How many displays do you have?


Here’s a little question for you for the weekend: what kind of computer do you run Sibelius on, and how many displays do you have attached to that computer?

[polldaddy poll=3341092]

What’s your ideal configuration for running Sibelius? Do you prefer having, for example, one portrait monitor to show a whole page of music, and a smaller display for the floating tool windows, or do you prefer two landscape monitors with the music stretched right across both in Panorama? Share your stories in the comments, but don’t forget to answer the poll!


  1. Mary Elizabeth

    I have a 17″ MacBook Pro, and nearly always have a 24″ external monitor attached. I added a second monitor when I was preparing the content for the Worksheet Creator (at that time, I was using a G5 desktop). The use of two monitors proved invaluable for that work. I regularly use the smaller monitor for the Mixer or source material.

  2. Christopher

    I have a 15″ MacBook Pro, I borrowed my friends monitor while I was writing a trio. I fell in love with the look of the score when the monitor was in Portrait mode and will now be buying myself a 24″ monitor to do the same : )

  3. mike

    15″ Laptop with 24″ 2nd Display. Great combination. No desktop in my house.

  4. Adrian

    G5 with 24″ monitor and 17″ monitor (from older comp we don’t use, until I can afford another 24″)

    Very invaluable to have multiple spaces to work from. It is helpful to keep resources and tools on the smaller monitor while leaving my larger desktop to focus on layout (and no longer toggling back and forth between windows for anything helps as well).

    With so much workspace available between the two, I’ve also found a trackball is more necessary to help switch between large work spaces. Is there going to be a poll for that in the near future? I’m curious to know how predominant trackball usage is among the Sibelius community.

  5. Peter Roos, San Francisco

    I currently run Sibelius and all my other audio and video programs (Reaper, Sonar, Vegas, Notion and dozens of VSTs and plugins) on a high end custom built laptop. The screen is only 17″ but it has an extremely high resolution, allowing me to have video, Sibelius and plugin interfaces all on one screen (switching back and forth).

    There’s a couple of other computers, including a big backup DAW (rack mounted PC DAW), and there’s this laptop on which I am typing, and a really old and slow XP laptop for printing. All have their own displays.

    Going back to my now primary system, it is really nice to have a super powerful but still portable laptop that I can take everywhere to meet filmmaking clients, or just to tinker away on scores.

  6. Ed Hirschman

    I’ve got a 25″ monitor. With that size, I can simultaneously see 2 pages at full size on the screen or more at reduced size. Very handy for using Sibelius.

  7. Mark Rosenberg

    I use a Toshiba laptop with a 16″ screen with an attached Samsung 23″ hi res monitor. Standard workflow has big band score in panorama mode on the Samsung with all other Sib windows on the laptop display.

  8. Ian

    I’m surprised how many people use a laptop! Isn’t it massively inconvenient to be lacking a full keyboard? Laptops generally don’t have a numeric keypad on the right.

  9. Michel Heydemann

    I use a 15″ Dell Latitude E6500 while on travel, but at home it is docked, internal display is closed and I use two external 21.5″ 1980×1080 excellent P2250 Samsung displays. This is definitely much better than using a single large 26″ display as I did before. Among reason of using two displays: transcribing music from YouTube videos, Sibelius on one display, Transcribe software on the other one. Another reason is a bit Sibelius related: creating audio files from Sibelius exported .wav or .mid fed into Ableton Live, .mid edited to use more sophisticated sound libs than the one coming with Sibelius, and then mixing. So Ableton live on one display, and VST instruments UI windows on the second display. A single reasonably priced display would not be large enough.

  10. laurence payne

    Sibelius users have quite a wide range of laptops with a keypad to choose from, I currently use a Toshiba Satellite Pro P100. But my main Sibelius machine is a desktop with twin monitors. There used to be three, but it wasn’t really necessary. One generally shows the score, the other might have a page of script or the track I’m transcribing from.

  11. Daniel Léo Simpson

    ” Isn’t it massively inconvenient to be lacking a full keyboard? ”
    I’m with Ian there – yikes, it’s baby steps with the laptop for me – no keypad so all my shortcuts setup for those are gone. Clearly everyone is adapting so these restrictions become irrelevant.
    Daniel Léo Simpson
    San Francisco Bay area

  12. Øyvind Moe

    One 27″ monitor (iMac) does the trick for me. I can fit two pages on-screen and work with them full-size even with relatively large ensembles, thanks to the massive resolution.

  13. Peter Roos, San Francisco

    @Ian: my laptop has a separate keypad on the right so note entry is pretty easy.

  14. Michel Heydemann, France

    @Ian: I used a external full keyboard on my docking stattion, but I also have a small USB numeric keypad when away from home.

  15. Katie

    I have a 15″ MacBook Pro and a connect to a external monitor when at home which is *only* 17″ (sigh). Although I’m on a laptop, I never work in Sibelius unless I have my full-sized qwerty keyboard attached. It’s slimline, so it comes everywhere with me. And the mouse too.

  16. Christos Andreou

    Hi there all. Very nice topic indeed. I would say that if you are serious about score editing / production [this includes film music, orchestral music or any other genre that requires scores / parts] you would at least have a setup with Dual Monitors. My setup is desktop computer with a dual-link graphics and two 20″ monitors next-to-each-other. With the Panorama view and all the new features in Sibelius 6, I must say that I love working on it!

  17. Wheat Williams

    I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro that I use with a Dell 20-inch monitor (an old 4:3, not wide-screen, model with 1600 x 1200 resolution.

    I mount the laptop on a stand that elevates it 9 inches above the surface of the desk, so that the top of the laptop screen is level with the external monitor’s screen and I can use both monitors together.

    On the desk, on a sliding keyboard tray, I connect an external mouse and an external $6.00 Inland 107-key Windows-style keyboard which I’ve labeled with a set of printed Sibelius command-key stickers from ($6.00 plus shipping).

    I can take my laptop anywhere, but when I’m home, I have the benefit of two monitors and a full external keyboard and mouse. It’s great.

    I think you should solicit and post photographs of users’ Sibelius working rigs.

  18. Michel Heydemann, France

    In fact, a picture of my rig can be seen in the blog entry (in French, but a picture is a picture) at Click on the picture to enlarge it.

    The Dell E6500 NVIDIA 160M card can drive two 1980 x 1080 external displays, which is great. I never liked working with the 15″” internal display and a larger external one.

  19. Jean Jacques Reymond, France

    I’m a Sibelius user since 2003 and I started using Sibelius 3 on an eMac 17″; but now a use an iMac 20″ and a 22″ second monitor; I have the mixer, vst’s, tools etc, on the 20″, and the main score on the 22″; I work often on guitar ensemble scores for my music school on the 22″ and edit the parts on the 20″; working with two monitors is really a big advantage !
    Jean Jacques

  20. Harry Smallenburg

    I’d be interested to know what anyone is using as a portrait display. I have Sibelius on two computers with large portrait displays, but I don’t think they are that convenient for orchestral or concert band composing/arranging. Also, how do you hook up the second display?

  21. Ray Burkhart

    I use a laptop with a 2nd monitor. The keyboard isn’t a problem, because I use a separate keyboard in my lap. However… I really want to get a 24″ or greater monitor as my primary Sib screen, but I want to position it in portrait orientation, and most of them won’t do this. Do any of you have recommendations? Dell has some possibilities. Others? Does anyone else do this? I suspect it’s far easier to handle orchestral and band scores. Thx.

  22. Paul Johns

    I have an HP Touchsmart TX2 laptop which has a built-in capacitive touchscreen AND digitizer pen. I bought it and Sibelius at about the same time hoping that I could use the touchscreen and pen effectively to very naturally create scores. Since Sibelius isn’t designed for touch/pen, using touch/pen for note entry doesn’t work very well for me. However, the touchscreen is still useful, at least potentially, for other things–especially all of the little keypad/mixer/playback/piano windows.

    I usually use an HP 2408h 24″ 1920 x 1200 pixel monitor attached to the laptop as the primary display. This monitor can rotate into portrait mode, which is nice at times. The 2408h is unfortunately no longer in production; I bought a refurb. A note: most monitors have VESA mountings, which mean they can be mounted on any sort of wall stand/desk stand/etc. Some stands will rotate, allowing you to use portrait mode–you can do this with most ANY monitor! I don’t know how it works on the Mac, but in Windows it’s fairly straightforward in the monitor control panel to rotate the display. You’ll have to do that manually, but Windows will keep the setting across reboots, so you’ll only have to do it once each time you change the monitor’s orientation.

    When I’m attached to the big monitor, I don’t usually use the built-in monitor (1280 x 800) much even as a touchpad, mainly because my workspace is so tight that there’s not much room to keep the laptop screen open without blocking the big monitor some.

    I’ve considered buying one of the small (7-10″) USB touchscreen monitors, but I’ve held off so far because they currently use resisitive touchscreens rather than capacitive. These monitors can hook up to a PC *OR* a Mac using only a USB port. The display requires no installation on either PC or Mac, but the Mac requires a driver to be installed for touchscreen functionality (since MacOS does not support touchscreens, as Windows does). Many are powered by the USB port, so require no additional power. The price on these is US$160 give or take, so they’re not an impulse buy. But they’re in the price range of a custom Sibelius keyboard, and they’re potentially MUCH more versatile and useful. It would be cool for Sibelius to support these well someday, at least as button pads. That support wouldn’t be very hard.

    There are two major uses for touch/pen input: note entry/editing, and pushing buttons on the various windows/keypads. Sibelius isn’t very good for either for various reasons–some of which could be fixed easily, some of which would require major efforts on the Sibelius team’s part. I’d recommend addressing the easy issues, both to support touchscreen PC’s and external touchscreen monitors.

    There are also inexpensive (well under $100) digitizing/graphics tablets that would work well for pen input, so pen input isn’t limited to pen-enabled computers. Again, Windows supports many of these devices with built-in drivers. It may be worthwhile supporting these.

    About input: I distinguish between touch (using a finger), mouse (using a mouse), and pen (using a pen or stylus). Touch is extremely natural with a touchscreen, but the accuracy of determining where you touch is very low (because our fingers are big). It is useful mainly for large buttons; with easy zooming, it could be useful for selection, entry, and editing as well. Pen/stylus input usually requires additional hardware, but it is considerably more accurate, although not quite as accurate as a mouse. The big advantage is that the pen is more natural for many motions, especially those involving gestures or drawing, than a mouse. You don’t necessarily need a touchscreen for pen input–digitizing/graphics tablets separate from the screen work quite well.

    For note input, the biggest problem is that editing is difficult because Sibelius often deletes existing notes when you try to change/move a note–or it adds a new note. I have this problem using the mouse as well. Clearly Sibelius is using the mouse in a manner different than I’m expecting, and I haven’t yet been able to figure out what it’s rules are or how to change them. This might be a good topic for a blog entry if it’s not been discussed already, by the way. The changes necessary to support mouse/pen reasonably well could be relatively small, or they might be hard, depending on how Sibelius’s mouse handling code is written.

    Another issue is that notes/rests are often to small to be selected reliably with a pen, let alone a finger–and the staff is too small to reliably place notes on it. I can zoom the entire page, but then I see almost none of the score. What would be cool is to have the screen area under the pen zoomed automatically when the pen is close to (but not yet touching) the screen. This should be in the OS (and it’s not!) but I think it could also be implemented by an app. This is a moderately difficult change, but it would also pay off for mouse users when the staves are small. If this is done really well, it could work for touchscreen input as well.

    A harder but extremely interesting change would be to allow direct note input with pen gestures, so the input would be very much like writing on manuscript paper. Most of the notes and rests in standard notation are quite distinctive, so the gestures shouldn’t be hard to distinguish (whole/half/bar rests might require some special gestures). This could be significant work, and it would be even harder to make it useful for touch as well as pen input. But it’s so elegant and natural way of writing music that you really should consider it–and the basic very graphical nature of Sibelius would make it possible to do.

    I saved the best for last: pen and touch for pressing buttons in various keypads/windows. There are two pieces of good news here: First, the mouse functionality Sibelius uses now to detect button presses doesn’t have to change for touch or pen. Second, Sibelius already has the ability to put the auxillary windows on different monitors, so most of the functionality needed is already there.

    What Sibelius is missing to make this (especially touch input) really work is a way to resize keypads and most windows. The button size on the keypad is marginal for pen input and simply too small for touch. The mixer window is even worse. If Sibelius simply allowed the user to resize the window, keeping the current aspect ratio, and retained the size between uses of the app, that would help a lot. Depending on how the code that does the drawing in those windows is written, this could be very simple or fairly difficult. But it’s valuable, and especially as we get higher and higher resolution (smaller dots) displays, it’s important for the future anyway.

    An automatic zoom of the area under/around the finger/pen/mouse would be another way to make this work. (Zoom for touch could be that the first touch zooms and the second touch clicks.)

    It would also be nice to be able to display more than one keypad window at a time–if one has space on the screen, two or more at once could be very handy!

    It would be good to be able to save and easily restore sets of settings for zoom on/off, window position/size, editing modes, and so on. You could by default automatically restore based on what hardware (monitors/input devices/etc.) is detected and/or by the settings in the score; but there needs to be an easy way (preferably touch-compatible) to switch setting sets.

    One item more for multi-monitor: it would be nice if different scores were not restricted to the app window so that different score windows–perhaps even two windows on the same score!–could be put on different monitors. This isn’t a problem for keypad type windows, but it is for score windows.

    Last item: I think I submitted a bug on this a while back and it very well may have been fixed in 6.2, but there are/were certain of the windows which didn’t check to make sure they were on the screen when they were created–they were just created in the last position, which was saved. It’s of course great to save that last position! But if the last position was low and/or far to the right on a large monitor and you next run Sibelius on a smaller monitor, the window will be created off the (smaller) screen with no way of getting it back on the screen, since closing it an re-opening it puts it in the same location again.

    I don’t need to tell you that Sibelius is a fabulous product! I hope to see some of these ideas to take it to the next level of fabulousity! Thanks for all your hard work and caring and intellegence applied to it already over many years–it shows.

  23. Geoffrey

    This is all very well, but the settings aren’t saved!
    I’ve looked in both areas where this information is meant to be saved in preferences >file and preferences >display.
    Position of transport and some other windows are remembered, but the main window for the program isn’t!

    Not really good enough Sibelius!

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