Changing the colours displayed in MuseScore

• created 7 months ago • last updated 2 months ago

    Introduction

    By default, MuseScore displays text and musical symbols in black on a (nearly) white page. However, options are available to change the colours if you prefer.

    Why change the colours?

    Some people find music easier to read if it is displayed in different colours to the usual black-on-white.

    • People with a reading disability like dyslexia sometimes find it easier to read against coloured background (often yellow)
    • Using a red-tinted background reduces the amount of blue light entering your eyes, which may help you to fall asleep more easily at night
    • Inverting colours - i.e. reading white (or lightly coloured) text against a black (or dark) background - significantly reduces the amount of light entering your eyes, and may reduce eyestrain

    musescore-invert-colours.png

    MuseScore 2 with inverted colours for the page, background, text and symbols. The Dark GUI theme is also applied.

    Sharing and exporting scores

    This guide shows how you can change how scores are displayed in your copy of MuseScore. The intention is that scores you create should look normal (i.e. black-on-white) when viewed on another computer, or exported to PDF or other formats, though this is not always the case.

    Unless otherwise stated, the settings in this guide do not affect how scores look when printed or exported from MuseScore, uploaded to MuseScore.com, or opened in other copies of MuseScore.

    Issues with non-default colours

    Most MuseScore users do not change the default colours, so the colour features are not tested as often as other features. There are issues with certain elements not changing colour when they are supposed to, or becoming indistinguishable from the background.

    Alternatives to this guide

    Most operating systems or computer monitors have built-in features to change how colours are displayed. You should consider making use of these features, as they tend to be more reliable than changing the colours within MuseScore and are guaranteed not to affect how the scores look when viewed on other computers. Look for options to:

    • Invert Colours, High Contrast
      • Usually provided by the operating system or display manager as accessibility features.
    • Adjust Colour Temperature, White Balance or Colour Levels
      • These are configurable on most computer monitors.
    • Enable "Night Mode"
      • This gives the screen a red tint to reduce the amount of blue light emitted by the display (thought to disrupt sleep).

    A quick online search will reveal how to enable these features for your operating system or device, or to install a third-party tool to do the same. Some tools allow you to choose whether to enable these features for individual applications or for the system as a whole.

    Changing the background and page colour in MuseScore

    It is easy enough to change the page colour in MuseScore's Preferences.

    1. Within MuseScore, go to EditPreferences... (Mac: MuseScorePreferences...)
    2. Click the Canvas tab.
    3. Use the Paper Colour and Background Colour options to change the colour of the page and the region around the page.

    Tip: if trying to invert colours, use a dark grey page colour instead of black so that black objects are still visible.

    Changing the page colour only affects scores displayed in your copy of MuseScore.

    Changing the default colour of symbols and text

    There is no option to change the default colour in MuseScore's Preferences, but it is possible to change the symbol colour by editing MuseScore's configuration file. Text colours can be changed by loading a style file.

    Changing the symbol colour affects all scores displayed in your copy of MuseScore, but changing text styles affects how the current score looks when shared or exported.

    Tip: if you simply want to invert colours you may find it easier to enable the corresponding accessibility feature built in to your operating system. This will not affect how scores look on other machines.

    Changing default symbol colour in the configuration file

    Firstly, you need to locate MuseScore's configuration file on your computer. The default location depends on your operating system:

    • Windows: C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\MuseScore\MuseScore2.ini
    • Mac: ~/Library/Preferences/org.musescore.MuseScore2.plist
    • Linux: ~/.config/MuseScore/MuseScore2.ini

    Quit MuseScore and make a backup copy of your configuration file before you make any changes.

    Windows and Linux

    Windows and Linux use the INI format for configuration files. Simply replace the configuration file with MuseScore2_ini.txt (rename to MuseScore2.ini), which inverts the colour of the page and the symbols. The next time you open MuseScore the staves and musical symbols will be white, though text will still be black unfortunately (see below).

    Alternatively, open the configuration file in a text editor and add (or edit) the following line under [General]:

    defaultColor=#ffffffff
    
    

    The colour values is ARGB hexadecimal. The first two digits represent the alpha channel (transparency) and should always be ff. The remaining 6 digits can be changed to specify other colours. Some values you could use:

    • Black: #ff000000
    • White: #ffffffff
    • Grey 50%: #ff808080
    • Red: #ffff0000
    • Green: #ff00ff00
    • Blue: #ff0000ff
    • Yellow: #ffffff00
    • Orange: #ffff8000

    You can generate more colour codes using an online tool such as this one.

    Mac

    macOS uses the XML-based PLIST format for configuration files, which is different to the INI format used by Windows and Linux. You'll need to edit the PLIST file manually (create a backup first). The instructions for editing the INI file on Windows and Linux should give you some clues about what you need to change in the PLIST file.

    Change the colour of text styles

    The changes given so far in this guide only affect how scores look within MuseScore on your own computer, so if you seed a score to somebody else then it will look normal (black-on-white). Unfortunately, the same is not true for changes to text colours.

    Text styles can be changed from the Style menu. Styles are saved in the score itself, and they affect how the score looks when shared or exported, so you may want to change them back before sharing the score. If you are trying to invert colours it is better to make the text lightly coloured rather than true white, as this ensures the text is still visible against a white background. Grey text might be confused with text that has been made invisible, so use a light colour instead.

    Text colours must be changed in each score individually, but this is easy to do by loading a style from a style file.

    Loading a style

    1. Safe the files "off-white-text.mss" and "default-style.mss" in MuseScore's Styles folder. (The location of the Styles folder is displayed in the Preferences, and can be changed if needed.)

    2. Go to StyleLoad Style... and load "off-white-text.mss" to change the colour of all text in the current score.

    3. If you want to return to the usual colours (e.g. before exporting or sharing) then load "default-style.mss".

    You can change the style used for imported MIDI and MusicXML file in MuseScores Preferences, but you must apply styles manually to newly created scores and existing MuseScore files which you open.

    What to do if some text doesn't change colour

    Individual text elements can be given custom colours via the Inspector. Doing this overrides the style colour for that particular element, so the element will no longer respond to changes in text style. Sometimes this happens even if no custom colour was set.

    If you want to force a text element to use the style settings you need to select it and use the Inspector option "Reset Text to Style". You can select multiple elements by right-clicking on one and choosing SelectAll Similar Elements.

    Change the colours of MuseScore's toolbar and menus

    MuseScore 2 has a feature called "Themes", which affect the colours of the GUI. Two themes are provided:

    • Light: Toolbar icons and menu text is black on a light grey background. This is the default theme.
    • Dark: Toolbar icons and menu text is white on a dark grey background.

    Changing the Theme

    1. Within MuseScore, go to EditPreferences... (Mac: MuseScorePreferences...)
    2. Under the General tab, change the Theme from Light to Dark.
    Attachment Size
    MuseScore2_ini.txt 51 bytes
    off-white-text.mss 24 KB
    default-style.mss 21.88 KB

    Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.