JANUARY 1, 2019

What’s New in Sibelius 

whats new in sib 1826

Find product release details for Sibelius notation software from 2019

Sibelius 2019 (January 2019)

Review Mode

Review mode is a brand new way to navigate your score without making any unintended changes to text, staff spacing or any other part of the musical notation. You can scroll around the score, free of worry that you may unintentionally move something you didn’t mean to.

You can toggle this mode in a few ways. Go to Review > Restrictions > Review Mode:



You can also assign it a keyboard shortcut, from File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > Review Tab > Toggle Review Mode.

When it’s engaged, you’ll see a small padlock icon light up in the Status bar, at the bottom of the score. You can click this to toggle Review Mode as well:


To make sure no unintended changes are made to the score or part info, we’ve added a Review Mode tick box to File > Score Info as well.

Scores will remember their locked state when you save them, allowing you to send the score to someone for reviewing, however if you send a locked score to someone with an earlier version of Sibelius (back to 8.6), they’ll be able to open the score and will of course find the score to be editable.

ManuScript support

We have added support for enabling and disabling Review Mode using Sibelius’ plugin programming language, ManuScript. Here’s a snippet that toggles review mode on and off:

activeScore = Sibelius.ActiveScore;
locked = activeScore.EditingLocked;
activeScore.EditingLocked = not locked;

Although there are no new shipping plugins in this release, be on the lookout for new plugins that integrate Review Mode in the future.



Play and Replay

To help you navigate your score and play back more easily, we’ve added a number of improvements to ‘Go to Page’, ‘Go to Bar’ as well as introduce a new Replay Line. Both ‘Go to Page’ and ‘Go to Bar’ functions, found in Home > Edit > Go To, now move the playback line to the start of the page or bar you go to. This saves several steps afterwards to play back the score from that point. Simply use the shortcuts Cmd+Alt+G/Ctrl+Alt+G to Go to Bar, and Cmd+Shift+G/Ctrl+Shift+G to Go to Page and press Space to start playback.

We’ve added a new Replay Line that shows the location in the score you can replay the music from (when using Ctrl+Space on Win or Alt+Space on Mac). This appears as a dashed green line and can be turned on from View > Invisibles > Replay Line:



In addition to this, we’ve made a small change to turn OFF the preference to Use different zoom during play and Flexi-time by default (it should stay on if you already have this set). This preference has its uses, but is better suited for new users in its new default state. To toggle this, go to File > Preferences > Score Position.

Half Speed playback

In this release, we’re introducing the ability to play the score back at half-speed. You can find this in the Play button’s dropdown:



Play at Half-Speed triggers playback from the position of the playback line at, you guessed it, half the tempo. This will be particularly useful for composing, arranging and teaching with Sibelius.

Working with playback lines in the Timeline

The Timeline (found in View > Panels > Timeline) has had a number of small tweaks to help with playback too. This now closely matches the score, so you can see the Playback Line and Replay Line. The Replay Line is part of the default Timeline preset and on by default. The Presets are found in File > Preferences > Timeline.

Clicking anywhere in the Score View or Rulers in the Timeline will move the playback line, and let you immediately play back from that place using the Space bar, as usual.

Related to these changes, the Show Repeats preference is now on by default too. This writes out the repeat structures in the Timeline, meaning you can now play back from anywhere within the repeat structure and start playback from there – something that was previously really tricky to do using the slider in the Transport panel.



The Replay Line and Playback Line, with Repeats shown, in the Timeline

Keen observers will also note the Bar Numbers and Timecode markers are now left aligned, so you can now have more confidence in knowing where these are.


Avid Link Integration

As you may already know, we are also introducing Avid Link manage your Avid account, licensing and subscription, as well as integrate a number of our other services. This replaces Avid Application Manager that has been included with Sibelius for the last few years.

Our part of the roll-out includes integrating several of the Link pages within Sibelius, allowing you to check out the latest news, manage your profile, find and chat with others with direct messages or within the Lounges. You can also head over to the Marketplace to add NotePerformer, PhotoScore Ultimate or AudioScore Ultimate to your toolkit.

This is all found in the File tab in Sibelius:



Your account login from Application Manager or the Avid Link application will be picked up by Sibelius when you start up, much like the Cloud Sharing Dashboard. However, if you aren’t logged in, you will be asked to log into those pages you visit.


General bug fixes

Sibelius 2019.4 (April 2019)

As with every release of Sibelius we do, we fix a number of critical and legacy bugs. This release is no different so you will find Sibelius to be more reliable than ever. In summary, they are:

  • All dialog pop-up messages now respond on letter input from keyboard to choose Yes, No, Cancel and so on. This fix was only on Windows.
  • When Sibelius is running in a narrow window, the Text Style menu is now correctly layered in front of the sub-ribbon.
  • The correct font variant is being used once more on Mac (e.g. Myriad Semibold became Regular) etc.
  • EPS and PICT options have been removed from the ‘Convert Folder of Scores to Graphics’ plugin since they are no longer relevant.
  • Sibelius could, in some cases, crash when using the batch processing plugins. This now no longer happens.
  • TIF images are now the correct size when imported into a score.
  • Font substitution is working correctly with fonts with extra styles e.g. Optima > ExtraBlack
  • Part extraction works well once more. There was a problem when extracting a single part, the extracted part was opened in another window that couldn’t be edited until main window was closed.
  • The dimensions of a video no longer reset after starting playback on Mac
  • The video dimension are also now correct when reopening the Video window on Mac
  • In rare cases, Sibelius could crash when the Quick Start was disabled and opening a new score. This now no longer happens.
  • Sibelius now more reliably responds to keyboard shortcuts after having created a score from the Quick Start on Mac

Sibelius no longer crashes when exporting scores with special final barlines to MusicXML

Sibelius 2019.4 (April 2019)


Mark up your score in Review mode

In Sibelius 2019.1, we introduced the ability to lock the score, allowing you to navigate around the score with the freedom knowing you won’t make any unintended changes. In Sibelius 2019.4, we’re allowing you to Annotate, Comment and Highlight whilst in Review mode, making marking up your score easier and faster than ever before.

When entering Review mode, you’ll notice the AnnotateNew Comment and Highlight buttons in the Review Tab remain active.


Simply click or tap on the feature’s icon, as normal, to start marking up your score. Even while in Review mode, you can move or delete them as normal.

To help prevent changes to the musical objects in your score, the regular Undo queue for all previous score edits, is locked. This then allows you to only undo changes you do while in Review mode. When exiting Review mode, the whole undo queue is available to you once more.

This feature is available all three tiers of Sibelius:





Review mode




Review mode is aimed at all tiers of Sibelius, allowing someone to open any sized score in Sibelius | First and Sibelius, and review and mark up a score with comments, annotations and highlights etc. In fact, anyone can review a score, even if they’re not a Sibelius user – all they have to do is download Sibelius | First and they’ll be able to open the score, add comments and so on, then send it back. This feature works incredibly well on the Microsoft Surface devices and others with a stylus, where you can annotate with the pen and navigate the score with your finger, knowing everything in the score is safe from being accidentally moved.

We’re looking forward to seeing this used both in education, for teachers reviewing assignments, and for composers and orchestrators collaborating on a scoring project.


New icons in the Ribbon and Transport windows, which has been lengthened to accommodate the new button

To engage Loop mode, select the passage in the score you’d like to play back, and go to Play > Transport > Play > Loop. During playback, you’ll see the Playback line in the score and the Timeline will loop around as the music does too. As you would expect, it’ll continue to loop ad infinitum until you press stop.

The way it works is pretty simple and fits right into the same playback workflows we already have in Sibelius:

  • Make a selection and press P to play – Sibelius will play from the beginning of the selection and loop when it gets to the end of the selection
  • Press Spacebar, and Sibelius will start playback from where the playback line is in the score. If it’s before the selection, it’ll play back and pick up the loop on the way through. If it’s after the selection, playback will start as normal and not loop (since it never gets to the loop selection)
  • The selected staves are respected too, so you only hear the instruments that are selected.

Loops even pick up playing articulation changes that occur mid-selection, allowing your Trumpet, say, to start off with a mute and then switch to open a few bars later. When Sibelius loops back, the mute is restored.

We’ve added special logic for loops that contain repeats:

  • Selection contains no repeats: simply loop from beginning to end
  • Selection contains a complete repeat (including multiple endings): fully respect the repeat structure, and loop the whole selection, including repeats
  • Selection contains the end of a repeat, but not the beginning, and selection continues past the end repeat sign, then play the second iteration of the repeat (i.e. the one that transitions onward after the repeat)
  • Selection contains the end of a repeat, but not the beginning, and the selection does not continue past the end repeat, then play the first iteration of the repeat (as this most closely resembles the visual selection)

There are some edge cases that we’ve had to make decisions on as well. For example, if you have part of a 1st-time repeat structure and the 2nd-time bar selected, Sibelius will only play the notes in the selected 2nd-time bars.


This feature is only available in Sibelius and Sibelius | Ultimate:





Loop playback






Introducing Scrub, a new way to audition notes and chords in your score. This feature is available via the square brackets [ and ] keyboard shortcuts, and you’ll hear Sibelius briefly play back the notes under the playback line.

Using Y (as before) you can move the playback line to any place in the score, or using the Go to Bar and Go to Page operations (from 2019.1 move the playback line as well of course). You can then use [ and ] to hear the notes being played as the playback line moves past them.

When you Scrub, Sibelius will play the notes for the duration that they are written. It will continue to move to the next note as you press the square brackets, and will skip rests and whole empty passages. As with Loop, scrubbing takes the passage selection into account as well, so you can scrub over only some of the instruments as needed, useful for auditioning just those you’re working on.

We’ve made sure new playing articulations are picked up as well. In previous versions, Sibelius would only reassign sounds when you triggered playback. This was evident in the Mixer showing unallocated on every instrument fader. Now though, you can scrub over a note, add a playing articulation that may trigger a change in patch (e.g. mute, staccato etc.) and Sibelius will pick it up when you scrub. When scrubbing, the playback velocities are ignored, allowing you to hear a clear interpretation of the notes being played. All playing articulations and techniques are taken into account as well, of course.

When moving from one note or chord to another, Sibelius will cancel the sounding notes as you scrub to the next or previous note. It does this so you don’t end up with a mush of sound, however Sibelius takes ties into account too, so you get a true impression of what’s in the score.

Since we’re re-purposing the Fast-forward and Rewind shortcuts, you’ll need to manually reassign these if you use a custom set of keyboard shortcuts in Sibelius. The new Scrub Forwards and Scrub Backwards commands are found in the Play tab section of the Keyboard Shortcuts preferences. To Fast Forward and Rewind as before, the shortcuts are now Alt+] and Alt+[.

This feature is only available in Sibelius | Ultimate:





Scrub playback




Join barlines at end of systems

Sibelius 2019.4 now comes with a new option in Engraving Rules to join barlines at the end of each system. This is particularly useful for dense orchestral music with more than one system per page. The new feature is found in Engraving Rules > Barlines, and tick Join barlines at end of systems.

As this feature is in Engraving Rules, this is only available in Sibelius Ultimate.


Further improvements to Sibelius

All the following improvements are available across all three tiers of Sibelius, where the feature exists already.

Slash noteheads

Copying passages of music that contain slash notes has always been tricky in Sibelius, in particular when it involves a clef change. From this release, you can now copy these between staves that use different clefs, and move them up and down with the mouse (since it’s important to be able to position them above the stave where needed). As before, these noteheads will not move though when you transpose the score or change the key.

In addition to this, all non-sounding noteheads (such as slashes, ‘silent’ and so on), now don’t display dark-red or red when they are out of range for the instrument.


Flexi-time with NotePerformer

It’s now possible to use Flexi-time (realtime recording with your MIDI keyboard) with NotePerformer. Previously, Flexi-time suffered from a 1-second delay, which prohibited it from being any use at all to record from your MIDI keyboard. Now though, the 1-second delay has been eliminated so you can record directly into Sibelius and hear the great NotePerformer sounds as you play notes in.

In the background, we set a kVstMidiEventIsRealTime flag during flexi-time input. NotePerformer then doesn’t switch on the 1-second delay so the notes are played back straight away. This is actually set regardless of the playback device, however it’s unlikely there will be any noticeable difference for any other virtual instrument.

To find out more about NotePerformer for Sibelius.


Playback support for a2, a4, aconverts into players

Up until now, adding “a” numbers to a score, to denote the number of players needed for a passage of music, wouldn’t do anything in any sound library since Sibelius didn’t have a way to convert these to numbers of players. NotePerformer, as you may know, comes with a plugin to interpret these instructions on the fly, but the plugin would have to be re-run if the user changed their mind. The Sibelius 7 Sounds sound set also includes 4 players for the Violins, 3 players for the Violas, Celli and Basses.

In 2019.4, Sibelius can interpret the number of players needed by reading “a2”, “a4, “a8” etc. into “+players” soundID changes that any sound library, including NotePerformer and Sibelius Sounds, can interpret into changes in sound. For example, writing “a1” or “a 1” (with a space) or “à 1” into a score, will change the sound playing back to a solo instrument. In the same way, writing “a 8” will change the sound so you hear 8 players, and so on. Of course, the limitations will be in the sound library, so don’t expect this to work with everything. Also, at the time of writing, Arne Wallander hasn’t implemented this in NotePerformer, but do be on the look out for an update in due course.

For those interested, you can see how this works in the Playback Dictionary. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see this:

^[aAàÀ][ ]?([0-9]+)

Those familiar with regular expressions will know exactly what this means, but those who aren’t, it essentially allows Sibelius to interpret any piece of staff text that starts with a, A, à or À that could have a space after it and then any number after that. It then triggers a sound ID change of +$1 players, where it takes the number entered in the staff text and forms the sound ID change to trigger the right number of players. Another change we’ve made is to reorder the sound IDs so the numbers of players have the same priority as .ensemble.

All in all, this has allowed us to support the following, which shows the sound ID changes that Sibelius goes through when playing this example. As always, these changes in sound will only be audible if your sound library supports them. If not, it’ll fall back on the best next sound.


Loading sounds in Sibelius Player

We’ve streamlined the sound-loading process that the Sibelius Player uses to improve performance. Under the hood, Sibelius now uses far fewer file handles, which allows Sibelius to load many more sounds. When writing huge scores in the past, you may have noticed a playing articulation doesn’t sound, or even in some cases a whole instrument.

An up-side to this improvement is that loading sounds is a lot faster – up to 50% faster in some cases!


Hot-swapping Audio Devices on Mac

Sibelius will now pick up new audio devices when going to Audio Engine Options on Mac. You can now run Sibelius, plug in a USB Audio interface or pair bluetooth headphones, say, and then choose them in Audio Engine Options. This now saves you the step of having to restart Sibelius before being able to use the new device.

Those with spangly new Macs will find this particularly useful since they treat built-in headphones and speaker outputs as separate devices. The new improvement now prevents the need to restart Sibelius in order to use headphones on these machines, although you will still need to manually switch to the headphone output from Play > Playback devices > Audio Engine Options after having plugged your headphones in.


In an effort to reduce the download size of the Sibelius installers across all languages of all three tiers of Sibelius, all non-English documentation PDFs have beed posted online in the Avid.com Knowledge Base. When running Sibelius in any other language than English, you’ll be given an option to be redirected to the Knowledge Base. If you are offline, the English version will continue to be available locally.

As well as reducing the download size by about 300MB, this also allows us to update the documentation outside of the regular releases of

Sibelius, and also start work on modernising and improving the accessibility of the documentation. More on this in the future.

Licensing and copy protection

Further changes have been made to refine the licensing experience. By improving the way Sibelius is activated, it now detects the activation or deactivation on the fly. For example, if Sibelius is running and you manually deactivate your license, Sibelius will enter Review mode, allowing you to add a comment, say, and still save your score. Sibelius will then switch out of Review mode when you reactivate the license. This will dramatically improve the experience for those customers whose subscription lapses when they are running Sibelius and will help them get back up and running without having to restart Sibelius and potentially lose work.

Bug fixes

As always, we like to throw in a number of bug fixes. In summary, they are:

  • Percussion trills are now played back correctly, and now don’t alternate between two different pitches
  • We’ve fixed a long-standing problem where Sibelius would crash if you quit while editing text on Mac
  • The X icon to close score tab is back on Mac! No more guessing where the hidden button is.
  • On Windows, we used to set thread priority to lowest before playback. We now no longer do this.
  • Sibelius no longer requires high-performance GPU (like previous Qt4 builds) on Mac. This should save on battery consumption.
  • The right-click Create menu now correctly re-enables after playing back and toggling Review mode
  • If you start playing an MP3 from inside Avid Link and then close the window then it now correctly stops playing the MP3
  • After adding a text object to your score and hitting escape, that text no longer becomes deselected. This now allows you to edit the properties of the text from the Inspector or the Text tab of the Ribbon.
  • All function keys, up to F19 on Mac now work once more
  • Ribbon buttons that have drop-down lists no longer remain highlighted after deselecting them on Mac
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when quitting if you had 2 scores opened in full screen mode on Mac
  • Word menus on Windows now display the correct font for keyboard shortcuts

We’ve tidied up a number of legacy issues surrounding the handling of videos in Sibelius. They are:

  • In some cases it was hard to exit the video when in full screen. This is much more reliable now.
  • Spacebar now starts and stops playback when video is in full screen
  • QuickTime videos can now be played back on the second monitor in full screen mode (codec dependent)
  • Video window no longer disappears after exiting from full screen

… and just one more thing:

Searching for instruments and plugins

Ever wanted to add a cello to your score but couldn’t find it immediately, remembering you had to search for Violoncello? Ever wanted to find a new plugin but didn’t have the time to wade through the hundreds of available plugins?

The wait is over! You can now you can search for instruments in the Add or Remove Instruments, and Instrument Change dialogs with ease. Simply type part of the instrument’s name, and all those matching will appear underneath it. Good examples to try are Guitar, Tuba, Trombone and so on.

The Install Plug-ins window now has its very own search bar too. It searches for exact matches only though, so “Copy notes” works, but “Notes copy” does not, however simply searching for “notes” will cycle through all plugins with the word “notes” in the title.



Sibelius 2019.5 (May 2019)



Playback & Loop

Following on from the introduction of the new Loop mode in April, there are several small improvements in the way music is Looped:

  • Looping extremely large sections is nice and snappy
  • For playback devices that have large latency, Sibelius now uses the built-in latency compensation to correctly position the playback line during loops. This is really noticeable when using NotePerformer.
  • Sibelius is now no longer really slow to display the Playback Devices dialog when using a Playback Configuration that contains very large sound sets (such as NotePerformer).
  • Sibelius used to only play a single MIDI note when two notes are on the same pitch in different voices. Sibelius now plays the correct complement of notes in this case.
  • A selection that contains an incomplete nth time repeat now always plays the loop as though it’s the last-time repeat. Previously, it would loop more than what was selected.
  • In some cases, the first note of a loop could sound louder or sound like a grace note after starting playback within a looped section.


PDF Export and Printing

Exporting to PDF (via File > Export > PDF, File > Export > Graphics > PDF and through the OS print dialog) and Printing are now much more consistent with each other, and better precisely represent what’s in the score. All fonts, especially those which don’t have dedicated styles for Italic and Bold so are synthesised, now print and export to PDF correctly. In addition to this, we’ve fixed a problem where the metadata inside the PDFs now correctly reports the operating system.

The Norfolk and Pori fonts benefit from these improvements too. If you haven’t tried these out, we thoroughly recommend them by heading over to the NYC Music Services website where you can download these fonts for free (donations welcomed). They come with a full set of instructions and use Styles for Sibelius, making it really easy to fit to your existing scores and be part of your new scores too. We are grateful to Bernie Cossentino and Jeff Kellem for putting these fonts together.


Angle Slash Chords from the Pori Chords, Norfolk Chords, and Norfolk Chords Sans fonts now print correctly. Image courtesy of Scoring Notes.


Stability and more

On the whole, you should find Sibelius much less likely to crash. As you may have seen, a crash reporting window pops up in the unfortunate event crash with a section to write comments to describe what was happening just before the crash. With the information that’s provided here, it has allowed us to fix many of the top problems in each update we release, and today’s release is no different. In summary, the fixes are:

Sibelius no longer crashes:

  • on exit in rare cases when the replay marker is shown in the timeline
  • when playing the score back after exporting audio
  • when the metronome click is enabled in Loop mode

Since April’s release, we’ve been seeing an increase in audio related problems. These could range from not being able to select your preferred output for devices with several outputs, to ‘Audio Engine Error’ errors on startup, to crashes on exit. The good news is that we’ve tightened this all up these problems are now very unlikely to happen. Related to this, Sibelius is no longer really slow when opening the Audio Engine Options dialog when using the MBox ASIO drivers on Windows.

Windows only: If not already on your computer, Sibelius now installs the latest Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2017. If you don’t have this installed, Windows will restart your computer to complete the installation.


Other Improvements in this Update

As well as the changes mentioned above, we’ve thrown in another handful of nice fixes too:

  • Non-transposable notes do now correctly truncate when using the ‘R’ key (depending on the Preference set in File > Preferences > Note Input). Related to this, if you have the preference to “Truncate notes at end of bars when using repeat”, you’ll now be pleased to know this happens when you repeat multiple notes at once.
  • For a long while now, having 2 consecutive repeat signs used to cause problems with playback, bar numbers wouldn’t display and the Timeline would display the infinite loop that would happen when you played the score back. Now, all these problems have been fixed.
  • When working in parts, the colouring notes operation is now correctly added to the undo queue.
  • When opening a MIDI file, the ‘Show metronome marks’ option now works as it should when clicking OK from the MIDI File tab.

And that’s it for now. We hope you enjoy these new improvements and we look forward to letting you know about the next major feature release of Sibelius in due course.



Sibelius 2019.9 (September 2019)



Vastly Improved MIDI Import

The process of taking a MIDI file and opening it in Sibelius has, until now, been fraught with time-consuming decisions and processes. This is sometimes even done by different people too, or in fact an entirely different team based on the other side of the world, and up until now has been a huge task for each score.

The legacy method is still in the application, by going to File > Open and choosing a MIDI file. Once that score is open though, you’ll have to manually clean up the House Style or copy/paste into another score or use Tom Curran’s excellent Impose Sketch onto Template plugin, before you can actually start working on the music.

Now though, the process is much simpler, and the feature comes with a number of featurettes too that really make this new workflow incredibly nifty.

The workflow now goes like this:

• Open your template or Manuscript Paper

• File > Import and choose a MIDI file

• Click Auto-assign

• Click Import

Sibelius will have automatically assigned the incoming MIDI tracks to the instruments in your score, merged the playing techniques onto a single instrument and added Pizzicato techniques and other articulations – all into your template using the House Style for this score.


“It’s the best thing that has come to Sibelius in five years for me. It’s huge.”

—Simon Franglen, composer

To try this yourself, download these two files:


Orchestral _template.sib

Open this file first



then go to File > Import and choose this file


• Firstly open the Orchestral_template.sib file

• Go to File > Import and choose the MIDI file

• Click Auto-assign

• Click Import

You’ll see the music is imported into the correct staves, along with the tempo marking, time signature changes and other musical elements, making the following clean-up process a breeze.

We’ll now go through this in detail, as there’s so much more to the feature that meets the eye:

Importing into an existing score

The premise now is that you don’t ‘open a MIDI file’ but import it into an existing score. Either start off with a completely new score based on your favorite Manuscript paper, or open one of your own templates. It doesn’t matter how many bars are in the score, and it can simply include one bar with no other text. It’s important though to include all the instruments you’ll need in the score (although you can always add them later).

The new Import page is found by going to File and choosing the new Import section. To import a MIDI file, click Browse and choose the MIDI file you wish to import (you can now choose .mid, .midi and .smf files). Once the MIDI file has been loaded, the new pane looks like this:


Instruments table

This is where you assign the incoming track to the destination stave in the score. When opening a new MIDI file, you’ll see the MIDI track names on the left, with three columns to the right for assigning the Instrument and adding Articulations and Techniques. The Instruments list will be set to “Don’t import” by default, ready for you to assign the MIDI tracks to the instruments that are in the score. Using this method, it’s now possible to import only some of the MIDI tracks as you need them, useful for getting a revised set of String parts for a partially completed score, for example.

To assign a MIDI track to an instrument, click the arrows within the Instrument column and choose an instrument. As you go through this, you’ll notice both the MIDI track name and Instrument name go Bold, so you can see which ones you’ve done – really useful for larger scores.


The assignments can be made in several ways:

• 1-to-1 mapping: An incoming MIDI track is mapped directly to a single instrument in the score. This is the most basic type of import.

• 1-to-many mapping: You can map a single MIDI track across several instruments. This is really useful if you have a MIDI track that contains the whole strings section, say. You can map these to several instruments in the score (there’s no limit) and Sibelius will spread the notes across the staves evenly based on the range of the instrument. Under the hood, it utilizes an updated version of the Arrange feature to spread the notes across the staves. Another good use for this is to spread a single Guitar track across both notation and tab staves. There’s an option at the bottom of the Import page that will toggle between copying the music to all staves, or to explode them. It’s called “Explode music when arranging to multiple instruments”.


Here’s another example to try:


Solo guitar with tab template.sib

Open this file first


Solo guitar.mid

Then go to File > Import and choose this file

When importing the MIDI file, you can assign the incoming Acoustic Guitar MIDI track to both the notation and tab staves:


This then copies the guitar across both the notation and tab staves:



Many-to-1 mapping: this really helps saves time in the music preparation stage, and is where the new Intelligent MIDI Import feature comes into its own. When writing music in Pro Tools (or other DAWs), it’s common to have the playing articulations spread across several MIDI tracks, for example Vln arco, Vln trem, Vln Pizz etc.. Previously, when transferring the MIDI file from your DAW to Sibelius, you’d have to manually copy the music and merge the music together, which generally came with plenty of room for error. The following picture shows you what the old File > Open method could give you:


Sibelius now takes care of all this for you:


The MIDI tracks, how they appear in Pro Tools



The result in Sibelius

The Auto Assign button

Using artificial intelligence pattern matching, the Auto Assign button in Sibelius will read the incoming track names and decide which instruments to map them to. Of course, this feature scales to any number of tracks with several playing techniques and articulations, so you can throw huge MIDI files at it, and Sibelius will methodically go through each track to find the best match.

Matching is done in several ways:

• Where there’s one incoming MIDI track, and a single instrument in the score, clicking Auto Assign will always match these up.

• Exact name match: if the incoming MIDI track name contains the same name as an instrument in the score, it’ll get matched up. Useful if you have “Bob on Trumpet” in your DAW and “Bob on Trumpet” in your score too.

• Instrument names in the score: Sibelius will match MIDI tracks to instruments based on their full instrument name as well as their short names (as defined in Edit Instruments). For example, Vln will match the Violin staves in the score

• Common abbreviations and alternatives: A MIDI track with an abbreviated instrument name, that isn’t covered by the short name in the instrument definition, won’t be matched up, however we’ve included a number of the common ones, for example: Cello will match Violoncello, Double Bass will match Contrabass (and visa versa), and we’ve added support for Violins 1 or Violin 1 to match Violin I etc..

• In most cases, composers will use their own shorthand to abbreviate instruments. We’ve included a tagging system so those with a template in their DAW can tag the MIDI tracks and instruments in their template they use in Sibelius. Simply adding a #hashtag name to their tracks and instruments will be enough to allow Sibelius to match these up. For example:

This score simply has a French Horn and a Trumpet. In Pro Tools, the MIDI Tracks were named by the composer to remind them which sample had been loaded. This is common, so in this case there’s SF H (for Spitfire Horns) and SF Al Tr (for the Spitfire Albion Trumpet). Each track also has the playing articulation or technique in the name, as well as a hashtag.

Then, in the score, the same hastags have been added to the instrument names. Since they are proceeded by a tilde ~ character, the text is not shown in the score.

This example shows just two instruments, but you can easily see this scales up to any score at any size. All this combined can enable a full orchestral score to be imported into Sibelius with a single click:





When the template you’re using has no title, composer or copyright, Sibelius will use the information from the MIDI file to populate the fields in the Score Info (see File > Score Info). Wildcards are then placed in your score and display the correct information. This is an improvement over the old Open MIDI workflow where you could sometime get duplicates of text, and it wouldn’t be dynamically linked to the Score Info.


Score Preview

On the right, there’s a handy score preview. This shows changes in real-time as you make the instrument assignments.



Similar to the regular Print preview, you can navigate the pages and zoom in using the controls underneath the score preview.

‘Include’ and ‘Notation’ sections

Those familiar with the old Open MIDI file dialog will know what most of these do. On the whole, the options that existed before still do the same as they always did, for example, “Minimum duration”, “Allow these Tuplets” etc. There are new options though, which are particularly useful:

• “Respace after import” – when ticked, this option will respace the score when importing the new MIDI data. This is on by default and is useful for getting a nice clean score. However, if you’re importing MIDI data into a score that already has music in and you’ve made some manual spacing adjustments, you can untick this to preserve the spacing.

• “Filter Keyswitches” – this allows you to filter out the very high or very low keyswitches that have been used to switch sounds in your DAW.


Re-importing MIDI into the same score

It’s common to receive a second draft, or updated music from the composer. It’s often then a toss up between starting again with a completely fresh score, or replacing just those mew instruments. Now, it’s very easy to import just the music you need and incorporate it into your existing score.

Simply go to File > Import and choose your MIDI file. It’s common that your MIDI files are in the same location as your score or template, so clicking Browse always opens up in the same folder.

Now, you can only choose the instruments you’d like to import. It’ll overwrite the music on those staves in the score, but won’t overwrite the Time Signatures and so on.



The Intelligent MIDI Import feature is not available in the free Sibelius | First.

Most of the feature is available in Sibelius, although the Auto Assign button is not available.
This means the mapping of MIDI tracks to Instruments in the score will need to be done by hand.



Avid and Berklee College of Music have teamed up to collaborate on a year-long project to enhance the accessibility of Sibelius for blind and visually impaired musicians. This is the first release of many that will bring improvements across the whole application, from navigating the musical objects in the score, to getting around the menus – all without sighted assistance. We have hired a developer who is solely dedicated to improving the accessibility features in Sibelius. We’re excited to see how far she can go!

Today’s release of Sibelius introduces the following improvements in this area:

Initial JAWS support – the last version of Sibelius that could be used with JAWS was Sibelius 5(!) so it’s great to be able to include JAWS support. Due to the way JAWS works, it’s likely scripts will need to be written to enhance the experience with Sibelius. More on this in due course.

Mac and Windows parity has been reached, so you can expect the same experience across the two operating systems with VoiceOver (Mac) and Narrator (Win) and the third party application NVDA (also on Windows). On macOS, it’s advised you go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts and turn on “Use keyboard navigation to move focus between controls”. This will allow you to tab through more items in Sibelius’s UI and other applications too.

When Joe Pearson and Joe Plazak designed the MIDI Import feature, they made sure accessibility was in the forefront of the UI. In fact, it was a primary design choice as the Joes designed the layout. The Instruments table is keyboard accessible, so you can tab from cell to cell, using Spacebar to open the list of available instruments, and again to choose the desired instrument(s), then Return to close the list. The Arrow keys will further move the focus forward and backwards through the list. (At the time of writing, best results are achieved with NVDA)

Sibelius will now read out more note attributes when a note is selected, such as rhythm dots, tremolos and buzz rolls and all articulations, bowing instructions etc.

You’ll now hear an indication of whether a note is out of the comfortable or professional range (which are also coloured red on the screen) – useful as a guide to help keep music in the playable range for the instrument.

Bar numbers are now read correctly where there’s a pickup/upbeat bar in the score.

We certainly aren’t done, and we’ll be reporting back on this project to keep you up to date. If you’re interested in taking part in the project, and would like to become a beta tester, please get in touch.

Overall stability and improvements in Sibelius

There’s more, you ask? Of course there is! Here’s a list of what we’ve been fixing up since our last release:

Sibelius is now, on the whole, more stable. We often run automated code hardening that finds defects in the C++ code. It automatically generates a report and we get to work improving the underlying codebase. In some cases, it’s barely noticeable, but Sibelius will be less likely to get memory corruptions that cause a crash, for example.

Both Spotlight and Quick Look plugins are back and working well on macOS. This allows you to search for Sibelius files using metadata inside the files, as well as preview them in Finder. Alt+Space works nicely too to bring up a full-screen preview of the score.

In addition to this, we’ve been beavering away fixing the bugs too:

• Sibelius no longer hangs on startup “Initializing playback system” when using “Super Audio CD Decoder”, which can also show up as “DSD Transcoder”. Sibelius now simply blacklists the ASIO driver so it’s no longer initialised. Form our research, it isn’t a playback device that would be useful in Sibelius anyway, so this is a safe change.

• Sibelius can now accept UNC paths in File > Preferences > Saving and Exporting

• It’s now possible to step through a video frame-by-frame once more using the [ and ] shortcuts (Mac only)

• The splash screen is now quicker to appear (compared to 2019.7) when running the application

• Slurs and ties now appear at their correct thickness when zooming out

Sibelius is now much less likely to crash. Many thanks to all those who sent in their crash reports (and for the comments too), so we’ve been able to identify and fix the following:

• Sibelius no longer crashes when using the Add or Remove Instruments, or Change Instruments dialogs on Windows.

• Exporting a MIDI file when the score is empty no longer causes a crash

• The Tie Extended Stable plug-in, is more stable and no longer crashes

• Sibelius no longer crashes when deleting staves while inputting notes

Some of you have been asking about support for the upcoming macOS Catalina. Of course, until Catalina is formerly released, it’s still in the beta phase, so we don’t recommend you upgrade unless you really know what you’re doing. Having said that, we expect this Sibelius 2019.9 release to run well on macOS Catalina when the new operating system is released in due course. Earlier versions of Sibelius will not be supported.


Sibelius 2019.12 (December 2019)




Avid and Berklee College of Music are proud to be working together to bring improvements across the Sibelius product line for visually impaired users. The bulk of the work so far has been to bring parity between the various common screen readers NVDA, Narrator, VoiceOver and JAWS. Our releases in November ’18, and in September ’19 covered much of the staff objects in the score, and this December release focuses on a good collection of improvements to make much of the UI (user interface) accessible to these popular screen readers. This is no mean feat since Sibelius is such a large application with several different interfaces, so kudos to the development team for tackling such a large undertaking.


I had the pleasure of attending the Accessibility Panel at the Audio Development Conference in November where we discussed many of the challenges and new solutions to developing applications across a wide range of devices. If you have time, I thoroughly recommend you watch the recording:


The premise of these improvements has not just been to read what’s on the screen, but to add contextual detail too. It’s these details that make the difference to any implementation of accessibility – much like a sighted person helping a blind person down a flight of stairs; it’s not much help telling them that there are some stairs there… Where do the stairs begin? How many stairs are there? Which direction do they go? Is there a hand rail? Context is just as important to help navigation. The next time you’re at a road crossing (in the UK, at least) look down and you’ll notice tactile paving on the pavement. These have been specifically designed to tell visually impaired pedestrians that there’s a crossing there and where the road is. Oh, and don’t forget about “The Secret button” at pedestrian crossings too!


Augmentations have been made to household items and public services all over the world to help those with learning difficulties, physical disabilities and blindness and there’s so much more to be done. We’re doing our small bit in Sibelius to help blind musicians become more independent and composer and produce music without the need for sighted assistance.

When Sibelius starts up, you’ll now hear your screen reader announce the version of Sibelius (which our beta testers have found incredibly useful). The Quick Start is the first window to appear, with a list of Manuscript Papers to choose from. Using the Tab and Shift+Tab keys, you can navigate around the dialog to choose which template to start with. If you’re itching to write music, press Return and you’re ready to go. If, however, you need to choose the paper size, add or remove instruments, set the initial Time Signature and Key, press Space and this will open up a separate pane to start customising the score. Tabbing through this dialog will announce the items as you choose them, for example:

“Document Setup” → “A4, Combo box, Down” and as you press down, it’ll say the new page size, as well as how many other options there are in the list. Continuing to tab through this dialog will help you set the score up just how you need it, with the Title, Composer and so on. Tab a few more times and you’ll get to the Create button. Press Return and you’re in the score.

Selecting Staff objects and inputting notes has not changed in this release, however navigating around the Ribbon toolbar and features has.

In summary:


  • Renewed support for Narrator, NVDA, VoiceOver and JAWS – those hanging onto Sibelius 5 can now upgrade!
  • The Lines, Symbols and Notehead galleries are spoken once more. The main improvements to the galleries are on Windows, however you should find the Ribbon is easier to navigate on macOS now too as the names of each Ribbon tab should now be announced.
  • Sibelius now announces any notehead type to screen readers (keyboard accessible via: ALT + SHIFT + [0-22] )
  • Note: for shortcut numbers greater than 9, quickly enter the digits in order. For example, for small noteheads (ALT + SHIFT + 10), simply hold ALT and SHIFT and quickly type ‘1’ followed by ‘0’.
  • The Quick Access and Status Bar buttons are now accessible
  • The Quick Start and creating a new score is much improved. The Time Signatures and Key Signatures lists are accessible.
  • It’s now possible to navigate the Preferences window with VoiceOver
  • VoiceOver now announces the Ribbon buttons for drop-down menus
  • Manuscript Paper names are now read when navigating the Quick Start with arrow keys


As mentioned, we aren’t done with the accessibility improvements in Sibelius and have another 6 months of work with Berklee to bring you improvements that span the whole range of sight loss. If you’re at the NAMM Show in Anaheim in January, we’ll be running our annual Accessibility Panel and have plenty more to show you on the Avid booth too. If you’re around, please stop by and say Hi!

Further improvements in Sibelius

This release isn’t all about accessibility, so we’re pleased to be able to knuckle down on some other improvements and bug fixes. We performed a further update to the underlying infrastructure (Qt) too, which brings several improvements across the whole application.


In general

  • Pauses (fermatas) are no longer lost when changing a note to a rest
  • We’ve done a fresh round of profiling, so Sibelius should be slightly quicker when the Inspector is open
  • Sibelius no longer quits but leaves the Quick Start open after applying Close All command (Win only)
  • The check-boxes in the Multiple Part Appearance dialog are more reliable now
  • The Subscript/Superscript buttons in the Inspector are now more reliable too
  • In the Timecode and Duration dialog, “Start video at” now works once more
  • The Missing Fonts window no longer loses focus after opening the score from Recent Documents (Win only)


UI and UX

  • Keyboard shortcuts within the Word Menus are no longer truncated
  • The border around the File path in the MIDI Import page is no longer transparent
  • Text is no longer cut off in some dialogs (Mac only)
  • Fixed a problem with decimal places in dialogs when running Sibelius in any other language than English
  • The “Save changes” dialog no longer pops up behind the Sibelius window when closing multiple scores at once (Win)
  • Double tapping with the Surface Pro Pen now works once more in the Quick Start window
  • Video no longer plays back only in ‘full size’, no matter what size the video window was (Mac only)
  • The unnecessary padding around our floating tool windows (Keypad, Transport etc.) has been removed. This only affected computers with multiple monitors using different DPI settings.
  • The full list of Playback Configurations are now displayed in the dropdown when going to Play > Setup > Configuration
  • The score preview in the Quick Start dialog are now nice and sharp when using 150+% scaling on Windows or Retina on Mac


Printing and PDF Export

  • Printing now works well with all Windows Forms other than “built-in”.
  • It’s possible once more to set page layout in Document Setup and have the Print Preview correctly reflect this.
  • Changing the paper orientation in File > Print now also immediately updates the Print Preview and subsequently allows Sibelius to print correctly.
  • On macOS, it’s now possible to open the “OS dialog” in File > Print when there is no printer driver installed. Useful for saving a PDF to Preview, say.
  • Sibelius now better supports simplex (one-sided) and duplex (double-sided) printing. We had reports of some Cannon and Epsom printers always choosing duplex.
  • PDF Export is more accurate when using the Tahoma font on Mac
  • The Portrait/Landscape printing synchronization is no longer broken after you click OK in the Page Setup dialogue.
  • The problems with “Executive” paper size are fixed
  • Landscape / Portrait issues now work too for B4 and B5 paper sizes
  • 2 more scaling ratios have been added to Fit to paper: 141% and 71% (for A4 to A3 scaling, and vice-versa)


We’ve also made changes to the PDF Export functionality in the OS print dialog on Mac. The restriction we’ve had to work around is that it can only process one score or part, and Sibelius would get inundated with errors popping up (in 2018.11 and later). In this release, we have suppressed the error popups, and limited the dialog to only print or save the first score or part. This is a limitation in the way this dialog has been implemented by Qt, and not Sibelius. We’ll continue to work on improving this in the future. To export a PDF of the score and parts, the File > Export > PDF options are there, of course.



As with every release, we collect all the crash logs that are sent to us and do our best to fix them all. This release is no different:

  • Sibelius no longer crashes when automatically respacing music that’s in multiple voices.
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when creating a new composite Symbol
  • Export Audio/Video now ends if Loop mode is on and there is selection in the score
  • Sibelius no longer crashes when quitting from within the new MIDI Import page if the score was not saved
  • The QtWebEngine process no longer consumes a lot of CPU
  • We have enabled whole-program optimizations on Windows so you should find Sibelius is a little snappier than before


MIDI Import

Many thanks for all the great feedback on our recent Import MIDI features.

  • Sibelius now imports all tracks of a MIDI file more reliably. We now check the first chunk of the MIDI file, to know whether or not to consider it as meta data or musical data. Many thanks to Christoph Suesser for making us aware of the problem.
  • The behaviour of the Browse button within the MIDI Import Tab is now consistent with the File > Open workflow.
  • There’s a new shortcut to go straight to File > Import so that users can directly access the Import tab. You’ll find it in Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > File tab, called “Import”.
  • Track names are now displayed more reliable in the new Import MIDI tab (compared with old Import MIDI process)
  • The score preview with Import > MIDI are no longer linked to the preview in File > Print
  • When allocating instruments to incoming MIDI tracks, the dropdown menu will no longer close after each mapping. This makes one-to-many mappings quicker and easier to do.
  • The Auto assign button now catches more obvious instrument matches
  • Switching between Import MIDI and other File tabs, no longer shows a warning message



A number of our shipping plug-ins were not up to date with changes made to those available to download on Sibelius.com. We’ve been through and updated the following (in all localizations):

  • Nashville Chord Numbers
  • Split Bar
  • Export Folder As PDF Subfolder
  • Divide Durations
  • Combine Tied Notes And Rests
  • Add Capo Chord Symbols
  • Merge Bars


Important information: System Requirements

The good news is the latest versions of Sibelius run very well on the latest operating systems from both Windows and Apple.

macOS Catalina: Sibelius 2019.9 and 2019.12 are both fully supported. Sidecar also works well too, so feel free to give it a go if you have a compatible iPad. Sibelius 2018.11 – 2019.7 may work on Catalina, although haven’t been qualified. Anything earlier than that very likely won’t work due to the technology requirements Apple changed in Catalina. We encourage you to upgrade if you’re planning on using Sibelius on Catalina.

Windows 10: Sibelius, from v 8.0, runs well on Windows 10, so you’ll find Sibelius 2019.9 will also run really well.

However, there are some changes coming for older operating systems:

Sibelius 2019.9 was the last version of Sibelius to support Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If you are on these older versions, we recommend you upgrade to at least macOS 10.12 Sierra to continue to stay current with Sibelius.

On the Windows side, Microsoft will be dropping support for Windows 7 soon. Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015, and extended support will end on January 14, 2020. This means we won’t be able to support any version of Sibelius on Windows 7 from then. To find out more about migrating to Windows 10, visit this page.

If you are using an older version of Sibelius and are looking to upgrade to macOS Catalina or Windows 10, we recommend to upgrade and stay current with the latest version Sibelius as well.

  • 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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