Sibelius from A to Z


Sibelius, like most other modern music notation software, is like a jet airplane: powerful, fast… and with an overwhelming number of commands and controls at your disposal.

There are lots of ways to get things done in Sibelius, from clicking with a mouse, to using the Ribbon, to searching in Command Search, to third-party control solutions like our very own Notation Express for Stream Deck. It’s a lot to take in, so today let’s get back to basics. And what could be more elementary than the ABCs?

Most of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet do something in Sibelius. If you’re not big on keyboard shortcuts, that’s OK. But if you can at least recall what pressing a single letter does, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the software. Personally, I rely on a combination of all of the above options. I love using the Stream Deck, and clicking with a pointer is straightforward, but if my hands are already on the computer keyboard, one tap is the fastest method of them all — as long as I know what it does.

So sing along to Mozart or whatever tune you like! Here we go, along with a handful of times when adding the Shift modifier does something related.

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.

With Shift, i.e., Shift+A: This will add a note of that pitch to an existing note.


Creates a hairpin (a crescendo).

With Shift: Creates a diminuendo hairpin.


The Add or Remove Instruments window. Useful for adding, removing instruments, modifying the order of them in the score, adding extra staves to an existing instrument, or changing a staff to a smaller size.


A guitar bend (the letter J looks a little like a bend on a tab staff…?).


The Key Signature gallery.


The Lines gallery.


The Mixer.


Input Notes.




Play from Selection.


The Clef gallery (Q for Qlef, naturally).


Repeats the selection.

R repeats the selection. R repeats the selection. R repeats…


Creates a slur.

With Shift: during note input, stops slur input.


The Time Signature gallery.

U, V



Switch between the full score and the part. If music on a part in selected in the score, W will take you to that specific part.


Flips the selected items(s), if possible.


Moves the playback line to the selection. Y? Because it’s the last letter of the word “plaY”, maybe? Y not?


Everyone’s favorite: The Symbols (“Zymbols”) gallery.

Program your own

That’s just the start of it; there are lots of other default shortcuts in Sibelius using numbers, other characters, and modifiers. You can also customize your own shortcuts; get quick keyboard access to your favorite plug-ins; or take them to the next level with extensions like BetterTouchTool.

Command and control

Once you’ve done that, learn all about what adding the Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) key can do for you.

But for now, you know your ABCs. Next time, won’t you sing with me!


  1. Sheila Joynes

    Wish I’d known some of these tips over the past (don’t know how many but at least 17) years!!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Sheila! It’s never to late to learn!

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