How to run Sibelius 7 without the Quick Start window

An empty Sibelius document window, yesterday.

Warning: this post gets a bit nerdy about software windowing models. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try this instead. Likewise, if you’re a Mac user, you might find all this a bit parochial.

Like all good modern applications, Sibelius 7 uses the Single Document Interface (SDI) model, which means that each Sibelius score you open gets its own window, each with its own button on the Windows taskbar, and so on. Of course, you can also open further windows onto the same document if you wish (of which more later), but in the general run of things you’ll have a single window for each document, with multiple tabs open in that window to house the full score. Folks who have upgraded from previous versions of Sibelius, which used the Multiple Document Interface (MDI) model – where the Sibelius application itself has a parent window to house every score that is opened, and that window stays open until the application quits – have struggled a bit with the transition to SDI.

The chief sticking point is the expectation of what happens when you close a window. On Windows, typically an application quits once it no longer has any windows open (obviously there are exceptions, such as applications that put icons down in the system notification area, but those are normally utilities rather than full-blown productivity applications). Under the old MDI model, it was easy to close one score before opening a new one: the parent window would hang around, so you could simply choose File > Open from the menu, and a new score window would open within the parent window. Under an SDI model, however, if you close the last document window, the application quits (on Windows only, of course), so you never get the option to open another score. This is why, by default, we made the Quick Start window reappear after you close the last document window: it prevents Sibelius from quitting, and provides you with an easy way to open another score.

But what if you don’t want to see the Quick Start window? It was already possible to disable the Quick Start window when starting Sibelius, with the application opening a default blank score for you, so that you can open a new score from there, or indeed just add instruments to that default document and get cracking. But if you disable the Quick Start window when closing the last score window, Sibelius quits as soon as that window closes.

As of the latest Sibelius 7 update, version 7.1.2, Sibelius now behaves the same as other SDI applications that use ribbons, such as Microsoft Word. What this means is that if you close the last tab in the last window (e.g. by clicking its close button, or by typing Ctrl+W or CommandW, or by clicking Close in the File tab), the score disappears from the window, but the window remains, with the ribbon disabled above it. You can click the File tab, which now defaults to the Recent page, making it easy to choose a recent score to open, or you can click Open (or type Ctrl+O or CommandO) or New (Ctrl+N or CommandN) to open an existing score or start a new one. Once you have opened an existing score or started a new one, the empty window ends up with the newly-opened or created score in it, and away you go again.

Be warned: closing the last window by clicking the close button at the top right-hand corner of the window will still quit Sibelius altogether (unless you have set the Quick Start to open after the last window closes), but this is correct, and how SDI applications work.

So to run Sibelius without the Quick Start, first ensure you’ve updated to Sibelius 7.1.2, then switch off Show Quick Start dialog and Show Quick Start again after closing last score on the Other page of Preferences. Enjoy!


  1. Luigi

    Hey isn’t there a trick to hide the new ribbon menu and bring back the old loved one? :)

    1. Daniel Spreadbury

      No, the old menus are gone, and they’re not coming back. I refer you to my previous essay on the ribbon.

  2. Wheat Williams

    You wrote: “if you’re a Mac user, you might find all this a bit parochial.”

    LOL. I’ve been using Macs for 25 years. If you are a Mac user, the very fact that there’s another operating system called Windows, and that other people persist in using it, seems in itself “all a bit parochial.”

  3. Jerome

    Thanks. that’s really nice.
    I still wish the ribbon will act as in windows, where you can choose your most common icons and addit to a “Quick Access Toolbar” above the ribbon.
    By that you gain several important usefull benefits:
    1) Instead of jumping around between different sections of the toolbar,
    all the most usefull commands are always infront of you.
    When you compose or arrange new music, you need minimum distructions of starting going through all sections with the mouse.
    2) for each itme in the Quick access toolbar, you can assign a shortcut.
    In word/excel it’s alt+1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/0
    That makes all your most useful commands really performed intuitively

    1. Daniel Spreadbury

      I agree that it would be good to have a customisable ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar. Maybe in a future version!

  4. Andrei

    Another vote for customizable ribbon…

    Or, it would be great to have a couple of ribbon sets for, say Medieval, Baroque, Classic/Romantic, Contemporary music, with their most common notations and options, etc.

    Daniel, thanks for your great work! Enjoying Sib 7 more than ever since Sib 4…

  5. Dave

    Maru… FTW!

  6. mhch

    I always thought the previous Sibelius MDI model was awkward and totally inappropriate to the use of multiple displays, which is more and more common place, specially in several kinds of creativity and design software applications (Architecture, Music, CAD, etc ..)

    But I’m starting to think that all the significant use model changes from Sib6 to Sib7 were all brought in too quickly and too many at the same time, hence forcing users into breaking many habits at the same time.

    While there are certainly good reasons to do so, specially considering a long term roadmap, I’d like to remind Sibelius Team that one of the major development laws of successful software development is “proceed incrementally”, in this case, break only one thing at a time so users don’t have to fight too many things at once and R&D. & Support don’t have to fight and fix too many problems at once as well.

    Else there is a big risk of loosing customers ! Software history doesn’t lack sad stories of older once nice products going down the tube and being replaced by newer products.

    Fortunately there is not many Sibelius competitors yet, so may be it was a good move … future will tell.

  7. mhch

    May be replacing the way tuplets currently behaves during editing was more important to users than moving to the SDI model …

  8. Toby

    Parochial it may be, but this change for Windows seems also to have affected Mac!

    On my Mac, using any well-behaved application, when I close the last document window using Command+W, the application itself hangs around in memory, ready to open new documents. I have lots of other MDI applications, including lots of cross-platform ones, which are well-behaved in this way. Sibelius itself was also well-behaved — until this latest update. Now, when I try to close the last document window, not only does Sibelius hang around but its last window stays open, grey and empty. This may make sense for Windows (where the OS provides no native way to keep a program in memory except through having a physical window open) but it’s counter-intuitive for Mac (where applications with no windows are perfectly common). It would be nice at least to have an option to switch this Windowsy behaviour off.

    Sibelius has always been well-behaved on Mac, but recent changes make me worry that it’s shifting away from being a native Mac program and towards inventing its own UI paradigms. The evisceration of the menus (which hasn’t happened on other Mac applications, even when they’ve introduced ribbon-like controls, rich menus have been preserved; and don’t get me wrong, I like the ribbon!), non-native version control, non-native fullscreen, … and now this odd MDI implementation.

    I totally understand the desire to try and keep Sibelius consistent across Windows and Mac. But this is inevitably going to throw up conflicts when Windows and MacOS have different inbuilty ways of doing things. I wonder whether the design team at Sibelius have decided to solve these conflicts with a “plough our own furrow” approach rather than a “when in Rome” approach? And if so, is this wise?

    1. Daniel Spreadbury

      The shortcut to close a window is Shift-Command-W (or Ctrl+Shift+W on Windows). The shortcut to close a tab is Command-W (or Ctrl+W on Windows).

      Sibelius is still a perfectly well-behaved Mac application: you may well want to keep that empty document window open on Mac as well as Windows in order to have access to the File > Recent page of the Backstage.

      1. Toby

        Thanks Daniel. I knew about the shortcuts. My point was not that it’s impossible to close the empty window; I can do it by clicking the close button too. My point was that Sibelius behaves differently in this respect to the other MDI applications I know about on Mac.

        Generalising, I’m not claiming that Sibelius lacks features. I’m not even actually complaining at all. I’m just observing that Sibelius has recently starting doing an increasing number of things differently from the native Mac way, and wondering if this is a deliberate policy.

  9. Paul

    As a Mac user I share Toby’s concerns. To add to these, when will Sibelius 7’s ‘full screen’ behaviour work the way Apple intend it to with OSX Lion and beyond? And every other application on my Mac I can use Shift-Cmd-+/- to resize text. Text is a big part of this new Sibelius edition, yet I have to do cumbersome clicks inside dialog boxes to achieve simple adjustments.

    1. Daniel Spreadbury

      You don’t need to visit a dialog to change text size, of course: it’s accessible directly from the Text tab of the ribbon. But I agree that it would be nice to have keyboard shortcuts to change font size.

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