Converting folders of Sibelius scores to different formats


There are times when you want to back up your scores in a different format or work on scores you created in Sibelius in another program. When dealing with individual scores, you can open one and use the commands in the File > Export menu to save it to one of several formats including MIDI, audio, and earlier Sibelius versions.

In Sibelius 7 or later, you can also export in PDF and MusicXML formats. (Prior to Sibelius 7, you could print to a “PDF printer” to produce PDF files, and use the free Dolet plug-in to export in MusicXML.)

But what if you want to work on many scores at once and need to convert folders of scores?

Converting folders of scores

There are a number of plug-ins in the Batch Processing category that can process a folder of scores at one time.

In Sibelius 7 or later, you can install the free downloadable plug-in Export Folder of Scores in Multiple Formats to simultaneously export scores to PDF, MusicXML, MIDI, or an earlier Sibelius version. Prior to Sibelius 7 you can use some of the other plug-ins described below.

Export Folder of Scores in Multiple Formats was designed to avoid some of the problems common to the previous batch plug-ins. In addition to being able to convert to multiple formats in one pass, if you run it on a folder that contains subfolders, it will produce a matching subfolder structure on the destination folder, so you can have scores with the same name in different subfolders, without them overwriting each other.

The plug-in also avoids a common problem that occurs when you have a folder of scores which were saved in different versions of Sibelius. In most batch plug-ins, files opened in a later version of Sibelius will display a “Save changes” dialog when the plug-in tries to close a score. This won’t happen with Export Folder of Scores in Multiple Formats.

 If you want to save to earlier versions of Sibelius, you will notice that the most recent format you can export to is Sibelius 7. In Sibelius itself there are several more recent versions available for export, but plug-ins cannot export anything later than version 7, so it you want to export a folder of scores your options are limited.

You will choose a destination folder to receive the exported scores in the first dialog, then possibly choose a folder to process in another dialog, and finally choose your options in the final dialog. Exported files of any type will be created in your destination folder, or one of its subfolders.

Watch out for your Backup Scores!

One unintended consequence of the way many export processes work is that when a score is converted, it creates a copy of the original score in the Backup Scores folder, which normally holds a limited number (currently the default is 200) of copies of scores you have explicitly saved. If you are processing a large folder of scores, these backup files could overwrite all the backup scores you had saved. If might be worth temporarily increasing the number of backup files that are saved if you are going to process a lot of files. Find the name of your Backup Scores folder, and change the number of backed-up scores, in File>Preferences>Saving and Exporting.

Exports to MusicXML and earlier Sibelius versions will generate backup scores, but PDF and MIDI conversions will not. Export Folder of Scores in Multiple Formats will generate a backup score for each score it processes from a folder, and it will delete them only if your Backup Scores folder is in the default location and has the folder name “Backup Scores”. If you see backup files that start with “DELETE_ME” you should feel free to delete them.

Batch Processing plug-ins

In addition to Export Folder of Scores in Multiple Formats, there are a number of plug-ins that will process a folder of scores and export a different type of file. They almost all process the folder specified and any subfolders, and in most cases the files created will be stored in a single folder, even if the original files were in subfolders. This can be a problem if there are scores if different subfolders that have the same name. If that is the case, you may need to process each subfolder separately.

There is also a problem inherent in all plug-ins of this type, which is that, due to a Sibelius bug, files that were previously saved in an earlier version of Sibelius that are opened, processed, and closed without saving will ask if you want to save changes, and you will generally have to say No for every score from a previous version. In defense of plug-in writers, most plug-ins use a Close command that tells Sibelius to close without saving and without a dialog, but it does not work in this case. So be prepared to sit and watch and click No a bunch if you use these plug-ins.

Folders of scores to PDF

For Sibelius 7 or later, you can use the shipping plug-in Export Folder of Scores to PDF, but I would advise installing the Export Folder As PDF With Subfolders plug-in instead. If the original scores are in different subfolders the shipping plug-in will save all the PDF files into a single folder, while the “With Subfolders” version will create a subfolder structure in the destination folder that matches the subfolders in the original folder. As of Sibelius Ultimate 2019.12, the shipping plug-in will also handle subfolders.

Prior to Sibelius 7 there was no built-in PDF export, so you would print scores after setting up your printer to write to a “PDF printer”. You can still do this in Sibelius 7+ if you like. Both Windows and mac OS have built-in PDF printers these days, but before that you could download and install programs that would serve as printer drivers that would create PDF files. You want to have a PDF printer that does not ask you for a file name on every score, though, or you will spend even more time OK-ing dialogs.

There are several plug-ins that will print a folder of scores. Most are intended to do more than just print a score, so you may have some initial setup to do.

Shipping plug-ins will run in any version in which they are available. Most of the downloadable plug-ins will run in Sibelius 6 or later; plug-ins requiring later versions will be noted.

Print Multiple Copies ships with Sibelius:

Order and print parts from multiple scores (Sibelius 7 or later only) by Kenneth Gaw is a free downloadable or installable plug-in that gives a lot of control over how scores and parts are printed

Print Folder of Scores And Parts is another downloadable plug-in:

Folders of scores to MusicXML

MusicXML is generally the best way to transfer a Sibelius score to another notation program like Finale, Dorico, or MuseScore (among many others). It retains more formatting that any other mechanism, though some PDF converters also do a good job.

MusicXML export was not available natively from Sibelius until Sibelius 7. In Sibelius 7 or later, the shipping plug-in Convert Folder of Scores to MusicXML will convert each score to either compressed or uncompressed MusicXML. As with most batch plug-ins, the output MusicXML files will all be saved into a single destination folder, so you may need to run it separately on subfolders if they are present.

Michael Good is the inventor of MusicXML, and his Dolet plug-in which imports and exports MusicXML is now available for free. You will need to install it manually; You can find installation instructions on the Sibelius web site, or you can install the plugin Install New Plugin and use it to install the Dolet plug-ins (yes, I know…). Use Dolet 6 and Dolet 6 Batch Export (Translate Folder of Scores To MusicXML) in Sibelius 6 and later. You may find that the Dolet plug-ins will produce MusicXML that imports better into other MusicXML importers than files created by the native Sibelius exporter. It is worth getting a copy even in Sibelius 7+ and experimenting with both methods to see which one works best for you.

Folder of scores to MIDI

Convert Folder of Scores to MIDI ships with Sibelius, and exports files into a single destination folder. There are no user options.

Folder of scores to earlier Sibelius versions

Convert Folder To Earlier Sibelius Version ships with Sibelius, though there is a downloadable versions that runs in Sibelius 4 or 5. The most recent version it can convert to is the Sibelius 7 version, and it can also convert to Sibelius 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 format. (Plug-ins are not yet able to convert to any version after 7).

Folders of scores to audio

There are a number of options here. These plugins have had a tendency to crash, most likely because they need to load and unload sound files quickly and frequently. The last time I checked they were working reliably, but I suggest running of small folders for best results.

Plug-ins can only export to WAV format for Windows and AIFF for Mac. To export into MP3 you can use recent version of Sibelius Ultimate to export one score at a time, or find a way to convert WAV or AIFF files to MP3.

The downloadable Export Audio Score and Parts can export scores and parts separately.

Running other plug-ins with Run Plugin on Folder of Scores

There are a number of audio export plug-ins that export a single score, but you can run them using the plug-in Run Plugin On Folder of Scores if you are patient about clicking on dialogs. These include Export Each Staff As Audio, Export MIDI or Audio with Standardised Settings, and Rehearsal Recordings.

That pretty much covers the available batch export options. Most downloadable plug-ins can be installed in Sibelius 7 or later using File > Plug-ins> Install Plug-ins.


  1. Steve Aho

    Incredibly useful. Thanks so much!

  2. Michael Kummer

    In the article was a description how to batch convert Sib files to earlier Sib versions. I would like to do the opposite: since I have very many files made with earlier versions of Sibelius – how can I batch convert those to the actual Sib version format? Thanks for advice!


  3. Bob Zawalich

    The plugin Convert folder to current Sibelius version will do that.

    1. Michael Kummer

      Thank you very much. It seems, I have to look much closer in your many plug-ins!

      1. Michael Kummer

        I could easily install the plug-in. But invoking it brings the selection box that lets me choose which folder I want to convert. After starting the process, I get immediately a 0 files transferred warning. Could it be the problem is caused, since I have the Sibelius files on the iCloud?

        1. bob zawalich

          Sorry – I have no idea why you would not get files if there were file in your original folder. The plugin works for me as expected on Windows 10. There might be some sort of permissions issue. Try the plugin using folders that reside on your machine.

          (And incidentally – this is really not a place for answering technical questions. It would be better to move this discussion to the Sibelius tech support forum, or one of the Facebook Sibelius forums).

  4. constantino cohenete rueda

    una excelente app me encanta soy musico

  5. Bob Zawalich

    In Sibelius Ultimate 2020.4 or later, for at least the plugins Export Folder of Scores In Multiple Formats, Convert Folder of Scores To Earlier Sibelius Version, Save and Export, and Save With Previous Version, there are options to save in formats from 7.5 through 2020.1 (which works up to 2022.5), in addition to earlier formats.

    This post says that Sib 7 is the most recent version you can export to, but that changed in 2020. Yay!

  6. Geoff Jackson

    The choir in which I sing has a professional conductor and arranger who refuse to change from Sibelius 4, I need to have all the score files in xml so that I can produce MuseScore files for choir members use in private rehersal. How can I get xml files from this old Sibelius 4 files?

  7. Bob Zawalich

    Again, this is really not a tech support forum – I would recommend that you go to one of the Facebook forums of the Sibelius chat page to get help.

    That said, you will probably need to find a version of Sibelius that is at least version 6, and better, version 7 or above. You can read the Sib 4 files into that version of Sibelius, and they will be able to export MusicXML files. For Sib 6 you will need to get a copy of the Dolet plugin, but 7 and later can export without a plugin.

    The current free version of Sibelius First cannot Export musicXML. You would need at least Sibelius Artist to do so, and you would need to pay for that. I would ask around to see if anyone you know has a later version of SIbelius that you could use for the conversion. Good luck!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *