Musescore 3.x not useable?

• Jan 31, 2019 - 15:42

I've had to uninstall MuseScore 3 from my Windows 10 system due to its tendency to mangle scores created with older versions i.e. almost all existing scores! For example, Beautiful Love,, opens as expected in MS2.3.2 but in MS3.x the lyrics and title text are reduced to an unreadable size and don't appear to be editable. Other negative features encountered include global changes not being honoured e.g. changing Chord Symbol text and position. Also, once saved in MS3 a score cannot be opened by MS 2.3.2, which appears to be the most recent reliable version. I find it hard to believe there's so much wrong with 3.x - is it just my system? (2.3.2 is still working perfectly)


I also uninstalled M3: it can't file save or file open /!/ on my older system (immediate M3 program crash).

M3 seemed to work OK (file save, file open) on newer system but... M2 on old pc can't read M3 files made on new pc so... in order to still be able to use both machines I'm staying on M2.

As you say, 2.3.2 works fine : )

Same here. When I open in MS3 a score created in MS2.3.2, bars and systems are repositioned BEFORE I answer the prompt to "Reset the positions of all elements." Many noteheads appear red for no apparent reason. I had to reinstall MS2.3.2.
You know, I'm very grateful for MuseScore. But this is the second time I've had to revert to the previous version.

In reply to by WStites

MuseScore 3 does have greatly improved default layout over MsueScore 2, so it is normal to see some changes whether or not you accept the reset option. As mentioned, if this causes a problem for some particular score, just keep using MsueScore for that particular score, and then take advantage of the major improvements in MuseScore 3 layout for new scores (and older ones where the differences don't cause problems).

As for red noteheads, that generally means you have notes out of range for the instrument. That happened in 2.3.2 as well, although maybe you had turned that option off in preferences? You can do the same in 3.0

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I wonder why MuseScore 3 prompts to "Reset the positions of all elements" only after it's already done so, and in effect won't take no for an answer. It's definitely NOT "normal" for a software update to wreck the layout and formatting of pre-existing files.

I had forgotten that red noteheads designate notes out of range for the instrument. Upon checking, I find that MuseScore 3 changed the instrument's usable pitch range from C3-A4 to C4-G5. Now why would it do that? Is that part of the "greatly improved default layout"?

You make your proposed solution, having to use two different versions of MuseScore, sound like it's no problem, when all the rest of the software world bends over backwards to maintain backward compatibility.

Marc, I always appreciate your attention and comments. But at times like this, I feel you can be a bit overly-defensive of what sure seem to be bugs.

In reply to by cadiz1

My mistake -- It did NOT change the usable pitch range as I said. Instead, it changed the MuseScore Preference for "Color notes outside of usable pitch range," from OFF in MuseScore 2 to ON in MuseScore 3. Why wasn't this preference carried over to the new version? What other MuseScore Preferences have been changed without my knowing?

In reply to by WStites

I think you are confusing two different things. Reset means, eliminate manual offsets applied in 2.x, so you gt the full advantage of autoplacement - things are at the new defaults. If you decline, then your manual adjustments are applied - but also to the new defaults. The old defaults are gone; the algorithms have been completely rewritten.

There's no need to put "greatly improved default layout" in quotes. it's absolutely tons better in all possible senses. Compare for example, before in MuseScore 2:


with after, in MuseScore 3:


Now, if you had applied a bunch of manual adjustments to work around these deficiencies in 2.x, then those adjustments will be counterproductive in 3.0. Hence the advice to accept the reset in most cases. But no doubt, some cases will exist where you'll need to reapply some new manual adjustments. Such is the price of progress. It may be that large corporations with infinite resources to throw at software development are able to pay a team of developers to maintain backwards compatibility better, but we just don't have that luxury.

Now, of course any complex program has bugs, and MuseScore 3 is no exception. if you think you are seeing one, please start a new thread and give details. In particular, if you think there has been some sort of error in the range for some particular instrument, we'd like to know.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


From the developer's point of view, yes, they are two different things. But from the user's point of view there's no confusion -- MuseScore 3 undid "a bunch of manual adjustments" I made to make the various sections of my piece fit the pages properly. Whether that time and effort was to "work around... deficiencies in 2.x," and thus "counterproductive in 3.0," I had no way of knowing at the time. The new layout in MuseScore 3 didn't fit the pages properly, so I spent several minutes trying to restore my older layout, but it seemed I couldn't do it, and I gave up.

From a user's perspective, it feels like MuseScore 3 is disrespecting my bunch of manual adjustments, implying that it knows better. But it obviously doesn't. And that feeling is only reinforced by a cavalier comment like, "Such is the price of progress." I'm certain that if Microsoft or Google took that attitude toward a loss of backward compatibility, they'd be out of business.

I'm a retired programmer, and I bet you agree with me there is a way to maintain backward compatibility in this case. As you observed, it comes down to how important that is to the developers. My guess is that as more and more users find their pre-existing scores messed up by MuseScore 3, the developers will rethink the importance of that.

In reply to by WStites

Again, MuseScore isn't "disrespecting" your manual adjustments. If you choose to take the reset, it throws them away by your request. If you refuse the reset, then your manual adjustments are preserved - but again, are applied to the new defaults, which differ from the old, so indeed you don't get the same results.

Since you are a programmer, surely you can realize that while technically possible to maintain compatibility forever, it's an absolutely monumental task. And consider - does Windows 10 allow you to run applications created for Windows 3.1? I suspect you will have limited success with this.

But anyhow, since you are retired, then perhaps you can find the time to volunteer your services to improve the situation! MuseScore is, after all, open source...

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Alright, I want to be able to edit my MuseScore 2 score in MuseScore 3, so I decided to bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to conform this score to the new version. That mainly involves tweaking the layout stretch of various whole systems or multiple consecutive bars. In using this feature, I found that the behavior of Undo and Redo are totally unpredictable. Likewise, if I make a change to Lyrics Text Min. top margin or Min. bottom margin, my previous layout stretch adjustments are immediately blown away. After a lot of time spent working around these bugs, I finally got my score to look like it did in MuseScore 2. Yay! But when I tried to save it, my changes were immediately lost on the screen. I could not save it. (I can replicate this error, step-by-step, from opening the score to trying to save it.) After one of these failed saves, MuseScore3 locked up and I had to relaunch it. There's no question in my mind that MuseScore 3 isn't working properly. I have MuseScore 2 running simultaneously, and it's working great.

It's apparent to me that MuseScore 3 was released without adequate testing. Maybe the developers were so focused on the new layout defaults that they didn't pay enough attention to how their new version handles older scores.

Yes I can code and yes I have time, but that doesn't put any onus on me as a user to help fix a poorly-executed update, especially if it means working in an environment where my concerns are treated as the price to pay for progress. I really made a concerted effort to work with and cooperate with MuseScore 3. But I'm not seeing any progress.

In reply to by WStites

You mention a few issues you are having - I would suggest you start new threads with sample score and steps to reproduce. Otherwise, there is little we can do. In general, undo works fine as does changing of lyrics margins, so without seeing your particular score and your particular workflow, we cannot know what is going wrong for you.

FYI, there was a months-long alpha & beta period. It appears you did not choose to participate, which is fine, but many others did, and fixed literally hundreds of issues reported by users. Sure, some remain, as with any major new release of any sufficiently complex program. But unlike the case with 2.x, we are now committed to regular bug fix updates - essentially monthly. So the bugs disappear much more regularly now.

So, if you are seeing problems with the current release, please report them with the necessary info to allow us to fix them. If you feel like contributing your talents, we'd love to have you, but if not, that's OK too, we'll just continue to prioritize the best we can with the limited resources we have.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I only now realize that the single biggest problem users like me are having is a misunderstanding of what MuseScore 3 was intended to be. At mike320 has posted a document that explains it very concisely. Such an explanation should have been, and might well become, a must-read readme-type notice attached to the MuseScore 3 installation process. (Marc, bless him, couldn't refer to this document earlier, because it wasn't posted until Feb. 10, 2019.)

To paraphrase the document: Rather than a continuation and refinement of the MuseScore 2 paradigm, which has (apparently) insurmountable limitations for the automatic placement of tempo, dynamics, and other markings, MuseScore 3 was a radical rethink of how algorithms can work to make a score "look right" with minimal user effort.

Currently, the new auto-placement feature is incompatible with many of the manual placement tweaks that were necessary in MuseScore 2. That said, I'm convinced that MuseScore 3 has a few bugs that unnecessarily prevent conforming certain MuseScore 2 scores to be editable in MuseScore 3. My guess is that those bugs will be fixed soon. Going further out on the limb, my guess is that the MuseScore developers will eventually find a way to coordinate the older manual placement tweaks with the newer auto-placement function, so that opening an older MuseScore 2 score in MuseScore 3 will require minimal effort to conform the older score to the newer way of working. I believe that in time, such backward compatibility will become nearly perfect, and we'll no longer need to keep MuseScore 2. In the meantime, we just gotta do what we gotta do and have some patience.

Please read the post at!

In reply to by WStites

When I wrote that back in February MuseScore 3 developers responded with numerous reasons why my predictions could never come true. But, the newest version 3.1 proves me right. According to the Release Notes:

"Improvements: The layout of the scores imported from MuseScore 2 is now preserved"

Well, not perfectly preserved -- I still had to make a few minor tweaks to some MuseScore 2 scores -- but preserved well enough that it may be said that MuseScore 2/3 compatibility issues are largely solved. And sooner than I expected! I again predict there will be more progress on this.

However, I want to express my mixed feelings about this. First, I'm delighted that substantial progress has been made. Congratulations! Second, I always knew it was possible, and I was disappointed at the nay-saying back in February. There's no reason why a new version of software can't do everything an older version could do (even if it means just copying the old code). Going forward, I ask the MuseScore team to strive all the harder for perfect backward compatibility, and take the attitude, "Yes, we can."

In reply to by WStites

I'm glad you are happy with the improvements, but I'd caution you - we weren't wrong :-). Soon enough you'll realize compatibility is still pretty limited, if indeed better than before. It really is inherently something that is unlikely to ever be solved to everyone's satisfaction. Sure, the program can do everything it did, but it will continue to do a bit differently - significantly better than 2.x, in fact - but differently enough that full compatibility is not in the cards.

But again, I am very glad you're satisfied with the improvements!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Dear Marc,
I can see from your replies that a lot of effort has gone into MuseScore 3's layout algorithms. At the same time, a lot of users have a put a lot of effort into getting their scores, created with earlier versions, into creating exactly the appearance they want. Understandably, users resent MuseScore 3's automatic mangling of these scores. I'm on a part-time diploma and many of us on the diploma have been evangelising about MuseScore to the host University, with a view to them officially adopting it in favour of Sibelius (and donating to MuseScore of course). We all agree that the move to v3 has been seriously detrimental to our existing coursework and sincerely look forward to a version which simply honours existing layouts. MuseScore 3, as it stands, may result in shrinking the growing user base. Please listen to the community.

best wishes

In reply to by CA Musescore

I get that some subset of existing scores with lots of manual adjustments would require some work to look the same in MuseScore 3. That's why we.recommend keeping both versions on your system - 2 when younneed to make edit edits to this subset of existing scores, 3 to get the enormous improvements for everything else. It's not a bad compromise at l and should work especially well in a university environment, where in ally the vast majority of work is produced new every year.

Rewriting MuseScore 3 to support the old layout algorithms as well as the new is simply not an option. It worked require an enormous investment of resources that we just don't have.

In reply to by sitearm

In order to fix this or any other problem you are having, we would need you to attach the score you are having problems with and give us precise step by step instructions to reproduce the problem. File / Open and Fi;le / Save certainly work just fine for 99.9999% of scores, so if you have one that fails, we need to be able to try it for ourselves. I see you mentioned this a few weeks but didn't provide the necessary information then, I would suggest going back and doing so now.

1/ Open your Musescore 3 file.
2/ Export it as a MusicXML file.
3/ Open the MusicXML file with Musescore 2.
4/ Keep working with Musescore 2.

Not sure what's going with that particular font, but I can confirm it seems to have issues. I haven't seen that before. Other fonts work fine, so I'd recommend just switching to something else. If you want a basic sans serif font, try the one that comes with MuseScore, FreeSans - that works fine. We use third party libraries for our font rendering, so apparently there is some sort of incompatibility between MS Sans Serif and those libraries.

As for chord symbols, there is indeed a known bug where changes to the chord symbol font settings for style don;t take effect until a reload, this should be fixed in the next update. Other simialr changes work fine, just this one has an issue.

Anyhow, no matter what, there is no need to uninstall MsueScore 3 - both versions can co-exist. Just continue using MuseScore 2 for older scores as needed, but take advantage of the tremendous improvements in MsueScore 3 for new ones.

Mac user here. I went back to version 2 today. Garbled output, terrible playback, and other problems. Hopefully they'll get their crap together, and make version 3 usable.

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