MuseScore supports a wide variety of file formats, which allows you to share and publish scores in the format that best meets your needs.
You can import files via File → Open... and export via File → Export.... For more details, see Save/Export/Print.
A note about fonts
MuseScore does not embed text fonts in saved or exported files, except for the FreeSerif and FreeSans font families. If you want to share a MuseScore file with other parties, make sure you are using either of these fonts for your text, or a font that the other parties have installed too. If a system does not have the fonts specified in the file, MuseScore will use a fallback, which may cause your score to appear differently.
MuseScore native format
These are the formats available when using File → Save, the button in the toolbar, or the shortcut Ctrl+S (Mac: Cmd+S).
The same is true for File → Save as... or Ctrl+Shift+S (Mac: Shift+Cmd+S).
MuseScore format (
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.
Uncompressed MuseScore format (
MSCX is the uncompressed version of the MuseScore file format. A score saved in this format will retain all information, except images. It is recommended for when manually editing the file format (using a text editor).
MuseScore backup file (
.*.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 (MuseScore 2.x).
Graphics—view and print (export only)
MuseScore can export (via the File → Export... command) to the following formats that contain a visual representation of the score, but cannot be edited or played back:
Portable Document Format (PDF) is ideal for sharing your sheet music with others who do not need to edit the content. Most users have a PDF viewer on their computer, so extra software won't usually be required to see it.
Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a bitmap image format widely supported by software on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. The image format is particularly popular on the web. Multi-page scores export a PNG file for every page. MuseScore creates images as they would appear on the printed page. On the export tab in Edit → Preferences... (Mac: MuseScore → Preferences...), you can set the resolution and whether to use transparent background. 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.
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) can be opened by most web browsers (except Internet Explorer before version 9) and most vector graphics software. However, most SVG software does not support embedded fonts, so the appropriate MuseScore fonts must be installed to view these files correctly.
Audio—listen (export only)
MuseScore can export normalized synthesized audio of the score (via the File → Export... command) to the following formats:
WAV audio (
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. However, the large file sizes make it difficult to share via email or the web.
FLAC audio (
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 (
Ogg Vorbis (external link) is intended as a patent-free replacement for the popular MP3 audio format (which MuseScore also supports—see below). 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.
MP3 files are relatively small (often a tenth of uncompressed audio), but some sound quality is lost. To be able to create MP3 files, an additional library, lame_enc.dll (Windows) or libmp3lame.dylib (Mac), needs to be installed. MuseScore will prompt you for its location. You can get it at http://lame.buanzo.org/.
Some Mac users may find MuseScore encounters an error loading the MP3 library, possibly due to that library being a 32-bit library. A 64-bit build that will work with MuseScore is available from http://thalictrum.com/en/products/lame (note that it is necessary to rename the file to libmp3lame.dylib for MuseScore to recognize it). Homebrew users just need to run
brew install lame.
Share with other music software
The following are musical score formats (like MuseScore's native format, MSCZ), which allow you to import files made with other music notation programs or export files that you can open with other music notation programs.
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.
Compressed MusicXML (
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.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) (external link) is a format widely supported by sequencers and music notation software.
MIDI files are designed for playback purposes and do not contain score layout information about formatting, pitch spelling, voicing, ornaments, articulations, repeats, or key signatures, among other things. To share files between different music notation software, MusicXML is recommended instead. If you are only interested in playback, use MIDI.
*.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 (2.x doesn't work, while the
*.all format from 1.x versions is not supported at all).
Bagpipe Music Writer (
*.bww) (import only)
BWW files are created by the niche 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.
Guitar Pro (
*.GPX) (import only)
GP files are created by Guitar Pro.