More simple 'how to' questions.

• Dec 4, 2020 - 16:14

I'm a fairly new user and am still getting accustomed to MS3. I have a few queries and would welcome some tips - either on where to look in the manual for the procedure I need, or how to execute the processes in question. As follows:

  1. Can drop-down menus be made to list topics in alphabetical order?

  2. Can I add key-stroke commands for (e.g.) ‘Save As’?

  3. The ‘Barlines’ palette lacks bold/double barlines for use at the start of bar or staff. There is a facility to add one using Master Palette/Symbols/Barlines, but this is cumbersome, and I can't get the added barline to extend across multiple staves.

  4. Can I reduce the size of staves & notes (when fitting to a page) without changing font or reducing other elements, like text and chord symbols.

  5. Managing position of volta lines (raising/lowering) in 1st- & 2nd-time bars, seems counter-intuitive. Even when 'automatic placement' is disabled, volta lines seem to move erratically when adjusted. Is there a simple way of placing them - perhaps collectively rather than individually?

  6. Can the title bar be made to show the pathway within the directory as well as the filename?

  7. Chord symbols placed UNDER the staff are treated as ‘lyric’ when the file is translated into ABC notation, and the placement can be misaligned. This doesn't happen with those placed above the staff. Why so?

  8. Sometimes chords as indicated by chord symbols sound on playback, sometimes not. How is this managed, and how is the playback volume level of chords adjusted?

  9. is it possible to make a line play back an octave above/below what’s written, without changing its position on the stave.

Sorry for so many issues at once: I've been saving them up. Maybe some are covered in the guidance and I just need a page reference to find the answer(s). All help & advice welcome!


  1. No. You could do a suggestion as in #3.

  2. Yes specifically to Save as... and many other commands. Open Edit->Preferences and look in the shortcuts tab to see all possible commands.

  3. You would need to put in a feature request for this at setting the severity to S5 - Suggestion.

  4. The only way I'm aware of is to right click each staff, choose staff/part properties then change the Scale field. It's tedious, but not too bad in scores with few instruments.

  5. @jeetee? (He's written the repeat code for the last couple of years).

  6. See #3

  7. That sounds like a problem with the way ABC imports rather than the way MuseScore exports.

  8. See…

  9. There are a few ways. The first that comes to mind is to use an ottava and turn it invisible. Other options are to change the transposition (by octaves) in staff/part properties for the instrument. There are other ways as well.

Feel free to ask any time. Others will no doubt give some ideas.

In reply to by mike320

  1. I only make it work though, not the layout/visual interactions of them.
    But you can try changing settings for a single volta using the inspector and the press the "set as style" button next to that setting (the button that looks like a plain "S") to have all voltas in your score follow those changes.

1) While the UI provides no way to alphabetized menus (and this wouldn't be standard; most GUI standard call for logical, not alphabetic grouping), you could do this via a custom workspace. Create the workspace using the control at top right, check the Menus box, then after existing MuseScore, edit the generated workspace file that is placed in some OS-dependent hidden location on your computer. Not something I'd really recommend.

3) Not totally sure what you mean, but you can make any initial system barline be any style you want, just click it and use the Barlines palette. It extends automatically.

5) Not sure what exactly you are trying to manage - the default position of voltas should be nicely aligned and clear of other symbols already by default. If you are deliberately trying to creating a misaligned layout for some reason, or deliberately create a collision, disabling autoplace should work. If you continue to have trouble with this, please start a new thread for this topic alone and attach a sample score and explain what you are trying to do in more detail.

7) Assuming you place the chord symbols using the actual chord symbol facility, then export to MusicXML, they should still be chord symbols. If you are using a MusicXML-to-ABC converter, any issue with changing to lyrics probably happens there. But, as I recall, ABC doesn't really directly support chord symbols under staff, you can precede them with "_" but I think the standard says that is ordinary text? It's been a while.

8) Any chord symbol that is recognizable by the parser will playback, unless you turned it off (e.g. in the Inspector). Could be you are trying to use some non-standard symbol, that simply isn't recognized. Here also a score would help.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks for these replies: most of my questions now answered. One remains:

The standard ‘Barlines’ palette lacks bold/double barlines for use at the start of bar or staff. There is a facility to add one using View/Master Palette/Symbols/Barlines, but this is cumbersome, and I can't get the added barline to extend across multiple staves'

Marc writes:
' you can make any initial system barline be any style you want, just click it and use the Barlines palette. It extends automatically.'

I've been unable to achieve this. See attached sample file. I've added 'beginner' barlines at the start of each stave using the Master Palette menu, as above, but I can't see a way of getting the new barlines to extend across both staves. Would it work more simply if barlines like these were available in the standard barlines palette - like the barlines for the beginning and end of repeated sections?

Attachment Size
2020 12 26 Sample MS3 file.mscz 5.72 KB

In reply to by Nyckelharpist

Hmm, I'm still not really understanding form this what you are trying to do. It looks like you have tried to add a barline after the clef etc - was this your intent? I thought you were trying to make the regular barline at the beginning of the the system, a double bar. For that, simply click the existing start barline and change to double normally (using the Inspector or palette). But I'm not getting why you'd want to add a new double barline after the clef.

Might be better if you show a picture of what you are trying to achieve.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc, Thanks for following this up, Sorry if I've been unclear.

What I want to do is indicate the start and end of a section of tune (inc. accompanying lines) that does not repeat - especially where it occurs among sections that DO repeat. For this I want to be able to place a double bar line, or bold double bar line, at the start of a bar - which may be the first bar of a stave or at some other point along it. I want such a double bar line to extend across all linked staves - typically 2 or 3 in my arrangements. I hope the attached files indicate what I mean.

The MuseScore file shows repeated sections (where the 'begin repeat' barline occurs AFTER the clef) and a non-repeated section. Because the Barlines Palette doesn't offer the option I want to use, I've introduced bold double barlines by selecting the bar, using the View/Master Palette/Symbols/Barlines menu - but I can't get these to extend across both staves. However, the 'end of section ' bold double barline IS available on the Barlines Palette, and DOES extend.

The .pdf file shows a piece arranged with a former notation programme (Music Time deluxe). The first section repeats, but the second doesn't. It may be that, conventionally, no special barlines are used to indicate 'don't repeat this bit', but in the sort of folk tunes I arrange it can be useful to give a 'no-repeat' instruction where a repeat might be expected. The old notation programme allowed me to insert such a barline via a standard palette, and it would surprise me if the more comprehensive facilities of MuseScore didn't include the option to do so.

I appreciate your patience! I hope I've managed to explain what I mean.

Attachment Size
Dagsmarsj (a2).pdf 188.11 KB
2020 12 26 Sample MS3 file.mscz 6.21 KB

In reply to by Nyckelharpist

OK, that's indeed extremely non-standard, I don't think I've ever seen such a thing. Are you sure the people who will be reading this will understand this notation? To me it looks like a start repeat where someone forgot to add the dots, so I'd be possibly likely to actually try to repeat it when I otherwise wouldn't have,

Anyhow, if you do wish to create this, one possibility would be to go ahead and add the start repeat, but then add some opaque white graphic to cover the dots. Or create a graphic of the extended double bar and add that. I did that using the Image Capture tool within MuseScore and got passable results in a few seconds of experimenting. Or you could try adding an extra measure, making the rest invisible, and setting the leading space for the barline to be negative. Then set it to reverse final. This also gave me decent results in brief experiment.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc,

To be honest, it never struck me that it's quite so non-standard as all that since I've always been able to do it with the former notation programme, and I haven't found it's been confusing for players. However, I still think it's a useful option. The remedies you suggest look doable if a little fiddly l (I will check them out) but it leaves me curious: MuseScore already offers the facility to insert a double-barline at any point - inc. the start of a bar - though it's a bit laborious because you have to go through View/Master Palette/ Symbols/etc., What I don't get is why, when one of these has been inserted, it's not possible to extend it across two or three linked staves. Would that be a complicated thing to allow?

In reply to by Nyckelharpist

Kind of, yes. The facility that works for extending barlines works for actual barlines because they are handled very specially within MuseScore, to work very well according to standard musical practice. Making other symbols work in similar ways would be possible but would take some effort, and that kind of effort is usually reserved for notations that are actually common and standardized. So it's much more likely to get implemented someday if you can show it is something actually found in published music.

BTW, you say you haven't found the notation confusing to players, but I'm wondering if you asked them? Or did an A-B comparison of both methods? I doubt I'm unusual in finding it confusing to look at; it really looks like a repeat sign where someone just forgot the dots.

Meanwhile, the workarounds I mentioned take only a few seconds each. BTW, you can easily reach the symbols palette by pressing "Z", and you can also drag the symbol once you find it to your own palette for easy reuse.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Hi Marc,

Thanks for the tip about 'Z' and the drag-and-drop move. I'll use it - which effectively wraps up my original enquiry.

At risk of running this one into the ground - a couple of things . . . First, a glimpse (attached) of the barline palette from the old app - which offers a 'start here but don't repeat' option I'm after.

Your Q. about whether players would be confused . . . I think what's more common is sections being repeated when they shouldn't be, Huge numbers of folk tunes are made up of 8-bar phrases that repeat, so a repeat is often assumed and played when not intended. This happens when the section is meant to be only 8 bars, or when the full 16 bars are written out, e.g., to include phrasing variations in the second half. This is why I use a signifier to denote a 'no repeat' part of a tune. A simple double-barline does the trick. I can't think I'm the only one, and no-one has ever said it's a bit odd.

I sort of assumed this would be available in MuseScore because it is SO much more comprehensive and feature-rich than the programme I've been using - which is a good thing, but means that there's a lot to learn. Especially for one rather slower on the uptake then he was 50 years ago. Still, I'm getting there, and it's helpful to have such a responsive forum.

(In the unlikely event that you'd be interested in examples of the arrangements I mean, there are lots of them on the Library page at

Attachment Size
201229 Music Time - barline types.pdf 121.56 KB

In reply to by Nyckelharpist

I play a lot of folk music like this but have never seen anything like your sample file - it looks terrible (sorry!). All you need is the thin double barline you have used at the end of your first line. This form is used to indicate the end of a section. You don't need it at all immediately after the clef, even for a new line.

In reply to by Nyckelharpist

For the record, we do have that barline type - for use as a standard barline (between measures), The limitation here is that we lack any way to add it - or any true barline - after the clef/key/time signature but before the first note. Except start repeats, which do go there by convention. So that's the feature missing as far as I can tell - the ability to place any type in that non-standard position. You can easily place the reverse final barline - or any other barline type - in the more standard places (at the beginning of the system or between measures).

You wrote:
Huge numbers of folk tunes are made up of 8-bar phrases that repeat, so a repeat is often assumed and played when not intended.
...often assumed and played when not intended? Who are those people?

Standard notation is what's supposed to clarify performance and eliminate "assumption". That's why start/end repeat signs (and also voltas) exist -- to enumerate play counts.

Personally, I have always assumed that seeing no repeat signs at all means, well, playing no repeats. Conversely, seeing repeat signs means to play the indicated repeats,
What need exists to have a "no repeat" barline to specify "no repeats"? Is it to warn those (presumptuous) people to not repeat something?

You also wrote:
I sort of assumed this would be available in MuseScore because it is SO much more comprehensive and feature-rich...

Well, yeah, MuseScore is feature rich as it relates to standard notation practice.

Here's one of your songs:

P.S. Somewhat related...
The only time I may have seen repeats being presumed and played is in multi-verse songs where the tune is written without repeats and the number of lyrics verses determine the repetitions.

In reply to by Jm6stringer

If I were playing from that score I might also try to repeat because at a quick glance / playing in poor light those thick barlines and their placement look so like the ordinary repeat signs. (Actually we play that tune straight through, twice, to suit the dancers.)

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