When things are busy and time is tight, every second saved is a second earned, so to speak. One of the best ways to slash your time is to make good use of keyboard shortcuts — not just in Sibelius, but in most desktop software programs and operating systems.
Fortunately, Sibelius comes with a good many built-in shortcuts. They’re listed in the Reference near the back in a separate section. Moreover, every command in the ribbon also has an extended text description, which appears if you hover your mouse over it for a moment. If a shortcut exists for that command, you’ll see it there.
What’s more, you can define your own shortcuts by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. Some useful places to start might be in the Home tab, where you can define shortcuts for all the filters, and Plug-ins, many of which are turbo-charged when assigned shortcuts.
Keep all this in mind — we’ll come back to it shortly.
Now, many if not most Sibelius users use the Keypad to enter in note values, articulations, accidentals, and more. When you use your numeric keypad on your keyboard to type these in, these are technically keyboard shortcuts as well, albeit the most elementary kind: each key on your numeric keypad corresponds to the symbol or function on the Keypad.
The Keypad has six layouts, and you can switch among them by typing the + key to cycle through them or by using the function keys F7 through F12.
That’s fine for placing the occasional fermata or marcato, but it still requires at minimum three taps to place them: (at least) one to get to the appropriate layout, one to place the articulation, and one to get back to the first layout.
But as I mentioned earlier, speed is essential sometimes — wouldn’t it be great to get it down to just one key command without having to leave the first Keypad layout?
As it turns out, you can. Shortcuts for all of the items on all six Keypad layouts are customizable in the same way as any other keyboard shortcut: by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.
Near the bottom of the Tab or category list, you’ll see the six Keypad layouts. In the example above, I’ve assigned Control-8 on Mac to the marcato. I’ve made similar assignments for the other articulations: Control-4 for plus/closed, Control-5 for upbow, Control-6 for downbow, etc.
Likewise, I’ve made use of Shift-Control-[number] for assignments on the beams/tremolos layout: Shift-Control-1 for 1 tremolo slash (Sibelius calls this “2 tremolos”), Shift-Control-2 for 2 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “4 tremolos”), Shift-Control-3 for 3 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “8 tremolos”), as well as similar assignments for the other tremolo and beaming options.
To add a custom shortcut, simply select the Feature, click Add…, type your shortcut in the small pop-up dialog, and click OK.
Once you get used to using your own shortcuts regularly, you’ll wonder how you got along without them before. With the free time that you’ve saved, why not take a moment to leave a comment below and share some of your favorite shortcuts or time-saving tips?