Speed tips: Improving Sibelius 5’s start-up time

Tips

I’ve already written about how to make Sibelius feel as snappy as possible while you’re using it, but today I’m going to explain how to make Sibelius start up as quickly as possible on your computer.

On my MacBook Pro, unmodified Sibelius 5 starts up in around 35 seconds, assuming the computer’s not busily doing lots of other things. After following all of the steps here, the program starts up in just under 20 seconds. The timings and the savings listed here will vary widely between different machines, so they are provided for guidance only. More details are after the jump.

There is one very simple step you can take to speed up Sibelius’s start-up time that is built in to the software: you’ll find that listed as “step 1” below. The other steps involve disabling various features of the program and reducing the number of components Sibelius has to load as it starts up.

Before you begin, it’s important to understand that most of the steps described here constitute a kind of “hacking” your installation of the software, and if you encounter any peculiar problems after following any of this procedure, you should revert back to a standard installation of Sibelus before you contact technical support.

How to get out of jail free

To undo anything you have done to your installation of Sibelius, follow these steps:

Windows: Insert your Sibelius 5 DVD-ROM, and when the menu appears on the screen, click Install Sibelius 5. The Sibelius 5 installer will start up: click Repair to put things back to how they were before you started. Once the repair has completed, run Sibelius and use Help > Check For Updates to re-download and re-apply any necessary updates.

Mac: Drag your existing Sibelius 5 icon from your Applications folder to the Trash. Then insert your Sibelius 5 DVD-ROM, and drag a fresh copy of Sibelius 5 from the DVD’s Finder window to your Applications folder. Run Sibelius 5 again, and use Help > Check For Updates to re-download and re-apply any necessary updates.

Step 1: Don’t load Ideas

Saving: 10 seconds.

Sibelius 5 ships with more than 2000 little loops that appear in the Ideas window. If you don’t want to use them every time you start the program, you can prevent Sibelius from loading them at start-up, which will trim quite a few seconds from the time it takes to start the program.

Choose File > Preferences (in the Sibelius menu on Mac) and go to the Ideas page. Switch off Show built-in ideas, and click OK. A progress bar will appear while Sibelius unloads the Ideas content from memory, and the program will then start faster next time you start it.

Step 2: Disable QuickTime (Windows only)

Saving: 2 seconds.

In order to be able to display QuickTime video content when you use Play > Video and Time > Add Video, Sibelius loads up all the QuickTime codecs when it starts up. If you know you don’t want to use Sibelius’s digital video features, or if you know that all the video files you’re using can be played by Windows Media codecs, you can disable QuickTime support.

To do this, you need to follow the procedure outlined in this Help Center article.

Step 3: Load fewer sound sets

Saving: up to 5 seconds

Sound sets are the files that Sibelius uses to understand the capabilities of various playback devices, including external MIDI synthesizers and virtual instruments. Sibelius loads all the sound sets it can find as the program starts up, and each one takes a fraction of a second to load. Most people only have a few playback devices at most, and so all of those other sound set files are unnecessary.

To prevent Sibelius from loading sound sets you don’t need, follow this procedure:

WIndows users:

1. Open Windows Explorer. My favourite way to do this is to right-click on the Start button and choose Explore… from the context menu.

2. In the Windows Explorer address bar type the location where Sibelius is installed on your computer. By default it’s C:\Program Files\Sibelius Software\Sibelius 5. You’ll see something like this:

Windows Explorer window showing the Sibelius 5 program folder
Windows Explorer window showing the Sibelius 5 program folder

3. Now right-click on the Sounds folder and choose Rename from the context menu. Rename the folder to Sounds (not loaded), as shown here:

Renaming the Sounds folder in Windows Explorer
Renaming the Sounds folder in Windows Explorer

4. Now create a new folder called Sounds alongside the renamed Sounds (not loaded) folder. To do that, right-click and choose New > Folder from the context menu, then rename the created folder from New Folder to Sounds.

5. You need to make sure that Sibelius can load the sound sets you actually do want to use. For most users, that would be General MIDI (for your computer’s internal soundcard) and Sibelius Sounds Essentials (Sibelius 5’s bundled sample library). Go into the Sounds (not loaded) folder, select the General MIDI.xml and Sibelius Essentials.xml sound sets, and type Ctrl+C to copy the files:

Select the sound set files you want to use, and type Ctrl+C
Select the sound set files you want to use, and type Ctrl+C

6. Now go to your new Sounds folder and type Ctrl+V to paste the copied sound sets into the folder:

Use Ctrl+V to paste the copied sound sets into your new Sounds folder
Use Ctrl+V to paste the copied sound sets into your new Sounds folder

Now when you restart Sibelius, only the sound sets you have copied into the Sounds folder will be loaded.

Mac users:

1. Open a new Finder window and go to your Applications folder.

2. Select your Sibelius 5 application icon, then right-click or Control-click and choose Show Package Contents from the context menu:

Right-click the Sibelius 5 icon and choose 'Show Package Contents'
Right-click the Sibelius 5 icon and choose Show Package Contents

2. In the new Finder window that appears, go into Contents, then into Components.

3. Select the existing Sounds folder and rename it to Sounds (not loaded):

Rename Sounds to Sounds (not loaded)
Rename Sounds to Sounds (not loaded)

4. Now create a new folder alongside the Sounds (not loaded) folder by typing ShiftCommandN. Call your new folder Sounds:

Create a new Sounds folder
Create a new folder called Sounds

5. You need to make sure that Sibelius can load the sound sets you actually do want to use. For most users, that would be General MIDI (for the built-in DLSMusicDevice) and Sibelius Sounds Essentials (Sibelius 5’s bundled sample library). Go into the Sounds (not loaded) folder, select the General MIDI.xml and Sibelius Essentials.xml sound sets, and type CommandC to copy the files.

6. Now choose your new Sounds folder and type CommandV to paste the copied files.

Now when you restart Sibelius, only the sound sets you have copied into the Sounds folder will be loaded.

Step 4: Load fewer plug-ins

Saving: up to 5 seconds

Each plug-in you find in the Plug-ins menu in Sibelius takes a fraction of a second to load. You can speed up the load time of the application by up to a few seconds by moving out of the way some or all of the plug-ins you know you don’t want to use.

The procedure for doing so is more or less the same as in step 3 above: rename the existing Plugins folder to Plugins (not loaded) and create a new folder called Plugins. Copy across only those subfolders or individual plug-in files you want to be available in Sibelius when you restart it into your new Plugins folder.

Step 5: Load fewer file importers

Saving: up to 3 seconds

If you don’t ever need to open Acorn Sibelius, Finale, SCORE or ASCII tab files in Sibelius, you can move these file importers out of the way in order to prevent Sibelius from loading them as the application starts up.

On Windows, the importers are in the Plugins folder, and are called FinaleImporter.dll, SCOREImporter.dll, ASCIITabImporter.dll and S7Importer.dll. These DLLs may already be in your Plugins (not loaded) folder; if not, copy and paste them across.

On Mac, the importers are in their own Importers folder. You can simply rename this folder to Importers (not loaded) in order to prevent Sibelius from loading them.

Step 6: Admire your handiwork

That’s it. Depending on how many of the above steps you followed, and how fast your computer is, you should experience a reduction in time taken to load Sibelius of up to 40%. Now you can be composing or arranging faster than ever.

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