FinaleScripts for faster scoring in Finale


Keyboard shortcuts are essential tools for pro users on any platform. Many pro-level programs offer robust support, even including shortcut editing and reassignment capability in their preferences or tools menu.

Although Finale has many default shortcuts, it’s not possible to program global keyboard shortcuts within Finale, like it is in Sibelius or Dorico. There are many menu items in Finale without shortcuts that lead to nested dialogs (always followed by ellipses “…” in menu listings), and tools that change the menus themselves. A shortcut editor would be welcome, and I’ve made a feature request for one in the Finale Support feature request forum. (Follow the link and vote it up if you agree that you’d like such a feature!)

So, what do we do? FinaleScript

Until Finale supports a fully-featured integrated keyboard shortcut editor, there’s FinaleScript. Created by Robert Piéchaud, it’s the most direct solution within Finale itself. Finale’s FinaleScripts can be designed to access and execute any menu item, and each script can have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. It’s really a terrific tool, and it could possibly be why Finale hasn’t gone in the direction of a basic shortcut editor. The major downside of FinaleScript is that MakeMusic does not support it via their customer support interface.

FinaleScript’s stated objective is implementation of plain-language scripting, recognizing most menu items without coding. It can be prickly about syntax, and how to address program functions and execute various actions.

We developed a list of Finale shortcuts that have become essential to our scoring workflow at my company Arranger For Hire, and they work. I’ve shared them with you at the end of this post. Some of them took help from others to get working, and we’re particularly grateful to CJ Garcia of the Facebook Finale Scripts and Macros Group for a second look and great advice on some of these.

There are other tools available, such as Keyboard Maestro and other macro editors, and the plug-in JW Change > Sequence Editor, both with great tutorials right here on Scoring Notes. There are also system shortcut editors such as that on the Mac (System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts) that may be limited to top-level menus.

To create a FinaleScript, go into Plug-ins > FinaleScript and open the FinaleScript Palette.

Click New to add a new script, and click the Edit button and name it. To assign your shortcut, click Use shortcut.

The Shortcut Editor appears.

If you want Finale to find an available shortcut for you automatically, click Find One! or if you want to assign your own, simply strike the keystrokes you wish to use.

Then, type in your script. To use the scripts we provide below, copy and paste them verbatim into the editor (not including the title/shortcut line).

Click Save & Close. Test them, then edit away, faster and happier than ever before.

Notice that the Editor changes the colors for program items that it recognizes. If the colors don’t appear for you, you can switch this on in Plug-ins > FinaleScript > Options.

Some FinaleScripts

Here are all the FinaleScripts we depend on.

Note that you can assign your own shortcuts to them. These are the shortcuts as I’ve assigned them on the Mac. (I find them related to the task, and easy to remember.)

Edit Filter Scripts (quick-change Edit Filter selections)

These have really sped up our workflow. When slinging parts around the score, what if there are already chords or lyrics in the target you don’t want to lose? Edit > Edit Filter is great for these situations. Often we just want to copy articulations; sometimes, just notes and rests; sometimes just chords or lyrics. Being able to swap the focus of the Edit Filter without having to go the the menu — or even click boxes after using the default shortcut to open the Edit Filter dialog — saves a lot of mouse effort. These shortcuts are ferociously handy.

Filter Markings [⌃⌥⇧M]

Menu Item "Edit Filter…"
button "None"
check "Markings"
button "OK"

Filter Notes and Rests Only [⌘⌃5]

Menu Item "Edit Filter…"
button "None"
check "Notes and Rests"
button "OK"

Filter All (reset) [⌃⌥⇧F]

Menu Item "Edit Filter…"
button "All"
button "OK"

Filter Chords Only [⌘⌃4]

Menu Item "Edit Filter…"
button "None"
check "Chords & Fretboards"
button "OK"

Filter Lyrics [⌘⌃5]

Menu Item "Edit Filter…"
button "None"
check "Lyrics"
button "OK"

Layer shortcuts

These come in really handy. The one we use most often is moving Layer 2 to 1. When we start entering notes while still in Layer 2 and only realize it a ways in, we can fix it quickly with a shortcut. Also, when layers cross registers and create a mess, sometimes the quickest fix is just to swap ’em.

It’s helpful to have these to activate certain layers for single-layer-specific operations, like grabbing a countermelody from Layer 2 to give to some other staff. Or maybe we added a bass line to the piano part, but we need to add some harmony or countermelody along with it in the left hand. Moving the bass line to layer 2 is the first next step.

Active Layer Only [⌃⌥⇧A]

Menu 'Show Active Layer Only'

Move from Layer 2 to 1 [⌘⌃H]

Move layer 2 to 1

Move from Layer 1 to 2 [⌘⌃G]

Move layer 1 to 2

Show All Layers [⌘⌃⇧A]

Uncheck Menu Item "Show Active Layer Only"

Select Layer 1 Only [⌘⌃⇧0]

Select Menu Item "Show Active Layer Only"
Select Menu Item "Layer 1"

Activate Layer 2 [⌃⌥⇧T]

Select Menu Item "Show Active Layer Only"
Select Menu Item "Layer 2"

Swap Layers (found in “Simple Scripts Folder”) [⌃L]

swap layers 1 and 2
update layout

Accidentals and enharmonics

Given the idiosyncrasies of transposition, correcting enharmonics becomes a crucial part of workflow in any notation software. We find these incredibly useful for rapidly correcting large blocks of enharmonic mess, leaving only the fine tuning for the painstaking hunt-and-fix mode.

Default enharmonics (accidentals) [⌃D]

menu item "Finale/Enharmonic Spelling/Use Default Spelling"
menu item "Utilities/Respell Notes"

Respell to favor Flats [⌘ ⌃⇧B]

Select Menu Item "Enharmonic Spelling: Favor Flats"
Select Menu Item "Respell Notes"

Respell to Sharps [⌘ ⌃⇧S]

Select Menu Item "Enharmonic Spelling: Favor Sharps"
Select Menu Item "Respell Notes"

JW Plug-in Shortcuts

Tie Common Notes [⌘ ⌃⇧T]

Select Plugin "JW Tie Notes"

Rhythm Copy Set Source [⌘ ⌃⇧R]

menu item "JW Rhythm Copy  SET SOURCE"

Rhythm Copy Replace rhythm [⌃⌥⇧C]

menu item "JW Rhythm Copy  COPY"

Open JW Staff Polyphony [⌃Y]

Menu item "JW Staff Polyphony"

Learning more

If you’ve got some useful FinaleScripts you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about them here in the comments, or over in the Facebook FinaleScripts and Macros group.


  1. Jon Burr

    Oh man, I’m finding since upgrading to Mojave last night that none of the edit filter scripts are working.
    I’m going to try to find a solution and get back here ASAP with it.

  2. Jon Burr

    Found it! Finale has to be added back to System>Security and Privacy>Accessibility list – same as KeyBoard Maestro.
    KM throws a prompt, but no such luck for Finale. Anything doing scripting has to be authorized in Mojave now.

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