Add custom shortcuts for Keypad features in Sibelius


When things are busy and time is tight, every second saved is a second earned, so to speak. One of the best ways to slash your time is to make good use of keyboard shortcuts — not just in Sibelius, but in most desktop software programs and operating systems.

Fortunately, Sibelius comes with a good many built-in shortcuts. They’re listed in the Reference near the back in a separate section. Moreover, every command in the ribbon also has an extended text description, which appears if you hover your mouse over it for a moment. If a shortcut exists for that command, you’ll see it there.


What’s more, you can define your own shortcuts by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. Some useful places to start might be in the Home tab, where you can define shortcuts for all the filters, and Plug-ins, many of which are turbo-charged when assigned shortcuts.

Keep all this in mind — we’ll come back to it shortly.

Now, many if not most Sibelius users use the Keypad to enter in note values, articulations, accidentals, and more. When you use your numeric keypad on your keyboard to type these in, these are technically keyboard shortcuts as well, albeit the most elementary kind: each key on your numeric keypad corresponds to the symbol or function on the Keypad.

The Keypad has six layouts, and you can switch among them by typing the + key to cycle through them or by using the function keys F7 through F12.

Two of the six Keypad layouts (Common notes and Articulations)

That’s fine for placing the occasional fermata or marcato, but it still requires at minimum three taps to place them: (at least) one to get to the appropriate layout, one to place the articulation, and one to get back to the first layout.

But as I mentioned earlier, speed is essential sometimes — wouldn’t it be great to get it down to just one key command without having to leave the first Keypad layout?

As it turns out, you can. Shortcuts for all of the items on all six Keypad layouts are customizable in the same way as any other keyboard shortcut: by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.


Near the bottom of the Tab or category list, you’ll see the six Keypad layouts. In the example above, I’ve assigned Control-8 on Mac to the marcato. I’ve made similar assignments for the other articulations: Control-4 for plus/closed, Control-5 for upbow, Control-6 for downbow, etc.

Likewise, I’ve made use of Shift-Control-[number] for assignments on the beams/tremolos layout: Shift-Control-1 for 1 tremolo slash (Sibelius calls this “2 tremolos”), Shift-Control-2 for 2 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “4 tremolos”), Shift-Control-3 for 3 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “8 tremolos”), as well as similar assignments for the other tremolo and beaming options.

To add a custom shortcut, simply select the Feature, click Add…, type your shortcut in the small pop-up dialog, and click OK.

Once you get used to using your own shortcuts regularly, you’ll wonder how you got along without them before. With the free time that you’ve saved, why not take a moment to leave a comment below and share some of your favorite shortcuts or time-saving tips?


  1. Derek Williams

    Very useful. May I also draw to your attention my Sibelius Wizard, viewable via my website (Services > iPad Sibelius Wizard), that triggers keyboard shortcuts via the customisable iPad interface.

    Mac only at this stage.

  2. Ron Puente


    Great,useful information-as usual! Thanks for all you posts.

  3. Tiago Costa

    Some of my favorite custom shortcut:

    ctrl + / Arrange
    ctrl + | reset note spacing
    ctrl + } reset position
    ctrl + { Optimize Staff Spacing
    ctrl + R Paste Rhythm to Pitches
    ctrl + shift + B Respell Sharps as Flats
    ctrl + shift + 3 Respell Flats as Sharps
    command + shift + ‘ Reduce
    option + shift + K Filter Chords
    option + shift + T Filter Technique Text
    option + shift + E Filter Expression Text
    ctrl + page down Next Part
    ctrl + page up Previous Part
    option + “-” Decrease Dynamics
    option + “=” Increase Dynamics

    1. Philip Rothman


  4. Kenneth Gaw

    Normally I’m quite happy with the default Sibelius shortcuts but if I find myself shifting to a different keypad layout a lot I tend to add one to layout 1. So far I’ve set up the following useful ones. They are all Shift+Alt+….
    8 double sharp, 9 double flat, / marcato,1 fermata, 5 up bow, 6 down bow.

    1. Melinda Yin

      Here, here.

  5. Bob Zawalich

    This is a great idea.

    Unfortunately for Windows users, the “ctrl” key is generally not available for custom shortcuts – it is the equivalent of “cmnd” in OSX. So it is harder to find a large block of available shortcuts. Further, as of Sib 7, the Alt key (Mac Option key) gets used by the Ribbon shortcuts.

    The Sibelius Reference has a section on Finding unused keyboard shortcuts. There are still some unused keys, and I have also been known to just reuse convenient keys that are mapped to commands, but which I I don’t often use, like the function keys, for my own purposes.

    You do have to be aware, though, that if you reassign an existing shortcut, it will no longer do what it did before. Sometimes if someone is using my machine they are caught off guard, but they are already confused by my left handed mouse, so it is probably not fatal…

  6. Kenneth Gaw

    I should have mentioned that there are two plugin shortcuts I use a lot. Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F1-4 for the Delete Voice plugins and Ctrl+Alt+Home/End for the Move Selection Right/Left Plugins. This is particularly useful if I have something like lyric or rehearsal mark that’s not quite in right place. It means that it can easily be shoved along rather than copied and pasted.

  7. Dereck Werner

    Best post ever. Customizing the number pad is a dream come true. I’ll now have to play with it, before I come up with my favorites. Thanks!!!!!!!

  8. Philip Rothman

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

  9. Bernie Cossentino

    Just a few of my frequently used..

    alt+6 (marcato)
    shift+ctrl+ = (insert double barline)
    shift+ctrl+ [ (insert left barline repeat)
    shift+ctrl+ ] (insert right barline repeat)
    shift+ctrl+ \ (insert final barline)

    Voice commands will probably be the next phase :)

    1. Bernie Cossentino

      voice activated, that is…

      1. Philip Rothman

        1. Bernie Cossentino


          Avid…are we listening?

  10. Andrei

    Here’s mine (some legacy from Encore).
    Mostly used for conventional string music, some piano. Pitch entry done with MIDI keyboard or mouse, which freed some letters for shortcuts.

    Mac: c=command, s=shift, opt=option

    TITLE / Subtitle s+1 / s+2
    Composer / © s+3 / s+4
    Plain / Small text s+5 / s+6

    Time sig / Key sig T / K
    Tempo c+opt+T
    Line / Symbol L / Z

    Treble / Alto opt+A / opt+S
    Tenor / Bass opt+D / opt+F

    Whole 1
    Half / quarter note 2 / 3
    8th / 16th / 32nd 4 / 5 / 6
    Duplet / Triplet,etc. c+2 / c+3
    Dot / Tie D / c+T
    Appogg. (no slash) . (period)
    Acciacc. (slash) , (comma)
    Notes/Rests toggle R
    M.M. c+M

    # / Natural / Flat M / N / F
    Respell accidental enter

    Cresc. / decresc. H / s+H
    Expression c+E

    SLUR above/below S / s+S
    Stacc / Tenuto / Accent 7 / 8 / 9
    Fermata 0 (zero)
    Downbow/Upbow c+D / V
    Fingering/Trill c+F / c+Y
    Ornaments s+O
    Chord symbol c+K
    Rehearsal mark c+R

    Start beam fn+F1
    Middle of beam fn+F2
    End of beam fn+F3
    Flip object X

    BAR add at end c+B
    Repeat: start / end A / B
    Final/Double line C / O
    Bar # change s+B
    Use multi rests c+s+M

    PAGE # change s+P
    Make into system s+ –
    Make into page s+ +
    System brake enter (on barline)

    SPACING reset c+s+N
    Export graphic G
    HIDE/show W
    ZOOM in/out c+ +/-
    Play from selection P
    Copy object alt+click
    Repeat object s+R

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks for sharing these, Andrei!

  11. Melinda Yin

    Love making keyboard short cuts, but never thought about short cutting the keypad itself. Thank you so much for that tip, Philip.

    In my workflow I use my keyboard shortcuts + Wacom Tablet driver’s on-screen controls to make my own button-based palettes/menus for frequently used commands.
    For example, during casting off stage I will slap up “palettes” that have controls for “make into page”, “make into system”, “align into row”, etc or other groups of commands that work well together.

    Different palettes are used for proofing, adding cues, general editing. Now with this new tip maybe I can make one for note-entry stage!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Very cool, Melinda!

  12. Larry

    Anyone know (or have you created) a shortcut for inputting a note up (or down) an octave? It’s not a huge deal, but it does slow me down to my hand to reach ctrl+up arrow, and then re-position it on the keypad.

  13. Bill Nelson

    Ctr+Shift+1 = Begin Repeat Barline
    Ctr+Shift+2 = End Repeat Barline
    Ctr+Shift+3 = Double Barline
    Ctr+Shift+4 = Final Barline
    Alt+Shift+B+Enter = Add Brackets to Reprise Script (if I don’t hit Enter, I can adjust settings)
    Shift+K = Respell Chord Text (for some reason Sibelius 7 eliminated the keyboard shortcut for this)

  14. Dave P-B

    Brilliant Philip. I was never aware that I could set shortcuts to the keypad. Begone days of Keypad 5 / Fermata numeric keypad 1 / minus key back to Keypad 1 !!!


  15. Jonas Viggo Pedersen

    For choral writing I soon found it useful to filter lyrics. The filters for dynamics or slurs are rather evident, shift+alt+D (for dynamics) or shift+alt+S (for slurs) – I made my own shift+alt+W (for words).
    And for orchestral work I very often need the “Create trailing pseudo grace notes”-plugin; I’ve assigned shift+cmnd+J (which I haven’t yet found a good mnemotechnique for).
    Thanks for inspiration!

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