to add various elements to a score (dynamics, articulations, and so forth).
If an element is selected in the score, the first window visited by Tab is the Inspector, which is used for making various manual adjustments in your score. Many of these features are based on the visual appearance of the score (although a few relate to playback).
If you have opened one of the additional optional windows, such as the Selection Filter, the Tab key will also visit these. You can close windows you do not need by going to the View menu and making sure none of the first set of checkboxes is selected (the windows that appear before the Zoom settings). By default, only the Palettes and Inspector should be selected. See Initial Setup for instructions for disabling the Start Center. F9 can be used to toggle the Palettes while F8 will toggle the Inspector.
To return focus to the score window after visiting the toolbar, or a subwindow, press Esc. If something was selected before visiting the other window, the selection is left intact, but pressing Esc once focus is in the score window clears the selection. The selection is automatically restored when you commence navigation using the accessibility commands described below.
When you first start MuseScore 3 an empty example score is loaded by default. If you wish to experiment with editing features, this would be a good place to begin. Otherwise, you will probably want to start by loading a score. MuseScore uses the standard shortcuts to access system commands like Ctrl+O (Mac: Cmd+O) to open a file, Ctrl+S (Mac: Cmd+S) to save, Ctrl+W (Mac: Cmd+W) to close, etc.
If you press Ctrl+O (Mac: Cmd+O) to load a score, you are presented with a fairly standard file dialog. MuseScore can open scores in its own format (MSCZ or MSCX) as well as import scores in the standard MusicXML format, in MIDI format, or from a few other programs such as Guitar Pro, Capella, and Band-in-a-Box. Once you have loaded a score, it is displayed in a new tab within the score window. You can move between the tabs in the score window using Ctrl+Tab (does not apply for Mac). Hint: if the name of the score in the current tab is not read, ask your screen reader to read the title bar.
To read the score note by note, see below, but there are a few other interesting things you can do with a loaded score. You can press Space to have MuseScore play the score for you. You can use File / Export to convert to another format, including PDF, PNG, WAV, MP3, MIDI, MusicXML, etc. And of course, you can print it via File / Print or Ctrl+P (Mac: Cmd+P).
If a score contains multiple instruments, it may already have linked parts generated. Linked parts are presented as part tabs within score tabs, but currently, there is no way to navigate these part tabs using the keyboard. The parts would not normally contain information different from the score; they would just be displayed differently (each part on its own page). If a score does not already have parts generated, you can do so through File / Parts, and that dialog is accessible. If you wish to print the parts, you can work around the inability of accessing part tabs individually by using the File / Export Parts dialog, which automatically exports PDF’s (or other formats) for all parts in one step.
When you first load a score, the score window has the keyboard focus, but there will be nothing selected. The first step to reading a score is to select something, and the most natural place to begin is with the first element of the score. After a score is loaded, Alt+Right (Mac: Alt+Right) will select the literal first element, which is likely the title; Ctrl+Home (Mac: Cmd+Home) will select the first "musical" element (usually a clef or an initial barline).
As you navigate between elements, your screen reader should give the name of the selected element. You will hear it read the name of the element (for example, “Treble clef”) and also give position information (for example, “Measure 1; Beat 1; Staff 1; Violin”). The amount of information read is optimized to not repeat information that has not changed. Pressing Shift currently interrupts the reading, which might also be useful.
Most navigation in MuseScore is centered around notes and rests only—it will skip clefs, key signatures, time signatures, barlines, and other elements. So if you just use the standard Right and Left keys to move through your score, you will only hear about notes and rests (and the elements attached to them). However, there are two special accessibility commands that you will find useful to gain a more complete summarization of the score:
These commands include clefs and other elements that the other navigation commands skip, and also navigate through all voices within the current staff, whereas other navigation commands such as Right and Left only navigate through the currently selected voice until you explicitly change voices. For instance, if you are on a quarter note on beat 1 of measure 1, and there are two voices in that measure, then pressing Right will move on to the next note of voice 1—which will be on beat 2—whereas pressing Alt+Right (Mac: Alt+Right) will stay on beat 1 but move to the note on voice 2. Only once you have moved through all notes on the current beat on the current staff will the shortcut move you on to the next beat. The intent is that this shortcut should be useful for navigating through a score if you don’t already know what the contents are.
When you navigate to an element, your screen reader should read information about it. For notes and rests, it will also read information about elements attached to them, such as lyrics, articulations, chord symbols, etc. The accessibility commands will also navigate through those elements individually.
One important note: Up and Down by themselves, with Shift, or with Ctrl / Cmd are not useful shortcuts for navigation! Instead, they change the pitch of the currently selected note or notes. Be careful not to inadvertently edit a score you are trying to read. Up and Down should only be used with Alt if your intent is navigation only. See the list of navigation shortcuts below.
If you should lose track of your place in the score - or if you lose the selection completely - press Shift+L ("location") to get the current location.
The following shortcuts are useful for moving “horizontally” through a score:
The following shortcuts are useful for moving “vertically” through a score:
The Alt+Up and Alt+Down commands are similar to the Alt+Right and Alt+Left commands in that they are designed to help you discover the content of a score. You do not need to know how many notes are in a chord, how many voices are in a staff, or how many staves are in a score in order to move vertically through the score using these commands.
Excluding certain elements like lyrics, or chord names while reading the score is possible by using the Selection filter (F6). Uncheck those elements you don't want to read. However, this feature may not currently be implemented.
The Space bar serves both to start and stop playback. Playback will start with the currently selected note if one is selected; where playback was last stopped if no note is selected; or at the beginning of the score on first playback.
MuseScore supports looped playback so you can repeat a section of a piece for practice purposes. To set the “in” and “out” points for the loop playback via the Play Panel (F11):
You can also control the loop playback and control other playback parameters, such as overriding the basic tempo of a score, using the View / Play Panel (F11).
While some advanced score editing techniques require visual inspection of the score, and a small number pf commands may require the mouse, as of MuseScore 3.3 most score editing features are fully accessible.
You can enter music into the default empty score (a score with one staff, using a piano sound), or edit an existing score that you have opened already, or you can create a new score with the set of instruments you want.
To create a new score, use File, New or Ctrl+N. A wizard then walks you through the score creation process.
The first screen of the wizard has fields to enter the title, composer, and other information. The second allows you to select a template (predefined scores for common ensembles like choral SATB or jazz big band) or to select instruments. The third allows you to select an initial key signature and tempo. Sometimes this screen gets skipped, so if this happens, press the Back button to go back. To select a key, use Up and Down. The key signature control does not work well with some screenreaders, but if you give the "read current line" command (e.g., NVDA+L), it may read the currently-selected key. The next and final screen of the wizard allows you to select an initial time signature, pickup (anacrusis), and the number of measures to start with.
Once you have a score, you can begin editing it.
To enter notes, you need to be in note input mode. First, navigate to the measure in which you would like to enter notes, then press N. Almost everything about note input is designed to be keyboard accessible, and the standard documentation should be good to help you through the process. Bear in mind that MuseScore can either be in note input or normal mode, and it won’t always be clear which mode of these you are in. When in doubt, press Esc. If you were in note input mode, this will take you out. If you were in normal mode, you will stay there, although you will also lose your selection.
The basic process of note input is to first select a duration (for example, using shortcuts 4-5-6 for eighth, quarter, half), then enter a note by typing its letter name. Once a duration is selected you can enter multiple notes of the same duration. Press 0 to enter a rest.
The Up and Down keys raise or lower the pitch by a half step, adding or removing accidentals as necessary. To change enharmonic spelling of a note, press J.
To enter a tie, select the duration of the tied note then press +. To create triplets, select the total duration for the triplet, then press Ctrl+3 (similarly for quadruplets and other tuplets). To enter music in multiple voices on a single staff, pressing Ctrl+Alt plus a number from 1 to 4 will switch to that voice (keep in mind, the first voice for each staff is always voice 1).
There is much more to note input in MuseScore. See for the section on Note Input in the Handbook.
MuseScore supports the usual keyboard shortcuts for selection. Navigating is the same as selecting for single elements. To select a range of elements, navigate to the first, press and hold Shift, then navigate to the second. Ctrl+A will select the entire score.
As mentioned previously, many symbols other than notes are entered from the palettes window. The basic use model is, first select the element or elements in the score you want to apply the palette item to, then apply the palette element. There are a few different ways to select the palette element.
The simplest method to use at first is to simply browse the palettes window by keyboard. To reach the palettes window, press Shift+Tab. The screenreader may not specifically tell you that you are in the palettes window, but you will discover that you are as you navigate. Depending on whether you have used the palettes before, focus may be where you left off, or at the top. Press Tab a few times to get to the first palette within the window (Clefs). You can browse the list of palettes using the Up and Down cursor keys. The Right cursor key opens a palette, and then all four cursor keys can be used to navigate through the elements (they are arranged in a table). You can also use Tab to navigate the palette names and contents.
Once you have found a palette item you want to apply, press Enter to apply it to the currently-selected score elements and return focus to the score. The next time you press Shift+Tab to return to the palettes, the last-used palette item will still be selected, so Enter will apply it again. The screenreader may stop responding after applying a palette item, even though focus has returned to the score, but the trick of pressing Alt followed by Esc should get it working again.
You can also use the palette search facility to quickly find a palette item. The search box is one of the first elements at the top of the palette, so you can navigate to it, or you can define a shortcut (Edit, Preferences, Shortcuts) for the "Palette search" command, which will subsequently take you directly to the search box. Once you are in the box, type the first few characters of a search term, and only palette items matching that search will shown. You can then navigate to the search results and find the element you want. The Down cursor will take you directly to the first search result, then you can use Right after that. However, on some systems MuseScore may crash when using the palette search function with a screen reader enabled.
Another way to reach the palettes window is with the F9 shortcut, which toggles the palettes window on and off. By default, the palettes window is open, so pressing F9 will close it, but then pressing it again opens the window and puts the cursor in the search box.
There is one other useful technique for palette accessibility, and that is the "Apply current palette element" command (for which you can define a shortcut). If you are in the score, this will apply the last-used palette element automatically (the equivalent of Shift+Tab followed by Enter).
Some elements can be added or edited via menu commands or keyboard shortcuts. The Edit menu has standard copy and paste commands (and the usual shortcuts work too). The Add menu has commands to add notes, tuplets, measures, frames, text, and some lines. The Format menu has commands relating mostly to the visual appearance of the score (e.g., page and staff size, position and size of symbols, fonts used for text), which can be extremely useful in producing large print a.k.a. "modified stave notation" scores (see below). The Tools menu has a number of other useful commands, including ones to remove measures or other selected ranges, to transpose a selection, to join and split measures, and more. any of these commands have shortcuts defined by default that should be read by a screenreader. You can define custom shortcuts for most of the rest in Edit, Preferences, Shortcuts.
There are also shortcuts for a number of palette items, and the possibility to define others (although many palette items currently do not support this). Some useful shortcuts to remember include:
Ctrl+T: staff text
Ctrl+K: chord symbol
Ctrl+M: rehearsal mark
slash: grace note
less than: crescendo
greater than: diminuendo
You can customize the keyboard shortcuts by opening the Edit menu, selecting Preferences, then navigating to the Shortcuts tab. Once there, Tab will take you to the list of shortcuts, and you can navigate the list directly with the Up and Down cursor keys, but it is a very long list. You can instead hit Tab a few more times to reach the Search box, then type the first few characters of the command to filter the list, then navigate back to the list.
Once you have found the command you wish to customize, press Enter. You can then press the key combination you wish to be the shortcut. It can be a single key, a key with Shift, Ctrl, and/or other modifiers, or even a sequence or two or more keys pressed in succession. After entering the shortcut you wish, press Tab to get to the Add or Replace button (Tab is the only key that won't be interpreted as part of a shortcut sequence). If you reach Cancel without ever seeing Add or Replace, it means the shortcut you choose conflicts with another. Navigate back to the where you typed the shortcut and it will tell you the name of the command it conflicts with. Hit Tab to get to the Clear button to clear it, then try again with a different shortcut.
At some point, we may provide a set of special accessibility-optimized shortcuts. There is already a facility in the shortcut dialog to save and load shortcut definitions, so it is possible to share shortcut definitions with other users.
The Album feature has been disabled for the initial 3.0 release. It will come back in a later patch release.
The Album Manager allows you to prepare a list of multiple scores and save the list as an album file ("*.album"), print all the scores as one long print job with consistent page numbers, or even join the scores into a single new MSCZ score. This is ideal for preparing an exercise book or combining multiple movements of an orchestration.
To open the Album Manager, go to File → Album...
If you have previously created an album, you can open it through the Album Manager by clicking the Load button. A file selection dialog will appear to let you load the .album file from your file system.
To print an album as if it were a single document, click Print Album. The scores loaded into the Album Manager are printed in the order they are listed in with the correct page numbers, ignoring the page number offset values in Layout → Page Settings... → First page number for all but the first score. As the album is printed in one print job, double-sided printing (duplex printing) also works as expected.
To combine multiple scores into a single .mscz file, click Join Scores. The scores are combined in the selected order into one single score. If not already present, line- and section breaks are added to the last measure or frame of each score in the combined file.
All style settings are taken from the first score, different style settings from subsequent score are ignored.
All the scores should have the same number of parts and staves for this to work correctly, ideally with the same instruments in the same order. If the scores have the same total number of instruments but not the same ones, or not in the same order, then the instrument names from the first score will overwrite ones from subsequent scores. If some of the scores have fewer instruments than the first score, then empty staves will be created for those sections. Any part or staff that is not present in the first score will be lost in the joined score.
Upon clicking the Close button, you will be prompted to save your album as a .album file. This file is not the same as a joined score; it simply consists of the list of scores. Album files can be loaded into the Album Manager as described above.
MuseScore's automatic placement (AP) feature ensures that, in most cases, elements are correctly spaced and do not collide or overlap with each other.
Note: When you create an element, AP is automatically enabled, but can be turned off if required (see Disable automatic placement).
A newly-created element, such as staff text or fingering, assumes a default position on the staff specified by "positional" properties contained in the Style menu. These "positional" properties may include things such as:
For details of the settings available for each element type, see Layout and formatting: Style.
Use one of the following methods:
Use one of the following methods:
Elements with a "Placement" property available in the Inspector can be easily moved from above the staff to below it, and vice versa:
Note: When automatic placement is enabled for an element, you cannot position it in a way that causes a collision with other elements.
The element reverts to its default position. It can be repositioned as desired and is no longer avoided when placing other elements.
To change the value for Stacking order:
In cases where elements are allowed to overlap, Stacking order controls the order in which they are placed on top of each other. The element with the lower value will be placed behind.
In piano scores, it is common to write a musical phrase extending across both staves—bass and treble. This can be entered in MuseScore as follows:
Enter the notation in one staff to begin with. e.g.
Select a note and press Ctrl+Shift + ↓/↑ (Mac: Cmd+Shift + ↓/↑). This moves all the notes in that voice down/up to the other staff. e.g.
Note: If you only want to move certain notes in a chord you need to ensure that they are in a separate voice.
To adjust the beam, double-click it to show the handles. Use the keyboard arrows or drag the handles to change the beam angle and height:
MuseScore offers several specialized functions to create engravings of early music (particularly medieval and renaissance) akin to commercial editions from the 20th century onwards.
In MuseScore, notes lasting longer than the duration of a measure are normally tied across barlines. However MuseScore has a special feature which allows it to display the note values intact, without splitting and tying them in this way. This enables you to notate music which is unbarred (i.e. not divided into measures), such as that of the renaissance:
Note: The feature is still in development and may contain bugs. The longest supported note value is the longa (a dotted longa is still broken up and tied over).
Since a complete lack of barlines could make performing the music more difficult for current musicians, many modern engravers settled on a compromise called Mensurstrich, where barlines are drawn between, but not across, staves.
To place barlines between staves:
Note: It is important to work from the lowest staff upwards.
Before there was the concept of an absolute pitch, performers were required to transpose vocal music to a singable range for their ensemble "on the fly." To aid them, an ambitus was sometimes included, marking the entire range of a voice at the beginning of the piece.
To apply an ambitus, use one of the following methods:
When applied, the ambitus automatically displays the note range of the score: if there is a section break then only the note range of the section is displayed. Beyond the section break a new ambitus may be applied.
The note range of the ambitus can be adjusted manually by selecting it and changing the "Top note" and "Bottom note" values in the Inspector. For automatic adjustment click the Update Range button in the inspector.
In the mensural notation system, time signatures did not define the length of a measure, but the length of breves and semibreves. MuseScore supports mensural time symbols as a display method in the Time signature properties dialog rather than as symbols, but they are just for show, as the proportion of e.g. half notes per whole notes cannot be modified.
One way to make use of these symbols is to replicate when composers of the renaissance had multiple voices in different time signatures simultaneously without using tuplets. Edit the time signature on a per-staff basis, as long as the beginning and end of a measure in all staves match up. If they do not, then consider increasing the size of the measures to the lowest common denominator.
De Profundis Clamavi for 5 voices by Josquin Des Prez
Digits are entered directly. Groups of several digits stacked one above the other are also entered directly in a single text, stacking them with Enter:
Accidentals can be entered using regular keys:
These characters will automatically turn into the proper signs when you leave the editor. Accidentals can be entered before, or after a digit (and of course, in place of a digit, for altered thirds), according to the required style; both styles are properly aligned, with the accidental 'hanging' at the left, or the right.
Slashed digits or digits with a cross can be entered by adding \, / or + after the digit (combining suffixes); the proper combined shape will be substituted when leaving the editor:
The built-in font can manage combination equivalence, favoring the more common substitution:
1+, 2+, 3+, 4+ result in (or )
and 5\, 6\, 7\, 8\, 9\ result in (or )
Please remember that / can only by combined with 5; any other 'slashed' figure is rendered with a question mark.
+ can also be used before a digit; in this case it is not combined, but it is properly aligned ('+' hanging at the left side).
Open and closed parentheses, both round: '(', ')' and square: '[', ']', can be inserted before and after accidentals, before and after a digit, before and after a continuation line; added parentheses will not disturb the proper alignment of the main character.
Notes: (1) The editor does not check that parentheses, open and closed, round or square, are properly balanced. (2) Several parentheses in a row are non-syntactical and prevent proper recognition of the entered text. (3) A parenthesis between a digit and a combining suffix ('+', '\', '/') is accepted, but prevents shape combination.
Continuation lines are input by adding an '_' (underscore) at the end of the line. Each digit of a group can have its own continuation line:
Continuation lines are drawn for the whole duration of the figured bass group.
'Extended' continuation lines
Occasionally, a continuation line has to connect with the continuation line of a following group, when a chord degree has to be kept across two groups. Examples (both from J. Boismortier, Pièces de viole, op. 31, Paris 1730):
In the first case, each group has its own continuation line; in the second, the continuation line of the first group is carried 'into' the second.
This can be obtained by entering several (two or more) underscores "__" at the end of the text line of the first group.
Each figured bass group has a duration, which is indicated by a light gray line above it (of course, this line is for information only and it is not printed or exported to PDF).
Initially, a group has the same duration of the note to which it is attached. A different duration may be required to fit several groups under a single note or to extend a group to span several notes.
To achieve this, each key combination in the table below can be used to (1) advance the editing box by the indicated duration, and (2) set the duration of the previous group up to the new editing box position.
Pressing several of them in sequence without entering any figured bass text repeatedly extends the previous group.
|Ctrl+6||half note (minim)|
|Ctrl+7||whole note (semibreve)|
|Ctrl+8||2 whole notes (breve)|
(The digits are the same as are used to set the note durations)
Setting the exact figured bass group duration is only mandatory in two cases:
However, it is a good practice to always set the duration to the intended value for the purposes of plugins and MusicXML.
To edit a figured bass indication already entered use one of the following options:
The usual text editor box will open with the text converted back to plain characters ('b', '#' and 'h' for accidentals, separate combining suffixes, underscores, etc.) for simpler editing.
Once done, press Space to move to a next note, or click outside the editor box to exit it, as for newly created figured basses.
To configure how figured bass is rendered: from the menu, select Format → Style… → Figured Bass.
Line Height: The distance between the base line of each figured bass line, as a percentage of font size.
The following picture visualizes each numeric parameter:
Alignment: Select the vertical alignment: with Top, the top line of each group is aligned with the main vertical position and the group 'hangs' from it (this is normally used with figured bass notation and is the default); with Bottom, the bottom line is aligned with the main vertical position and the group 'sits' on it (this is sometimes used in some kinds of harmonic analysis notations):
Style: Choose between "Modern" or "Historic." The difference between the two styles is shown below:
For the relevant substitutions and shape combinations to take effect and for proper alignment, the figured bass mechanism expects input texts to follow some rules (which are in any case, the rules for a syntactical figured bass indication):
If a text entered does not follow these rules, it will not be processed: it will be stored and displayed as it is, without any layout.
|Ctrl+G||Adds a new figured bass group to the selected note.|
|Space||Advances the editing box to the next note.|
|Shift+Space||Moves the editing box to the previous note.|
|Tab||Advances the editing box to the next measure.|
|Shift+Tab||Moves the editing box to the previous measure.|
|Ctrl+1||Advances the editing box by 1/64, setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+2||Advances the editing box by 1/32, setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+3||Advances the editing box by 1/16, setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+4||Advances the editing box by 1/8 (quaver), setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+5||Advances the editing box by 1/4 (crochet), setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+6||Advances the editing box by a half note (minim), setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+7||Advances the editing box by a whole note (semibreve), setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+8||Advances the editing box by two whole notes (breve), setting the duration of the previous group.|
|Ctrl+Space||Enters an actual space; useful when figure appears "on the second line" (e.g., 5 4 -> 3).|
|BB||Enters a double flat.|
|B||Enters a flat.|
|H||Enters a natural.|
|#||Enters a sharp.|
|##||Enters a double sharp.|
|_||Enters a continuation line.|
|__||Enters an extended continuation line.|
Note: For Mac commands, Ctrl is replaced with Cmd.
MuseScore can import and export a wide variety of file formats, allowing you to share and publish scores in the format that best meets your needs.
MuseScore saves files in the following native formats:
A note about fonts: MuseScore does not embed text fonts in saved or exported native format files. If you want your MuseScore file to be viewed by other MuseScore users, make sure you are using the built-in FreeSerif or FreeSans font families for your text, or a font that the other parties have installed too. If a system does not have the fonts specified in your original file, MuseScore will use a fallback option, which may cause your score to appear differently.
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 any images the score may contain and a thumbnail.
MSCX is the uncompressed version of the MuseScore file format. A score saved in this format will retain all information, except images. It can be opened with a text editor, allowing the user access to the file's source code.
.*.mscz,) or (
Backup files are created automatically and saved in the same folder as your normal MuseScore file. The backup copy contains the previously saved version of the MuseScore file and can be important if your normal copy becomes corrupted, or for looking at an older version of the score.
The backup file adds a period to the beginning of the file name (
.) and a comma (
,) to the end (e.g. if your normal file is called "
untitled.mscz", the backup copy will be "
.untitled.mscz,"), and the period and comma need to be removed from the name in order to open the backup file in MuseScore. As it is stored in the same folder as your normal MuseScore file, you may also need to give it a unique name (e.g. changing "
.untitled.mscz," to "
Note: In order to see the MuseScore backup files, you may need to change your system settings to "Show hidden files". See also How to recover a backup copy of a score.
PDF (Portable Document Format) files are ideal for sharing your sheet music with others who do not need to edit the content. This is a very widely-used format and most users will have a PDF viewer of some kind on their computers.
To set the resolution of exported PDFs:
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files are based on a bitmap image format, widely supported by software on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and very popular on the web. MuseScore creates PNG images as they would appear if printed, one image per page.
To set the resolution of exported PNG images:
Note: If you want to create images that show only parts of the score (with or without screen-only items such as frame boxes, invisible notes, and out-of-range note colors), use Image capture instead.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files can be opened by most web browsers (except Internet Explorer before version 9) and most vector graphics software. However, most SVG software does not support embedded fonts, so the appropriate MuseScore fonts must be installed to view these files correctly. SVG is the current format for all scores saved on MuseScore.com.
To set resolution and transparency of exported SVG files, see the instructions under PNG (above). Note that MuseScore does not (yet) support gradients on export (although it does for images in a score).
You can adjust the sample rate of all audio formats as follows:
WAV (Waveform Audio Format) is an uncompressed sound format. This was developed by Microsoft and IBM, and is widely supported by software for Windows, OS X, and Linux. It is an ideal format for use when creating CDs, as full sound quality is preserved. For sharing via email or the internet, use a compressed alternative such as MP3.
MP3 is a very widely-used compressed audio format. MP3 files are ideal for sharing and downloading over the internet due to their relatively small size.
To set the MP3 bitrate:
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 OS X do not have built-in support for FLAC, but software such as the free and open source VLC media player can play FLAC files on any operating system.
Ogg Vorbis is intended as a patent-free replacement for the popular MP3 audio format (which MuseScore also supports—see above). Like MP3, Ogg Vorbis files are relatively small (often a tenth of uncompressed audio), but some sound quality is lost. Windows and OS X 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.
MusicXML is the universal standard for sheet music. It is the recommended format for sharing sheet music between different scorewriters, including MuseScore, Sibelius, Finale, and more than 100 others. MuseScore imports
*.musicxml, but exports only
*.musicxml. If you need
*.xml (because the program you want to import it needs that), you need to rename it yourself after the export.
Compressed MusicXML creates smaller files than regular MusicXML. This is a newer standard and isn't as widely supported by older scorewriters, but MuseScore has full import and export support.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a format widely supported by sequencers and music notation software. For details of the protocol see the MIDI Association website.
MIDI files are very useful for playback purposes but contain little in the way of score layout information (formatting, pitch spelling, voicing, ornaments, articulations, repeats, key signatures etc.). To share files between different music notation software, MusicXML is recommended instead.
For details about how to import MIDI files see MIDI import.
*.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 online.
*.capx) (import only)
CAP and CAPX files are created by the score writer, Capella. MuseScore imports version 2000 (3.0) or later fairly accurately.
*.bww) (import only)
BWW files are created by the niche score writer, Bagpipe Music Writer.
*.sgu) (import only)
BB files are created by the music arranging software, Band-in-a-Box. MuseScore's support is currently experimental.
*.ove) (import only)
OVE files are created by the score writer Overture. This format is mainly popular in Chinese-language environments, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. MuseScore's support is currently experimental.
*.gpx) (import only)
GP files are created by Guitar Pro.
*.ptb) (import only)
PTB files are created by Power Tab Editor. MuseScore's support is currently experimental.
Note: This page applies to MuseScore 3.1 and above only. Users of versions prior to 3.1 should go to Fretboard diagrams (prior to version 3.1).
MuseScore allows the use and creation of fretboard (or chord) diagrams. They usually appear above the staff on lead sheets and piano scores. They are commonly used for guitar chords, but MuseScore permits the creation of diagrams for any instrument.
Below is a simple example of Fretboard Diagrams use.
(Note: Fretboard Diagrams are an alternative to and quite different from Tablature, which is a specialized notation form that is preferred by some string instrument players.)
The Fretboard Diagram mechanism can be used in several different ways.
Standard chords. A set of 21 common chord diagrams for the guitar are found in the Fretboard Diagrams palette in the Advanced Workspace. These consist of a single example of a major, minor, and seventh chord for each diatonic scale tone (CDEFGAB). These 21 chords are adequate for many simple pop or folk music scores. See the overview of this palette below.
Modified chords. In many cases, the standard chords from the Fretboard Diagrams palette are used as a starting point for creating modified chord diagrams, via the Inspector. This technique enables chord extensions, alterations, different voicings, different positions, etc. to be applied to the 21 standard diagrams. There are literally thousands of guitar chords in general use, making a comprehensive palette or dictionary impractical. See How to use Fretboard Diagrams for custom/complex chords for examples.
"Freehand" chords. More advanced guitarists often prefer to start from a blank chord grid, and then draw the specific chord tones desired. See How to use Fretboard Diagrams for custom/complex chords for examples.
Note: Many aspects of music notation follow well-established engraving standards. Guitar chord diagrams are an exception. Usage has varied widely from year to year, from publisher to publisher, from teacher to teacher, and from arranger to arranger. Many inconsistent practices persist today, and distinct styles of chord notation are preferred in different musical genres and regions. For this reason, the MuseScore Fretboard Diagram interface supports diagrams of various types. Users are free to choose their preferences.
The Fretboard Diagrams palette in the Advanced Workspace provides 21 diagrams, comprising a single major, minor, and seventh chord for each diatonic scale tone (CDEFGAB). The name of each diagram appears when the cursor hovers over the entry.
Note: This range of chord diagrams, or indeed any selection of 21 chords, would not typically be sufficient for publication purposes. Arrangers must consider many other voicings, positions, and chord qualities. This palette is also an example of the diverse diagram formats in use, as discussed above. These 21 chords happen to incorporate open/mute string indicators (the X and O symbols above the diagrams). Although those symbols do often appear in published scores, their usage varies by context. For example, jazz arrangements generally omit mute string indicators, unless contextually important, and rarely use open strings.
Additional palettes that contain a broader range of standard chords are expected be available in the future. These would try to address the needs of specific musical genres and situations.
Modified Fretboard Diagrams are created by adding and then editing an existing diagram from the palette. By modifying standard chords, it is possible to create Fretboard Diagrams for any playable chord, and to reflect fingering on any Western fretted stringed instrument, regardless of tuning, number of strings, or number of frets. Most of the material below deals with the process of modifying diagrams and creating new ones.
Custom diagrams can be saved to a custom palette if desired for future use. Modified diagrams can of course be copied/pasted within a score in the usual ways.
To add a Fretboard Diagram to the score, use one of the following methods:
As the cursor hovers over the chosen diagram within the palette, its name will appear as a pop-up hint (see the example in the overview).
When adding a Fretboard Diagram to a score, a chord symbol is also automatically created. The chord symbol is normally placed above the diagram, and uses the chord name from the chord's palette cell. Automatic placement and formatting of a diagram's chord symbol is controlled by style settings (see style settings, below).
A Fretboard Diagram's generated chord symbol can be selected, moved, and modified like any other text element. It behaves generally like the normal chord symbols that are added using Add→Text→Chord Symbol or the shortcut Ctrl+K.
Note 1: A field on the Chord Symbols style page (Style submenu: select Format→Style…→Chord symbols) – rather than on the Fretboard Diagrams style page – controls the chord symbol's "Distance to Fretboard Diagram". This value interacts with the Element "Minimum distance" field, within the Inspector, to control automatic placement of the chord symbol relative to the diagram. Note also that the Fretboard Diagram's "top edge" includes the blank space where open/mute string indicators would appear, even if that area is empty. This may leave a larger gap than is desired. As usual, manual placement can be used to override the automatic settings.
Note 2: Automatic chord symbols generated for Fretboard Diagrams are not completely integrated with normal Chord Symbols that may be directly associated with notes on the staff. Specifically, focus does not flow from a Fretboard Diagram's chord symbol back to the sequence of other symbols on the page when using Space to move through the chord symbols. This minor issue will be addressed in a future update.)
Visibility, Color and Stacking order can also be adjusted in the "Element" section: see the diagram under editing.
Certain default and global properties of Fretboard Diagrams (see diagram below) can be adjusted from the Style submenu: select Format→Style…→Fretboard Diagrams. Some of these properties are subject to override via the Inspector; but most affect all Fretboard Diagrams in the score.
Most Fretboard Diagram properties exposed by the Inspector offer "reset to style default" and "save as style default" buttons. These values do not typically appear on the style page, but are manipulated via the Inspector.
When a Fretboard Diagram is selected, it can be edited in the Inspector as follows:
The Inspector displays three sections related to the Fretboard Diagram:
Below is an example of the Inspector with a Fretboard Diagram selected.
(See Inspector properties above in the editing example.)
(See Inspector properties above in the editing example.)
Some arrangers and educators use a more advanced form of Fretboard Diagram that a) incorporates multiple types of "dot", and that b) allows multiple dots per string.
This technique is particularly associated with the many books and arrangements published by Ted Greene and his successors. (Note: No other notation software currently supports this diagram style.)
Multi-dot notation style. With this approach, the round dots are played first. Then, on successive beats, the notes represented by the other dots are then played in order. This allows a single diagram to represent several beats of music. (The usual sequence is: dot→X→square→delta. Usage varies however.) Here are two examples of multi-dot diagrams.
Optional-note notation style. Another use of multiple dots per string allows other symbols to show optional notes, rather than delayed notes. Typically, a related chord voicing is shown, such as an optional extension or an optional rootless chord version. Here is an example of an optional extension.
MuseScore Fretboard Diagrams allow the creation of these and other types of multi-symbol diagrams. A chord is first created and edited using the basic steps described above. Then, the multiple dot buttons above the diagram are used to add secondary notes.
(Note: Experienced users of Ted Greene style diagrams will find that several secondary features from Ted's diagrams are not yet supported in MuseScore. These include: a. Displaying the fret number on a higher fret than the first visible fret. b. Allowing the note symbols to include digits, not just the four dot styles currently supported. c. Allowing the creation of annotation on and between diagrams, such as circling a particular note, or drawing lines linking notes in adjacent diagrams. However, MuseScore does provide many tools for drawing and annotation that can serve in place of these techniques.)
(Note: Because multi-note symbols are not standardized, even within the Ted Greene community, users must be careful to indicate how they are being used within a given score.)
Note: This page applies to versions of MuseScore prior to 3.1 only. Users of MuseScore 3.1 and above should go to Fretboard diagrams.
A range of fretboard (or chord) diagrams for the guitar are provided in the Fretboard Diagrams palette in the Advanced Workspace.
To add a fretboard diagram to the score, use one of the following methods:
As the cursor hovers over the chosen diagram within the palette, its name will appear as a pop-up hint.
When a fretboard diagram is selected, it can be edited in the Inspector as follows:
Visibility, Color and Stacking order can also be adjusted from the "Element" section.
Certain default and global properties of Fretboard Diagrams (e.g. barre thickness, vertical position, scale, fret-number font-size and position) can be adjusted from the Style submenu: select Format→Style…→Fretboard Diagrams. Some of these properties are subject to override via the Inspector; but most affect all Fretboard Diagrams in the score.
This feature is still experimental and only visible if MuseScore is started using the '-e' option, see Command line options
For the Open-Goldberg project, the ability to create different versions of the score was needed. One version is the "Urtext", a score which is close to the original version of Bach. A second version could be a Czerny variation, which in addition to the Urtext, contains fingerings.
The layer feature allows creating different versions out of one score file. If you want to add fingerings, you have to create a layer and tag the fingering elements with the layer name.
First, create layers:
Second, create a score variant:
Add the visible layer to the score variant, then select all fingerings and tag them with the name of the score variant:
MuseScore can import MIDI files (.mid/.midi/.kar) and convert them into music notation.
The MIDI Import Panel appears at the bottom of the screen: you can expand this by dragging the interface with the document window upwards. The panel shows all the tracks in the file (only those with note events are shown) and allows you to adjust parameters affecting the conversion process. If there are multiple tracks, then one more track is added at the top of the list to select all tracks at once.
To accept the default conversion: Simply press the "X" symbol on the top-left of the Import Panel to close it. The panel can be re-opened at any time during the session by pressing "Show MIDI import panel" at the bottom of the document window.
To reimport the file: Adjust the desired parameters in the Import Panel (see below) and press Apply. If you have made changes to the Import Panel but wish to UNDO them, press Cancel. To close the Import Panel, press the "X" symbol at the top-left of the panel.
Mouse wheel scrolling (MIDI Import Panel): Vertical scrolling is the default. For horizontal scrolling, press Shift or Ctrl while using the wheel.
Quantize MIDI notes by some regular grid. The grid MAX resolution can be set via the drop-down menu:
However, the actual quantization grid size is adaptive and reduces when the note length is small, so for each note the quantization value is different. But there is an upper limit for the quantization value, and that value can be set by the user as "max. quantization".
For example, if some note is long - say, half note, and the max. quantization is set to 8th, then the note will be quantized with the 8th-note grid, not the half- or quarter-note grid as it supposed to be by the algorithm.
Such quantization scheme allows to quantize all notes in the score (with different lengths!) adequately.
importmidi_clef.cpp). This option is available for non-drum tracks only.
To open, use either of the following options:
The Master palette is divided into sections based on symbol type. Hovering the mouse over an item shows a tool tip (a short definition in black on yellow background).
To transfer a Master palette item to a custom palette:
Note: Except for the Symbols section (below), it is not usual to add items directly to the score from the Master palette: use the workspace palettes instead. However, if desired, items can be added directly using either (i) drag-and-drop or (ii) by selecting one or more notes/rests and double-clicking the item.
The Symbols section of the Master Palette is a large repository of hundreds of musical symbols in addition to those found in the preset workspaces. You can open it from the Master Palette, or directly from the score by using the shortcut Z.
The Symbols subcategories can be displayed by clicking on "Symbols". Use the font menu on the bottom right of the box to specify Emmentaler-, Gonville- or Bravura-specific symbols. You can search for a particular symbol by entering a keyword in the search box.
To add an item to the score from the Symbols section, use any of the following options:
The position of the symbol can be adjusted by dragging or by changing the horizontal / vertical offsets in the Inspector. Color and visibility can also be adjusted in the Inspector.
Note: Elements from the Symbols section do not follow any positioning rules (in many cases unlike identical elements from other sections of the Master Palette), nor do they affect score playback.
Elements from the Symbols section can be connected to each other on the score page, so that they can be moved as one unit:
Drag the first element and the attached element will follow.
MuseScore allows you to choose from any of several note input modes. Step-time (see below) is the default, but others can be accessed by clicking the small dropdown arrow next to the note entry button on the note input toolbar.
This is the default method of note input and involves entering notes one at a time: first by selecting a note duration using the mouse or keyboard, then choosing a pitch using the mouse, keyboard, MIDI keyboard or virtual piano.
For details see Basic note entry.
Re-pitch mode allows you to correct the pitches of a sequence of notes while leaving their durations unchanged (not to be confused with Accidental: Respell pitches).
You can also use the Re-pitch function to create a new passage from an existing one of the same sequence of durations—by copying and pasting the latter, then applying Re-pitch.
Rhythm mode allows you to enter durations with a single keypress. Combining Rhythm and Re-pitch modes makes for a very efficient method of note entry.
The Real-time modes basically allow you to perform the piece on a MIDI keyboard (or MuseScore's virtual piano keyboard) and have the notation added for you. However, you should be aware of the following limitations which currently apply:
However, these restrictions mean that MuseScore has very little guessing to do when working out how your input should be notated, which helps to keep the Real-time modes accurate.
In the automatic version of Real-time input, you play at a fixed tempo indicated by a metronome click. You can adjust the tempo by changing the delay between clicks from the menu: Edit → Preferences... → Note Input (Mac: MuseScore → Preferences... → Note Input).
The score stops advancing as soon as you release the key. If you want the score to continue advancing (e.g. to allow you to enter rests) then you can use the Real-time Advance shortcut to start the metronome.
In the manual version of Real-time input, you have to indicate your input tempo by tapping on a key or pedal, but you can play at any speed you like and it doesn't have to be constant. The default key for setting the tempo (called "Real-time Advance") is Enter on the numeric keypad (Mac: fn+Return), but it is highly recommended that you change this to a MIDI key or MIDI pedal (see below).
The Real-time Advance shortcut is used to tap beats in manual Real-time mode, or to start the metronome clicks in automatic Real-time mode. It is called "Real-time Advance" because it causes the input position to move forward, or "advance", through the score.
The default key for Real-time Advance is Enter on the numeric keypad (Mac: fn+Return), but it is highly recommended that you assign this to a MIDI key or MIDI pedal via MuseScore's MIDI remote control. The MIDI remote control is available from the menu: Edit → Preferences... → Note Input (Mac: MuseScore → Preferences... → Note Input).
Alternatively, if you have a USB footswitch or computer pedal which can simulate keyboard keys, you could set it to simulate Enter on the numeric keypad.
When the notes are entered they will be placed just before the selected starting element, which will be highlighted with a square blue marker. The start element and any subsequent notes or rests within the same measure will be shifted forward. You can move the insertion point forward and backward using the arrow keys → or ←, and the new insertion point will then be highlighted.
Insert Input mode (called Timewise in versions prior to 3.0.2) allows you to insert and delete notes and rests within measures, automatically shifting subsequent music forwards or backwards. Measure duration is automatically updated as you go.
Alternatively, if you have only one or two notes to insert, you may prefer to use a shortcut:
If, at any time, the total duration of the notes and rests within the measure does not match the time signature, a small + or - sign will be shown above the measure.
See also: Remove selected range (Tools).
To leave Note Input mode, click on the Note Input tool button, press N, or press Esc. This puts you in Normal mode, in which you can change durations and delete notes or rests as follows:
You can choose choose any one of nine notehead schemes for a standard staff. To set a notehead scheme:
The schemes are as follows:
(For more info about the different variant of shape notes, see the SMuFL specification)
The setting applies to a given staff and the notehead will be used when entering and editing notes. Here is an example.
Note: The design of the notehead may vary depending on the music font selected (Emmentaler, Gonville or Bravura). Those in the palette are displayed as half notes in Bravura font.
MuseScore supports a range of notehead styles:
To change the shape of one or more noteheads in the score, use one of the following:
Occasionally you may need to change the apparent duration of a notehead—i.e. notehead type—without altering its actual, underlying duration:
When two notes in different voices, but of the same written pitch, fall on the same beat, one of two things may happen:
MuseScore uses the following rules:
Note: If two unison notes occur in the same voice they are always offset.
Offset noteheads can be turned into shared noteheads in one of two ways:
In the first example below, the notes of voices 1 and 2 share noteheads by default, because they are all black, undotted notes:
By contrast, in the next example, white notes cannot share noteheads with black notes, so are offset to the right:
To create a shared notehead, make the black eighth note invisible or change its head type to match that of the white note (as explained above):
In certain cases, a shared notehead, when pasted to a tablature staff, may result in two separate fret marks on adjacent strings. To correct this, make any extraneous tablature notes invisible by selecting them and using the keyboard shortcut V (or by unchecking the "visible" option in the Inspector).
MuseScore allows you to not only create and print a full score but also to generate individual player's parts from it.
A part can be created from a specific instrument staff in the main score or even from a specific voice within a staff. This allows you to display multiple parts (e.g. Flute 1 & 2) on a single staff in the score but to extract them as separate parts.
The most straightforward method is to create all parts at once. Parts are generated on a one-to-one basis from the corresponding Instruments in the score:
The parts can now be accessed by clicking on tabs above the document window.
This method allows you to generate specific parts for only selected instruments (rather than all-at-once):
If you wish to create more parts, repeat steps 1 through 3 (above) for each part.
You have now finished setting up the parts. You do not need to do this again, unless you add or remove an instrument from your full score.
Once you have generated a part (or all parts), you can select any part at the top and use the controls at the bottom to control not only what instrument is in the part, but also which staves and voices within the instrument are included.
To add instruments to an existing part:
To remove instruments from an existing part:
To select the staves of an instrument to include in the part:
Note: If you select only voice 1 for a given staff, then only the content in voice 1 for that staff will be included in the part. Thus, in order to share flute 1 & 2 on the same staff, you will need to enter all notes onto both voices, even in passages where they share content. You also cannot enter the two parts as chords in the passages where they share rhythms.
This will generate files with the names "<title>" + "-" + "<part name>.<extension>". In addition, when exporting as PDF, this will also generate "<title>" + "-Score_And_Parts.pdf".
Parts and score are "linked", which means that any change to the content in one will affect the other, but changes to the layout will not. When you have the parts created, they are saved along with the score (if you open the score you have tabs for the score and every part you created).
However, if you wish to save a part individually:
Plugins are small pieces of software that add a particular feature to MuseScore. By enabling a plugin, a new menu option is appended to the Plugins menu: subsequently, when this option is selected, the plugin performs a particular task in the score.
Some plugins come pre-installed with MuseScore—see Plugins installed by default (below). You can find many more plugins in the plugin repository: some work with MuseScore 3, others only with older versions of MuseScore, and some work with either. To tell one from the other: MuseScore 3.x and 2.x plugin code files have an extension of
.qml; for older versions, it is
Warning: Plugins can potentially contain bad or malicious code, which can compromise or damage your scores or system. Plugins are entirely unvetted (except for those that are installed by default). You either need to trust the author or check the code yourself.
Note: Some plugins may require the installation of other components (fonts, e.g.) to work. Check the plugin's documentation for more information.
Most plugins are provided as ZIP archives: download the plugin's .zip file and uncompress (unzip) it to one of the directories mentioned below (depending on your OS). If the plugin is provided directly as an uncompressed .qml file, simply download it and place into one of the same directories.
Once a plugin is installed, it needs to be enabled in the Plugin Manager in order to use it—see Enable/disable Plugins.
MuseScore looks for pre-installed plugins in
%ProgramFiles%\MuseScore 3\Plugins (or
%ProgramFiles(x86)%\MuseScore 3\Plugins for the 32-bit versions) and in
%LOCALAPPDATA%\MuseScore\MuseScore 3\plugins on Windows 7 and later.
New plugins should not be installed in the above folders, and neither should the folders be modified. Instead add new plugins to
%HOMEPATH%\Documents\MuseScore3\Plugins; alternatively, specify a different folder to look for plugins in MuseScore's Preferences.
On macOS, MuseScore looks for pre-installed plugins in the MuseScore bundle in
/Applications/MuseScore 3.app/Contents/Resources/plugins (to reveal files in the app bundle, right click on MuseScore 3.app and choose "Show package contents"), and in
~/Library/Application Support/MuseScore/MuseScore 3/plugins.
New plugins should not be installed in the above folders, and neither should the folders be modified. Instead add new plugins to
~/Documents/MuseScore3/Plugins; alternatively, specify a different folder to look for plugins in MuseScore's Preferences.
In Linux, MuseScore looks for pre-installed plugins in
/usr/share/mscore-3.0/plugins and in
New plugins should not be installed in the above folders, and neither should the folders be modified. Instead add new plugins to
~/Documents/MuseScore3/Plugins; alternatively, specify a different folder to look for plugins in MuseScore's Preferences.
To be able to access the installed plugins from the Plugins menu, they need to be enabled in the Plugin Manager:
You do this simply by checking the appropriate tick box. This adds the name of the plugin to the list in the Plugins menu.
It is possible to create new or edit existing plugins and run them via the Plugin Creator:
Documentation of all available elements can also be found here.
Some plugins come pre-installed with MuseScore, but they are not enabled by default. See Enable/disable plugins (above) to enable plugins.
This demo plugin colors notes in the selected range (or the entire score), depending on their pitch. It colors the note head of all notes in all staves and voices according to the Boomwhackers convention. Each pitch has a different color. C and C♯ have a different color. C♯ and D♭ have the same color.
To color all the notes in black, just run that plugin again (on the same selection). You could also use the 'Remove Notes Color' plugin for this.
This demo plugin creates a new score. It creates a new piano score with 4 quarter notes: C, D, E, F. It's a good start to learn how to make a new score and add notes from a plugin.
This demo plugin demonstrates some basic tasks.
This plugin names notes in a selected range or for the entire score. It displays the names of the notes (as staff text) according to MuseScore's language settings: voices 1 and 3 notes above the staff; voices 2 and 4 notes below the staff; and chord notes in a comma separated list, starting with the top note.
This demo plugin creates a GUI panel.
Creates a random score.
This demo plugin runs an external command. Probably this will only work on Linux.
This test plugin iterates through the score list.
Demo plugin to demonstrate the use of a ScoreView
This test plugin walks through all elements in a score
You can customize many of MuseScore's default behaviors via the menu: Edit→Preferences... (Mac: MuseScore→Preferences...).
The Preferences dialog has multiple tabs:
Reset All Preferences to Default will reset all preferences to the ones MuseScore had when you installed it. Ok will save the settings and close the dialog. Cancel will close the dialog without applying changes. Apply will make changes take effect without closing the dialog.
Here you can define:
Use Canvas to set your preferred color and wallpaper for the score background and paper. The default "Background" is dark blue (RGB 20, 36, 51; Alpha 255) and the default "Paper," white.
On this tab there are note input and MIDI remote control preferences. Here the following can be set:
Midi Remote Control allows you to use certain keys on your MIDI keyboard to enter notes and rests and to select note durations, without involving the computer mouse or (computer) keyboard. The default setting is off.
To assign a command to a MIDI key:
Once you have defined your key settings you can use the MIDI keyboard to control note input operations. You can verify your key settings by observing the MuseScore Note Input toolbar while pressing the MIDI keys.
To temporarily deactivate Midi Remote Control: uncheck "Midi Remote Control": all MIDI input key action buttons are now greyed out. Note: Your key assignments are always saved between MuseScore sessions and are not affected by deactivation.
Notes: (1) The "Clear" option turns off all the green buttons for the current MuseScore session but all the user-recorded MIDI key settings are retained and will be reloaded on the next session. (2) A MIDI key setting that is activated cannot afterwards be turned off, and the green button will always remain lit: however it can be overwritten with a different MIDI key by using the red button again. (3) If the same MIDI key is accidentally assigned to more than one option, then all the associated green buttons remain lit although only one will work. To fix, see "(2)".
Score preferences include
This enables you to set the audio interface (API) and specify the device to be used for audio playback: e.g. built-in speakers/headphones, USB headset, wireless, etc.
When an external MIDI input device is connected, its identifier appears in MIDI Input. When the device is connected for the first time, you also need to select the correct MIDI Output option in order to enable note input and correct audio playback (e.g. in Windows, this might be "MMS<device name>"): then close and reopen the program to confirm the changes.
Check these options as required if using the JACK Audio Connection Kit.
In case of lost communication between your audio device or your MIDI keyboard and MuseScore (no sound output or MIDI action), click on Restart Audio and MIDI Devices to restore them.
These settings determine how files from other sources are imported:
These settings determine how various files are exported from MuseScore:
This tab lists all the commands in MuseScore and any keyboard shortcuts associated with them. Shortcuts listed in preferences also appear next to their associated commands in the menus.
To search for a particular command: Enter its name in the "Search" box near the bottom of the window.
To create a new shortcut for a command:
To reset a shortcut to its system default: Select a command in the list and press Reset Shortcut to Default.
To save the shortcuts list: Press Save and save to a file name of your choice.
To load a saved shortcut list: Press Load etc.
To clear all shortcuts for an entry: Select the entry and press Clear.
To print out the shortcuts list (incl. export to pdf): Press Print etc.
This sets whether MuseScore will check for updates and extensions at startup.
Updates may be checked manually in Help→Check for updates.
Allows you to control specific settings for "application, "export", "i/o" and "user interface", as well as color settings.
If MuseScore or your computer should crash, or if power is lost, a pop-up message upon restarting MuseScore will ask if you wish to restore the previous session:
When MuseScore recovers files after a crash, it renames them with the full path name added in front of the original file name. This very long name will appear in the tab(s) above the active score window.
To ensure that the file is saved in its original location. You should immediately save the restored file using the "Save As..." option: this will open a window to allow you to navigate to the correct folder and directory. If you use the "Save" command instead, the file will be saved in its current location which is unlikely to be the original one.
In the event that "Save" is used instead of "Save As..." with a recovered file, you will have to find the files in your computer. The actual location of those files will vary, depending on your operating system, and in which directory MuseScore is installed.
For Windows 7, with a default installation of MuseScore to the x86 program files directory, recovered files are auto-saved to
C:\Program Files (x86)\MuseScore 2\bin (actually
For Windows 10, look in
C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files (x86)\MuseScore 2\bin (actually
You may need to run a system-wide search in order to find files saved directly after a session recovery. Use keywords from the original file name as well as wildcards, and specify the date modified.
The Score Comparison Tool allows you to compare two versions of a score to find the differences between them.
To open the Score Comparison Tool:
From the menu, select View→Score Comparison Tool.
The dialog opens below the document window and consists of three sections (left to right):
The first step is to select the score. Use the combo box next to "Score 1" to choose between the currently open scores, or click on the Browse button to open the File Explorer and select a score from disk. Secondly, use the next combo box on the right to choose whether the first score should be the current version, or the last saved version. Score 2 is set to the same score you selected for Score 1, but you may choose another of the open scores.
When you have selected the scores and versions press Compare to do the comparison.
"Intelligent comparison" is the default option in Diff mode: this displays the differences between the scores in a human-readable format (e.g. "Measure 1: Note: property pitch changed from B4 to C5"). Change the Diff Mode selection to "Raw" if you prefer to see the results displayed in XML code.
When you press Compare a list of differences will be displayed to the right, and the score view will automatically change to Documents Stacked. In the Comparison section, double-click on a difference from the list and both score views will automatically pan to show you the changed element, which will also be highlighted.
To exit the Score Comparison tool, turn off the two options "Score Comparison Tool" and "Documents Stacked" in the View menu.
Below you will see two small scores with a few differences between them.
The result of the comparison will look like this:
The Score Properties dialog contains document meta tags such as "workTitle," "Composer," "Copyright" etc. To view the dialog:
Several meta tags are generated automatically when you create a score using the New Score Wizard, and others may be added later. Meta tags can also be incorporated into a header or footer if required—see below.
Every score displays the following fields in Score Properties:
It is customary, when using the New Score Wizard, to create a work with the movementTitle as title (even though it ends up in workTitle then) and, directly after creating the score, amending this information in the Score Properties dialogue.
Every part additionally has the following meta tag, generated and filled on part creation:
To show the content of one or more meta tags in a header or footer for your score/part:
The Staff / Part Properties dialog allows you to make changes to the display of a staff, adjust its tuning and transposition, change instrument etc. To open:
Staff / Part Properties dialog, as of version 3.0.
For practical purposes, there are four different types of staff:
1a. Standard staff I. A pitched staff used for most instruments except fretted, plucked-string ones.
1b. Standard staff II. A pitched staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, with options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
2. Tablature staff. A staff containing a fretted, plucked-string instrument, which displays music as a series of fret-marks on strings. Also contains options to set the number of instrument strings and tuning.
3. Percussion staff. A pitched staff for percussion instruments.
It is possible to change one type of staff into another using the Instruments dialog, as long as the original staff is loaded with the right instrument. For example, in order to change a standard staff to tablature, it must contain a plucked-string instrument. Similarly, to change a standard staff to a percussion staff you need to ensure that it has an appropriate percussion instrument loaded and so on.
Most options in the Staff / Part properties dialog are common to all staves, but each type also has one or two specific options of its own.
The following Staff Properties options are common to all staves:
The number of lines making up the staff.
The distance between two staff lines, measured in spaces (abbr.: sp.). Note: It is not recommended to change this value from the default shown. If you need to make the staff larger or smaller, use the Page Settings dialog instead.
Extra distance above staff
Increases or decreases the distance between the selected staff and the one above in all systems. Note: This setting does not apply to the top staff of a system, which is controlled by the minimum/maximum system distance (see Layout and formatting: Format → Style … → Page).
Notes: To alter the spacing above just one staff line in a particular system, see Breaks and Spacers.
Changes the size of the selected staff and all associated elements, as a percentage (to adjust the overall score size, use Scaling from the Format→Page Settings… menu).
Hide when empty
Together with the "Hide empty staves" setting in Format → Style ... → Score, this determines if the staff will be hidden when it is empty.
Whether the staff clef will be shown.
Show time signature
Whether the staff time signature(s) will be shown or not.
Whether the staff barlines will be shown.
Hide system barline
Show/hide barline at left-hand edge of the staff.
Do not hide if system is empty
Never hide this staff, even if the entire system is empty. This overrules any "Hide empty staves" setting in Format → Style ... → Score.
Create a reduced-size staff. You can set the default from the menu in Format → Style ... → Sizes.
Invisible staff lines
Make staff lines invisible.
Staff line color
Use a color picker to change the color of the staff lines.
Used to create a cutaway staff in which only measures containing notes are visible (e.g. ossias (Wikipedia); or cutaway scores). This can be used independently of "Hide when empty" or "Hide empty staves".
Note: The properties below (i.e. Part Name, Long Instrument Name etc.) are set to the default values defined in the MuseScore instruments.xml file.
Note: The Part name is defined by the value of the trackName element in the instruments.xml file. If trackName has not been defined, the value of longName (i.e. "Long instrument name"—see below) is used instead.
Long instrument name
Name displayed to the left of the staff in the first system of the score. The long instrument name may also be edited directly as a text object (see Text editing).
Short instrument name
Name displayed to the left of the staff in subsequent systems of the score. The short instrument name may also be edited directly as a text object (see Text editing). Editing affects all occurrences in the score.
Usable pitch range
To disable out-of-range coloration of notes: From the menu, select Edit→Preferences... (Mac: MuseScore→Preferences...), click on the "Note Input" tab, and uncheck "Color notes outside of usable pitch range."
Transpose written pitches to sound
This option ensures that the staves of transposing instruments display music at the correct written pitch. Set the transpose in term of a musical interval (plus octave if required) up or down.
Use single note dynamics (as of version 3.1)
Leave ticked to allow playback of single note dynamics (such as sfz etc.) and hairpins, diminendo and crescendo lines on single (or tied) notes.
Use the ↑ and ↓ buttons, at the bottom left of the Staff Properties window, to navigate to the previous or next staff.
Staves of fretted, plucked-string instruments have a few extra options in addition to those listed above,
Number of strings
Displays the number of instrument strings.
Edit String Data…
This button opens a dialog box which allows you to set the number and tuning of strings. See Change string tuning.
Clicking the Advanced Style Properties... button opens a window giving access to advanced display options for the staff. These will vary depending on the staff type chosen: see the relevant sections below for details.
At the bottom of the Advanced Style Properties dialog there are a number of buttons which allow you to easily change the following:
Show clef / time signature / barlines / key signature / ledger lines
Option to turn the display of these elements ON or OFF.
If checked, staff notes will have no stem, hook or beam.
See Notehead scheme.
If not checked, the top tablature line will refer to the highest string, and the bottom tablature line to the lowest string (this is the most common option). If checked, the top tablature line refers to the lowest string, and the bottom tablature line to the highest line (e.g. Italian-style lute tablatures). For example:
'Upside down' tablature.
Fret marks are the numbers or letters used to indicate the location of notes on the fingerboard. The following group of properties define the appearance of fret marks:
The font used to draw fret marks. 8 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 8 different styles (modern Serif, modern Sans, Renaissance, Phalèse, Bonneuil-de Visée, Bonneuil-Gaultier, Dowland, Lute Didactic).
Font size of fret marks in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 9-10pt.
MuseScore tries to place symbols in a sensible way and you do not usually need to alter this value (set to 0) for built-in fonts. If the font has symbols not aligned on the base line (or in some other way MuseScore does not expect), this property allows you to move fret-marks up (negative offsets) or down (positive offsets) for better vertical positioning. Values are in sp.
Choice of Numbers (‘1’, ‘2’...) or Letters (‘a’, ‘b’...) as fret marks. When letters are used, ‘j’ is skipped and ‘k’ is used for the 9th fret.
Marks are drawn
Choice of placing fretmarks On lines or Above lines. For example:
Fretmark letters placed above line.
Choice of Continuous (lines pass through fret marks) or Broken (a small space appears in the line where the fretmark is displayed). For example:
Tablature with lines broken.
Show back-tied fret marks
If unticked, only the first note in a series of tied notes is displayed. If ticked, all notes in the tied series are displayed.
Show fingering in tablature
Tick to allow the display of fingering symbols applied from a palette.
This group of properties defines the appearance of the symbols indicating note values.
The font used to draw the value symbols. Currently 5 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 5 different styles (modern, Italian tablature, French tablature, French baroque (headless), French baroque). Used only with the Note symbols option.
Font size, in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 15pt. Used only with the Note symbols option.
Applies only when Note symbols is selected (see below). Use negative offset values to raise the note value symbols, positive values to lower them.
If several notes in sequence have the same duration, you can specify if and where to repeat the same note symbol. i.e.
Note: This option is only available if "Shown as: Note symbols" is selected (see above).
Note: This option is only available when "Shown as: Stems and Beams" is selected (see above).
Note: This option is only available when "Shown as: Stems and Beams" and "Stem style: Beside staff" is selected (see above).
Note: This option is only available when "Shown as: Stems and Beams and "Stem style: Beside staff" is selected (see above).
Whether note symbols should be used to indicate also the rests; when used for rests, note symbols are drawn at a slightly lower position. Used only with the Note symbols option.
Displays a short score in tablature format with all the current parameters applied.
You can change any instrument in a score to a different instrument at any time. The following method updates instrument sound, staff name, and staff transposition all at once.
Not to be confused with Mid-staff instrument change.
You can change the appearance of a staff mid-score by adding a Staff type change element to a measure, and adjusting its properties in the Inspector.
When you alter a Staff type change property in the Inspector, the new value takes precedence over the value shown in the global Staff properties dialog. Only those property values in "Staff Properties" that cannot be changed in the "Staff type change" dialog will be valid throughout the score.
The properties that can be altered in the Staff type change dialog in the Inspector are:
How far the changed staff shall be moved up or down: measured in spaces (abbr.: sp) .
Tick the box to create a reduced-size staff.
Changes the size of the staff and all associated elements, as a percentage.
The number of lines making up the staff.
The distance between two staff lines, measured in spaces (abbr.: sp).
How many steps up or down the notes in the staff are offset.
Whether the staff barlines will be shown.
Show ledger lines
Whether ledger lines will be shown for notes above/below the staff lines.
Whether the notes shall be shown in standard or slash style.
Allows selection of how noteheads are displayed.
Whether the staff clef will be shown.
Generate time signatures
Whether the staff time signature(s) will be shown or not.
Generate key signatures
Whether the staff key signatures will be shown or not.
To illustrate the use of Staff type change, the staff shown below was created using the following steps:
Change "Lines" to 7,
Afterwards the global Staff Properties are changed using Staff properties:
1 Set "Lines" to 2.
2. Change "Staff Line Color".
As can be seen, the change in "Lines" is only effective up to the first staff type change, whereas the change to "Staff Line Color" is effective throughout the score.
The timeline was developed as part of the Google Summer of Code 2017, and is included for the first time in MuseScore 3.0.
The timeline is a navigation tool that displays an abstraction of the score to the order of measure numbers and instrument names. There are four parts to the timeline:
This is found in the top left corner of the timeline. These are the names of the meta rows.
This is found in the bottom left corner of the timeline. These are the names of the rows in the main grid.
This is found in the top right corner of the timeline. These hold the meta values of the score.
This is found in the bottom right corner of the timeline. This holds multiple 'cells' (a specific measure and staff in the score represented as a square)
Meta are elements found on the score that are not notes, but are still important to the score (key signature, time signature, tempo, rehearsal marks, bar lines, and jumps and markers).
To select a measure in the timeline, press the mouse button on the cell. A blue box will appear around the selected cell and the respective measure in the score will be selected. The score view will place the selected measure in view.
Holding Shift and holding the left mouse button and dragging the mouse over the main grid will create a selection box. Upon releasing the mouse button, all the cells underneath the selection box will be selected, as well as all the measures in the score.
If a cell is already selected, holding Shift and selecting another cell in the timeline will stretch the selection to that new cell, similar to how the score does
If no cells are currently selected, holding Ctrl and selecting a cell will select the entire measure
To clear selection, holding Ctrl and clicking anywhere on the grid or the meta rows will clear any current selection.
Selecting the meta values on the timeline will attempt to select the respective meta values in the score.
Scrolling the mouse wheel up or down will move the grid and instrument labels down or up respectively. The meta labels and rows do not move.
Holding Shift and scrolling the mouse wheel up or down will move the grid and meta rows left or right respectively. The meta labels and instrument labels do not move.
Holding Alt and scrolling the mouse wheel up or down will move the grid and meta rows left or right respectively, faster than Shift scrolling. The meta labels and instrument labels do not move.
To drag the contents of the timeline, hold the left mouse button and move it around.
All meta labels besides the measures meta may be rearranged in any way. By moving the mouse cursor onto one of the meta labels, small up and down arrows will appear. Click the left mouse button on the up arrow to swap the meta label with the one above it. Click the left mouse button on the down arrow to swap the meta label with the one below it.
In order to hide all the meta labels while keeping all the meta information on the timeline, there is an arrow that appears on the measures meta when the mouse is over it. Click the left mouse button on the large up arrow to collapse all the currently visible meta rows into one row, where the meta values are staggered in that row. Click the left mouse button on the large down arrow to expand the meta rows again.
All instruments--hidden or not--will be displayed on the timeline. To start this interaction, the mouse cursor is moved over an instrument label. A small eye will appear on the right side of the label that is open if the instrument is visible on the score, and closed if the instrument is hidden. Click the left mouse button on the eye to toggle between the two options.
To zoom in or out of the score, hold Ctrl and scroll the mouse wheel up or down respectively.
To bring up a context menu, right click on the timeline. There are three context menus found in these locations: meta labels, instrument labels, and meta rows.
Upon clicking the right mouse button on the meta labels, a context menu appears that displays all possible meta labels as well as two options: "Hide all" and "Show all." Next to each meta label in the menu, there is a check box that shows if the meta label is currently being shown on the timeline. To show or hide one of the meta labels, select the box of the meta label in the context menu. Selecting "Hide all" will hide all meta labels except for the measures meta. Selecting "Show all" will display all meta labels.
Clicking the right mouse button on the meta rows will display the same context menu as the meta labels.
Clicking the right mouse button on the instrument labels will display a context menu with the option to "Edit Instruments." Selecting this will bring you to the same dialog as Edit > Instruments... or pressing I for the shortcut.
A number of useful commands can be found in the Tools menu.
This opens the Transpose dialog with various options for transposing passages of music.
The explode command allows you to select a passage of music in a single staff and split (explode) the chords into their constituent notes or voices as follows:
To explode a section of the score:
Notes: (1) If the selection is all in voice 1, MuseScore will discard the lowest note(s) of any chord that contains more notes than the number of staves in the selection. (2) If the selection is all in voice 1, and If a given chord has fewer notes than the number of destination staves, then notes will be duplicated as needed so that every staff receives a note. (3) Any existing music in the destination staves is overwritten. (4) If you select a partial measure, the explode command will automatically expand it to a full measure.
The Implode command works in the opposite way to "explode":
All selected notes in the staff are now displayed in voice 1.
This allows you to swap the voices of a selected measure-range of notes. See Exchange voices.
Join or split measures. See Measure operations: Split and join.
This command is used to completely remove an element, or range of elements from the score.
To remove measures (including partial measures):
Note: If the selected range includes only part of a measure, the result will include a measure of smaller duration than the indicated Time Signature. This is indicated by a small - (minus) sign just above the system.
To join measures:
The following table is a comparative summary of the Delete and Remove selected Range_ commands when applied to single elements:
|Selected Element||Apply Delete||Apply Remove selected range|
|Note||Replaces with rest||Removes score section|
|Rest (voice 1)||No effect||Removes score section|
|Rest (voices 2-4)||Deletes rest||Removes score section|
|Barline||No effect||Deletes barline and joins measures|
|Measure||Replaces contents with rest||Removes measure|
Note: To insert notes, see Insert.
This command fills the selection with slashes, one per beat:
If a measure is empty the slashes are added to voice 1, full-sized and centered on the middle line of the staff:
Notes: (1) If there are already notes in a measure in the selection, the command will put the slashes into the first available empty voice. (2) Voice 2 slashes are full-sized and centered on the middle line of the staff; voices 3 slashes appear small and above the staff; voice 4 slashes are small and below the staff. (3) If a measure contains notes in all 4 voices, voice 1 will be overwritten. (4) All slashes are set to not transpose or playback.
This command toggles selected notes between normal notes and rhythmic slash notation:
The selected noteheads are changed to slash noteheads which do not transpose or playback.
Slash-notehead notes in voices one or two are fixed to the middle staff line; those in voices three or four are small ("accent" notation) and fixed above or below the staff:
In percussion staves, notes in voices 3 and 4 are not converted to small slashes but to small notes above or below the staff.
Corrects accidentals to fit in with the current key signature. See Accidentals: Respell pitches.
Any notes that are tied and are the same length as a dotted note will be changed to the dotted note with two limitations. (i) Only the last note of a group of tied notes will have a single dot. Notes with more than one dot are not produced using this option. (ii) Dotted notes will not span from one group of beamed notes to another unless their duration is the same as all of the beam groups it covers. Any notes with more than one dot will be regrouped according to the above rules.
Note: This is an experimental feature and there are known bugs. Articulations and ornaments are deleted and some pitches respelled. Ties across barlines may be lost on UNDO.
The Resequence Rehearsal Marks command allows you to re-order the numbering/lettering of rehearsal marks if, for any reason, they have got out of sequence. For details see Automatically resequence rehearsal marks.
This command creates a copy of the score (in a new tab), eliminates the repeat barlines and notates the repeat sections in full instead.
This command copies all the lyrics of the score to the clipboard:
Take a snapshot of a selected part of the document window. PNG, PDF and SVG formats are supported. See Image capture.
This automatically removes any blank measures at the end of the score.