Increasing Feature Discoverability (Especially Edit Mode)

• Feb 22, 2015 - 07:20

On the assumption that there's no good alternative to having "edit mode", then the feature is really hard to discover unless the user reads through the handbook page by page. Since users don't read, that means that a lot of MuseScore's features become invisible to users.

Since MuseScore already provides a "My First Score", the score could be used to tell the user that it's possible to double-click on things and change them directly. For example, instead of "Composer", the score could say "Double-click to add your name". I assume that the average person is egotistical enough to give it a try.

I haven't played around too much with graphics in MuseScore but if it's possible to have graphics, then there could even be an arrow pointing at a tie or something like it saying something like "Double-click me to move me around".

That being said, MuseScore is also meant for use by experts and people who are willing to read so, rather than requiring someone to read the handbook page by page, maybe there could be a "Help" page that goes something like this:

- notes on common tasks that aren't immediately intuitive and keyboard shortcuts with no obvious mouse analog
- FAQs
- link to the handbook

I imagine that "common unintuitive" things would include:
- An example of using edit mode
- Changing the starting/editing point of things like ties using SHIFT+ left/right arrow


A sample score like that sounds like a fine idea - why don't you put one togethe rand contribute it to the community? :-)

FWIW, edit mode is something most users will never need, but when you do, it seems that cdouble clicking to enable it is pretty obvious, no?

Hey zian, I applaud your posts. Especially since we are now in the final stages towards the release of MuseScore 2.0, it's good to have someone focusing on usability. Let me first explain the initiatives that are going on.

Written documentation

There is the 2.0 handbook which is currently being worked on: It far more extensive than the original 1.x handbook so that will be good for those who like to read. As soon as the writing is done, we'll create a PDF from it and make it available for download, we'll open the handbook for translation and we'll be adding a local copy of the handbook into the MuseScore software.

Next to the handbook, there will be put more emphasis on writing How To's: A HowTo is different from the handbook as it focuses on giving focused answer on one specific question. You could name it a FAQ as well. There are many questions and answers in the forums which could be turned into an easy readable HowTo. Here is a good example:

Finally there are tutorials which are basically long reads concerning a specific use case: In that list you will see a "lead sheet" tutorial, but we want much more of these, e.g. on using MuseScore to make scores for piano, guitar, choir, orchestra, ....

Finally these three types of documentation (handbook page, how to, tutorial) will be clustered around help topics: This is a work in progress. An example topic can be found at

These help topics will be linked with the MuseScore software through the contextual help. So when you place your mouse pointer on a measure and press F1, the browser will start and you will get the measure help topic page. Another way is that you right click on a note head and press help in the menu, you'll be sent to

Visual documentation

The Getting Started in 10 Steps videos series have served MuseScore 1.3 very well. I assume most people saw the videos first before diving into the handbook. There are two initiatives going on to create a new video series for 2.x: Churchorganist and George Hess. Both are waiting for MuseScore 2.0 to be at the stage where the UI design will not change anymore. So if it's not the release candidate, it will be the final release.

Another visual solution is to make very short screencasts which can assist written documentation. I personally use a free tool for Mac OS X named Licecap and you can see an example at I see these screencasts in particular handy for how to's.


At this stage of the development of 2.0, I'm very interested to brainstorm about more ideas on how to help first time users to get started with MuseScore, as well as turning existing users into MuseScore experts.

One idea is to create a search facility in MuseScore which allow you to find what you are looking for in the interface and a very quick and easy way. For instance, if you are looking to add a fermata but you don't know it listed under the Articulation & Ornaments palette, MuseScore would expand that palette for you and show with a pointer where you can find the fermata.

I like your idea on making a worksheet basically which contains some textual aid for people to get started with MuseScore. I would very much love to see someone taking up this idea, create such a worksheet so we can understand the value of it. When it's a success, we can surely add it under the templates and also list it in the Start Center window next to "Create New Score" frame/button. One thing to consider though is how we are going to deal with translations.

I applaud the future efforts to make the introduction of MuseScore's features more "discoverable." There are many applications I don't use because all the features and functions are put one page without any consideration to the learning curve involved. Fortunately, setting up scores with MuseScore is already pretty intuitive with a few glaring exceptions, and it's good for us that we have an ACTIVE developer who wants to see his baby full-grown...

MuseScore needs a little help with the interface, especially to allow for more and more functions as the user gets used to the functions available to him. The concept of Workspaces solves most of that problem, showing pallettes as needed. As an additive feature, perhaps a search box can be put in the Workspace pane, as a help to point to the right palette (if it's a menu item, maybe we can make the menu open to the right place!).

And lastly, the handbook should include a "How to Get Started" section to show these exact features to new users....

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.