JANUARY 1, 2020

What’s New in Sibelius  

whats new in sib 1826

Find product release details for Sibelius music notation software from 2020.

Sibelius 2020.1 (January 2020)

Auto-Optimize staff spacing

Optimize Staff Spacing has been in Sibelius for a number of years now and was widely accepted as a great feature for getting a good looking score over a decade ago, but you always had to trigger it manually. Now, Sibelius will automatically optimize the space between the staves in your score to fit the music you’re writing. Combined with Magnetic Layout, Sibelius will avoid collisions when you enter or edit anything in your score.

Here’s a quick comparison





This works with lyrics, dynamics, hairpins, pedal lines, symbols and articulations etc., saving you huge amounts of time cleaning up the score.

Auto-Optimize is turned on by default in new scores you create, and will need switching on when you open an old score. This is done by clicking the new Auto button from the Layout tab of the Ribbon:


The old “Optimize” button has been changed to “Optimize > Selection” so you can still perform a one-shot optimize if you still need to. Sibelius also gives you complete control over the optimization of your score, so if you don’t need it on (for whatever reason), simply tap the “Auto” button.

You can also override the optimization, by dragging a stave, if you’re looking to tighten up a particular passage, say. Then, Sibelius will respect your change and won’t optimize that system again until you use “Reset Space Above” or “Reset Space Below” from the Layout tab.

We’ve included a helpful indication when you have Rulers turned on to indicate which staff spacing has been manually set. Consistent with automatic and manually placed System and Page breaks, the staves that are automatically spaced have a dashed ruler, and those that have been manually set have a solid line:


Those familiar with the old Optimize feature will no doubt appreciate a number of bugs being fixed in this area too. Writing slurs across staves, using Film Score style Time Signatures (see below to know more about these), adding comments are all ignored by the Optimize logic.

Along with the refresh of the House Styles (see below) the default space that is optimized between staves has been reduced from 1 space to 0.5. This allows you to have really nice and neatly laid out music that looks perfect.

New Dashed and Dotted and Tie-into Ties

It’s been a long time coming, and we’re pleased to finally release improvements to ties with three new styles of ties:


Dashed and Dotted are commonly used in choral work to indicate a difference in verses within a repeated structure, or to suggest an editorial tie.

Tie-into ties are useful across a repeat structure where the last note before 1st-time repeat is also tied into the first beat of the 2nd repeat. As with the linked ties we introduced in April 2018, these new ties are linked (and play back, of course):


To enter a Tie-into, head to the 4th keypad layout:


You have complete control over these ties i.e. style of tie, shape, distance between the dots and dashes in the Inspector:



We’ve also exposed these new tie styles within ManuScript (Sibelius’s own programming language for creating plugins). You can obtain the style of any tie using the keyword “TieStyle” or “TieIntoStyle” (respectively) and you can set the style of a tie using the same keywords with one of the following Style Strings: ‘solid’, ‘dashed’ or ‘dotted’ (e.g. tiednote.TieStyle = ‘dotted’;).

File version

To support the new ties, we’ve increased the internal file version. If you need to send someone a score that contains the new ties, you’ll need to go to File > Export and choose the version you need.



Dashed and dotted ties are converted back to solid ties (since they didn’t exist back then) and Tie-into ties are converted into small slurs to retain a similar appearance. If you’re working with someone who is going to rely on these new types of ties, it’s best to advise them to upgrade!

House Styles and Manuscript Papers>

We have created three brand new House Styles in Sibelius to give your scores an elegant, contemporary or casual handwritten appearance. Introducing:








Main text font: Quicksand (now included with Sibelius) / Main music font: Opus




Main text font: Palatino (included in Windows and Mac) / Main music font: Reprise

Each of these new House Styles have been designed from the ground up and include several recommendations and best practices seen in the publishing and performance industries. There are too many to go through, but one noticeable change is the thickness of the staff and stem lines. These are very slightly thicker, allowing the music ‘pop’ off the page that significantly increases readability.

Our built-in Manuscript papers have all been revised to take advantage of the new styles, and we’ve included a number of changes to help you get started. There’s a new Common category that includes a Leadsheet and a Piano, as well as several new manuscript papers for Solo Instruments.

Using one of these new House Styles in your score is easy (and handling House Styles is generally easier too). Simply single click on a Manuscript paper from the Quick Start and you’ll be guided through the score setup process.

The three new House Styles appear at the top, above the old House Styles, which we’ve included in case you are particularly attached to them. Now though, when choosing the House Styles, Sibelius will omit the staff size and other layout differences, allowing you to cycle through the House Styles and quickly choose which one is right for you:



Similar changes have been made when importing a House Style into an existing score. Go to Appearance > House Style > Import and veteran Sibelius users will see that we’ve now split out Engraving Rules and Document Setup. As importing the Document Setup always enforced the incoming Staff Size, you now have a very safe and reliable method of importing a House Style into your score.

Wildcards in right-click menus



Those familiar with Wildcards will know that you can quickly enter text in Sibelius and have it pre-populate information from the File > Score Info dialog. Really useful for keeping the score information in the score updated, consistent and correct. However, if you don’t use them all very often, you’d find it hard to remember them all, and even which way the slashes go and what side the $ went. So, from this release, we’ve introduced a new Word Menu that will display all the Wildcards in the right-click menu when entering most types of System text into the score (just not Tempo, Metronome Marks and Metric Modulation).

To find out more, see “5.16 Wildcards” in the Sibelius Reference.

Large film score time signatures

As part of our overhaul of improvements to the House Styles, we have included a new style of Time Signature, which is common in film and TV scores. To turn these on in your score, simply go to Appearance > House Style > Engraving Rules. Go to Time Signatures and you’ll find the new option:



Accessibility – for everyone

At the NAMM show this week, I’ll be taking part in several panels on Accessibility. If you’re at the show, be sure to check out the sessions:

  • Saturday: Avid Booth 15500: 5:00pm
  • Sunday: Avid Booth 15500: 3:30pm
  • Sunday: Hall A7, Hilton Anaheim, 4th Floor: 12pm until 2pm as part of the Tec-Tracks presentations

During these sessions, I’ll be joined by Chi Kim, Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music, who will be demonstrating how he teaches and writes music in Sibelius, aided by the work we’ve put into improving Sibelius over the last 12 months or so.

This release has a good collection of Accessibility improvements, that not only provides more rich feedback from the score and Sibelius’s UI, but provides controls for choosing the verbosity of what’s sent to the screen reader. To find these, go to File > Preferences. The first page of preferences is now the Accessibility page, making it easy to find. Tabbing through this dialog allows you to choose from several options to set a ‘High’ or ‘Low’ verbosity, or to choose a ‘Custom’ set of options to control the pitch and duration information, as well as to choose whether you want to hear the bar number, instrument range warnings and notehead styles.



Accessibility improvements don’t have to simply benefit those who are blind using screen readers. As part of our partnership with Berklee College of Music, we are aiming to help a wide range of sight-loss, including helping to prevent eye strain for fully sighted users.

With this in mind, we have changed the default colours for the Paper and Desk ‘Textures’ from the old bitmaps of paper, to colors to reduce glare and strain on the eyes (esp. for those night owls who work late into the small hours).


Score : Part : Idea : Version


Navigating System Objects with the Keyboard

In Sibelius, you’ve always been able to select staff objects using the Tab key (i.e. the music, text, symbols and lines attached to a single instrumental stave), however it’s never been possible, until now, to select system objects (Title, Composer, Clefs, Key Signatures, Barlines etc.) with the keyboard.

To select system objects with the keyboard, firstly press Tab, which will select the first thing on the page, then you can start navigating the system objects using these two new keyboard Shortcuts:

  • Select next system object: Cmd+Shift+= // Ctrl+Shift+=
  • Select previous system object: Cmd+Shift+- // Ctrl+Shift+-

These are customisable too, so if you’d like to change these shortcuts to better suit your workflow, head to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts


General bug fixes and improvements

A Sibelius release wouldn’t be complete without a number of smaller improvements, and this one is no different. In summary:

  • Jazz articulations and grace notes are no longer lost when changing the voice of a note
  • Another fresh round of profiling revealed that Sibelius updates the Navigator window even when not in view. It turned out to be quite expensive so Sibelius should be nippier now when the Navigator window is closed.
  • Sibelius now respects the same DPI scaling rules on Windows as it did in 2019.9
  • The Sibelius Cloud Sharing Dashboard no longer opens up in each new Sibelius session after sharing a score
  • Visually impaired users using screen readers now hear the state and location of the selection in Find in Ribbon
  • Many of the Ukulele chord diagrams have been incorrect for many many years. We’ve painstakingly been through them all so they are now correct.

Sibelius 2020.3 (March 2020)

Laissez vibrer – Sibelius | Ultimate only

A long awaited addition to Sibelius, L.V. ties are now natively supported, and come with a fair amount of options in the Inspector, Engraving Rules and ManuScript to give you total control over the way they are displayed in your scores.

To enter an L.V. tie, simply add a regular tie to a note, then tick L.V. in the Inspector:



We’ve added an entry in Keyboards Shortcuts called “Toggle L.V. tie”, which can be found in the “Other” category in the Keyboard Shortcuts page of Preferences.

To give you full control there’s a new RX value in the Inspector to allow you to specify an offset. Set the “L.V. tie endpoint is n spaces after notes” value in the Ties 1 page of Engraving Rules.


Sibelius will take into consideration the notes in the chords, stem direction, and the settings within the Inspector and Engraving Rules. Hereʼs a summary of what to expect:


You’ll also note that L.V. ties which coincide with a system break no longer draw an erroneous 2nd tie segment at the beginning of the next system (a long-standing bug that was previously very difficult to workaround). With the introduction of the new L.V. ties, we have increased the file format once more and secured it further so you have to export to a previous version in order to open them up in those older releases. Exporting files to previous version replaces L.V. ties with small non-magnetic slurs that closely match the appearance.

As with introducing any new feature into Sibelius, we need to carefully see how it will fit into the program around other features, and what impact it has to the old basic methods. Now proper L.V. ties are possible in Sibelius, it has highlighted the limitations of the playback effect when entering LV or L.V. in the score. As such, we’ve removed both of these entries from the Playback Dictionary as it simply doesn’t make sense to hold a note forever.

L.V. Ties are only available when using Optical Ties. If your score is particularly old, you may still be using the “Version 1” or “Version 2” tie position rules. To take advantage of the new L.V. ties, go to Engraving Rules and choose “Optical ties” from the Ties 1 page.

Ties – Sibelius | Ultimate only

Our January release included two new styles of ties (Dashed and Dotted). In our March release, we have introduced a new shortcut to toggle between the three styles. To use it, select a note containing a tie, or the tie itself, and type Alt+Enter (that’s Enter on the keypad, not the Return key – laptop uses will need to type Fn+Alt+Enter).

House Styles

The new Podium, Moderna and Handwritten House Styles, introduced in January, have been translated into all 9 languages Sibelius supports. This includes the addition of the Wildcards right-click menu for most System Text Styles too. We’ve also fixed a couple of things along the way in the English files too (e.g. Metric Modulation in Moderna) but these remain largely unchanged.

In Sibelius | Ultimate, a new option has been added to the Accidentals and Dots page in Engraving Rules to allow you to specify whether the score is respaced after toggling Cautionary Accidentals. This was introduced to prevent you from losing any manual note spacing you’d made in the score.


The new Time Signatures (film score) are now available in all languages

To finish a feature we released in January, importing a House Style with only the Document Setup option checked, the document parameters are now properly imported into the score (i.e. Engraving rules and Document Setup import are now truly independent when importing a house style into either the score or the parts).

Manuscript Papers and Magnetic Layout>

In 2020.1, scores created from the new Manuscript Papers would have incorrect Magnetic Layout behaviour for horizontal lines, for example, Octave lines now correctly trigger auto-optimize, but now also avoid collisions with objects in other staves. We’ve fixed these all up, as well as an old bug where clicking ‘Restore Defaults’ would cause many lines to not be magnetic anymore.


We’re continuing our improvements in Accessibility and this release has focused on the File tab (Backstage) and the Ribbon descriptions. You’ll find varying results when comparing Windows to Mac, but you should find things have improved on both OSs with all screen readers.

Since a few of these controls are shared with the QuickStart (both Win and Mac) and the Status Bar (Mac only), there should be some improvements in there too. We’re keen to hear how you get on!


This feature has been revolutionising people’s music writing, and is saving hours of manually editing time by producing great looking and well spaced scores automatically. In our March release, we’re tightening up the feature in number of useful ways:

  • Reset Position for System Text now triggers Auto-Optimize
  • “Remove all articulations” now triggers Auto-Optimize (Sibelius | Ultimate only)
  • Auto-Optimize is now triggered correctly when moving a note down between one system to another
  • Adding highlights no longer trigger Auto-Optimize
  • The space between systems is now properly auto-optimized after deleting a clef
  • The left and right “Staff Rulers” now display correct values one more (Sibelius | Ultimate only)

The logic for handling clef changes has been improved. If you move a clef, only the bars that the clef moved over will be auto-optimized. If you add a clef without having made any selection, then Sibelius will only auto-optimize the bars up until the next clef change (or until the end of the score if there’s no other clef change).

ManuScript – Sibelius | Ultimate only

We’re exposing the ability to turn the new Auto-Optimize feature on/off via ManuScript. The Syntax is the same as toggling Magnetic Layout.

To get current state – Score.AutoOptimizeEnabled

To set current state – Score.AutoOptimizeEnabled = True;

We’re also adding support for L.V. ties, so you can now query it with:

if (note.LvTie = True)

… and set it with:

note.LvTie = True



We have updated the MusicXML schema used in Sibelius to v3.1. This doesn’t add any new functionality but now doesn’t throw up an error when a newer 3.1 element is contained in the incoming MusicXML file.

Sibelius also no longer crashes when importing a MusicXML file when manually choosing instruments and then cancelling the operation before completion.


New options in Add Brass fingering plug-in for French Horn – Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate only

The fingering available for the French Horn via the Add Brass Fingering plugin has until now been limited to displaying only a few options. From this release though, when adding fingering for Horn in F, you now have a few more options to allow an F prefix, Bb fingering, Bb fingering using T for thumb and Bb fingering with a 4 for the thumb valve.

The new dialog looks like this:



…and produces the fingerings like this:



Huge thanks to the kind and knowledgeable folk over on the Horn People Facebook group for their guidance

Notarization and code hardening on macOS

We’ve been working hard on bringing Sibelius up to date with the latest security requirements from Apple, which now allow us to notarize our builds on the fly. This should have no impact on those running Sibelius on macOS Catalina. As well as this, we’ve have added entitlements to Sibelius on Mac to allow it to run third party audio plugins, including those protected by Steinberg’s eLicenser.

General improvements and bug fixes

As always, this release fixes a number of bugs and includes some smaller improvements. These are:

  • Time Signature (Film Score) has been added to Preferences -> Music Fonts
  • If you move the left-hand end of a Repeat line in the Part, the right hand side no longer slowly moves to the right
  • You no longer get a black screen after closing a score when Sibelius is in fullscreen (Mac)
  • Roman numerals and Figured bass text styles are now included in the Text gallery in Sibelius | First
  • A few worksheets had a problem where their staves were missing. We’ve caught a few of them, but there are others that will require larger changes in the way these files are generated. More on this in the future.
  • It’s possible to assign a command to F19 key on Mac
  • The Divide Durations and Nashville Chord Numbers plugins no longer have cut off text in Chinese and Japanese language versions
  • Textures (in Preferences) are now correctly translated in Russian
  • In rare cases, Sibelius could display a keychain-related message on startup every time on macOS. This now no longer occurs.
  • In ManuScript, the DOCSETUP keyword within the ApplyStyle ManuScript function now correctly imports document settings exclusively (as specified in the Reference Guide).



Sibelius no longer crashes…

  • when dragging a Tie-Into tie that is connected to a L.V. tie.
  • in the Edit Lines dialog when you modify the dash length of a slur to be 0
  • ·on Mac when trying to enter a note when you have a brace, bracket or sub-bracket selected (many thanks to my daughter for finding that one!)
  • when extending a lyric line

… and that’s it! We hope you enjoy the improvements included in this release, which started out as a small big-fix release, then turned into something more (sorry, we got carried away!)

Sibelius 2020.6 (June 2020)

Customise color to help whole range of sight loss

We’re pleased to introduce a further swathe of accessibility improvements. This time, we are addressing the whole range of sight loss by introducing features to allow you to customize the color of the four voice colors, notes out of range, and the color of the Staff and System selections.

The colors are controlled in Preferences and can be saved in new Color Presets. To set these up, go to File > Preferences > Accessibility, and check out the new pane on the right.


Sibelius comes with 5 presets to get you started, and you can create your own. These are:

  • Default – as they always have been
  • Vivid – very high contrasting colours
  • Monochromatic – mostly blue with a hint of pink
  • Grayscale – mostly gray with a hint of pink
  • Working late – specifically chosen to reduce eye strain in low light conditions



The options to set up your own colors can be found in the Accessibility pane of File > Preferences. Much like the Timeline Presets, click “New…” to create a new preset and choose a preset name. Then, you can click on each color for each item to choose from the standard color picker, which even includes control for the alpha channel/opacity. Combine this with changing the colour of the paper texture, and you can make your scores appear any way you wish:

Be sure you have “Voice Colors” turned “on” in the Ribbon > View > Note Colors.

Changes are saved to the Color Preset when you click OK and can be recalled from the dropdown at the top of these preferences. These presets are stored in:

  • Mac: /Users/YourUserName/Library/Application Support/Avid/Sibelius/Music Color Presets
  • Win: C:UsersYourUserNameAppDataRoamingAvidSibeliusMusic Color Presets


Accessibility improvements for screen readers

Continuing on our accessibility project with Berklee College of Music, here are the latest improvements to come to this release:

  • Within our accessibility effort, screen readers now announce the names of range-selected staves. Specifically, when a range selection is expanded to a stave above or below, you’ll hear the name of the instrument on that stave in order to know exactly what has been added to the selection.
  • The information from a screen reader is much more complete when navigating the menus in File > Plug-insFile > Avid Link and Home > Clipboard > Paste.
  • Screen readers now announce the complete chord symbol, for example, “Chord Symbol D7sus4 (Text) Bar 2, beat 1” rather than just as “Guitar chord frame”
  • Screen Readers no longer announce Repeat Bar symbols as Bar Rests sometimes
  • The Ribbon items have been grouped so it’s a lot easier (less cluttered) to navigate using a screen reader.
  • When entering a Gallery or textual menu for the very first time, focus no longer fails to set on the first item
  • Multi-rests are now screen reader accessible
  • Various elements of the edit text, lines and symbols dialogs are now read by screen readers
  • You can now use the Numpad keys 4 and 6 to navigate through the Inspector
  • The Inspector is now screen reader accessible
  • The Inspector now gets focus when it is opened, allowing you to tab around it immediately. Closing the inspector will return the focus to the score.
  • MusicXML Import

    Importing MusicXML files have historically been very dependent on the data inside the XML file, and this is only as good as the export functionality of the application that generated it. Sibelius’s legacy import process also had some limitations, especially while trying to honour the layout and instrumentation of the source material. Then, once in Sibelius, it was usually a case of copying that music across to your own template, then wrangling with the system objects and overall layout. Now, you can import a MusicXML file straight into your template or existing score, and have the musical structure preserved, and even choose which instruments to import then arrange and explode onto other instruments.

    Those who know the Intelligent MIDI Import workflows (released back in September last year) will find the new MusicXML import features familiar. The File > Import page now changes depending on the file you’re importing e.g. MIDI or MusicXML.


The options along the bottom are far fewer compared to the importing a MIDI file, and allow a good amount of control of what’s imported:


These should be fairly self-explanatory, and will be handy in different situations, for example, if you’d rather retain your template’s House Style e.g. stem directions, default positions of objects etc. then untick “Use Layout and Formatting from MusicXML file”.

The routing table in the centre of the page, as with the existing MIDI import features, allows you to assign the incoming staves to the instruments in the score i.e. one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many. Really useful for automatically splitting instrumental parts across several instruments, or creating SATB arrangements from a piano in only a few steps.

As with the Intelligent MIDI Import (introduced in September 2019) Sibelius can handle this complex mapping for you with a single click of the “Auto Assign” button if the source file and the destination Sibelius file have the same (or similar) name, or you utilize mapping hashtags. You can find all the details on that mapping syntax in the Reference Guide (under the Importing MIDI section, p.54). But as a quick reminder, when importing an xml or midi file, if the instrument names in the source file contain a hashtag followed by an identifier (i.e. #SATB), then the “Auto Assign” button will attempt to match those incoming source tracks to destination instruments staves by looking for a matching hashtag identifier. The example below shows an example one-to-many mapping, and of course, the reverse is also possible. (Note: although not necessary, the hashtags below were added as “hidden text” using the tilde ~ character so that they can be easily removed from the current score view):


We realize that the hashtag mappings may not be immediately obviously useful for everyone, but if you happen to be working on a score with several other people giving you music from other music applications, all of whom are contributing different sections, it can really pay to learn about the possibilities of these mappings! It’s been said to save not only hours on a project, but days…

Sibelius | First and the Score Starter

The Score Starter, was originally introduced in Sibelius | First when it was a paid product many years ago, and now has been (re)instated to both Sibelius | First and Sibelius (not Sibelius | Ultimate). We’ve given the categories a facelift with new imagery for the tab in the Quick Start. Each of the new score starter templates has been trimmed down or created from scratch, to meet Sibelius | First’s 4-stave limitation, and have an audio example to go with them too. This provides a good springboard for budding musicians who would like to see what’s possible within Sibelius, and to provide them with inspiration for their own music.


Sibelius | First is a free version of Sibelius available to everyone. Sign up for the free music notation software.

LV and Tie-into Ties

We’ve also spent some time cleaning up our (relatively) new L.V. ties. In particular, L.V. ties on grace notes are now drawn properly, and L.V. ties now respond appropriately when notes are moved (chromatically or diatonically) within a chain of ties (i.e. L.V. ties now break a tie-chain).

Changing the pitch of L.V. tie note no longer moves the following note with the same pitch, and L.V. Ties have no playback effect on the following note of the same pitch.

In addition to this, it is now also possible to add Tie-Into ties to a grace note. These items were previously overlooked in the initial release of tie-into objects. They function just like non-grace note tie-into objects, and they do not have any special playback effect.



We’ve implemented calls to allow a plugin to save as a previous version for more recent versions. We’ve simply continued our current pattern of exposing backwards compatibility within ManuScript. Specifically, we’ve added the following ManuScript Calls.

  • SaveAsSibelius7_5
  • SaveAsSibelius8
  • SaveAsSibelius8_1
  • SaveAsSibelius8_6
  • SaveAsSibelius2020_1

With this in mind, we’ve updated the “Convert Folder to Earlier Sibelius Version” plug-in. We’ve also given the ManuScript language guide a spruce to improve the layout and formatting to make it easier to read.


Font handling across Windows and Mac

Opening scores that travel between Windows and Mac has been improved. Quite often, when using the same font on both computers, you’d find the “Missing Fonts” window appear even if the fonts appeared to have the same name. On Mac, it’s more common to have a font family that contains the styles, but on Windows, the fonts and styles appear to be separated into individual fonts. Sibelius used to only match up on exact names, but now will look at the font name and the style and see if it can match it up with an incoming font and style. When a match is found, the Missing Fonts dialog no longer appears.

General improvements and Bug fixes

As always, we throw in a good collection of improvements to each release, and this one is no different.

To improve the user experience for those with subscriptions, Sibelius now encourages users to be logged into Avid Link. This will give you the best chance for your account to be sync’d when the time comes for subscription renewal.



When exporting a MusicXML file, the file extension has been changed from .xml to .musicxml

Engraving Rules, House Styles and Manuscript papers

  • The Spanish Manuscript Papers have been updated to be in line with the other languages.
  • Time signatures (film score) style is no longer doubled in Engraving Rules in French and Spanish
  • Auto-Optimize is now turned on for new scores (as it should have always been)
  • Page number wild cards are now rendered consistently in a score if you try to hide the normal page numbers
  • Opening Engraving Rules after Importing a House Style used to change the page margins. This no longer happens, thankfully!



  • Sibelius no longer crashes after opening the Symbol gallery and then quitting
  • In very rare cases, scores exported from Sibelius 2020.3 as 8.6-2019.12 score, would crash when opening in Sibelius 2019.12 or earlier
  • We’ve removed the old Spotlight and QuickLook folders from the mac app bundle as they were causing several mdworker crashes. Those old components have been deprecated and replaced by newer methods. We’ll rewrite these in due course.
  • The background of the score preview in Quick Start > New Score is no longer garbled or transparent on Mac


Importing files

  • Opening a MIDI file no longer creates duplicate Dynamic Parts (introduced in 2019.9)
  • When opening a MusicXML file that contains an unrecognized element, the warning window now appears on Mac.


  • The German Reference guide has been added back into the installer so there’s a local copy rather than linking to it online.
  • “Tie Into” shortcut has been moved into the correct keypad area within Keyboard Shortcuts
  • The scroll bar now appears correctly in the Ideas panel on macOS
  • Something we fixed in our March release, but I forgot to mention…
  • Making any change to the Score Info in a part results in the connection to the Score Info from the full score being broken, even if you subsequently delete the data from the part.


Sibelius 2020.9 (September 2020)

Focus on Staves and Hide Empty Staves

This release enhances the Focus on Staves feature so you can use both “Hide Empty Staves” and “Focus and Staves” at the same time. This opens up several new possibilities to have scratch staves that you may use to work out rhythms, tidy incoming MIDI files or split out individual staves or even combined staves that you can still use in the parts.

The setting is tucked away in Engraving Rules > Staves and is called “Show hidden empty staves when using Focus on Staves”. When this is checked, you’ll get the existing behavior, where using Focus on Staves will unhide any already hidden stave. Unchecking this option will enable the new workflow.

Legacy view, where hidden staves are displayed when focusing on others:



New view, where hidden staves remain hidden when focusing on others:



Using Focus on Staves has become easier with a new dropdown allowing you to choose the staves that form the focus set:

Old UI


New UI


As you can see, we’ve moved the Focus on Staves button out and split it to add the dropdown. Clicking the top half now toggles it on and off, and clicking the bottom half shows the list of staves in the score or part.

When ticking or unticking the names in the list, Sibelius will turn on Focus on Staves and only display those instruments in the score. Choosing more instruments from the list will add them to the focused set. If you untick them all, the score will revert to showing all the staves. To help you choose only a few staves, or omit a few (depending on your need at the time), you can click the “Clear All” or “Select All” options from the list.

There have been no changes in the way you can use a selection in the score to focus on a set of staves, so you’ll still likely find it’s just as useful.

We’ve also added a new Engraving Rule (Staves → Layout) that allows the Focus On Staves feature to be disabled in “Panorama” View while still being active in the “Page” view. This facilitates a workflow in which the Panorama mode could be considered a “Master Palette” for all available instruments within a score, whereas the Page View (used in conjunction with the Focus on Staves feature) may only show a subset of the score’s instruments. This allows users to see scratch staves within Panorama view that won’t ever appear within the Page View of the score. The new rule is ON by default (i.e. legacy behaviour), so you’ll need to turn the feature off if you’re interested in trying out the new workflow.

When a stave is hidden using Focus on Staves, there’s now a new layout marker (i.e. a dashed purple line) to indicate this. When an unfocused staves occurs alongside a stave that is also hidden using Hide Empty Staves (which uses a dotted line), then the two lines are slightly offset so that it’s possible to determine that there are two different types of hidden objects).


In this release, we have also included a small change to the way staves are hidden using Hide Empty Staves when Focus on Staves is on. Previously, if you were focusing on a set of staves and applied Hide Empty Staves on one or more staves, nothing would appear to happen until you turned Focus on Staves off. This would give the impression that nothing was happening to the score, but then have potentially undesired results when turning off Focus on Staves. Now though, Hide Empty Staves will only apply to those staves in view, so even if you do Select All and choose Hide Empty Staves, it’ll only apply to those in view.

In addition to these improvements to working with staves, the option when exporting audio and video to “Omit muted instruments” now works regardless of the selection in the score. So when this option is checked, the muted instruments will never be included in the audio export, and when it’s unchecked, the mute state in the Mixer will be ignored.

Now for the first time you can have scores and parts with their own independent set of focussed staves; and when combined with the new option to allow you to hide empty staves too, it unlocks whole new ways of working with parts. You’ll be able to have another “Full Score” that includes your scratch staves, parts with any number of staves that you can switch on and off at will, and all this while retaining complete control of the layout of each.

ManuScript Plugin language

In case you didn’t know, Sibelius has a programming language built into it, allowing you to create plugins that help you perform tasks that either aren’t necessarily easily available in Sibelius, or are repetitive. If you’re interested, check out the ManuScript Language Reference pdf, found in File > Plug-ins. In this release, we’ve added several improvements to the plugin language that we hope will go a long way. We’ve been careful to add new functionality that doesn’t affect older versions of Sibelius, allowing you to build plugins that will work in any (modern) version of Sibelius).
All new plugins can now have the following code inserted into the Initialize() method to allow Sibelius to switch on new behavior and to allow legacy plugins to continue to run as before:

// The following enables the latest behavior for the ManuScript interpreter.
// If you intend your plugin to run on previous versions of Sibelius where that functionality
// didn”t exist, you will likely have to revisit the following:
if (Sibelius.ProgramVersion > 20200600) {

With TreatSingleCharacterAsString, ManuScript will now treat a single character as a string rather than a number. SupportHalfSemitonePitchValues allow floating-point values to be accepted as “Pitch” so that plugins can add and manipulate quarter-tone values. Pitch is still specified and returned as a semitone, but 0.5 semitone is a quartertone. The same goes for Accidentals.
The following methods accept floating-point pitches:

• NoteRest.AddNote
• Bar.AddNote
• Stave.AddNote

The following methods return pitches or accidentals in floating-point values:

• Note.Pitch
• Note.WrittenPitch
• Note.Accidental
• Note.WrittenAccidental

When using single-character literals within a conditional, ManuScript no longer appears to guess between types (numbers and characters), leading to more consistent results.

Various calls to close a score are now consistent and reliable e.g. Sibelius.Close(False) There’s also a new all Sibelius.CloseScore(score…). This helps to remove ambiguity when closing a score to ensure the right score is closed. It can also take a new argument fCloseAll that closes all parts and score. There’s also a new Sibelius.CloseWindowsWithScore() method that allows you to reliably close a specific score without having to search the list of open scores for it.

We’ve also addressed a longstanding ManuScript bug which resulted in inconsistent behaviour when importing Text Styles from a House Style. Previously, manuscript plug-ins would not import the “Music Text Font” when calling the ApplyStyles() command unless the call was made to import ALLSTYLES. Now, the ApplyStyles() command functionality mirrors the Import House Style UI dialog within Sibelius, making it possible to import the “Music Text Font” by using the TEXT Style name (or any Style name that depends on TEXT) . Thanks to Bob Zawalich for his detailed reporting on this bug!

We’ve also fixed a couple of bugs too:
• Exporting a MusicXML file via ManuScript is possible once more when called from a plugin


As with all recent releases, we have aimed to improve the experience for those with sight loss. Although the formal agreement we have with Berklee College of Music is coming to an end, we will always strive to offer the best experience for these users. Our dedicated developer for accessibility, Edith, has done an incredible job this past year and I want to express my sincere thanks to her for everything she’s achieved – Sibelius certainly wouldn’t be where it is today without her contribution.

So, in this release, you can expect the following improvements:

Screen readers now announce text as you type! It’ll announce each letter, then the word as you press space to move to the next word. It’ll also speak the letter after the caret line too as you move through a word.
System object navigation just for easier, as it’s now possible to navigate to Instrument Names using Ctrl+Shift+-/+ and Cmd+Shift+-/+. Under the hood, it uses the ClickArea (i.e. can it be clicked on using a mouse pointer) to help the selection navigate to it. This has an added bonus of being able to navigate to an instrument name that has been deleted (e.g. select the instrument name and press delete. Select the Instrument name below it in the score and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+- or Cmd+Shift+- and it’ll move the selection to the empty text field. Press F2 or Return and you’ll get a flashing cursor – it’s not incredibly clear, but useful nonetheless!).

In addition to this:
• Screen readers can now access word menus using VoiceOver
• When a stem is selected, the beam information is now read by the screen reader.
• VoicerOver announces the values in numerical spin boxes on Mac e.g. number of copies in File > Print, Text > Numbering > Bar Number Change to set the new bar number etc.
• File names, rather than the score’s title, are now read in the Recent Scores tab in the Quick Start
• ComboBox controls are now accessible on Mac using VoiceOver
• Checkable lists are now accessible, such as Preferences > Accessibility > “Exclude action types”. Previously, it wouldn’t announce whether the option is ticked or not, but now it does.


File > Import

We’ve had great feedback on the recently improved MusicXML features, and in this release we aim to fine tune this even further. These include speed improvements to fine tuning the UI.

• To help you speed through the mapping table, Sibelius can now handle stave mappings if done in quick succession.
• We fixed a crash that could occur after mapping and adding techniques on Mac
• The score preview progress bar is now consistent on both Windows and Mac platforms
• Sibelius no longer crashes when importing a MIDI Type 0 file to a multi-stave instrument you’ve already assigned music to.

Up until now, tuplets have remained fairly allusive to the new MIDI and MusicXML import features. Now though, incoming tuplets (as well as any other borrowed rhythm) are no longer lost when merging into a single voice. Previously, Sibelius would bail out and omit these notes entirely.






The new “merging” logic only applies when merging monophonic lines (i.e. it won’t work with chords yet), and it does not work with nested tuplets. For unsupported passages, Sibelius reverts to the legacy behaviour. All these changes also apply to the Arrange feature too.


As usual, we throw in a number of smaller fixes that cover several areas of the program, and this release is no different:

  • We’ve had reports that the “Magix Low Latency 2016” ASIO driver causes problems in Sibelius so we’ve blacklisted it from being initialised on startup.
  • The ‘Orchestra, film’ manuscript paper has been tidied up so the instrument name is no longer doubled, and the staves are all the same size in the parts.
  • Octave Lines can once again co-habitate with barlines. This is now the default in all new scores, but in your existing scores, you’ll need to restore the defaults in Magnetic Layout Options.
  • Palatino (used on Mac) and Palatino Linotype (used on Windows) now automatically substitute for one another, so you no longer see the Font Substitution dialog appear when moving a score across computers.
  • The “Musical structure” word menu in File > Preferences now displays correctly.
  • Tied Grace notes move the correct note within tie chains
  • We’ve fixed a rare crash on macOS 10.15 Catalina
  • Sibelius now displays Korean characters correctly in lyrics.
  • We’ve cleared up some inconsistencies with the Manuscript papers in non-English versions of Sibelius.

All the blank manuscript papers now use Podium fonts in all language versions.

Sibelius 2020.9 (September 2020)

File > Import: Sibelius files

Following on from our recent Intelligent MIDI and Intelligent MusicXML import features, we’ve added the ability to import a Sibelius file into an existing score. You may think, “Why can’t you simply copy and paste what you need from one score to another?” But when you do that, you won’t easily bring over the system objects, musical structure, repeats, tempo markings, key signatures, and so on.

With the December 2020 release for Sibelius, you can combine several scores together by simply importing them into an open score. As this is based on the existing MIDI and MusicXML import processes, you now have complete control over what is imported, and you can arrange the music during the process as well.

Usually, you’ll start off with a blank template into which you import your music. You can repeat the process as many times as needed, so you can import just a few instruments at a time, and even import from several files too. The following examples show three scores being imported into a blank template. Each score has its own House Style that’s different from the template, and in the case of the Strings (on the left), it contains a piano reduction that doesn’t need to be imported. In short, the import process is really flexible and will allow you to achieve the results you need

These three files and blank template





When importing a file, start by opening the file you’re going to be importing into, such as your template. Your template will likely contain the instruments you’re going to be arranging or orchestrating for, as well as have all the engraving and house style setup you need for your score’s look and feel. Then, go to File > Import and click Browse to choose a file that you’d like to import:


Those familiar with the MIDI and MusicXML import workflows will notice the same Instruments table, where you can assign the incoming instruments to the staves in the score. At the bottom right corner of this table is the “Auto Assign” button (available only in Sibelius | Ultimate), which will dramatically speed up the import process by comparing the instrument names with the names of the staves and matching these up. As before, it will match abbreviations (such as Vln → Violin etc.) and use our unique system of using hashtags, allowing you to automatically bring across music from any number of staves in a single click.

Underneath the table are new options to this release that are now also present when you import a MIDI file and MusicXML file. These allow you to control the preview on the right hand side. For very large scores, importing can take a second or so for each assignment, so you can now untick “Generate Preview after every change”, and you will notice that the score preview is blurred out. Now each assignment is instant, and you can click “Generate Preview” to check on progress.


Import and overwrite House Style from file

This allows you to simply import a House Style from any incoming Sibelius file—really useful if you have a score that looks great, and you’d like to import just the House Style to replicate the same appearance.

Import and overwrite Document Setup from file

As with a recent release, we separated the Import House Style capabilities so you can independently control the Document Setup and the House Style. Here, you can do the same by choosing the option above, and choosing to overwrite the Document Setup too

Both of these options are off by default as it’s going to be more common that you don’t want to overwrite the look of the template that you’re importing into, but it’s sometimes useful to bring these over too.

As with the MIDI and MusicXML import features, you can choose whether to arrange the music across multiple voices, or reset the note spacing after the import has completed, and also to explode the music when arranging across multiple instruments. Behind the scenes, this is using the Arrange feature, which we’ve also enhanced to better handle tuplets.


There are some limitations to what you can import. The structure of the scores you’re importing needs to either match (e.g., have the same Time Signature changes throughout the score), or the score you’re importing into simply needs to have no time signature at all, which is the case with the template above. When you try this, you’ll see a message that offers you the choice to open the file instead, allowing you to copy/paste and import the House Style between the two scores.


Font handling

A small but important change is to the way Sibelius handles fonts on Windows and Mac. Sibelius is now much more consistent in how it identifies and interprets fonts that support symbols.

Sibelius now prefers Latin 1 as the fallback for symbols when the font is not marked as supporting the “Symbol” code page, and we do this on both Windows and Mac for more consistent results on both. With this change, there’s general improvement on Windows across the board, but if you encounter any problems, it’s important to check that you’re using the latest version of the fonts. In particular, if you’re using the excellent Pori fonts, be sure to get the recent update from Notation Central.



The following types of legacy music fonts are not supported:

  • Music fonts which are not flagged as providing Symbol Character Set mapping
  • Music fonts which are so old that they have an internal “OS/2” table of version number zero


ManuScript plugins

ManuScript is the simple, music-based programming language built right into Sibelius, allowing you to build your own plugins to speed up your workflows in Sibelius. We often make changes to the underlying language to fix bugs or to enable new functionality, and this release is no different.

Currently, a plugin can obtain a list of installed House Styles via the Sibelius.HouseStyles command, as well as apply these house styles to a score. Now, it’s possible to export a House Style using

ExportHouseStyle(house_style_name) or ExportHouseStyle(path/house_style_name) :score.ExportHouseStyle(“ExportedStyle.lib”)score.ExportHouseStyle(“C:/Users/username/Desktop/ExportedStyle.lib”);

The new ExportHouseStyle ManuScript function mirrors the functionality of the in-app Export House Style Dialog. Files are saved (by default) into the users House Style folder, or to the path specified.


General bug fixes for plugins

In this release, we concentrated on improving the way you work with plugins too:

We’ve fixed a bug where Sibelius wouldn’t retain any changes to the locations of plugins, so you can now move them around the Ribbon (and they’ll stay put)!


When unloading a plugin, it really is unloaded and won’t reload when you restart Sibelius. We’ve also fixed some UI issues related to unloading and reloading plugins.

Keyboard shortcuts that have been assigned to plugins are no longer mismatched after unloading/deleting a plugin. This enables you to assign a shortcut to a plugin, then unload that plugin and find that the shortcut now doesn’t trigger another totally different plugin(!). Thank you all so much for your help and patience in helping us get to the bottom of this bug.

  • Sam Butler headshot

    As director of audio software at Avid, and a keen musician, Sam works with all the departments in Avid to produce the future of the Pro Tools and Sibelius products and solutions.

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