Tooltip font problem on macOS

• Nov 22, 2017 - 21:23

All the sharps and flats in tooltips are not showing up properly for me. For example:


Is there a specific font that I need to activate or is this a more complicated problem?



In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks. I should have gone back even farther in reading search results.

However, Font Book reports zero problems with any of my active fonts. And I don't have Adobe Jenson Pro active. So the problem remains unsolved for me.

Given that this is a known problem, it seems like there are two parts to the problem: A font problem and a MuseScore problem. And they don't play nice together. I wonder if it's a common problem for macOS users.

In reply to by Shoichi

I reverted to factory settings and it made no difference. I also deactivated my fonts one at a time, testing after each deactivation, and the problem persists.

I then opened up the MuseScore package, made copies of all the fonts it contains, and then ran each of those through Font Book's validation process. Font Book reported errors in the 'name' table structure of both mscore.ttf and mscoretext.ttf. So it looks like the problem may well be with those fonts, which are stored within the MuseScore application itself.

In reply to by Danny Holt

If that were the case everyone would be seeing it. Are you sure you don't have Bravura or BravuraText installed? An incompatible version of that would produce exactly the result you are seeing. Hmm, well maybe not quite - tooltips are different. Do you have a custom font set up for that?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I am 100% positive I don't have Bravura or BravuraText installed. The only copies of those fonts on my computer are within the MuseScore package.

I wouldn't have any idea how to set up a custom font for tooltips so I seriously doubt that could be the explanation.

The only thing not completely typical about my font setup is that I manage activation and deactivation of fonts with Suitcase Fusion 6 (SF6) rather than with Font Book. But there is no Bravura or BravuraText, active or inactive, in my SF6 font library. I did have the Adobe Jenson Pro family (inactive) in my SF6 font library but I have deleted it from both the font library and from my hard drive.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

When I right click on the F#major key signature (I assume you mean in the key signature palette), I get a short context menu with three items: Clear, Properties…, and More Elements… But they are greyed out and I cannot click on any of them.

All sharps, flats, and naturals in all tooltips (e.g., palettes, toolbar) appear as shown in the image I posted. And I just discovered that this is true of accidentals in the status bar as well.

Also, one more bit of info: I logged into my computer with a different account and it made no difference.

In reply to by Danny Holt bad!
Are you using the Basic workspace?


From the handbook:
Right-clicking on an element within a palette (if editing of the palette is enabled) brings up a menu with the following options:
•Clear: Removes the element from the palette
•Properties...: Opens the Palette Cell Properties dialogue:
◦Name: The tooltip that appears when you mouse over the element.

This is not available in the Basic or Advanced palettes. I just wanted to see if the names displayed correctly, as in the image above. I can even copy the "F#" and paste it into a text editor, or even paste as text into MuseScore (even as a chord name which gets parsed correctly).


In reply to by Danny Holt

I'm on Windows OS, but last year I had a problem with the sharps and flats not appearing correctly. It happened on the instrument name - like Bb clarinet.
I opened the menu item: Edit / Preferences - then on the General tab, I changed the 'Language' from 'System' to 'English (GB)' then restarted MuseScore. It worked, and after a Microsoft Windows update, I was able to revert back to 'System'.
You may want to try English (GB), or English (US).


In reply to by Jm6stringer

That's an interesting idea and here are the results:
1. System: The problem I'm describing.
2. English (US): No change.
3. English (GB): No change except that the tooltips for the toolbars show # for sharp and and double # for double sharp. Note however, that it is not a true sharp symbol, just shift-3 (on a US keyboard, anyway). The tooltips for the key signature palette are the same as in System and English (US).
4. Español: Since I speak it, I figured I'd try. The tooltips for the toolbar say Sostenido, Bemol, and Becuadro, the correct words for sharp, flat, and natural, respectively. In other words, they don't use the symbols at all. However, the tooltips for the key signature palette show up exactly the same as in System and English (along with text in English, not Spanish, meaning that these haven't been translated at all, a different issue).
5. Arabic: I don't speak it but at this point I was interested to see the results (and to see whether I'd be able to figure out how to switch back). Tooltips for toolbar: text, not symbols. Tooltips for key signature palette (easy to identify because only some of the palette names have been translated into Arabic): Same as in System.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

When you wrote "If that were the case everyone would be seeing it," it got me to thinking that it's just possible that other Mac users are seeing it and are just living with it rather than reporting the problem. So I borrowed my daughter's MacBook Pro and installed MuseScore. And guess what: Exactly the same problem. Since I've now recreated this issue on a second computer, I think there's no way it can be some kind of glitch on my computer.

In reply to by Danny Holt

I searched the forums but could not find the specific issue I had faced with all B-flat instrument names not displaying the ♭ sign.
It definitely was a problem with the fonts, and now I realize it was with the Windows UI font. Back then, I did change the font from English (US) to English (GB), but it was the Language setting in the Windows operating system which ultimately worked. I changed that setting from English (US) to English (United Kingdom).

I know your OS is Mac (I'm on Windows), but I did some searching and found out that 'F䷀major, D䷀minor' displays the '䷀' (U+4DC0) character which is designated 'Undefined'. The number 4DC0 is the hexidecimal label for that particular Unicode character.

In the Microsoft OS fonts - named Segoe - 'F♯ major, D♯ minor' uses the '♯' (U+266F) character which is designated 'Music Sharp Sign'.
The '♭' character, U+266D, is defined as 'Music Flat Sign'.
The '♮' character, U+266E, is defined as 'Music Natural Sign'.
These are characters from the system font used by my OS. MuseScore also has its own fonts for sharps and flats. Your screenshot of the Key Signatures show that those are OK. I guess the tooltip uses the system's font.

Perhaps those characters have been corrupted somehow. Do you know of any 'System File Checker' tool for the Mac OS?


In reply to by Jm6stringer

The operating system shouldn't have anything to do with which specific characters are used for accidentals, since they're defined by Unicode, not by OS. But U+266D (♭), U+266E (♮), and U+266F (♯) all display properly in the character map on my computer.

I've checked all my installed fonts with two different font-checking applications and both say that none is corrupt.

I don't really understand your paragraph about the U+4DC0 character, but that Unicode character isn't "undefined." (It is the Yijing Hexagram for the Creative Heaven.) But you may be onto something. If a string of text contains a Unicode character and the specific font in which the string is being displayed does not contain that character, some kind of box or generic symbol like the one I'm seeing will get displayed. Therefore, if MuseScore uses U+266D, U+266E, and U+266F for accidentals in tooltips and in the status bar (where, I've discovered, the problem also occurs), and the specific font that the macOS version of MuseScore is using to display text in tooltips and in the status bar doesn't include those three Unicode characters, then that would explain what I'm seeing.

In reply to by Danny Holt

Okay, I think I have finally figured this out. When Jm6stringer used the word "undefined" in his comment, it triggered a hypothesis that I've now confirmed.

Two years ago, Apple released version 10.11 of its Macintosh operating system (OS X El Capitan). The new operating system brought with it a new system font called San Francisco. The subsequent two operating systems, macOS Sierra (10.12) and macOS High Sierra (10.13) use San Francisco as well.

The San Francisco font does not contain U+266D, U+266E, or U+266F. The font that San Francisco replaced, however, Helvetica Neue, does contain those three characters.

If I am correct that MuseScore (a) uses San Francisco for tooltips, status bar, etc., and (b) uses U+266D, U+266E, and U+266F for accidentals, then every MuseScore user who is running OS X El Capitan, macOS Sierra, or macOS High Sierra should be having exactly the same problem I am. The fact that my daughter's computer has the same problem gives me further reason to believe this.

Okay, so if my explanation is correct, what to do? There seem to be three options:

  1. Modify MuseScore to make it use Helvetica Neue in place of San Francisco.
  2. Push Apple to update San Francisco by adding the missing characters.
  3. Live with it.

I'm not a developer so I don't even know if #1 is possible. I will urge Apple to update San Francisco (#2) and I urge everyone else to do so as well. In the meantime: #3.

To request that Apple update San Francisco to add the three characters we need, please go to the Text and Fonts Developer Forum (…) and/or Bug Reporting (

In reply to by Danny Holt

It would be great if a couple of other Mac users could test and confirm my conclusion that the San Francisco font used by macOS prevents sharps, flats, and naturals from appearing correctly in tooltips and some other interface elements. If other users confirm this, the issue should probably be added to the list of Known Incompatibilities.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

Yes, I just checked and found that the Segoe UI font that shipped with Windows 10 contained U+266F (♯) but not U+266D (♭) or U+266E (♮).

I think the bottom line of this whole long thread is that if the wonderful folks who are doing the development of MuseScore want the symbols ♯, ♭, and ♮ to appear in strings of text, be they in tooltips or elsewhere, they need to make sure that the font that will be used for those strings of text contains these three Unicode symbols. This is a huge pain in the ass for people who are developing an application that will run on different OSes. If the default system font for every OS contained these characters, it would be a non-issue. But since some apparently do have these characters and some definitely don't, taking the additional step of verifying that the font being used has the characters that are needed seems to be necessary.

The fact that a couple of people have posted Mac screenshots showing that they're not experiencing the problem that I am leaves me stumped. Clearly I was wrong to conclude that the sole explanation for accidentals not appearing properly for me is that the San Francisco fonts don't contain the Unicode characters for accidentals. Something else is going on but I just don't know what more to do to figure it out.

The whole thing could be completely avoided by the developers of MuseScore simply using words rather than accidental symbols (e.g., "B-flat" instead of "B♭"), which is how it seems to be done in some of the non-English languages. But I can understand some people preferring the symbols.

In reply to by Danny Holt

As I suggested previously, I suspect you are absolutely correct about San Francisco not having those glyphs and this being why you aren't seeing them. My guess is that for whatever reason, the other people owning Macvs don't have that font selected as their tooltip font. Not sure if you went out of your way to select it, or if maybe Apple ships different versions of macOS with different font choices to different markets. Anyhow, the sharp sign is a standard Unicode character, if Apple shipped you a system with a default font that lacks it, I'd suggest contacting them and requesting they fix their font, and meanwhile, just specifying a better font for your tooltips (assuming macOS allows you to specify this).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

The font used for tooltips is determined by the developer of the application, not by the user. For the sake of interface consistency, developers are encouraged, though not required, to use the system's default font. I've put the request in to Apple, but it's not really that the font is broken so much as incomplete, and I'm sure my one voice will result in absolutely nothing. The prospects of a fix on the MuseScore end may be better but since other Mac users have demonstrated that it's not a universal problem, that seems to be unlikely as well. Fortunately, this is really only an annoyance, not something that makes the application any less usable.

In reply to by Danny Holt

As far as I know, MuseScore does not do anything special to select the font, we rely on what Qt wants to use, which I would expect to be whatever the OS specifies, which on most OS's (but apparently not on macOS from what you say) the user can select. I guess if Apple refuses to provide a more standard font as their default, we could consider overriding this to use FreeSerif.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Do you know if the font specification has to apply to all OSes or can it be OS-specific? Because I'm not sure it would make a lot of sense to override the system font in other OSes where there's no need to just to accommodate the subset of macOS users who have this problem. (Regardless, FreeSerif seems like a weird choice to me; you probably meant FreeSans.)

But I really want to figure out why some macOS users aren't experiencing the problem I'm seeing.

In reply to by Danny Holt

For the interim...

If you right click on a Key Signature in the palette and then click on 'Properties', you can rename a key signature to change the 'Yijing Hexagram for the Creative Heaven' to '#' and 'b' (pound/number sign, lower case b). They are not true sharp and flat signs, but look more presentable as tooltips.


In reply to by Danny Holt

It would certainly be possible for MuseScore to specify a particular font only for macOS. But that's kind of dangerous - what if some future version of macOS comes along and that font isn't there? Better to just make sure your tooltip font contains is reasonably complete. Surely there is some way in macOS to specify which font is used for tooltips? Maybe by setting an overall system font or something? Anyhow, as I've said a couple of times, the most plausible conclusion to me is that for whatever reason, different macOS system use different fonts for tooltips. Your system seems to be using San Francisco, other systems may be using a different font. Or maybe there is some utility that enabled a fallback font to be used where necessary, and some people are using that utility but you aren't, etc. Something for a macOS expert forum to sort out perhaps.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

There are only two ways to change system fonts in macOS: via the terminal emulator and the command-line interface or with a third-party utility. Apple deliberately makes it difficult.

I think this won't get solved except by modifying MuseScore or by Apple modifying San Francisco. Looking for user-specific solutions doesn't make sense to me.

In any event, this threat has gone on long enough.

In reply to by Danny Holt

Trying to understand the problem better is what makes sense to me. We can't solve a problem we still don't understand. So if you'd like to see a solution, we could still use help understanding what makes your systems different from other people's. Can you use the command line interface to investigate a bit further?

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I was only able to come up with one documented approach to changing the font an application uses for tooltips via the terminal emulator:

defaults write -app "MuseScore" NSToolTipsFont HelveticaNeue

But it doesn't work. And I don't have enough understanding to know why it doesn't work. Supposedly I can change the tooltip font system-wide with this:

defaults write -g NSToolTipsFont HelveticaNeue

But I don't want to make a system-wide override of the default just to get three characters to display properly in one application.

I've posted queries on some Apple developer boards. We'll see if they turn anything up.

In the unlikely event that anyone is still interested in this issue, here's the final update. Nearly a year ago, I filed a bug report with Apple to bring to the company's attention the omission of three needed glyphs from the San Francisco fonts in which tooltips are displayed. To my amazement, today I received an email from Apple telling me that they believe they have fixed the issue and asking me to check whether the problem persists. Lo and behold, it does not. I'm pretty impressed that my lowly attempt to get Apple's attention and have them address this seems to have worked.

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