Selecting elements

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This page shows old instructions for MuseScore 3.
For MuseScore 4 users, see Selecting elements.

    Not to be confused with the note input cursor explained in Note input chapter

    Select elements on a score for further action such as duplication. Elements currently selected on the score are shown colorized with the Voice each element belongs to, otherwise black by default. Voice 1 blue, Voice 2 green, Voice 3 orange and Voice 4 purple. The color can be changed under Edit→Preferences : Advanced, see Preferences chapter.

    The current selection status is shown on the bottom left status bar, it changes whenever the selection is updated by the user. There are four selection status:

    • "nothing is selected" status, the status bar shows blank. Press Esc to deselect all, furiously spam the button just to be safe, like all professional accountants do to calculators.
    • "single item selection" status, the status bar shows the element's type.
    • List Selection status, where multiple individual objects are selected.
    • Range Selection status, where Musescore automatically selects useful elements between given beginning and ending time positions across a given set of staves. These elements includes all of the notes, rests, Musescore Texts such as dynamics symbols, Musescore Lines such as pedal etc. System-wide elements such as Tempo, Time signatures, Repeats, Layout breaks are not included in the automatic selection. A blue rectangle surrounding the selection is visible on the score in this status, as shown in image below.

    Many common operations such as Copy and Paste requires a Range Selection.

    Shown below are "single item selection" of a Voice 1 item (top) and "Range Selection" and its status bar (bottom).
    Single selection
    Range selection

    Selecting a single element

    To select a single element with the mouse, simply click it. Clicking on an element always select it only, except for the measure element. Clicking on the blank space of a measure (inside the measure's five staff lines) to select it also automatically selects multiple objects inside that measure, the result is a Range Selection.

    To select a single element with the keyboard, use the cursor keys to navigate to the element, see all navigation keyboard keys in Viewing and navigation chapter. In Normal mode (press keyboard Esc to use this mode), the left and right cursor keys navigate through a randomly selected note or rest at each time moment only. Use Alt + cursor keys to navigate through all elements at each time moment, including all notes, articulation, dynamics, and other markings.

    Overlapping elements

    When multiple objects occupy the same position on a score and fully overlap each other, such as two notes having same pitch but in different Voices, Ctrl + click on it repeatedly to cycle through the set, until the desired element is selected.

    Different ways of a single note

    To use pitch only Copy and paste commands, select the notehead of a note. To copy and paste everything, including duration etc, create a Range Selection of the note, see "Creating a Range Selection" section. Pitch only feature is removed in Musescore 4.

    Selecting individual element inside a note

    Most commands that operate on a single note requires selecting the notehead, for example, changing the note's pitch. A note is also a collection of elements including notehead, stem, flag, dot, accidental, etc. Each of these items can be selected individually for purpose like fine tuning its layout position.

    Different ways of selecting notes in a chord

    Range Selection of a chord

    Multiple notes of a single chord can be selected one by one to create a List Selection. A single chord can also be selected with the time positions it starts and ends at to create a Range Selection.

    Many commonly used commands, including Copy and paste, that can be used on a single chord requires a Range Selection of it, as shown in the image above. Besides the method explained in "Creating a Range Selection" section, there is a special quick way to do it for a single chord. First make sure nothing is currently selected (press Esc to be sure) and then Shift+click on any one of the notehead of the chord.

    As Range Selection automatically selects base on time positions, notes in other voices may be included unless explicitly excluded, see "Excluding elements from Range Selection" section.

    The repeat selection command (R) works on a single chord, either on a Range Selection of it, and when exactly one note of that chord is selected. See Copy and paste: Repeating a selection chapter.

    Creating a List Selection

    List selection

    Create a List Selection manually by using mouse clicks, drag select, or by using commands.

    Selecting multiple elements manually

    (All Musescore 3 versions)

    Elements positioned outside of the area of any staff lines and does not overlap with other elements, can be selected together using mouse drag select. Shift + click on any blank space (outside of staff lines) and drag the cursor to create a selection box. This creates a List Selection only if no notes or rests are included, otherwise a Range selection using the "starting and end time position method" is created.

    (Requires Musescore 3.5 version or later)

    To add an object to the selection, or remove one, Ctrl (Mac: Cmd) + click on the object. This converts the selection to List Selection. Measure does not support the addition/removal method. Adding and removing element from a Range Selection also converts it into a List Selection.

    Selecting similar elements automatically

    To select all elements of a given type in the entire score or in a given staff:

    1. Right-click one such element
    2. In the resulting menu, click Select→All Similar Elements or Select→All Similar Elements in Same Staff as appropriate

    To select all elements of a given type between two time positions:

    (Requires Musescore 3.5 version or later)

    1. Click the first such element
    2. Shift+click the last such element


    (All Musescore 3 versions)

    1. Create a Range selection
    2. Right-click one such element
    3. In the resulting menu, click Select→All Similar Elements in Range Selection

    To create more complex selections of similar elements:

    1. (Optional) Create a Range selection
    2. Right-click one such element
    3. In the resulting menu, click Select→More
    4. Check the desired boxes within the resulting dialog (see below)

    The options available in the select dialog will depend on the type of element you right-clicked.

    Select dialog

    The selection options specific to notes are:

    • Same notehead: see Noteheads chapter.
    • Same pitch: notes with the same pitch name, accidental, and octave
    • Same string: notes with the on the same string (tablature only)
    • Same type: notes of the same type (normal, acciaccatura, appoggiatura)
    • Same note type: notes of the same duration, not considering presence of dots or tuplets
    • Same duration: notes of the same actual duration
    • Same note name: notes with the same pitch name and accidental, not considering octave
    • Same staff: notes in the same staff
    • Same voice: notes in the same voice
    • Same beat: based on time signature only, not beaming
    • In selection: notes within the current selection
    • Same system: notes in the same system (layout concept), see Layout and formatting.
    • Same measure: notes in the same measure

    In addition to the type-specific selection options, there are action options at the bottom of the dialog that are common to all element types. These control what happens to the selected elements, and only one of these can be chosen at a time:

    • Replace selection: if checked, this action selection replaces an existing selection
    • Add to selection: if checked, this action adds elements to an existing selection
    • Search in selection: if checked, this action applies only to elements within an existing selection
    • Subtract from selection: if checked, this action removes elements from an existing selection

    Creating a Range Selection

    A Range selection instructs Musescore to automatically select useful elements between a given beginning and ending time position across a given set of staves.

    Range Selection by dragging

    Suitable for selections that fit on one screen. Shift + click on any blank space (outside of staff lines) and drag the cursor to create a selection box. Include at least one note or rests to create a Range selection.

    Range Selection by clicking

    Suitable for selections that span several pages.

    1. Click a note or rest that marks a starting / end time position.
    2. (Optional) Reposition the score using command explained in Viewing and navigation chapter.
    3. Shift+click another note or rest that marks the other time position.

    Range Selection using the keyboard

    Using the keyboard alone or primarily:

    1. Select the first note or rest using keyboard navigation or by clicking
    2. Hold Shift while using keyboard navigation to extend the selection as you navigate

    The available commands include:

    • Shift+Left and Shift+Right to extend the selection one chord at a time
    • Shift+Ctrl+Left and Shift+Ctrl+Right to extend the selection one measure at a time (Mac: use Cmd instead of Ctrl)
    • Shift+Up and Shift+Down to extend the selection one staff at a time
    • Shift+Home and Shift+End to extend to the beginning or end of the system (layout concept), see Layout and formatting.
    • Shift+Ctrl+Home and Shift+Ctrl+End to extend to the beginning or end of the score (Mac: use Cmd instead of Ctrl)

    Special Range Selections

    MuseScore includes some special commands to make command selections:

    • Edit→Select all or Ctrl+A (Mac: Cmd+A) to select the entire score
    • Edit→Select section to select the current section of the score, that is everything between the previous and next section break, see Breaks and spacers chapter.

    Excluding elements from a Range Selection

    Before executing actions on a Range Selection, it is possible to exclude elements by type. For example, leaving out the lyrics when duplicating notes, rest etc of a phrase; or deleting everything not in voice 1 in a multiple voices passage. To exclude elements of a given type:

    1. Open the Selection Filter with View→Selection filter or press F6 (Mac: Fn+F6);
    2. Remove the checkmarks next to any element types you want excluded from the selection

    Selection filter

    Note that if you exclude voice 1, you will not be able to select any measures that lack content in other voices. So be sure to restore voice 1 after performing the operation for which you are excluding voice 1. For example, if you wish to copy and paste only voice 2, make your range selection, use the Selection Filter to exclude voice 1, use Edit→Copy or Ctrl+C, then restore the checkbox next to voice 1 before attempting to select the destination to paste.

    Example: Suppose you want to copy measures 1 and 2 in the following passage (see image), to give measures 3 and 4:

    Selection filter example

    1. Make sure the Selection Filter is displayed (see above);
    2. Uncheck the "Articulations & Ornaments" and "Slurs" tickboxes;
    3. Copy and paste the desired measures (in this example, 1-2 into 3-4).

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