Music notation software and macOS Sonoma [updated]

News

If it feels like it has not even been a year since the last time Apple updated the Mac’s operating system, that’s because that’s the case. Barely eleven months ago, we were treated to macOS 13 Ventura, but that’s old news by now. Today marks the official debut of macOS 14 Sonoma.

Apple has settled into a more-or-less regular annual cadence of making major updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS all around the same time, with good reason. These platforms are resembling each other evermore, and if you have a device (or two or three) corresponding to each of the aforementioned systems, you’ll want the experience of using them, and switching among them to be as seamless as possible — which means the features, apps, and operating systems must move in relative lockstep.

A date with the update

Sure enough, last week’s downloadpalooza included iOS 17, iPadOS 17, tvOS 17, and watchOS 10, so if you haven’t stretched your bandwidth with all of those updates, by all means go grab them and treat your devices to the latest and greatest.

With all that in mind, however, the music notation software we primarily discuss here on Scoring Notes is still anchored to the desktop — albeit with healthy outposts on iPad and, to a lesser extent, iPhone — so this article will focus on what Mac users need to know about their favorite music notation software that runs on Mac, and its newest OS.

The first takeaway with Sonoma is that there doesn’t appear to be anything that will drastically change how Sibelius, Finale, Dorico, MuseScore, or Notion will fare, compared to Ventura. If you favor stability and continuity in your music scoring experience, then that is very welcome news. You’ll want to keep this page handy as the developers do their final testing and qualifications on Sonoma, which means that it may still be days or weeks in the future before they can official say it’s supported. So if you aren’t burning to try some of the new features in Sonoma, you’d be well-advised to hold off grabbing that update until your software of choice is officially supported.

Speaking of the new features in Sonoma, they run the gamut from the silly to the utilitarian. Don’t get me wrong, when I have a FaceTime call I’ll enjoy filling the screen with hearts, confetti, and fireworks as much as anyone, but when it comes down to business, there are a few things in Sonoma that look appealing.

Share and share alike

One of them is a new Screen Sharing picker that allows you to share an app on a video call directly from the “traffic light” buttons in the window you’re working in. If you’ve ever been flummoxed when attempting to share a screen during a Zoom call, this should make it a lot simpler.

Presenter Overlay is a new video effect that you can use along with screen sharing to create news-anchor style insets of the the screen while you keep talking and demonstrating. Just imagine the fun you can have with music theory worksheets!

And while we’re on the topic of screen sharing, a different kind of screen sharing also sees an upgrade in Sonoma. The Mac’s Screen Sharing app in Sonoma has a new high-performance mode that uses the advanced media engine in Apple Silicon to enable highly responsive remote access over high-bandwidth connections. For pro users embracing hybrid in-studio and remote workflows, it delivers low-latency audio, high frame rates and supports up to two virtual displays. This way you can securely access your content from anywhere, and with the reference quality you may need in order to deliver the goods to a demanding client, no matter where you’re working from — provided you have a high-bandwidth connection and Macs that are equipped with Apple Silicon, of course.

Call ’em Kanban

If you work in a corporate or educational environment, or just work on a lot of different projects, you might already be familiar with Kanban boards, which use cards and columns to visually represent tasks and stages at various stages of a project, respectively.

While not a replacement for full-featured project management systems like Trello, the Reminders app in Sonoma introduces the ability to group items within a list by creating sections, which can then be organized into columns across your screen.

You can drag items between columns as a way to move them through the stages of a project — and because you can share lists with others, this could be an effective way of keeping track of everyone’s progress, assuming your colleagues are using macOS Sonoma as well.

Even if you’re working by yourself, it’s a handy tool. And, for those late-night munchies, Reminders now will automatically sort Grocery Lists into sections.

There’s an app for that

In Sononma, you can add any web site to the Dock as a web app from Safari’s File menu. Once that’s done, launch the web app to get an app-like experience with a simplified toolbar and access web apps the way you would any app and receive notifications.

Although Apple says that no work is needed to make a web site compatible with this feature, developers have the ability to refine the scope of a web app to a specific path on their site if so desired.

If this works as advertised, it’s possible this could be used for web apps like Flat, Noteflight, Soundslice, and Bandlab, where they live on your Dock right next to executable apps like Sibelius and Logic, further blurring the line between web-based apps and traditional desktop computer programs.

Compatibility

There are other Sonoma features that are specific to Apple Silicon Macs, something that already started with Ventura, so if you have an older Intel Mac, some of the new goodies might not work on your machine. And depending on the age of your Mac, you might not be able to run Sonoma at all; Macs from 2017, including the 2017 MacBook Pro, 2017 iMac and 2017 12-inch MacBook, will not support Sonoma.

Here is the list of Sonoma-supported Macs:

  • MacBook Pro: from 2018 and later
  • MacBook Air: from 2018 and later
  • Mac mini: from 2018 and later
  • iMac: from 2019 and later
  • iMac Pro: from 2017
  • Mac Studio: from 2022 and later
  • Mac Pro: 2019 and later

Apple’s pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro are Sonoma-ready from day one. But if you have third-party plug-ins and sound libraries that you use in these or indeed any of your music notation software, you’ll want to check to make sure that all of the ones that you use are supported as well.

Proceed with all deliberate speed

The bottom line is that we don’t expect any issues with users of music notation software upgrading from macOS 13 Ventura to macOS 14 Sonoma, as long as you are running the latest version of your application of choice (consult our Scoring Notes Product Guide to make sure that you’re staying current). As always, though, caution is advised, and, unless you really need to do so sooner, it’s best to wait to move to Sonoma until your favorite applications are officially supported.

And, as ever, on the Scoring Notes podcast, we have a few time-testing tips and strategies to follow when it comes time to click that big button, whether it’s the one that says upgrade your operating system or the one that debits your bank account and results in a brand-new computer, and the steps you should take to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

If you’re using any of these products with Sonoma, you are very welcome to share your experience in the comments section.


Updated September 26, 2023: Initial post.
Updated September 26, 2023 at 7:35 pm with links and statements from MakeMusic Knowledge Base and Steinberg support.
Updated September 29, 2023 at 7:53 am with more information from MakeMusic about Finale’s ScoreManager feature.
Updated October 3, 2023 at 8:00 am with links to Avid and PreSonus Knowledge Base articles, and updated information from MakeMusic about Finale’s ScoreManager feature.
Updated October 27, 2023 at 7:25 am with more information about Dorico (supported in macOS Sonoma 14.1) and Finale (forthcoming 27.4 update will provide support).
Updated November 30, 2023 at 6:00 am with more information about Finale (supported in 27.4).
Updated November 30, 2023 at 11:52 am with more information about Sibelius (supported under Rosetta in 2023.11).
Updated December 18, 2023 with more information about MuseScore (supported in 4.2).

Note: The official Sonoma status will not say “Supported” unless the developer has fully qualified its software to run on that version of macOS.

For official Apple Silicon status, we will say “Supported under Rosetta 2” if the developer has fully qualified the software on Apple Silicon Macs running Rosetta, and “Supported natively” if the developer is providing native Apple Silicon support.

We’ll continue to update this post as warranted.


Sibelius

Official Sonoma status: Supported
Official Apple Silicon status: Supported under Rosetta 2

On November 30, 2023, Avid has released Sibelius 2023.11 for desktop and mobile, which brought official support for macOS Sonoma, as well as other features and fixes.

Sibelius for Mobile is supported on iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.

You’ll want to bookmark the operating system compatibility chart for all versions of Sibelius (going back to 1.4!), and periodically refer to it when it is updated. There is also the comprehensive chart of all Avid products and their compatibility with several of the latest macOS systems and chipsets, as well as iOS and iPadOS.

Further, there is this article stating the minimum requirements for Sibelius.

Finale

Official Sonoma status: Supported
Official Apple Silicon status: Supported

On November 29, 2023, MakeMusic released Finale v27.4, which brought official support for macOS Sonoma, as well as addressing other bugs and fixes.

About this update, and earlier versions of Finale, MakeMusic said:

This update brings support for macOS Sonoma, making Finale v27.4 the only version of Finale compatible with the latest operating system from Apple. Please note that while older versions of Finale may continue to work on Sonoma, we cannot guarantee satisfactory performance.

Finale v27.4 is a universal binary application, allowing it to run in Apple Silicon native mode.

Dorico

Official Sonoma status: Supported
Official Apple Silicon status: Supported

On October 27, 2023, Steinberg’s product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury told Scoring Notes:

“Since Apple released macOS 14.1 this week, we’re now able to safely recommend Dorico 5 for use on the latest version of macOS, since Apple have introduced a fix for the problem that caused some of our VST plug-in windows to draw incorrectly.”

For more information, consult this Steinberg support article, which states in part: “macOS Sonoma 14.1 addresses the graphical issues. If macOS Sonoma is already installed, it is recommended to update to macOS 14.1 to restore the functionality.”

Dorico 5.0.20, released on July 5, 2023, is the second maintenance update to Dorico 5 and is supported on Ventura and natively on Apple Silicon.

For complete information about Dorico and all of Steinberg’s products, consult the official Steinberg product compatibility page for Sonoma.

MuseScore

Official Sonoma status: Supported
Official Apple Silicon status: Supported under Rosetta 2

Although no major issues were reported with MuseScore 4.1 and macOS 14 Sonoma, MuseScore 4.2, released December 18, 2023, is now officially supported on the latest Mac operating system.

In December 2022, MuseScore released MuseScore 4, with an entirely new interface, an engraving overhaul, workflow improvements, a new mixer, VST instruments and effects support, and accessibility improvements.

Notion

Official Sonoma status: Supported
Official Apple Silicon status: Desktop – Supported under Rosetta 2; Mobile – Supported

Notion on desktop is supported on Sonoma under Rosetta 2, according to Notion product manager Chris Swaffer.

The normal PreSonus statement usually comes a few weeks later once everything is tested again with actual release builds, and will be found at their Knowledge Base.

For now, the more general Presonus statement advises caution:

On Sept 26, 2023 Apple released macOS 14 – Sonoma and on Sept 18, 2023, Apple released iOS 17 / iPadOS 17.

PreSonus has been involved with testing macOS14 / iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 during its development phases. However the final release candidates are not the same as their beta releases. We are currently evaluating the full release version of these operating systems with our line of hardware and software. We do not yet recommend upgrading to these operating systems at this time.

When we have completed our assessment, we will update this article with more information about compatibility. If you choose to upgrade in the meantime and run into any issues, please open a support ticket with us through your my.presonus.com account.

Notion Mobile (their new free cross-platform application) is supported natively with Apple Silicon on Mac, and on iPadOS 17 and iOS 17.

Comments

  1. Padraic Fanning

    “MakeMusic does not expect any issues with latest versions of Sibelius”

    Hmm…

    1. Philip Rothman

      Oops! Thanks for spotting that. Fixed.

  2. Xiaomu Ma

    On October 9th, macOS Sonoma was updated and an issue has been discovered where the “Add Instrument” button in the Score Manger interface is non-responsive and unusable in Finale 27.3. It is hoped that a timely update can be provided to resolve this issue.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *