Dorico from A to Z


If you read our last post from top-to-bottom — or, from A to Z — you’ll recall that we went through each letter of the alphabet and “spelled out” what they do in Sibelius.

You had to know a corresponding post for Dorico was in the works, and here it is!

Don’t forget, Dorico’s shortcuts can be found at Help > Key Commands, which opens an interactive local HTML document in your web browser — it’s quite fun to play with and responds to your keypresses!

There’s nothing like a good run through the alphabet, though, so let’s have at it.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G

The note names. Pressing each of these while the note input cursor is active (more on that shortly) will give you a pitch.

Dorico Pro automatically selects the note whose register is the smallest interval away from the previously input note. However, you can force a different register.

  • To input a note above the previously input note, press Shift-Alt/Opt as well as the letter for the note, for example, Shift-Alt/Opt-A.
  • To input a note below the previously input note, press Ctrl-Alt (Windows) or Ctrl (macOS) as well as the letter for the note, for example, Ctrl-Alt-A (Windows) or Ctrl-A (macOS).


When the note input cursor is inactive, this flips the selected item. If a note is selected, F flips the stem direction. If a dynamic or playing technique is selected, it places it above/below the staff. Try it and see what else can be flipped, before you flip out yourself.


Toggles between the Hand and Marquee tools. The former is used for grabbing and dragging around the page; the latter is for making a drag-enclosed selection.

  • To use the other tool briefly without selecting it, you can press Shift in addition to using the mouse.
  • You can change the default selection tool for all future projects on the Note Input and Editing page in Preferences.


Toggles Insert mode.

As of Dorico 4, typing Alt+I now toggles four choices among the new Insert mode scopes. They are, from top to bottom:

  • Voice: only notes, rests, tuplets, and other items in the current voice are affected
  • Player: affects all voices belonging to the current player, and all non-voice-attached items, such as dynamics
  • Global: affects all players in the flow
  • Global Adjustment of Current Bar: affects all players in the flow, but if note input is active, it additionally changes the length of the current bar rather than pushing or pulling items across barlines


Another Dorico 4 addition: the Jump Bar. Formulated with all-natural ingredients and high-quality protein, this great-tasting meal bar delivers an experience that other protein bar brands can’t match.

Oh wait, sorry. The Jump Bar in Dorico is probably best described as The Universal Just-Tell-Me-What-You-Want-And-I’ll-Do-It Dialog™.


Toggles Pitch before Duration (“Speedy” mode, for Finale users).


Lock to Duration (otherwise known as “repitching“, for when you want to duplicate the rhythm but have different pitches).


Cross-staff below. (For cross-staff, you can only cross notes to other staves held by the same player; i.e., a grand staff for a piano).


Cross-staff above.


Force duration (the “I-know-better-than-Dorico” mode regarding rhythm).


Play from selection (also stops playback).


Toggles Chords for inputting multiple notes at the caret position. (Yes, “Q” for “Qords”.)


Repeats the selection (am I repeating myself?).


Creates a slur.

With Shift: during note input, stops slur input.

(I am repeating myself!)


Adds a tie (which might disappear later, unless you have Force duration active).


Scissors, because you didn’t really want that tie there in the first place.


Next Voice.

With Shift: Creates a new voice.


Counterpart Layout, a very fancy way of saying switching between the score and part, when something is selected.


Zoom out.


Intended for percussion input, this places the notes at the current “pitch” on an unpitched staff. (For German keyboard users, the shortcut is Z.)


Zoom in. If a selection is made, the zoom will focus on the selection; otherwise it will zoom into the center of the window.

The popovers

No discussion of Dorico shortcuts would be complete without the popover. Popovers only open in Write mode, and they open above the top staff on which the caret is active or an item is selected, and at the caret position or the rhythmic position of the earliest selected item. They are (almost) always invoked by the Shift modifier.

If you are organizing your popovers alphabetically by shortcut, here they are:

  • Shift-B: Create Bar or Barline
  • Shift-C: Create Clef
  • Shift-D: Create Dynamic
  • Shift-F: Create Fingering
  • Shift-G: Create Figured Bass
  • Shift-H: Create Hold or Pause
  • Shift-I: Add Intervals
  • Shift-K: Create Key Signature
  • Shift-L: Create Lyrics
  • Shift-M: Create Time Signature (“Meter”)
  • Shift-O: Create Ornament
  • Shift-P: Create Playing Technique
  • Shift-Q: Create Chord (“Qord”) Symbol
  • Shift-R: Create Repeat
  • Shift-T: Create Tempo
  • Shift-U: Create Cue
  • Shift-X: Create Text
  • ; (semi-colon): Create Tuplet


But still invoked by Shift:

  • Shift-A: Create Rehearsal Mark
  • Shift-N: Start Note Input (a very important one!)
  • Shift-S: Stops slur input (as mentioned earlier)
  • Shift-V: Create Voice

Play mode

Play mode sports a few shortcuts of its own: D, E, L, S, and W; but we’ll save those for another time, perhaps for when the Key Editor is fully re-introduced in a future Dorico update.

Program your own

That’s just the start of it; there are lots of other default shortcuts in Dorico using numbers, other characters, and modifiers. Those are easily found on the beautiful and functional Dorico Quick Reference Card, which is nicely formatted for printing. You can also customize your own shortcuts or take them to the next level with extensions like BetterTouchTool.

Keep in mind that, with the Dorico 4 update, Notation Express for Dorico no longer relies on keyboard shortcuts, so you can use Notation Express in combination with any set of custom key commands you’ve defined.

Next time, won’t you sing with me? Until then, these letters might come in handy elsewhere. Another feather in your cap for knowing your ABCs!


  1. John Barron

    Don’t forget you can download the Dorico Quick Reference Card too:

    1. Philip Rothman

      Terrific, thanks, John; I’ve put this directly in the post now.

  2. Bill

    It’s not a letter per say, but “]” for staccato is an essential shortcut

  3. Kayle

    Fantastic post – great reminder and a few new tips. Question, why would you use SHift+N for note entry as opposed to just hitting return? They seem to be the same, or am I missing something?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks! You can also press Return; however, if you select a notation, such as a dynamic, pressing Return opens the corresponding popover instead of starting note input.

      1. Kayle

        Ah, good to know. Thanks Philip.

  4. Alec

    Thanks, Phillip for summarizing the hotkeys in such a nice and attractive manner. The key commands in Dorico are genius, to me they are probably the most logical, and for sure well-thought.

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