Bug fixes (and new bugs) in Sibelius 8.5


Last week’s Sibelius 8.5 update introduced the ability to have different staff sizes for any instrument on a per-system basis, and a re-designed Inspector.

Less noticed were a number of important bug fixes, and while I listed them near the end of last week’s post, it’s worth covering a few of them more explicitly — as well as a couple of new ones that cropped up.

At the end of the post, there’s a new plug-in that addresses a bug and improves the process of applying rehearsal marks and double barlines together.

Instrument changes from unpitched to pitched instruments now create key signatures automatically

Have you ever worked on a chart where one player plays multiple percussion instruments, like in a concert band or orchestra score? Often the same player will switch among unpitched instruments that don’t use key signatures, like snare drum, and pitched instruments that use key signatures, like Glockenspiel.

In all previous versions of Sibelius, creating an instrument change (Home > Instruments > Change) to facilitate this mid-system could cause a performance problem, and there wasn’t really any good solution other than some clever fakery. That’s because Sibelius didn’t display the key signature of the piece along with the instrument change until the next system:

 Changing from an unpitched instrument to a pitched instrument in Sibelius prior to 8.5
Changing from an unpitched instrument to a pitched instrument in Sibelius prior to 8.5

Playing it back on the computer sounded correct, but those cross-relations in live performance would not be very pleasant!

Sibelius 8.5 has straightened out this problem, so that the key signature is properly displayed along with the instrument change, like it would be on a pitched instrument staff:

 Changing from an unpitched instrument to a pitched instrument in Sibelius 8.5
Changing from an unpitched instrument to a pitched instrument in Sibelius 8.5

Now, that’s more like it!

The odd situation involving a key signature, instrument change and a mulitrest still remains, but at least there’s a workaround for that one.

MIDI input works once more after changing from an unpitched to pitched instrument

A related issue: If you were happily going along entering notes via MIDI input in the snare drum staff and getting nice audio feedback, switching to glockenspiel would render that feedback silent. You’d still see the notes, and if you click them, they’d sound, but all was quiet when entering via step-time — at least prior to Sibelius 8.5.

Now, in Sibelius 8.5, you’ll hear the notes during step-time during such a change — helpful indeed.

The Inspector and Timeline panel sizes and positions are now saved along with the other panels

Ever since the Timeline was introduced in Sibelius 7.5, it’s had its share of fans and detractors. Fair enough. But the detractors were particularly irked because Sibelius would always display the Timeline when opening a score.

Now, adjusting the settings in File > Preferences > Files > Window Sizes and Positions should work more reliably, if you hide the Timeline and then click Set Custom Size and Position:


This sometimes worked in earlier versions, but was not as reliable.

Keyboard shortcuts work again in Sierra

A problem surfaced in macOS Sierra where certain shortcuts involving the Command key didn’t work. Although it would be nice if Apple could resolve this for those still using Sibelius 7 or 7.5, thankfully Avid patched the Sibelius 8.5 update to resolve it for the current version.

The new bugs

Unfortunately, at least a couple of new bugs have cropped up in Sibelius 8.5.

The Append Score feature (File > Append) seems to crash Sibelius for all users on Mac and Windows, for any score, likely a result of the changes made to the new staff size feature. Avid has acknowledged the problem and has promised a fix soon.

The new Inspector is suffering a teething problem where the playback settings for tempo lines such as rit. _ _ _ and accel. _ _ _ are not respected and revert back to the defaults. This bug has also been logged.

If you rely on either of the above features and haven’t yet updated to Sibelius 8.5, consider holding off for the moment until a patch is issued.

A new plug-in workaround for an existing bug

Especially in commercial charts, it is customary to have rehearsal marks and double barlines coincide. In Sibelius 7.5 and earlier it was possible to select both the rehearsal mark and the double barline together, hold down Alt (Option on Mac) and click to quickly apply the combination.


Sometime in Sibelius 8, though, this broke so that applying the combination resulted in the double barline appearing one bar after the rehearsal mark.


At the suggestion of Sibelius user Adrian Drover, yesterday Bob Zawalich created a plug-in that addresses this problem and also improves the process, so that a rehearsal mark and double barline can be applied simultaneously (most efficiently with a shortcut). It’s called Add Rehearsal Mark Plus Double Barline and can be downloaded directly in Sibelius from File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins in the Other category.

Bob describes the plug-in on the Sibelius forum. Even if this bug is eventually repaired, it will still be a good tool to have on hand if you do this type of thing frequently.

If you already have existing barlines in your score and simply want to add rehearsal marks to all of them, you’ll want the similarly-named Add Rehearsal Marks to Double Barlines by Neil Sands, available in the Other category.

Edit: 2:55 pm — After this post was published, Bob Zawalich changed the name of the plug-in and its category. This post has been updated accordingly.


  1. vincent Ollier

    ⇧+⌥+⌘+z for sfz still doesn’t work….

    1. Philip Rothman

      Indeed, you’re right. I’ve reported it to Avid.

  2. Roger Hewitt

    I’ve never had a problem with Double-barlines and Rehearsal Marks. I assigned create double barline to Ctrl-F2, so click on the barline, Ctrl-F2, Ctrl-r – hey presto works a treat, very quick and easy (since the Ctrl is held between the last two). I think this is even easier than a plugin, although I suppose the plugin could be assigned to Ctrl-F2 to do the whole thing in one go

  3. Barbara Lambert

    I would love it if Sibelius would fix the bug that does not allow slurs to grace notes. PLUS, allow grace notes to be placed at the end of a bar- this need exists. Often it doesn’t work to put in the next bar and manually bring it into the bar before. Also, fix the length of the bar over the 2nd ending to not go past the bar line and over into the next line! I’ve tried every possible fix for this! Please!!

    1. Roger Hewitt

      I agree about grace notes at the end of the bar (and I was disappointed when Dorico didn’t seem to address this either!). length of the bar for 2nd ending is easy enough to deal with: when you create the line it leaves you with the focus at the end of the line, so just use Ctrl-LeftArrow as necessary to drag it back – it’s become an automatic part of the creation for me! But it is annoying.

    2. Paul Gay

      I believe it can be dragged

    3. Mike

      I agree Barbara about the grace note slurs and allowing them to be at the end of a bar, I find this in ‘classical’ music scores. The need to make slurs from grace notes is most necessary, it takes a lot of mucking about to make them look neat.

  4. Bob Zawalich

    The ending lines were fixed in Sib 8.1. See https://www.scoringnotes.com/news/sibelius-8-1-released-rest-placement-ending-lines-mp3-export-among-improvements/

    Prior to that you could avoid the problem by selecting the notes in a bar rather than the bar itself, and you can use the downloadable plugin Retract Line Ends (category Lines) to repair any such lines you have in a score.

  5. Alex

    “Ever since the Timeline was introduced in Sibelius 7.5, it’s had its share of fans and detractors. Fair enough. But the detractors were particularly irked because Sibelius would always display the Timeline when opening a score”.

    I’m using Sibelius 7.5. And I forgot how Timeline looks like. The same with annoying (in the past) green playback line. I never see them, because I never use default House Style. I use my own House Style, and when I start new project, I never see Timeline and Playback line. And sheet opens in exactly Zoom level and position, which I need. The same with precise Keypad position according to my adjustments. All these adjustments and preferences can be kept in House Style in Sibelius 7.5.

  6. Teemu

    Still no instrument group names. Do you know if Avid has been informed about this?

  7. Lucas

    The Append Score error is delaying me from finishing a score. I was kind of nervous, but at least is not my fault that´s not working. Guess I’ll have to read more often this blog :) (Sorry for my poor english, I’m still learning the language)

  8. Lale

    could you tell me how do you post instrument list after the title page?

  9. Lale

    My question is how do you list the instruments of your piece after the title page?

  10. Bob Zawalich

    Lale – you should ask that question on the Sibelius tech support forum. There will be people there who can answer your question.

  11. Katya Pine

    Uneven playback file-specific bug: Moving from 6/8 to 3/4 creates uneven quarters in 3/4 but only in the piano part – all other parts are unaffected.

    Tried following fixes: Migrated piano part to new file – and it’s fixed – no uneven notes. Copied back to original and still persists! Deleted all preferences and extensions – rebooted – still no fix. Created new piano instrument, copied and pasted old to new – deleted old – no fix.

    Am trying to resist ‘copying all’ and pasting into a new project – since this is a huge work – now at 40+ minutes that has some very specific formatting. Sibelius doesn’t keep those formats when copying and pasting.

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