Recommendations for PDF to MusicXML desktop converters for PC?

• Feb 21, 2022 - 03:01

As a vocalist, I truly love MuseScore's editing capabilities & use it regularly - thank you for such a wonderful free & open source program. However, after MUCH research, I am still in a state of deep frustration over how to (affordably) get my pdf's and paper scores converted to MusicXML for use in MuseScore. The MuseScore pdf conversion page is not working for me at all. I have compared a plethora of the available conversion products out there, and remain clueless where to start. Is there such a thing as a simple pdf to xml file converter? I don't need any other bells & whistles. Can anyone guide me to something relatively simple & inexpensive for PC? I do have Bluestacks, so could potentially use an Android app. Sincere thanks for any input!


In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I appreciate the reply; however, manual transcription is most definitely not the fastest way for me, as I am still at the amateur stage of the game. Plus, I have a LOT of charts, and at the moment am preparing for a gig 2 weeks away. I don't mind a small investment, or doing some edits, as long as I can find a program that will do a reasonably decent job.

In reply to by tnjazzgal

Realistically, fixing the many nasty errors caused by the AI programs that attempt to turn pictures of music into actual music is way harder than simply entering the music yourself, especially if you are not an expert at using MuseScore. An expert might be able to identify and fix the errors faster, but then, they'd also be able to enter the music faster.

It's much easier to get good at entering music into MuseScore than it is to get good at identifying and fixing the errors caused by PDF import attempts. So if you only have two weeks, spending the first couple of days just getting good at entering notes should allow you to enter the rest of the charts quickly. It's highly unlikely two weeks would be enough time to learn the program so well that you'd be able to successfully find and fix the errors caused by attempts to import PDF files quickly enough. That kind of expertise takes months or years to develop, but just a couple of days is more than enough time to get good at the basics of entering notes.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

To add to Marc's comment, I have tried importing pdfs and at first glance the results appear good, but then looking more closely I find there are errors randomly scattered through the score. It is not just that expertise is needed to fix the discrepancies in the score created by the "converter", proof reading the results is a non-trivial task as some of those errors can be quite subtle. That prof reading alone can take a similar length of time to entering the music manually; it all needs to be checked, reading each note, accidental, slur, dot, rest, dynamic etc. twice, once on the original, once on the import. In my experience, it is very easy to miss some converter introduced errors or rather it is difficult to be confident that you have spotted them all.

I have had generally good success with PDFtoMusic Pro. It depends on the PDF file being in "character", not "image", form, and thus is only workable with PDF files generated by notation applications (and then only certain of them). It is not suitable for working from PDF files generated by scanning of paper scores.

A free trial version is available. It will only work on the first page of the score.

Here is the site:

Best regards,


In reply to by Doug Kerr

The standard reply that it's just quicker to input manually may, indeed, be true for some. I compose using a trackball mouse. Even though it is faster than a standard mouse, I am in the group than inputs slowly. I don't have a problem with that. Though it isn't for everybody. I don't have much use for a pdf converter. That said, I do have PhotoScore Lite. And recently, Audiverius. Both for the rare occasion I need one of them.

The PDF needs to be as perfect as possible. Black and white.
The main problem is that MuseScore's mxl import has problems. I did a test just now with an export from Audiverius.

MuseScore import lacked any dynamics and hairpins, and staff text of any kind. Three separate times a single measure took up an entire page.

Sibelius import showed everything. Measures were correct.

Notes were correct in both.

Even so, depending on the situation, I would choose PDF import over manual entry. Because it is quicker for me. Everybody works differently. Both have downsides.

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