Comparing MuseScore and Finale NotePad, feature by feature

Update May 2015

Comparison chart between MuseScore and Finale - Songwriter, PrintMusic, Notepad

Original post from 2012
Below is a chart comparing MuseScore and Finale NotePad. The nature of the two score writers is quite different. NotePad is purposefully limited and designed to encourage customers to buy more complete versions of Finale as their needs increase. On the other hand MuseScore is developed as a free and open source software project where anyone with the skills and desire can help improve the product. As a result MuseScore fares much better when working with large numbers of instruments or any notation beyond the very basic.

The chart below is updated for version 1.1 of MuseScore and Finale Notepad 2012.

MuseScore Finale NotePad


Number of staves Unlimited 8
Number of staff lines available 1 thru 9 5 (plus tablature)
Key changes Unlimited 1 key signature per piece
Accidentals Standard, double-, courtesy, and non-standard Standard 3 only
Time signatures Compound and additive, customizable only some select standard and compound options
Time changes Unlimited 0
Pickup or incomplete measure Supported Unsupported
Lyric verses Unlimited 1
Chord names Supported Manual text entry only
Percussion notation Supported Supported
Instrument set-up wizard Large number of instruments only basic instruments
Document styles Customizable Fixed
Appearance control Editable position, size, and visibility for all objects; many note-head options; full color options Fixed


Dotted notes Single or double single only
Grace notes Supported Unsupported

Time savers

Part extraction Supported Unsupported
Plugin support QtScript (under development) None

File formats

MIDI Import/export Import/export
MusicXML Import/export Import/export
PDF Export only through Print system options
PNG/SVG image formats Export Unsupported
WAV/FLAC/OGG audio formats Export Unsupported


Mixer Partial Instrument panel allows volume and pan control
Sound 128 sounds plus support for additional SoundFonts 128 sounds (General MIDI)
Expressive playback Only staccatos, tenutos, and arpeggios are interpreted set "Human Playback" standard style
Swing playback basic support, no control or saving Unsupported
Note sound editing tuning, timing, and velocity adjustable per note Unsupported
Play back position marking Moving cursor plus auto scrolling Moving cursor plus auto scrolling
Repeats Interpreted Ignored


Windows Supported Supported
Mac OS Supported Supported
Linux Supported No native support


Price $0 $0, but requires registration
Source code Free to share and modify Closed
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