MuseScore 4 on Macs

• Jan 27, 2023 - 07:10

Maybe I'm the only one who finds MuseScore 4 very difficult to work with on Macs.

There are a number of issues. Firstly, when converting a file from MuseScore 3, the display size will probably change. It will most likely get larger, so a page size image will be scaled up by a factor of around 3. However this may not always be the case, as it may also depend on the hardware configuration and state. If a scroll wheel mouse is used the size seen may depend on a scroll wheel state. The scroll wheel can be used to resize the appearance of the score. If a scroll wheel mouse is not being used this probably still happens, and may be hard to spot and fix. To resize the display use the buttons at the bottom right of the display panel - though these may have been moved off the screen, so the first thing to do is to get the whole MuseScore panel back on the screen, then use the buttons to reset the scaling for the score.

Another issue concerns the management of scores. In MuseScore 3, it is possible to have a large number of scores open at once in one instance of MuseScore 3. In MuseScore 4 different scores are loaded up into separate instances of MuseScore. This takes time, and slows things up. Also it makes it much harder to know which score is which, as the Mac operating system doesn't distinguish easily between the scores.

An added complication is that MuseScore may try to do a one way conversion of MS3 files to MS4. Some of us are trying to keep MS3 files as they are until MS4 is a lot more stable. It can be hard to keep this regime, as as far as the OS is concerned, before loading the scores into programs all the MuseScore files look the same - with the .mscz extension determining which application program they load into.

In MS3 different files were accessible via tabs within the MuseScore program. It wasn't always ideal, but overall it worked well enough. It was possible to copy sections from one tabbed instance to another and make a lot of edits that way. In MS4 it is still possible to do file to file copy, paste and edits, but it's much harder. Firstly it takes longer as files have to be opened, and secondly it's very much harder to keep track of which files are open etc. Users who do not use Macs may not realise this. Suddenly MuseScore seems to have got very much harder to use, even though some of the features - probably better sounds etc. - are improvements.

I hope the developers can pay attention to some of this, and improve the way the program works in the macos environment. It is unlikely that Apple will change its OS to suit MuseScore, and the ways that program applications work in different versions of the Mac OS are unfortunately different, and version specific. It is possible to change the way windows and displays work within macos but different ways may not suit all users. For example, a recent development in Ventura is the introduction of Stage Manager - which changes the ways that windows are used. It may not help - but just adds to the mix. It may be easier to use applications without using Stage Manager, but then different approaches will be needed. Issues like this at least need to be looked at if there isn't going to be any easy way to have different scores loaded up within an instance of MuseScore 4.

For me this is starting to become a deal breaker about whether I should continue to use MuseScore or switch to some other system, or give up and learn to play golf - which I really don't want to do!


Thanks for the feedback! Some of these represent actual bugs, some are I think misunderstandings, and some we would need more information in order to say more. For anything confirmed as an actual bug, please be sure to open an issue on GitHub if you'd like the developers to investigate further and fix it. Be sure to report only one problem per issue, and be sure to attach your (zipped) score and precise steps to reproduce the problem.

So, taking these points in order:

  1. Initial zoom level too high - I have seen one other report of this; check out Although that other user also is using Linux, but they have an ultra-wide motnior, which I believe you may as well? So that might have something to do with it. Be sure to follow up in that issue to help the developers understand how to reproduce the issue you are seeing.

  2. Multiple instances - this is by design. As explained elsewhere, this is currently a necessity in order to avoid the problems of MuseScore 3 where all scores open at once were in the same program instance and thus were forced to play using the same loaded soundfonts. That was never ideal but was just barely acceptable when only soundfonts were in the mix. Unfortunately, it simply is not viable when we also consider the support for VST and Muse Sounds. On most systems having multiple instance open is not unusual at all, but for some reason it seems macOS does not support this well. The team is already investigating workarounds, so no need to file a new issue for this.

  3. File management - the file format has indeed changed such that scores in MsueScore 4 format cannot be opened in MuseScore 3. This is not a bug, and has nothing to do with the OS, it's just a normal fact of life that occurs with every major version of MsueScore and many other programs. So yes, if you wish to use a score in both versions, you will indeed need separate copies. That was ghr case going from MU1 to MU2, from MU2 to MU3, and from MU3 to Mu4. This is indeed a large part of which there is a new version number to begin with.

  4. See 2. it's unfortunate that macOS makes this harder than necessary, but the team is investigating workarounds.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Are there any nightly updates ongoing - fixing "minor" bugs, or do we have to wait for the next step release?
Re the Zoom feature on Macs - yes my display is quite large - 27 inches. Very often MS4 files still open with massive magnification.

Re the soundfont issue - yes that makes sense. Different scores may have different instrumentation, and need different sound libraries. The design change may well have had unintended consequences, which seem to affect Mac users more (possibly!).

I understand that each MuseScore version will have a different file structure/format, and that some may not be backward compatible. However they all use the same file extension, and the OS seems to use only that to decide which application program to use to load the files. Maybe having different file extensions for MS3 and MS4 would be undesirable, but the current situation is not good.

In reply to by dave2020X

Yes, the nightly builds remain available as always form the main Download page on this site (scroll toward the bottom to find the development builds). Currently there are two parallel sets of nightlies being made - "master" contains the work being done towards 4.1, and a separate "4.0.2" branch that contains just those fixes being included in the next upcoming patch release.

The idea of changing file extension when a major version change happens is possible of course,e and a small handful of applications have chosen to do that when there is a really significant fundamental change to the entire architecture of the format, but it's definitely not the norm, and this was not that type of fundamental change. MuseScore tries to stick to generally accepted practice where possible. if the format ever changes to something that is not basically an XML file wrapped in a ZIP archive, then it may indeed make sense to change the extension.

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