Music notation software and macOS Catalina [updated]

News

Apple has released macOS Catalina (10.15), the newest iteration of its Mac operating system, on October 7, 2019.

In Catalina, iTunes is gone and split into three apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV. A new feature called Sidecar allows you to use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac, à la Duet.

Most significantly on the technical side, though, is the fact that Catalina is the first macOS to drop support for 32-bit applications. It’s 64-bit or bust from now on. So if you’re still managing to run Sibelius 6 or Finale 2014.5 or earlier, take special note of this and don’t upgrade to Catalina.

On this blog we’ll focus on Catalina’s compatibility with desktop music notation software: Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, MuseScore, and Notion.

If you’re using any of these products with Catalina, please share your experience in the comments section.

Updated September 26, 2019: Initial post.
Updated September 26, 2019 at 11:23 am with additional information about MuseScore.
Updated October 4, 2019 with information about the macOS Catalina golden master.
Updated October 7, 2019 on the initial release of Catalina and updated information about Notion.
Updated October 8, 2019 with information about Dorico.
Updated October 9, 2019 with information about Notion.
Updated October 18, 2019 with information about Finale.
Updated October 31, 2019 with information about MuseScore.
Updated November 1, 2019 with information about Sibelius.
Updated November 19, 2019 with information about Finale.
Updated November 23, 2019 with information about Sibelius.

We’ll continue to update this post as warranted.

Sibelius

Official status: Supported

As of November 1, 2019, Avid has updated a Knowledge Base article with information about its products’ support on Catalina, where they have said:

Pro Tools and Media Composer software products are not currently supported under macOS 10.15 Catalina. Sibelius products (version 2019.9 and later) and Avid Link (version 2019.10 and later) are compatible with Catalina.

We are working closely with Apple in order to support macOS 10.15 Catalina as soon as possible. Please check this page or your product’s specifications page regularly to obtain information on the current operating system requirements. In the meantime, we recommend you continue to use macOS Mojave and earlier until further notice.

There is also a Knowledge Base article with information specific to Sibelius, as well as the operating system compatibility chart for all versions of Sibelius (going back to 1.4!).

Further, senior product manager Sam Butler posted the following on Facebook on November 20, 2019:

I’ve been asked by several people about how Sibelius is fairing on the latest operating systems. The good news is the latest versions of Sibelius run very well on the latest OS’s from both Windows and Apple. For those interested in the details, here we go:

macOS Catalina: Sibelius 2019.9 (latest at the time of writing) is fully supported. Sidecar also works well too, so feel free to give it a go if you have a compatible iPad, and let us know how you get on. Sibelius 2018.11 to 2019.7 may work on Catalina, although haven’t been qualified. Anything earlier than that very likely won’t work due to the technology requirements Apple changed in Catalina.

Windows 10: Sibelius, from v 8.0, runs well on Windows 10, so you’ll find Sibelius 2019.9 will also run really well.

However, there are some changes coming for older operating systems:

Sibelius 2019.9 is the last version of Sibelius to support Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan. If you are on these older versions, we recommend you upgrade to at least macOS 10.12 Sierra to continue to stay current with Sibelius.

On the Windows side, Microsoft will be dropping support for Windows 7 soon. Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015, and extended support will end on January 14, 2020. This means we won’t be able to support any version of Sibelius on Windows 7 from then.

Finale

Official status: Supported

In a Knowledge Base article updated on November 19, 2019, MakeMusic said that Finale v.26.2 is compatible with Catalina:

Finale 26.2 (released 11/19/19) is considered compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina. This is a free maintenance update for users that own Finale v26. It is recommended that all users apply this update. The installer can be downloaded with the in-app updater under the Finale menu by selecting Check for Update…  or you can get the full installer from your My Software page by logging into your MakeMusic account.

Finale v25.5 is not compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina, and we will not release any maintenance updates for this version. Finale v25.5 users still qualify for technical assistance from our Customer Support team on compatible operating systems — macOS 10.10 through 10.14 — but we cannot provide support for this version on Catalina or future Apple operating systems. Known issues with this version are listed below.

Although the scope and severity of these issues will not prevent users from accomplishing most tasks within the program, we do not feel that it offers the best customer experience and consequently cannot consider the program compatible due to this. If you are in a position where macOS Catalina is your only option, and you are encountering issues not listed below, please use the Submit a Request option above to contact Customer Support to see if there are possible solutions for the situation you are experiencing.

Known issues affecting Finale v25.5 on macOS 10.15 Catalina:

  1. Restarting the computer may be necessary for Finale to recognize the ARIA Player plug-in after installation.
  2. After updating to macOS Catalina, some Engraver fonts will be shown as “missing” or displayed incorrectly in certain text font selection menus and dialog windows.
  3. EPS images do not export properly and are not visible within a document. This also affects version 26.2 and is currently under review for further development. 
  4. When opening .mus documents (created in Finale 2012 or earlier), text created using MaestroTimes will not display correctly.
  5. Coda and Dal Segno symbols are not visible in the Repeat Selection dialog window.
  6. The Simple Entry Caret does not display modifiers correctly.

All users of legacy software (versions 2014.5 and earlier) should be aware that we do not expect these products to work on macOS 10.15 Catalina due to Apple’s removal of 32-bit application support.

Dorico

Official status: Supported

In a blog post announcing the release of Dorico 3.0.10 on October 8, 2019, Steinberg’s Daniel Spreadbury said:

As of the release of Dorico 3.0.10 we are not aware of any problems with Dorico 3 on macOS 10.15 Catalina, and Dorico 3.0.10 is ready for all of the new security features being introduced with Catalina, such as Hardened Runtime and Notarization. However, the impact of these new security technologies on audio-focused applications is as yet not completely known, and we strongly recommend that you check with the manufacturers of all of the audio software, including instrument and effects plug-ins, to check that they have released new versions with explicit Catalina support before you upgrade. Furthermore, we advise that you keep an eye on the Steinberg web site for an official compatibility announcement for all of our products in the coming days for macOS 10.15 Catalina.

In summary: Dorico 3.0.10 is fully supported on macOS 10.15 Catalina, but if you rely on other VST instruments and effects or other audio applications, check with the manufacturers of all of those plug-ins and applications about Catalina support before you upgrade your Mac.

Steinberg published the following news article on November 5, 2019 with information about its other products:

Released in October, the latest operating operating system by Apple has been causing incompatibilities with many music software applications and drivers. We have been running tests and while several Steinberg products are meanwhile officially supporting Catalina, others will only gradually be updated for compatibility with Catalina.

Our recommendation is that you refer to the provided knowledge base article before taking the major step of installing Catalina on your Mac computer. The article offers further details plus compatibility charts that are updated regularly.

MuseScore

Official status: Supported

On October 31, 2019, MuseScore 3.3 was released, supporting “macOS 10.10 or higher”.

Notion

Official status: Supported

As of October 9, 2019, Notion is supported. According to an Apple macOS X 10.15 compatibility statement provided by PreSonus:

Notion 6.5.470 is required to run under 10.15. Check your third-party plug-in developers’ websites for updates, as many of them may not install or run correctly under 10.15, and will need updates themselves to work correctly.

Notion for iOS is compatible with iOS 13.

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Comments

  1. Waldbaer

    Thanks for posting this and keeping it up to date. I still wonder what the advantage of dropping 32-Bit-Support might be – if apps are small and don’t need more than 4GB RAM – fine, just let them take what they can handle – there even does not seem to be any noticeable speed advantage. Maybe somebody can make this clearer to me.

    I also asked myself what is the real benefit of Catalina, but as far as I can see, the most interesting thing is the iPad-integration. Well, I don’t have an iPad, I use a Surface for working on the road which saves me from carrying a tablet AND a laptop around. So for myself, it’s easy to decide at the moment: I simply won’t upgrade my iMac, at least until my Surface bites the dust.

    1. David MacDonald

      There are several reasons to drop 32-bit app support, but they all boil down to efficiency. If the operating system needs to be able to run both 32-bit and 64-bit apps, it needs to include all the processing capacity has to be there for both. That means that they need separate memory spaces (they can’t share the same RAM, so whatever is being used by one isn’t available to the other). The code for handling both kinds of apps takes up storage space. When memory is used inefficiently (by holding both 32- and 64-bit memory spaces), this actually uses more power, so notebooks get worse battery life. To your point that you don’t see a speed advantage, you wouldn’t actually see one until Apple is able to completely remove 32-bit support from the OS.

      The bottom line is that 64-bit architecture isn’t 32-bits-but-more; it’s completely different and non-overlapping.

      I’m not computer scientist, so there are probably other reasons I’m not aware of.

      1. Waldbaer

        Thanks for explaining this to me a little more in detail! Your words make sense, somehow. I just really don’t like Apple’s general strategy to simply kill working things, but probably it’s the only way to move forward. Maybe I’ll keep a partition on 10.14 to be able to run the 32bit-apps if I really want to. But I’ll save that for later, when I really want to have 10.15 at all.

        1. Ben

          “Progress is made one funeral at a time.” Maintaining 32-bit and 64-bit libraries for the same code functions requires twice as much work and makes bug-hunting harder. It also takes more disk space.
          Apple gives developers *several* years notice of their intentions; but some developers still don’t prepare for the change until Apple pulls the plug. (Seven years after the Intel CPU transition, some companies were caught out when Apple removed PPC support.)
          Users then blame Apple for “suddenly breaking things”. The warnings in Mojave are there to let the user know old apps won’t work, and to point the finger at the devs.
          Of course, on the smaller scale, new OSes do introduce new bugs, which may get fixed in later releases, but may have an effect on apps. Software is a river, not a lake!

  2. Michel Goldberg

    Hi,

    I have taken the risk of installing Catalina ! And as far as I know – for my use of Finale 26 – I have seen no problem till now, but I did not make an extensive use ans tests of Finale, so…

  3. Kathy Waite

    I have not seen any comments about Encore. I know a lot of people don’t use this as much as Finale and Sebalius, but I’ve used it for son long it would be like learning a new language to switch now. Will Encore eventually be supported on my Mac? It’s been bugging me constantly to update, but I want to make sure I have everything I need to print, scan, etc. before I upgrade. Thanks!

    1. Andrei

      Kathy,

      As per http://www.passportmusic.com/osx-catalina/, Encore is not yet working (properly) in Catalina.

      I, too, started with Rhapsody, then migrated (very happily!) to Encore for a few years, before switching to Sibelius 4, back in the day. Yes, the learning curve was a bit steep, and I still use some of my old, more intuitive shortcuts from Encore on my Sibelius 2018.11, but after a while I fell in love with Sibelius’ capabilities and much superior graphic output, and I’d never go back/away.

      I would recommend Sibelius very highly, since Encore seems to be stagnant/dormant/abandoned, just as it was in the old Gvox days – it’s probably just a hobby project at this point, there’s no way the guy/”team” can make a living at it given its (sadly) dwindling user base.

      Best wishes!

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