forScore 11 release further refines the best-in-class iOS score reader


forScore has released forScore 11, the first major update to the iOS score reader since 2016. In our recent comparison of score readers for iPad I picked forScore as the best one for most people, and that’s still the case with forScore 11. It’s largely an evolutionary update; current users may not notice much different on the surface apart from the slightly flatter icon style. However, the improvements are thoughtful, practical, and welcome. Best of all for current users, the update is free!

Universal app

Long-time forScore users may have had to download different apps for iPad and iPhone (forScore and forScore Mini, respectively). The separation predates changes Apple made to allow developers to list “Universal Apps” in the App Store that adapted dynamically to various device classes.

With version 11, forScore is a Universal app, so new users won’t have to make separate purchases for phones and tablets. This is likely a feature that will be more compelling to new users comparing forScore to its competitors than existing forScore users. The user interface has been tweaked subtly to make the typography and icons clearer as well, one of several welcome changes to make the app more flexible for supporting screens ranging from 4.7 to 12.9 inches.

Rehearsal tool updates

One of the reasons I picked forScore as the best app in its category was the easy-to-access rehearsal tools: tuner, pitch pipe, metronome, and piano keyboard. These also got some minor but very handy updates.

Users can now set tunings for these tools, quickly from inside each. It would be nice to see the tuning synchronized across the various tools (currently changing the piano to A442 Hz leaves the pitch pipe at A440 Hz), but it’s nice to have the control. Users can also now change the on-screen size of the piano keyboard, which will be very handy for adapting to those different screen sizes.

piano keyboard customization tools in forScore 11
forScore 11 allows for more customizable rehearsal tools, including setting the tuning and size of the on-screen piano keyboard.

Score-wide annotation layers

One of my biggest frustrations with annotation layers has been resolved with the new score-wide annotation layers. Layers are a powerful feature for separating different versions of markups from one another; a violinist might have one set of bowings for playing in one orchestra and a different set for another, or a collaborative pianist might have different tempo or style markings for accompanying different singers. In previous versions of forScore, these layers were created and toggled on a per-page basis, making the scenarios I described above cumbersome at best. With forScore 11, each new annotation layer covers an entire score, and toggling it on or off works for the entire score as well.

New storefront and Noteflight Marketplace integration

The “store” in forScore has long felt a bit neglected, and it has gotten a lot of attention in this update.

The new “forStore” (yes, they really use the pun) is designed in the style of the new App Store with single works, collections, and even editorial content, such as tutorials on app features and overviews of compatible hardware devices. It’s too early to say if this will continue to be fresh and useful in the months and years after launch, but it seems to lay the groundwork for a nice differentiating feature for forScore.

The works for sale include works from the Mutopia Project, which publishes public domain and Creative Commons-licensed editions. Some of these are offered free in forScore, while others are paid. Presumably, this is to support ongoing development costs of forScore, but it feels odd to charge for something that can also be downloaded directly on the web. I would personally be more interested in a store that featured offerings from a variety of major and independent publishers. Though this might be a bit redundant considering the current integration of Musicnotes as a content provider and certainly would involve a revenue split with Apple, it would be a nicer browsing experience to shop within the forScore Store rather than the Musicnotes website.

forScore 11 store
forScore’s newly redesigned store includes a handful of Public Domain scores, collections, and editorial content.

As of forScore 11.0.2, Noteflight’s content has been added to forScore’s Services panel. If you’ve already purchased music on Noteflight Marketplace, you can download your purchases directly into your library as standard PDF files.

Optional forScore Pro subscription

In another in-app purchase update, forScore 11 adds a new, optional subscription called forScore Pro. The subscription rate is $9.99 per year and includes mostly cosmetic features, including a new set of annotation stamps and custom app icons. There are two more functional benefits to forScore Pro subscribers: contextual pop-up menus that allow quicker navigation of forScore’s tools and priority customer support. I imagine that the Pro service will continue to grow more bonus features in the future.

There is an App Store policy stating that newly added app subscriptions cannot place previously free functionality behind the subscription paywall, so existing forScore users won’t be penalized for opting out. Having said that, I think it is an app that is certainly worth more than a one-time $9.99 purchase. For the value it has provided users over the last decade without paid upgrades, it certainly seems to be a small price to pay for its ongoing development, especially considering that it is a daily-use, professional tool for many of those users.


There are a handful of other features that you can read about in the extensive release notes from forScore. In general, these are exactly the kinds of features I would expect from a mature, professional app: not something all users need, but will quickly become essential to those who do. Overall, this is a worthy update to an already excellent piece of software that has become an integral tool for many professional and hobbyist musicians.

Updated 8:27 am with information about Noteflight Marketplace integration.


  1. Jim

    I’ve just recently purchased forScore for my new iPad Pro — a device I bought largely for the purpose of digitising my music. I’m enjoying it, but finding some irritating limitations. I don’t suppose you would know if these are things I’m missing, or if they really are absent?

    1. Half-page turns seem to be either on or off. Either every page turns half a page at a time, or none do. In my time with paper, I would typically get most pages just fine with a standard turn, and then *occasionally* have to cut for half-page turns. Is this possible in forScore?

    2. I haven’t played around a lot with how it does repeats, but they seem rather finicky. Is there a way to programme in a specific sequence of pages to travel between, or do dal segnos and repeat bars really *need* to be done with specific hotspots?

    3. I have unfortunately found the minimum pen size for annotations to be frustratingly thick, especially when annotating smaller scores.

    4. Entering annotation mode is quick and simple, which I love. But you then have to manually exit it each time to continue with rehearsal, which is frustrating. I wish it could detect taps trying to turn a page, or even better detect the Pencil has been docked and go back into normal viewing mode.

    One other point that might be worth noting is that the app’s one-off price seems to have increased. I paid equivalent of US $15, not the $10 that your previous review (and also a throwaway line in this review update) claim.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Jim, Thanks for reading.

      First, you’re correct that half-page turn is an app-wide setting. It’s not designed to mimic the half-cut pages you may have used on paper. It’s designed as a way of _always_ being able to see what is in the next measure. I don’t know if you’re using a page-turning pedal, but I would guess it’s only useful for those who are. Otherwise, you’re having to reach up twice as much for the same number of page turns!

      Second, do you mean links? That’s the way to handle the repeat and DS/DC markings you’re talking about. Once you get the hang of them, they’re pretty fast and easy. The alternative (which is the best way to do it for pedal-turners) is to use the “rearrange” feature of forScore to copy the page and place it in the right order, so a repeat that goes from page 3 back to page 2 might mean that you have two copies of those pages, and you’re just always turning to the right no matter what. Give it a shot; this may behave closer to what you’re expecting.

      Third, this might be the result of the size of scan you’re using? forScore scales pages to the size of the screen you’re on, so a small page size on your PDF file (which may not a problem for your printer) might make result in the behavior you’re seeing. If you’re using the default pens, you can use the slider to make the smallest one even smaller, which is pretty narrow for me on a letter-sized (8.5×11-in) scan.

      Fourth, if you’re using the regular pen all the time like me, you don’t actually have to go into Annotation mode at all. Just touch the screen with the Pencil and you’re writing with the last-used pen style. Unfortunately, you can’t erase or undo in this mode, but it’s pretty handy to make a quick mark while rehearsal is still going fast and furious.

      You’re absolutely right, that the price of the app seems to have changed since I last checked. We’ll have to update the article to reflect that.

      1. Jim

        Ah that’s a shame. I wonder how responsive the devs would be to possibly adding in the ability to use half-page turns in this way?

        Yes, I did mean links. I found them really intuitive and logical to use. The issue is mostly with the size of the target being so small that when trying to accomplish a fast page turn it’s a little finicky. Especially compared with the convenience of a tap anywhere on the right side of the screen, or a swipe anywhere at all.

        On the third point, that slider is what I was talking about. It’s not *terrible* in terms of thickness, but with how much easier it is to see a really thin red line on a screen than an equivalently thin pencil mark on paper, it’d be nice to be able to be a little more precise. This especially since even on the largest iPad, the screen is still a touch smaller than standard A4 paper. Still, this is by far the least of the issues I had.

        On the fourth point, I can’t really replicate the behaviour you describe. I pick up the Pencil and start writing on the screen, and it’s great for starting writing quickly. But that *puts it* in to annotation mode for me. I can erase by double-tapping the Pencil, but I can’t go to the next page without either tapping tiny “done” to exit annotation mode, or using the equally small “next page” button at the top.

        Thanks for the response!

        1. David MacDonald

          For what it’s worth, I’ve found the developers to be pretty responsive when I explain my use case. For example, one of my big annoyances with fS previously was the fact that annotation layers were only per-page, rather than per-score. This is changed for the latest release, and I only brought the issue up less than a year ago.

          You can actually change the size of the link bubble, though it’s not very obvious. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Link/Button Size. There are two options larger than the default. The only downsize to making them bigger is that they may be distracting.

          On the document size, I meant the size of the page being smaller than the iPad screen, not larger. If you have a “pocket score” size of PDF, the pen might be a bit small.

          On the last, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s not what happens for me. What I would like to see is the ability to have a touch gesture dismiss the menu (like a two-finger double-tap or something). There are configurable gestures, but dismissing the menu isn’t an option for one of the gesture actions.

          1. Jim

            I found out what the issue was with the last point. By default, the “Default Tool” under annotation tools is set to “None”. In this case, it seems to go by default into Annotation mode. By changing that setting to my preferred pen type, it now behaves in the way you describe.

            Thanks for the help, and the excellent reviews.

          2. Sergei

            Hello David,
            “What I would like to see is the ability to have a touch gesture dismiss the menu (like a two-finger double-tap or something). There are configurable gestures, but dismissing the menu isn’t an option for one of the gesture actions”.

            I didn’t quite understand what menu do you mean. List of items (scores)? If so, how about just tap anywhere outside of the menu?

            I like gestures. I use Two finger single tap to Open Menu. Tap and hold with two fingers to open Metadata panel.

            Unfortunately I don’t have access to three finger gestures (tap and tap and hold) because in iOS Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom I have active Zoom option, which uses taps with three fingers. So this gesture is reserved for the system, and it’s important for me because I very often want to zoom something, where pinch to zoom gesture doesn’t work. So, forScore had to mention about this moment (in Manuals, on website etc.), if some people will think why these three-finger gestures don’t work in forScore. But they didn’t.

          3. David MacDonald

            Hi Sergei,

            I meant dismissing the Annotation toolbar and returning to the score without having to find the done button. This would be particularly useful because the Done button is attached to the Annotation toolbar, which can move.

    2. Sergei

      Jim: “Half-page turns seem to be either on or off. Either every page turns half a page at a time, or none do. In my time with paper, I would typically get most pages just fine with a standard turn, and then *occasionally* have to cut for half-page turns. Is this possible in forScore?”

      Jim, it is absolutely possible in forScore (I’m surprised David didn’t offer solution). So, do this:
      1) Open the necessary page, which has to be half turned;
      2) Go to Tools > Buttons > Action > Navigation > Half-Turn;
      3) Tap on the left page location, where you want to put button. You can tap many times until to put exactly, where you want button to be placed.
      4) Tap “Save” in the upper right corner of the screen.


      You can delete buttons this way. Go to annotation mode, choose Eraser tool. Button will change its appearance to red circle. Now you can tap it to delete. Done.

    3. Sergei

      Jim: “Entering annotation mode is quick and simple, which I love. But you then have to manually exit it each time to continue with rehearsal, which is frustrating”.

      Tools > Settings > Apple Pencil > Automatically exit annotation mode

  2. Sergei

    I am surprised that they still have not added to their stamps set (available in annotation mode) quarter note heads without stems. How to make/correct chords then? Only to use eraser for extra stems. Piascore for instance has quarter note head without stem in their stamp’s kit. But forScore doesn’t, despite they have half note head without stem stamp! This is nonsense, and, of course, they are wrong.

    And I drew their attention to this problem. They even answered something, but still do not consider it necessary to add. It’s good, that it’s possible to create and add your own stamps, but not every user is skilled enough for that.

    So, I’ve created some of my own stamps based on Sibelius font style. Quarter note head without stem, Ledger lines and sharp stamp (I don’t like, how sharp stamp looks in forScore’s stamp set – narrow etc.). Here’s screenshot:
    My own stamps look perfect, they are indistinguishable from Sibelius scores, thus look better, than if forScore had those stamps with their font style.

    In general I like forScore 11 update. For example all icons (their lines) are now thicker, and fonts are also bolder. I hope this fashion on extremely thin cutting-eye lines and fonts in interfaces will go away soon.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Sergei,

      It’s true that there are no stemless noteheads in forScore’s stamp set. I actually don’t see one for a half note either. And in fact, they _did_ include a larger set of stamps for forScore Pro subscribers, these are largely for analysis. (There are a full complement of Roman numerals, for example.) I agree that it would be great to see an easier way to import stamps, especially a bulk import. I could imagine some kind person making a set for various particular uses, like harp pedalings, figured bass, etc.

      1. Sergei

        Hello David,
        “I actually don’t see one for a half note either”.

        Oh yes. Probably that stemless half note also made and imported in forScore by me… :)

  3. Sharon Davis

    This might be slightly off topic, but in 2 up landscape mode on an Ipad Pro, is is possible to display two DIFFERENT pdfs side by side. I have a set list which includes several single page charts As some multipage ones too), and I’d like to be able to see what’s coming up next while I’m playing. I’m not keep to turn them into one giant pdf, as there will no doubt be changes to be made to individual songs, and I like the flexibility of just updating individual songs in Sibelius and replacing them in Forscore as required.

    1. Sergei

      I think now it’s not possible. But Apple just announced iOS 13 and iPadOS, which will be available in September. And it will be possible to use the same app in Split View mode. From Apple’s website:
      “Multiple windows from the same app
      You can now open multiple windows from the app in Split View. Perfect for working on two notes or Pages documents, viewing two maps, or organizing files in the Files app.”

  4. Sharon Davis

    Thanks Sergei

    1. Sergei

      You’re welcome. By the way, I wrote the answer, keeping in mind that you know about the function of tabs in forScore. Maybe it could be an alternative for now? Plus, it would allow using full-screen in portrait orientation for scores.

  5. SALVADOR michel

    Existe t il encore une version de Forscore pour un Apple Ipad 4 système d’exploitation 10.3.3?
    j’ai déjà installé ce logiciel sur 2 tablettes, mais la nouvelle version de Forscore demande un ios de 11.
    Donc , je suis planté si je ne trouve pas l’ancienne version.
    merci de votre aide
    Michel 30 octobre 2019

  6. Bob Faucher

    Someone told me there’s now a head or eye gesture option to turn pages on the newest iPad Pro 12.9? I can’t find any info on it.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Bob. Thanks for reading. To access Face gestures (which are head or mouth movements), you’ll need to be a forScore Pro subscriber. You can read more here:

      You could also try Pia Score, which includes head gestures as well, including winking!

      1. Bob Faucher

        Perfect, thanks!

  7. Kurt Sakura

    With V12 (maybe also with V11) one can use Forscore on MacOs, iPad as well as iPhone which is great and the main reason I bought into it. BUT, one can’t sync them!!! Changes you duo on one platform, files you add or delete on one platform don’t translate to others – which is very annoying. It’s also not me mentioned anywhere ;-(

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Kurt! The macOS release of forScore came with version 12 in 2020, and it requires macOS 11 Big Sur (either on Intel or the new M1 Macs, as it is built using Apple’s cross-platform Catalyst framework, introduced in 2019). As you point out, it does not sync with other versions, but this is not unique to the Mac version of the application. forScore simply does not do sync at all (yet!). Even if you had two iPads (or more likely, and iPad and an iPhone), your library won’t sync. The developers are aware of the need for this and are working on it, but sync is notoriously difficult, and doing it poorly can cause data loss, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure it’s as solid as the rest of the application.

      If you require sync, you might consider Newzik, which currently offers sync between iOS devices and some limited access (in beta) on the web. nkoda also has multiplatform sync, which may be useful to you as well, and their score reader has been the subject of a lot of internal development attention over the last year or so.

      While I didn’t address the lack of sync in this news update, I did discuss it in my review from a few months prior:

  8. Kurt Sakura

    Thank you very much for your comment, David. Well, I hope forScore is going to add ‘sync’ sooner or later, hopefully sooner ;-) You’re reviews are great, by the way.

    1. David MacDonald

      You’re welcome Kurt! Glad you’re finding them useful. I think the sync feature is currently in beta, and I expect that since they launched the Mac version a couple of months ago, they’ve had a lot more requests for sync! To be honest, forScore sync is the thing that would make me want to upgrade to Big Sur on my Mac! I use it to conduct the new music ensemble at my university, and I’d love to be able to organize my library on a Mac and then bring my iPad Pro to rehearsal. Fingers crossed!

      1. Kurt Sakura

        David, did upgrade to Big Sur just for that ;-) The good news is that I had no issues whatsoever – all application works, all plugins work – it was unexpectedly easy! I hope for me and you and probably many more!

      2. Kurt Sakura

        Update: after the developers declared first (in a small print FAQ) that there is no ‘sync’ feature because of ‘legal (?)’ issues they then did update the app to make sync possible – like in any other IOS app in the Apple world. BUT, to sync one would now need to pay a yearly subscription fee because this is declared a ‘PRO’ feature. Too soften that stance they said it would eventually be part of the non-pro version. They do not define what eventually is supposed to mean and well, 5 months later ‘eventually’ still hasn’t arrived. Seriously underwhelmed by this developer. Asking the developer about it I got no answer….

        1. David MacDonald

          I’m not sure there has ever been any claim of legal issues with sync, as other applications have had it for years. Second, the app does everything that it did the day you purchased it. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect developers to spend weeks and months working on new features for no extra compensation. Third, the annual subscription is only $9.99 a year, which I think is more than reasonable to support the continued development of an application that is used so frequently and in such high-stakes circumstances as live performance. Fourth, sync was introduced with forScore version 12.1, which came out 22 March 2021, which is less than three months ago.

          I understand that sync is a very valuable feature, and I also think it’s completely reasonable for the rollout to go slow, since any errors could result in irrecoverable data loss. Lastly, I think it’s completely reasonable for the developers to expect some degree of compensation in exchange for their work adding the feature.

  9. Dave

    Thank you for this invaluable review. Haven’t tried the product yet, and have plans to purchase iPad Pro 12.9 inch soon. Do you have a pedal page turn recommendation? Sorry if I missed that in other articles. Thanks.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Dave! I would say that it’s hard to go wrong with any of the pedal options from PageFlip or AirTurn. It’s just a matter of personal preference. I don’t use it very often, but I have a PageFlip DragonFly which I purchased refurbished years ago. Both PageFlip and AirTurn have refurbished stores on their sites, which can save you some money after your costly iPad purchase!

      Some things to consider:
      – Will you be ok using only Bluetooth, or will you sometimes want to use the pedal plugged in over USB?
      – Would you prefer a pedal with a built-in battery which charges over USB, or would you prefer replaceable AA or 9v batteries?
      – Would you rather have a pressure-sensitive button that doesn’t move very much, or would you prefer a switch that has a little more motion to it? There are pros and cons of each.
      – Size: How much space do you have, both in front of you as you perform and in your gig bag?

  10. Mishu Calian

    Thanks for the article. I recently purchased Forscore and I mostly use it for automatically select lyrics via midi, from Ableton. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, just randomly. But besides that, I would like to know if there is a way to increase the font size of the pdf do I would be able to better read it while I play guitar. Should I add pictures? Any ideas? Thanks

    1. David MacDonald

      There isn’t a great way to increase the size of the lyrics text without making everything else bigger. Here are two things to try:

      1. Use the Zoom feature to make the page as big as possible by shrinking the margins.
      2. Try turning your iPad sideways and viewing just part of the page at a time. It’s twice as many page turns, but everything will be bigger, and if you use a pedal to turn pages, you won’t have as much difficulty turning.

  11. Alex

    Are you planning to release a review of the new version of forScore 13? It would be great if it was also a video review. Based on the description on the forScore website, there are significant changes, including the user interface.

    I haven’t updated it yet, but I’ve read the article on the forScore website and also took a quick look at the new User Guide. And there are at least two points that I didn’t like.

    1) I don’t like the way the main control bar now looks. The inscriptions (Composer and Title) there have now shifted to the left (left alignment instead of center alignment):
    They used to be in the center, this was always the case in forScore. As a creative person, I don’t like the new look at all.

    2) forScore 13 has lost the convenient function of corners?
    I can’t believe the top corners to reopen the last-viewed menus are gone. Why?! This convenient feature has been present in forScore, if not always, then for many years.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Alex, thanks for reading. I agree that forScore 13 is worthy of some attention here on Scoring Notes, but I can’t say for sure when I’ll get to writing about it (oddly, it’s not even out on the Mac yet).

      In addition to the changes you point out, I think the biggest one for many users will be the addition of library sync for non-Pro subscribers.

      As for the text alignment, I love the change. I hate centered text. I don’t even center the titles of my own scores. Left-align all the way!

      I totally get your frustration with losing the quick access to menus. In my experience helping friends and colleagues who are now getting into digital scores for the first time, I find that they often trigger the menus accidentally during performance (because many do not know about or use Perform mode). I think this change is really going to help a lot of people who are new to forScore, even if it’s a regression for some long-time users.

      1. Alex

        It would be nice if there were options in the settings for both. Especially for the second (smart corners) so that more experienced users do not suffer from inexperienced users. I will not update on iPadOS 15 and forScore 13. I will make a full backup of my iPad to my computer just in case.

        But oddly enough, I spoke with some forScore 13 users. And some of them reported that they still have everything the same as before: smart corners work, and even Composer and Title in the main bar are still centered. Very strange. I’ve even seen a YouTube video where the Title in the main bar is still centered. And it’s definitely version 13:

        1. David MacDonald

          I don’t actually see any regression in the top corner taps either. Maybe it’s just an error in the documentation?

          For the centered vs left-aligned title, it may be associated with a system UI element change in iPadOS. The user in that video is clearly on iPadOS 14, not 15. So that may be the issue there.

          I think it would be reasonable to have a setting for the top corner behavior, but perhaps the UI text alignment is something that we all have to live with UI designers having their own opinions and expressing them through their work. After all, isn’t that the same thing we do as musicians?

      2. Alex

        Already yesterday, reading the iPad in bed, I found some information on both issues. Yes, you are right, David, about the iPadOS version. And I came to the same conclusion after reading the following:

        “iPadOS 15 introduces some enhancements to multitasking and window management and now places an ellipsis button at the top of every window — right in the middle — which overlaps important content if you use forScore’s settings panel to hide the status bar. To account for this, forScore’s title display labels are now left-aligned. In addition, full-screen panels like Links, Buttons, Rearrange, and Scan always show the status bar on iPadOS 15 to ensure that all controls are fully accessible”.

        That is, it was a purely technical, not an aesthetic decision. Well, yes, after that I also noticed that the user is not using iPadOS 15 in that video.

        And now about the smart corners:

        “So the final change we made in forScore 13 is to make these corner taps optional and turn them off for all new users (and we removed references to it in all of our documentation, including the Quick Start guide). No one who already uses these gestures should notice anything, but if you reset your settings in the future and find that corner taps are no longer working, this is why”.

        I’m still not quite clear, does this mean that this option is still available in the settings, but is simply disabled by default?

      3. Paul Derrick

        David MacDonald said: “As for the text alignment, I love the change. I hate centered text. I don’t even center the titles of my own scores. Left-align all the way!”

        The point is that there are different cases. In some cases I prefer left-alignment too, and in some cases I prefer center-alignment, as in this particular case with forScore. The Title Bar itself is centered, but the text in it is left-aligned. This is weird and disharmonious. To me, it’s like having the spire at the top of a beautiful symmetrical tower, not centered, but on the side. :) I hope at least you still prefer the brand name on a piano lid to be centered rather than aligned to the left. :)

        Anyway, as it turned out, this decision was a forced one, because of the new window control element (three dots on top) in iPadOS 15. And by the way, many people criticize this decision. So, some software developers have to make all sorts of tricks and compromises because of this.

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