Can I assign a keyboard shortcut for "Add Spacer Down"?

• Apr 6, 2020 - 16:57

I tried to assign a keyboard shortcut (via properties > shortcuts ) for "Add Spacer Down" but can't find it in the list.
Nothing shows when I put "spacer" into the search field either. I am able to add a shortcut for "add frame", but not, it seems, a spacer (up or down).

Is there a way of doing this please? Thank you!!

v. 3.4.2, Windows


BTW, can you explain why you are adding many spacers? Normally in MuseScore 3 this would be a quite rare operation, because automatic placement and the system min/max distance parameters mean that most spacing happens well by default without the need for user invention. I guess one case that comes up is if people are using "hide empty staves" and then wanting spacers to stretch the less full systems to match the fuller ones.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc, certainly. My MuseScore project is a collection of piano teaching pieces with 6,000 measures, 300 pages and over 220 pieces. All in one MuseScore file!

My problem is that I want to vary the stave spacing between each piano stave according to the length and appearance of each individual piece.

In "Page Style" I set the global spacing to min 0sp and max 8sp, but that spacing was too close for most of the pieces, so I have added spacing to a lot of the pieces.

That's why I was keen to know if there was a keyboard shortcut for "Add spacer".
Also, because adding spacers in this project is a LOT of work, I had an idea to use the macro program "Auto HotKey" and create a script to enable me to automate the process of adding spacers.

I'm pleased to report that today I succeeded in this, and created a script which instantly creates a spacer of a specified height. It really speeds up the process of this really tedious task, I plan to make a video tutorial of how I did it, and how it works. When complete I'll post a new thread to this forum.

To make my situation, I just made this video explaining my problem regarding varying the spacing throughout my project, which I hope will explain everything more clearly than just by using words.


I'm very happy to receive comments about this. Someone will probably tell me there's an easier way to achieve variable spacing throughout a score!! If so I'd be delighted - although it's taken all this effort so far!! Thanks for watching!!

PS MuseScore is awesome. Fast becoming my score-writing software of choice. Been using Sibelius for several decades!!

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thank you. I hadn't heard of this, but did some research including
It could be a solution for me but then again it would still involve me having to save over 200 MS files - that in itself would be quite a tedious task!

(I guess that with a large project like mine there's going to be lots of tedious tasks whatever method I adopt..)

Is there any indication as to when the album feature may be reinstated?

In reply to by Jon Ray

I only want to mention 2 methods that might help in your situation:
- You can save spacers with different lengths in your palette (draw them with Ctrl+Shift to the palette).
- You can apply a shortcut to "Apply current palette element" (I assigned Ctrl+<, which is very handy)
The combination of these 2 methods could speed up your work substantially.

In reply to by Jon Ray

Impressive work, good luck on getting that done, and hopefully published (?) !

As mentioned, we really do want to make it possible to add shortcuts for literally everything on the palette, even custom palette elements you add yourself. Meanwhile, though, I do have some other suggestions for you that may help:

1) I can't see any value in setting min system distance to 0. Are there really pieces where you want the bottom staff line of one system literally touching the top staff line of the next (or at least, as close as they can get without the clefs overlapping?) Assuming not, then 0 is way too low. Anything below 4sp should be completely out of the question, as you never want systems closer together than a staff height. And really, it should normally be at least as great as the grand staff distance (distance between the staves within a system), as normally you want more space between systems than within them. In the rare cases where you need to pull systems closer together than the min, you can use a "fixed" spacer. So if I were you, I'd do an experiment using a copy (!) of your score: try deleting all spacers (right click one, Select / All Similar Elements, Delete), then playing with those distance setting some more. Frankly, I'd suggest starting by going back to the defaults. Really, the whole point of the min/max settings is do do exactly what you are trying to do manually - make sure systems are spaced appropriately when there are different numbers of them per page. You shouldn't be needing to fight so hard to get the results you want. With good min/max settings, spacers would be needed only rarely.

2) Even if you can't get min/max to do exactly what you want right out of the box, you can probably still take advantage of them more by letting them work a little hard. I recommend letting max system be quite a lot bigger than it currently is - the default of 15 might be too big, but I'm guessing around12 will be nice. This will prevent you from needing to add so many spacers to increase distances, but it might result in a few pieces where there is more space than you want. Still, a clever way to decrease the distances on that page is to add a spacer below the last system. Increase its height to push against the bottom margin and the spaces of everything else will close up accordingly.

3) I like your idea of using AutoHotKey, but instead of using mouse movements, I recommend using the palette search, it's almost certainly both easier and more reliable. Ctrl+F9 is the shortcut for palette search, follow that by the name of the element you want to apply. You can even customize the names

4) Check out "Notation Express", developed by Philip Rothman of "Scoring Notes" (formerly "Sibelius Blog" fame. It's an extremely clever interface that you might find useful in itself, but it might also give you ideas for how to implement other useful hacks (he uses the palette search trick, I know). Here is the link:

5) Kind of late now, but FWIW I probably would not have done these all as one score. The "album" feature would have allowed combing them into one later, but even failing that, assembling a book later using something like Adobe Acrobat, or free alternatives like PDFsam, is in some ways easier. In other ways, not so much, because if you want to change a style setting, you need to apply it to each song. But that process can, I suspect, be automated through command line scripts or plugins. It's also not quite as painful as you might imagine to manually load a new style file into 100 different scores (trust me, I just did this myself a few weeks ago for my own theory text - see Once you get the sequence of keystrokes to automate the process (Alt+O, Up, Up, Enter, etc.) I could do it in seconds, and of course, you could AutoHotKey that too. Something more to think about for the next project, though. By then, maybe we'll have an improved album feature back.

6) I see you have a custom palette going - good job there! I guess that's not a suggestion :-)

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Wow again! .... My MuseScore experience gets even better .... now I discover that this is a super-friendly forum with super-helpful folks who go the extra mile with their advice and expertise. Thanks a million for your detailed replies, Marc, AH and Jo-Jo!

I will look into each and every one of these suggestions. Sleep beckons right now, so when I can grab some time (hopefully tomorrow), my to-do list will be:

Explore saving spacers with different lengths into a palette;
Explore applying a shortcut to "Apply current palette element" ;
Experiment changing min/max system distance to maximise automatic spacing for my project and minimise correction work - making sure to work on a copy!! ;
Explore "fixed" spacers;
Explore adding spacer below last system;
Explore amending Auto HotKey script using palette search shortcut (great idea, Marc...);
Check out "Notation Express"
Check out Marc's theory text for inspiration...
Plus a few other points!
So - lots to think about. Thanks all for your help, I appreciate it. I'll definitely post back with any feedback of my progress.

OK, I just spent 30 minutes trying out some of these things. I was "wowed" before, now I've gone to the "gobsmacked" level! Thanks so much.

I discovered some great tips, from the advice given - but also what I think is a critical bug which causes a crash every time.

I'll be posting about my progress soon but first, the crash. I don't know whether if this is a known bug but here's my findings:

  1. Create an 8-measure piano score.
  2. Add a system break at bar 4 to create two systems.
  3. Add a vertical frame to the lower system (top staff).
  4. Select bar 1 (lower staff) and apply a fixed spacer.

Is this a known bug? If not shall I report it?
3.4.2, Windows 10

PS works OK if you add a Spacer Down instead of a fixed spacer.

Just a quick update on how I got on with KHS and Marc's advice so far:

  1. Shift+dragging the Spacers to a custom palette - worked great. I added three spacers to my palette, each having a different height (9, 11 and 16 spaces). Not only that but for each one I right-clicked and selected a different value for "content scale" (0.8, 1.0 and 1.2). This gave me three icons each with incremental sizes in the palette. Maybe a useful tip for someone!
    musescore palette cell properties.JPG
    MuseScore custom palette example.jpg

  2. Then I set a keyboard shortcut for "Apply current palette element". Fantastic. I actually set the shortcut as "T", so I could click the measure with the mouse in my right hand and press "T" with my left hand. Speeded up workflow immensely, as AH said it would. Thank you.

  3. Explored "fixed spacers" (Marc's advice). Great to discover they override the automatic spacing. (I found a critical bug in the process! (reported and in hand). Will use these in the future.

  4. Checked out "Notation Express". Wow, looks really really good. Will investigate..

  5. Checked out Marc's theory course. So brilliant, thank you so much for this resource. So thorough and solid. (It's already rejuvenated my interest in ABS, Lily Pond and Jianpu !! :-)

I'll investigate further with the other suggestions including setting the global system distances differently ..... just wanted to send an update and say thanks folks for your help :-)

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