StaffPad for Windows 10 released with new features


PrintAs promised about a month ago, StaffPad Ltd. has released a new update today to its flagship StaffPad music handwriting app. Completely redesigned for Windows 10, StaffPad is a free update for existing users, and $70 for new users.

As before, it’s only available for Windows pen-and-touchscreen devices, and its release coincides with the availability of Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, and continues to be compatible with older devices like the Surface Pro 3 and the Surface 3.

StaffPad lead designer and founder David William Hearn talked about the changes from Windows 8 to Windows 10 that led to significant redesigns in the latest StaffPad update. “Instead of just adding workarounds for these changes, we decided to take the time to go deep and reimagine StaffPad exclusively for Windows 10,” David said. “We redesigned the user interface, to fit with the new Windows 10 look and feel. We now take advantage of new APIs and features that weren’t available to us previously, and of course we added some additional features and capabilities to the app as well.”

David also said in a blog post today that “StaffPad will now be a Windows 10 exclusive app moving forward. We’ve always got our eyes on the future, and the app is so different on Windows 10 that it really only makes sense to move forward and continually improve and enhance the app on Windows 10. The Windows 8 version will still run and function, but will be feature frozen.”

Having worked with the new update for several weeks, I can report that the fundamentals of StaffPad haven’t changed. If you already use StaffPad, the learning curve will be slight. Whether you’re an existing or potential user, though, you’ll want to know about the new features that improve StaffPad and continue to make it the most visionary music notation app currently available for any platform.

A few disclosures before we continue on:

  1. StaffPad Ltd. hired me to write their new help documentation, available online.
  2. Microsoft provided me with the Surface Pro 3 that I used to evaluate StaffPad.
  3. This article was not sponsored or vetted by StaffPad or Microsoft, although in some cases I did repurpose the same example images used for the StaffPad help documentation.

With that said, let’s explore some of the new things in StaffPad for Windows 10.

The home screen

StaffPad’s new home screen offers an easier layout with proper menu items on the top and side of the screen. A nice visual refresh: the background reflects the weather and time of day in your location (as you can see, it was a nice day in New York when I wrote this).


The top menu makes it easier to browse through your scores, templates, and collections, download additional instruments from the StaffPad store, and access the tutorials and help documentation. From the side menu you can search your scores by title, create a new score, import music files (like MIDI or MusicXML) and access the app’s settings.


From any score icon you can go through its previous versions, delete it, add it to collections, edit its details, and share it (albeit in a somewhat limited way at the moment).

Overall, getting around the home screen is more pleasant in this new update.

Visual improvements on the main screen and toolbars

Upon opening a new or existing score in StaffPad, you’ll notice several subtle differences that, when taken together, add up to a notable break from its Windows 8 counterpart.

All StaffPad menu items are now contained at the top of the screen in a primary toolbar and secondary command menus. Previously, some items were found at the top, some at the bottom, and some when swiping in from the right side (these were known as “charms”; these have thankfully been done away with in Windows 10 in favor of the Action Center).

Toggling between the toolbar (which appears in black) and the command bar (in a greyish-blue) is done via the chevron that appears at the top left corner of the screen.



Selecting whole bars of music is still done via double-touching the screen with your finger; this will cause the toolbar to become a command bar with selection-specific functions like Delete, Cut, Copy, Paste, Select All, Add Bars, Remove Bars, Reverse Stems, and Transpose.


Once you get accustomed to these changes, it makes much more sense to have all of these items organized in this way. All of the circular outlines have been removed, which leads to a less cluttered experience when working with the music.

StaffPad on Windows 8 and Windows 10, side by side
StaffPad on Windows 8 and Windows 10, side by side

A slightly different text font and brighter textured background round out the changes to the main writing screen.

New features

Handwritten dynamics recognition

It’s now possible to write in text dynamics and have StaffPad recognize them. While you can still place them by typing them in as before, it’s more natural to write them in without having to switch modes to insert text.


StaffPad recognizes the following dynamics:

  • All terraced dynamics from pppp to ffff
  • Sforzando dynamics such as sfz and sffz
  • Rinforzando dynamics such as rf and rfz
  • Subito dynamics such as sp, sf, sfp, and sfpp

From its earliest days, StaffPad recognized handwritten hairpins, and this continues to be the case; they can also be applied as symbols.

Lasso selections

One drawback of StaffPad until now was the inability to make a partial bar selection. You could select a single note and drag it up or down, or you could double-touch on an entire bar and expand your selection in whole-bar increments. But if you wanted to select a few notes and work with them, you were out of luck.

StaffPad addresses this shortcoming with a new ability to lasso-select notes and dynamics. To do so, you hold the right-click button on the pen and encircle the notes or text you wish to select. The notes can be part of a bar or they can straddle a barline.

Once you’ve made a lasso selection, the notes turn blue and the selection is frozen. You can drag the notes up or down, or copy them to another bar in the same or different instrument by tapping in the destination bar. You can even paste lassoed selections into another voice, similar to the Paste into Voice feature in Sibelius.


This method also makes it easy to quickly apply dynamics to several staves at once.


To clear the selection, you double-tap in a blank area of the score.

Colors in drawing mode

If you’re feeling especially artistic (or more practically if you want to color-code your sketches), StaffPad now offers a few colors in drawing mode, for sketches that you don’t want to be recognized as music.


Swing playback

StaffPad now supports both swing playback and ordinary straight playback, both within the same score. As you might expect, to play your score in swing style you create a tempo mark such as “Swing” or “Swung”. To switch to straight eighths, write “Straight”.


New symbols

To go along with swing playback, there are a few new symbols: doits, falls, scoops and plops. These are applied via the Symbols palette. A symbol is toggled, i.e., between a doit or a fall, by dragging the symbol up or down.


Jazz musicians will be excited about the updates to swing playback and the new symbols, but will be disappointed to learn that chord symbols have not yet made their way into the latest StaffPad update.

Copy and paste into other programs

You can now paste a selection directly into other applications, like OneNote or an e-mail. StaffPad will paste the selection as an image — perfect for quickly sharing an idea or demonstrating a passage of music, without needing to take the intermediate step of exporting a graphics file or making a screenshot of the score. A similarly useful feature is present in Sibelius.



Features since v.1.0

Of course, this latest update includes all the features cumulatively introduced since StaffPad was released in March. If you haven’t kept up with those since our initial review, there have been quite a few:

  • Instrument re-ordering
  • Custom time signature support
  • Multirest support for printed scores
  • Dotted notes for metronome marks
  • Lyrics
  • Repeat endings such as 1., 2., 3., …
  • More symbols: mordents, turns, open, harmonic, mute, up/down bow
  • Improved way of modifying symbol variants by dragging them up or down with the pen
  • Many fixes and performance enhancements

Voice-activated composer assistant

On the far right of the aforementioned toolbar you may have noticed the outline of a human figure. More than just mere decoration, this friendly icon is StaffPad’s new composer assistant. The assistant won’t fetch you a coffee or write a three-part fugue, but it will make a lot of repetitive musical tasks easier by responding to your voice (in English only).

Tap it, and the assistant will begin listening.


Start speaking to tell StaffPad what you want to do. The assistant will transcribe your speech (along with some temporary garbage to help it infer context).


If the assistant successfully understands your command, it will say “Done!” and apply the command to your score. If not, you’ll see “Sorry, I didn’t get that.”


You can ask the assistant to do things like add instruments to your score; set the tempo, time signature or key signature; change barlines and clefs; play, print and share the score; and ask for help. More examples are on the StaffPad help site.

While using the assistant, I experienced some misfires — sometimes StaffPad gave me wacky time signatures when I wanted a tempo mark, and it had trouble distinguishing between things like “B major” and “D major”. More than once, though, Siri has dialed the wrong number in my contacts or sent me to an incorrect address, so I’m willing to cut StaffPad some slack for inventing another breakthrough in music scoring software.

If the composer assistant eventually improves, no longer will you have to think “what tool do I press” or “where is the menu item located” to execute what are fundamentally straightforward and mundane tasks. You’ll just think it, say it — and it will appear in your score.

Help documentation

As I mentioned earlier, StaffPad hired me to write online help documentation, fully updated for the new version. Many users had been requesting a manual of sorts, which is how this guide came to be. It’s worth reading whether you’re new to StaffPad or not. It’s organized into several categories and it scales well on desktop or mobile devices.

For now, the tutorial videos included in StaffPad remain based on the earlier Windows 8 version, although there are plans to eventually update them.

Other improvements

StaffPad for Windows 10 is significantly faster when it comes to score loading and performance. These improvements are even more noticeable on the new Surface Pro 4, which I had a chance to try out during Microsoft’s New York event in early October. Its larger, higher-res, thinner screen, with faster processing and storage options seem tailor-made for StaffPad; the new Surface Pro 4 pen (which can be used with Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3) feels much more natural, with its pencil-like design and eraser at the top.

Another Microsoft improvement that StaffPad users will appreciate is the ability (finally) to print to PDF natively in Windows 10. To do so in StaffPad, you simply select Print from the secondary command bar and choose Microsoft Print to PDF as your printer. The print dialog itself is also more user-friendly.


Although sharing a PDF directly from within StaffPad via the Share icon isn’t supported quite yet, making PDFs and sharing them the “old-fashioned” way via e-mail or a service like Dropbox is still a better experience on Windows 10 than it was on Windows 8.

Final thoughts

A lot is packed into this latest version of StaffPad, having come just seven months after it was first released. Clearly the Windows 10 update cost StaffPad’s developers a great deal of time in order to retool the app to comply with all of the OS’s changes and design an experience that wasn’t compromised. With Microsoft’s newest OS and devices garnering good notices, it was the right decision to spend the time and effort to make StaffPad fully take advantage of all Windows 10 has to offer.

StaffPad still has a few growing pains. Occasionally a crash, stuttered playback or other wonky behavior will detract from the app’s generally polished experience. But with the app still in its relative infancy, I think the developers are setting a good balance among pushing rapid innovation with groundbreaking features, adding the common features you’d expect from a music writing program, and fixing bugs.

Of course, if StaffPad or a similarly impressive app were to find its way onto the iPad Pro with its new Apple Pencil, we might see music handwriting apps move from a niche product to a mass-market tool. iOS and Windows 10 are substantially different creatures, and for all the clamoring for StaffPad to be ported to iOS, it no doubt would be an enormous task, with no guarantee that the result wouldn’t be compromised.

There are lots of encouraging signs out there in the music notation world these days, coming from new and familiar corners alike. StaffPad is in a class of its own when it comes to music creation, and its future is bright.


  1. oddy

    nasty app .. too bad i can’t afford to buy the surface ..

    1. Hans Nel

      Same problem here. I wish I had a rich relative who could bless me with a Surface Pro 4!

  2. Fredrick Kaufman

    This is all marvelous, however, most of us are Apple users and therefore don’t use Windows.

    1. Beethoven

      A shame this company has foolishly hitched their wagon (software) to Microsoft. This application would be spectacular on an iPad Pro.

      1. JC Harris

        Having tried the Win8 version, I can only suggest that if one is serious notation user, it may be worth it to buy a Surface just to use StaffPad. I LOOOOVED the demo.

        I was told that the app simply was not possible to code to iPad due to some issue with the ‘swipe’ resolution. IOW: the iPad doesn’t allow for the fine detail that Surface does. Go figure.

        1. OhBrother

          Wake up people. A company is selling you a limited tool and charging top dollar, covering it with marketing hype that tells you it’s “simple”. Code word for limited. Truth: Its os can’t cut it for the big dog apps. Run steam on it. RIGHT. PhotoShop. HA! Same with top-line things like Staffpad.

          Stop supporting a company that charges you to shackle you, and support surface, and you’ll get top line apps like this plus all the other wimpy stuff will begin to port over there too. You’ll end up with it all.

          Just wake up and stop shooting yourselves in the foot!

          1. Alex

            Being a Windows user and Android user, I will never choose Surface Pro to move from paper to digital sheet music. Nothing can beat iPad Pro 12.9″ + forScore in that regard. And be sure there are much much more musicians, who need just to read music instead of write music. And most of them choose iPad Pro 12.9″ + forScore (I see it on world’s biggest musician’s forums). Nothing to do here for 12.3″ 3:2 screen and complete lacking analogues of great froScore app on Windows. Another important thing here: I hear a lot of feedbacks from users of various handwriting apps (including this StaffPad), that you have to be precise. Even with stylus. Otherwise you will get wrong notes etc. And I’ve read a lot of complaints about such applications (including StaffPad), that users use many attempts to get right results. And here I see two drawbacks: 1) It is not fast, and it is irritating. Thus work is not effective. 2) Maybe even more important for me: Ergonomics. Working with stylus your eyes will strain much more, because you have to watch screen every moment, and you have to be precise with stylus. While working with regular Sibelius, using keyboard, you don’t even need to watch monitor all the time, and you don’t need to be precise. And this fact gives more freedom and makes work more effective. I have Sibelius on my Windows laptop, and I don’t need handwriting toys instead of powerfull Sibelius. And I will definitely go for new iPad Pro 2 in March to start my big way of moving from paper to digital sheet music as most musicians do for this purpose.

        2. Alex

          “I can only suggest that if one is serious notation user, it may be worth it to buy a Surface just to use StaffPad. I LOOOOVED the demo”.

          What a stupid thing you told… And you loved… DEMO? Ha-ha, very nice… So, being a serious Sibelius user, I will never change it for this toy. There is one important thing here: I hear a lot of feedbacks from users of various handwriting apps (including this StaffPad), that you have to be precise. Even with stylus. Otherwise you will get wrong notes etc. And I’ve read a lot of complaints about such applications (including this StaffPad), that users use many attempts to get right results. And here I see two drawbacks: 1) It is not fast, and it is irritating. Thus work is not effective. 2) Maybe even more important for me: Ergonomics. Working with stylus your eyes will strain much more, because you have to watch screen every moment, and you have to be precise with stylus. While working with regular Sibelius, using keyboard, you don’t even need to watch monitor all the time, and you don’t need to be precise. And this fact gives more freedom and makes work more effective.

      2. Andrei

        X 10! Hopefully they’ll get tired of rewriting StaffPad for every Windows update and come up with an iOS version for iPad Pro.

        Myself, I’d have to be paid good money to consider a non-Apple device, no matter how appealing StaffPad may well be — for the price of a SurfacePro, I’d much rather continue getting my Sibelius engraving outsourced for just $2.50/page!

        1. David

          Could you share more about engraving services? Who? Website?

          1. Andrei

            David, I cannot provide details, as I’m sworn to secrecy by my business partner. Sorry!
            But I know/use a couple of hard-working PHDs out there (Prepared, Hungry, Driven) that are thankful for the opportunity and do simply excellent Sibelius work…

      3. J.W.

        Unfortunately, even if it was ported to the iPad pro, the software would be just a shadow of the full fat original!

        A few people are complaining why this isn’t on iOS, well, for one thing, it’s still a limited OS; it’s a toy compared to OSX or Windows.

        For others who are saying they would get Staffpad immediately if it was on the iPad pro; why spend more money on this device, when you can purchase a Surface Pro 3 for less money and better experience and functionality?

        It seems strange for people to willingly lock themselves into a brand.

        The reviews are saying Staffpad is one of the best applications of it’s type. By extension the experience and functionality of Windows is an integral part of this.

        There are no negatives, sighting Windows as a drawback, or how this could be better on an iPad!

        So if people really want this software, along with the full functionality and great experience, then just buy a Surface Pro 3 (or 4), you don’t have an exclusive allegiance to all things Apple!

        It’s never coming to ipad, that much is certain. If it was ported to iPad pro, it would be a lesser experience on a more expensive device.

        You may aswell go for the Best experience on a cheaper but more functional device!

        But what do I know?! There’s no reasoning with fanatics!

        1. Vu

          seriously, all the crazy Apple zealots… get a real computer.

          1. OhBrother

            Don’t bother guys, you’re yelling into a void.

            Case in point: Just spoke to a guy yesterday who bought his iPad pro and INSISTED it can do everything my pc tablet can do. Then he started watching me do stuff with files, accessing LAN shares, running full apps, wirelessly extending to external monitors, and he squeaked ‘i can’t do any of that…’ I just chuckled..


    2. Hans Nel

      I think it’s about time the more focus is given to Windows apps. In the past, all nice apps were usually coded for iPad (Apple devices). And I don’t agree that most musicians use Apple users. There are far more Windows devices than Apple devices in this world and Microsoft also deserves good apps. It would be great if Windows AND Apple was supported, but Apple prevent developers to access certain API or functions. Developing for Android is the best because developers can access all the hardware of a device. For security reasons, Windows and Apple are more “stingy” at allowing developers access to the entire device.Point in case…Windows does not allow access to the top button of the Surface tablet. I still wonder why? That is why the developers of StaffPad cannot produceStaffPad in all it’s glory for the iPad.

      1. Hans Nel

        It’s a pity one cannot “Edit” a submitted post. I was talking about the Surface’s PEN button which is not programmable.

        1. Hans Nel

          Oh, I also forgot to mention…
          Windows has a market share of 91.8% compared to OS X with 7.3%

    3. J.W.

      Most of us are Windows users actually!

    4. OhBrother

      Yep. Most of the world are lemmings, settling for inferior products at inflated prices because they are following the crowd that is following the marketing hype. If they stopped, we might end up getting more tools like this with real capability, instead of dumbed-down versions on limited tools that charge top dollar for their “simplified” interface.

      You will get the capability you ask for.

  3. Paolo

    Hans, do you think that all the accountants using Windows will be interested to music apps?

    1. Fredrick Kaufman

      I still content that StaffPad is worthless to a large population of serious composers who have no use for Windows. I agree with the previous comment, this may be great for accountants, but not for anyone using an Apple computer to compose. Too bad. How about turning out a version that will work for the rest of us? Fred

      1. J.W.

        People need to step back and look at the bigger picture.

        It’s pretty clear from your post that you are willingly locking yourself into the Apple brand!

        It is actually amusing and I’m not certain whether you recognise this!

        Does a brand really hold that much control on an individual?

        The reviews for Staffpad are excellent. There are no negatives against Windows, nor any criticism of the Surface hardware (for which Staffpad was specifically written for).

        The developers and reviewers have said an iPad port just won’t work, or not to the standard of the original.

        Taking this into account, the question just comes to how much you need/desire Staffpad and whether you can afford a Surface Pro 3 or 4 or even Surface Book.

        1. Steve Steele

          It’s not about brand loyalty. Although Windows has improved, I just find working in Windows to be a dull experience overall. I just genially like OS X.

          iOS has traditionally been weak. But I just bought an iPad Pro and having been buying some newer and more powerful composition tools and I must say, I’m starting to really enjoy the experience and don’t really want to deal with the a full blown OS on the Intel platform for my mobile device.

          I realize that Staff Pro would be a different experience on iOS. I’m also a little jealous and pissed off that this guy stubbornly refuse to develop for anything Apple. It reminds my of the program Acid that came out in the 90s. It was a very hot program that was stubbornly Windows only. Look what happened to it.

          At the end of the day, a long as Apple is doing well, the majority of serious musicians will use Macs and iOS devices. I’ve done work at many major studios in LA and in Texas, know many musicians with home studios, and out of let’s say 100 people with home or professional studios I can’t think of ONE that’s Windows based. Seriously.

          I know that musicians do use Windows, especially in Europe (Germans have a lot of Windows based studios with Cubase, etc..), but I hardly ever work with musicians who have a PC. It’s so rare that it’s almost 0%. I’m not sure why actually. It seems like I’d run into a Windows studio at some point.

          So David William Hearn’s obsession with Windows is unfounded and stubborn. He’s obviously talented. Develop cross platform then. There’s no doubt that his program looks amazing. But someone else will eventually fill the void he’s leaving. Not sure if it will be an OSX/iOS app like Notion or just an iPad Pro based app. But it will happen. I’m eager for it to happen. But I’ll wait for it.

          Last thought. It’s not that I love Apple so much. I just don’t like Windows. Even if Windows 7 was a good release for audio apps. If he developed a Linux release then I’d probably go for it if I could. So, see it’s not so much about Apple (although I do love my MacPros and iPad Pro), it’s more of a dislike for Windows.

          1. Hans Nel

            J.W. it is not that David is “Stubborn”. It is just that OS X does not provide the API’s and functionality that would enable David to create StaffPad for iMac or worse…iPad Pro. The pen (when available eventually) also lacks certain buttons. I’m sure if APPLE catches on, David might consider developing for i-devices.

            Personally, being a Windows user, I’m glad that someone actually started developing great apps for our platform. You must admit that APPLE users got very spoiled in the past. You got, eg. GarageBand. We begged development of it for Windows, but to no avail!

            Regarding Windows vs Apple usage percentages, I think you are biased. South African companies use Windows, so does the rest of Africa…for the simple reason the hardware is cheaper. We DO have APPLE users in South Africa, but they are mainly the rich yuppies who sit in coffee shops bragging about his/her stuff, wich makes me laugh. Apple UI really looks boring with its rows of icons. As ou said, Europe is mainly Windows users. You know, Americans are the world’s majority users of Apple products. In other countries, it’s mainly a pride issue when people acquire i-devices. Just for interest sake, I went through three iPhones that just broke (something to do with the IMEI chip) that prevents a carrier to recognise the ID of the iPhone. It could NOT be fixed and I had to re-purchase the phone…so I went to Samsung Note 4 instead…which is great by the way!

            I’m the South African Navy Band arranger/composer. We also have a recording studio and they recently acquired an iMac for the recordings, using Pro Tools 11. They have constant problems with the iMac eg they had too little memory to handle the processes…now on a PC, you take off the cover and plug in more RAM. But the iMac has to be sent to an iStore and they sent it 1200km to Johannesburg to add more memory! How ludicrous! MY problem with APPLE is that THEY want to be in charge with a device and me, the user, cannot alter any hardware configuration.

            My point is, as soon as APPLE relaxes on their tight grip on their API’s, better software (like StaffPad) can be developed for it. That is what David said. He said there are too many issues that prevent him from developing for te APPLE ecosystem.

            Lastly, I still use my iPad (which I enjoy for quick email checking, calendar etc.). I also use the iMac (at work) and REALLY don’t understand why there are people that believe that APPLE products are the best. The ONLY thing I like about the iMac is it’s exterior. I like the “looks” of the screen (which looks great) and the computer that is built INSIDE the screen’s box. But, that’s about it. I recently build my own PC with 2 SSD, 16GIG Ram…basically only the best, and it was still cheaper than that silly iMac at work!

            J.W….move to Windows. Windows 10 is really fantastic, and the Surface Pro (too expensive for me) is phenomenal!

        2. Hans Nel

          J.W. You know said:
          “…The developers and reviewers have said an iPad port just won’t work, or not to the standard of the original…”

          You are correct. This is also true even on WINDOWS tablets. I have a Samsung ATIV PC Pro running Windows 10. The app installs as expected BUT, the stylus only has ONE button. You have no idea the what difference lacking one button have on StaffPad.

      2. Hans Nel

        Well I have to disagree…Hans Zimmer use Cubase 5 on a Windows 7 machine.

        Newspapers:- Network 24 (in Cape town) uses PC to print newspapers. Cape Argus uses Mac. Network 24’s newspapers look better and has more sales.

        Apple is totally overrated IMHO!

    2. Hans Nel

      Hi Paolo,

      Firstly we are talking about MUSIC SOFTWARE, and Apple does not have the majority share, perhaps only in the US.

      But to answer your question, how must I know if an accountant loves music or not? We DO, however, have a guy in the Navy’s finance dept who regularly contacts me (like many South African Sibelius users countrywide) if he needs Sibelius support. The South African Navy (and government (mostly) uses Windows. Perhaps our Commander in Chief uses an iMac but I cannot see why he should, though. Problem is, many units are still stuck with Windows XP (it’s VERY expensive to obtain site licenses from Microsoft every time Windows releases a new version). THAT is why I said that poorer countries cannot afford Apple devices.

  4. Miguel Marcos

    I’m a decades long user of the Mac, all the way from a Mac Plus in the late 80s. I’m still on the Mac. I also use an iPhone and an iPad. I’ve been through a number of iPod Touches, iPhones and iPads.

    I had lots of expectations, for the iPad especially, to become a useful composition tool but Apple has done zip to make it easy to connect external devices and it has done nothing to open up the file system so files can be shared easily with the Mac and stored in a meaningful manner for the way I work.

    MS, lucky for them, took the right path in making a single OS transparent across devices. So in the meantime, all the power to MS and Sibelius for this kind of app because they can! When Apple decides to do the right thing and properly empower iOS devices, then I’ll reconsider. (And it will happen but, for the life of me, I don’t know what Apple is waiting for.)

    For the time being I’ll stick to my Mac.

    My wife has a Surface Pro 3. She uses it for standard Office software needs, no music software. I am envious of the hardware and OS integration she has on that thing.

    1. Steve Steele

      Things have changed. I used to feel the same way as you about the closed file system. In fact it used to really piss me off.

      But with iCloud drive, Continuity and WiFi Network Sessions iOS and OS X have become quite easy to integrate.

      Take Notion for a moment. I can compose out some ideas or start and complete a fairly complicated lead sheet, drop it into iCloud Drive and open it on my MacPro in Notion (which is ReWired to Digital Performer), and I can finish a big midi orchestration mock up.

      iOS and OS X have some way to go, and MS got a bit lucky that hardware got small enough before Apple got iOS and OS X together enough. And MS was smart to built the Surface.

      Still, iOS isn’t far behind now with the ARM A9 performing well and iOS 9 actually being pretty darn good. I hope Apple starts to really add some power features now that the Surface is out there. I don’t have a lot of faith in the current regime at Apple but we’ll see. I’d really like to see StaffPad or something similar on iOS and OS X though.

      1. Miguel Marcos

        The thing is iCloud can be substituted by Dropbox, Box, etc, on iOS or any OS. I like turning off wifi on my iPad, and just work without PITA interruptions (like iOS’ *daily* insistence that I update to iOS 9.x which cannot be turned off) but Apple has concocted a difficult environment in which to easily and transparently share files between apps. I like working with samples and use Audioshare as my library. Migrating a sample from Audioshare to another app is awful. It feels like I’m jumping hoops all the time.

        iOS remains a consumption-oriented device for the most part. I’m anxious for Apple to break down the wall between OSX and iOS once and for all but they’re focused on selling online radio, watches (and also, changing the UI all the time without explanation; for example, now, everytime I click on a link that opens another app I get a dialog asking me if I want to open that app; and I can’t even turn that thing off).

    2. OhBrother

      Amen. Appreciate your honest critique.

  5. JC Harris

    I think some Apple people just can’t wrap their minds around the idea that not every aspect of Apple hardware is superior. I say that because I keep reading comments bemoaning the lack of an Apple version. I think such readers haven’t studied StaffPad. The developer only chose to work on Surface Pro because the iPad simply does not have the pen resolution to support detailed drawing. End of story. So it would be best to contact -Apple- and ask -them- to make an iPad with the same pen res. as Surface. I’m sure the StaffPad people would LOVE to be able to do an iOS version when the hardware is there. They want to make money just like the rest of us!

    1. J.W.

      Its not just that though.

      The apple pen doesn’t have handwriting recognition. There are no external usb ports or card readers support for transfer or storage. There is no file system etc.

      Basically, Staffpad on iOS would be a lesser experience due to the OS software and iPad hardware…

      1. JC Harris

        You know more about it than I do. But the whole Surface thing was -my- first question… and the dev. discusses it in depth on their site. The upshot is that he only uses Surface because it’s currently the only product that -works- and that seems to be a tough thing for the Apple crowd to get their heads round. For -me- it’s potentially such a time saver that I can see forking out $2k. It’s the only notation app I’ve yet used that isn’t a total PITA.

      2. Steve Steele

        No file system? Yes there is. Just not a desktop OS file system. Things are getting better with iOS. With the iPad Pro trying to do heavy lifting and some great apps coming out now, Apple is going to have to make iOS more “pro”.

        1. Hans Nel

          You know, I have Notion for PC and the IPad version. The PC version can save files anywhere I want. The iPad has no file system, like documents, or whatever. I can through Notion crate a folder in Dropbox to save (export) my files. Why don’t Notion dor iPad make usr of the iCloudDrive, instead of Dropbox. When I plug my iPad into my PC, all I can see is a folder that contains my photos. NOTHING ELSE!. How idiotic! Where is my other files like documents, designs, music compositions, pdf’s etc. Apple is useless regarding their file system. In the users folder on a windows PC, I can at least see, desktop, documents, download, pictures, videos and more. iPad file structure is limited to pictures only-and that sucks!

          1. OhBrother

            You nailed it. It’s why all the apple people I know no longer use their iPad for any serious business work. They just go back to their mac. Huge commentary on the drawback of iOS in my opinion.

      3. Hans Nel

        Yes, you are correct. But, it’s not only the pen issue. One need USB ports. The cloud solution is not necessarily to best one as poorer communities, in Africa and other areas, just cannot afford constant online services that keep devices online 24 hours a day.

        Here in Cape Town, (myself, in the Navy Band and the honor of a reputation of mr Sibelius (used to be mr Finale)) knows what is going on at the ground level. Sibelius can save projects on flash drives, so people can share THAT way. Let me explain. We have a music school (much like Kneller hall in London) who train military musicians that study for BandMaster certification. That school uses Sibelius. They are not on the internet (Military Security Issues). So the students use flash drives. So, although I, for one, appreciates the possibilities of cloud services, it’s not always feasible.

        So, Apple MUST start to add ports and a more open file system. That’s why I said before, Apple has too much control on a device, which IS MINE, and I want to adapt the device as needed.

  6. ChrisRS

    You don’t need to pay $2,000 for a suitable computer. StaffPad does not require a Surface Pro 3 or 4.
    MS Store:
    Surface 3 – $499 – 599
    Surface Pro 3 – $799 and up
    Surface Pro 4 – $899 and up
    There are other manufacturers as well.
    Note: My daughter is successfully using StaffPad W10 on an I3 Surface Pro 1 that I bought for $500 when the Surface Pro 2 came out.
    (Surface 1 and Surface 2 are will not work.) You can use an inexpensive blue tooth or USB keyboard; the Surface keyboards are not necessary and are in the way when writing with the pen.

  7. Stig Christensen

    I was one of the first movers with StaffPad and bought a Surface Pro 3. I’m a Mac man but have been using PC way back. It’s not that Surface Pro 3 is a bad device. It’s okay a bit heavy and difficult to handle. When Win 10 came out the device was updated and the way it worked changed radically. Some buttons had new functions. nearly all icons changed and somehow it was like starting all over.
    I wanted to use the Surface Pro as a controller in my studio but there wasn’t that many apps for that purpose that runs on windows, Lemur is mac only. So 3 weeks ago I sold it and now I have money for a iPad Pro and join the group of composers and musicians that hope for StaffPad or another app that works with iPad Pro.
    By the way do you think I can sell my StaffPad license?
    Regards Stig Christensen

    1. Hans Nel

      “…By the way do you think I can sell my StaffPad license?…”

      You should ask this question to David Hearn at

  8. Richard

    Would StaffPad be available to every account on the Surface? Or would it only be available to the account that bought the software from the Windows Store? We have one Surface but two potential users in our family. Thanks…

    1. Hans Nel

      I purchased StaffPad on the store and it is running on my Windows tablet and Windows 10 PC. I guess as long as you use your Microsoft account a Windows device, it will install on that device. You should contact David Hearn at if (license wise) it is ethical to do it. But, it will install on any Windows device that uses the same account.

  9. martin


    Just got my surface pro 4 and staffpad. As I write mainly choral music have been putting in music and lyrics. However whenever I move onto a new word or a hyphenated syllable staffpad puts a capital letter. How can this be corrected?



  10. Johannes

    At first I want to tell a big thank you Philip for the reviews! (and for second apologize for my very bad english…)

    I am very exited with Staffpad and thinking to buy a surface pro 4 just for it.

    I am a composer and orchestrator “old school” (paper and pen) and waiting for this software 20 years (!) after working a lot with DAWs and Finale.

    I work often with large orchestral scores, and considering the dimension of the surface, there is my 4 questions:

    1) There is an option like in Finale “Program staff set” that allow display (for example) only the winds and the strings sections? (the sections that are at the top and bottom of the score).

    2) How many staff you can see when you write in horizontal and vertical display orientation (with zoom for writing easy)?

    3) How many staff you can see in horizontal vertical orientation for follow playback of big scores?

    4) Is there an option like in Finale for “optimize staves” (hidden empty stave from in page view), for easy read scores and for save space when you print the score?

    Thanks again for your wonderful work!

  11. win7

    Any new release for windows 7

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