Transitioning from Sibelius 6 to Sibelius 7.5


transitionWith the recent release of Apple’s newest operating system Mac OS X Yosemite came the news that Sibelius 6 is not officially supported on that operating system. While most users have reported their ability to run Sibelius 6 just fine on Yosemite, as operating systems continue to evolve, it’s possible that Sibelius 6 will suffer the same fate as it predecessors by being unusable to some degree.

Although Sibelius 7 was released more than three years ago, and Sibelius 7.5 is fast approaching its one-year mark, many users still rely on Sibelius 6 for their daily work. It should be said that I’m not one of them; nearly all my Sibelius work today is in 7.5, and happily so. That being said, though, I’ve not yet upgraded to Yosemite on my production computer. I don’t want to risk any issues with Sibelius 6, which I still use occasionally, nor do I wish to cause problems with Finale 2011 or Finale 2012, with which I work quite often, and, like Sibelius 6, are not supported on Yosemite.

With all that in mind, I thought it would be useful to assemble some helpful resources that I’ve created for Sibelius 6 users that need to transition to Sibelius 7.5. The arguments for and against the changes are long and well-known, and with respect I don’t wish to re-hash them here.

Rather, it’s an acknowledgement that, sooner or later, technology marches on. Not everyone needs to move in lockstep, of course. But if you’ve been wary of Sibelius 7 (or 7.5) but find yourself needing to upgrade, whether it’s because of your OS, computer, or compatibility with other collaborators, here are a few ways to make it a little easier. (A note that unless otherwise stated, all remarks about Sibelius 7 apply to Sibelius 7.5 as well.)

Get Started Fast tutorial videos

This is a series of five tutorial videos that I created for Avid earlier this year in conjunction with the release of Sibelius 7.5. You’ll actually find that most of the “basics” of note entry, selecting music, and editing haven’t changed a bit from previous versions. But look closer and you’ll notice that setting up and navigating around your score is different — particularly the instrument dialog boxes and, of course, the Ribbon menu.

Lesson 2 covers many of those differences, and I’ve embedded it here:

While you’re at it, though, it’s worth watching all five videos. It will take less than two hours of your time from start to finish. You may find yourself learning a few things you didn’t know before, and you’ll be more accustomed to the look of Sibelius 7.5 as well.

Some more tutorial videos

Prior to making the Get Started Fast series for Avid, I created a handful of other tutorial videos that go more in depth about specific features new to Sibelius 7. Each video is between 8 and 14 minutes long. (Note: several of the videos include a short notice about local training sessions that have come and gone; feel free to scroll past those.)

Text styles and typography is an overview of these features new to Sibelius 7, such as using the Ribbon, text frames, angled and vertical text, and hierarchical text styles. If you work a lot with text in your documents, you may well be impressed at the many ways that Sibelius 7 improved upon Sibelius 6 in this regard:

Using the Inspector shows how to finely control note and text positions, lines, properties of bars, tuplets, and playback. Looking for the Properties window of Sibelius 6 and earlier? Most of those items are now in the Inspector, with some (like individual text adjustments, as shown in the previous video) are now hanging out in the Ribbon.

Installing and using plug-ins demonstrates a huge leap from Sibelius 6: the ability to install plug-ins from directly within Sibelius. If you’ve always been interested in extending your work with plug-ins but are frightened by the thought of getting into your Library folder, you’ll be pleased to know about this feature. The video also demonstrates a handful of useful plug-ins including Open Selected Parts, which makes transitioning from Sibelius 6’s Parts window easier.

10 Ribbon features is much like the Lesson 2 video in the Get Started Fast series, but if you have 8 minutes to spare, why not take a look?

Helpful blog posts

Sibelius 7 is here is actually a post from blog founder and former Sibelius senior product manager Daniel Spreadbury, now of Steinberg. It’s from July 2011, but if you’re still using Sibelius 6, it’s a good overview of Sibelius 7’s most evident new features, like the interface overhaul, 64-bit support, new sound library, full MusicXML support, text and typography, graphics importing and exporting, and note input improvements.

Sibelius 7.5 announced is my review of the new features of Sibelius 7.5, including the Timeline, playback and performance enhancements, sharing, and localization. Also see this post about 7.5.1 which details the many fixes to made to 7.5 in July of this year.

Access the Create menu demonstrates that the friendly Create menu is not totally gone in Sibelius 7. You just have to know to right-click on the score to access it.

The Create menu in Sibelius 7...
The Create menu in Sibelius 7, just a right-click away

Creating PDFs in Sibelius 7 is as easy as going to File > Export > PDF, but there are many more helpful options, and this post covers them all, including using tokens to make custom filenames.

However, Sibelius 7 took away a useful feature: the ability to make 2-up PDF directly from Sibelius by using the Print dialog. Making 2-up PDFs walks you through a workaround using a free app.

Sibelius 7 added the ability to use graphics as symbols, and define them as custom articulations. Learn how to do that here.

Stick to it with sticky tuplets, slurs and lines focuses on Sibelius 7’s new ability to enter many repeated tuplets consecutively, as well as its “sticky” lines and slurs.

No need to click thorough to read the post about moving notes up or down chromatically; just use the shortcuts Shift-Page Up and Shift-Page Down, respectively — newly introduced in Sibelius 7.

Likewise, if you use the semicolon to input grace notes in Sibelius 7, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The post is worth a read for some other useful tips.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Sibelius Reference manual is a good read. No need to print out all 800+ pages or sit in front of your desktop computer screen; instead, learn how to use the Reference Guide and other help documents outside of Sibelius, and curl up by the fire with your favorite tablet PC and a cup of tea as you become a Sibelius master.

Some other notes

Like all Sibelius versions, Sibelius 7.5 allows you to export a version of your file to be compatible with Sibelius releases as far back as Sibelius 2, and this includes Sibelius 6 or 7. You’ll lose information that previous versions aren’t equipped to handle, of course, but in my experience the notation and layout elements export just fine from Sibelius 7 or 7.5 to Sibelius 6. Likewise, opening a 6 file in 7.5 should be mostly painless; the main thing to look for in either direction is how text is handled, especially if your Sibelius 7/7.5 file takes advantage of the new advanced typography features and hierarchical text styles.

Sibelius 7 included a new sound library and mixer display. The mixer is just fine and works more like mixers in other music programs or a good old-fashioned studio console. For the money — that is, included with Sibelius — the sound library is OK, but its 35 GB size means it loads slowly on all but the fastest computers with flash storage or SSDs. Some of the sounds are better than others, but the overall impression is underwhelming. The good news is that you can still use any third-party library that supports VST or AU.

Sibelius 7 is 64-bit, which is excellent news if you do need to access lots of those virtual instruments, as you’ll be able to exceed 4 GB RAM, something that wasn’t possible with Sibelius 6.

Ordering options

If you’re upgrading from Sibelius 6 to Sibelius 7.5, be sure to order the “Legacy Upgrade” or “Upgrade from pre-Sib 7” version. It’s identical to the ordinary version of Sibelius 7.5, except for the license which authorizes use only for registered owners of Sibelius 6 or earlier. Avid has both a shippable box and a download version on its store for $150. You might also try other authorized retailers, like Amazon or Sweetwater, as sometimes they run sales or specials that can discount the price.


  1. Laurent

    Thank you for this great detailed advices that will perhaps make me leave Sibelius 6 for Sibelius 7 !

  2. Asbjørn

    I think the reason that many (including myself) haven’t upgraded is the uncertain future of Sibelius. Avid is in deep financial trouble and firing the whole developer team is not a confidence-inspiring action. I hesitate to support a company that considers that an acceptable action.
    Sibelius 7 and 7.5 have a new UI and are 64-bit, sure, but there are hardly any new notation features.
    If Sibelius 8 proves that Sibelius still has a future, then maybe I’ll upgrade – but Steinberg’s new project is looking very tempting…

  3. Ron Puente

    Thank you for your clear, cogent, and incisive report on 7.5. I haven’t upgraded from 7, yet. Will you be teaching Sibelius in NYC any tie soon?
    Best regards,
    Ron Puente

    1. Philip Rothman

      Ron: Thanks. No sessions scheduled, but if something comes up, I’ll be sure to post about it here.

  4. Bob Zawalich

    Great post, Philip.

    It seems that, especially for Mac users, upgrading to Sib 7 is pretty much inevitable, if you are keeping current on the OS. Sib 5 is already unusable on the current OS, and you can’t upgrade to 6, and even 6 is not supported, so it has an unknown shelf-life.

    So I would advise people to follow some sort of training regimen of the sort you describe, because jumping right into Sib 7.x after working in Sib 5 or 6 is not easy.

    I suspect that your videos mention this, but the Find In Ribbon box is invaluable for finding commands you knew in earlier versions.

    As for the comment about not upgrading because of questions of Avid’s handling of Sibelius, I totally agree – I no longer recommend Sibelius to new users because of this and because of the instability of Avid itself. But if you are already working in Sibelius, upgrading may be you only option if you want to continue working in Sibelius.

    (And I would be careful about switching over to Finale at this point too. It has its share of corporate issues).

    Thanks for bringing this subject up, and for show a path through the woods!


    1. Philip Rothman

      Bob: Thanks, as always. Yes, both my Avid video and my self-produced video mention the Ribbon search — a very handy tool indeed.

      Just out of curiosity, if you don’t recommend Sibelius or Finale to new users, what do you recommend to someone that wants to use a music notation program?

  5. Bob Zawalich

    If someone plans to be an engraver or copyist, I would probably recommend Sibelius anyway. But these are not the people who ask me for recommendations. Most are musicians just wanting to write down their music. Lately I have been recommending one of the free options – MuseScore, NIghtFlight, or even Finale Notepad, but I have never used any of these programs enough to suggest one over the other. But at least you won’t be out a lot of money if the publisher vanishes.

  6. Robin Thomson

    Sibelius 6 seems to work fine in Yosemite.

  7. John Pramik

    I have 7.5
    how do I delete 7.0 ?

  8. Mario

    So far, sib 6.2 is running fine in Yosemite

  9. Tom Hart


    I’m on the verge of replacing my nine-year old iMac PowerPC G5 with a new iMac Yosemite. I have used Sibelius 6.2 on the old machine and am wondering about using it on the new one and later on upgrading to 7.5. I am assuming this can be done, right?

    Another thing regarding printing: With my present setup I can print tabloid 2-up sheets (two 8-1/2 x 11 pages on one tabloid sheet) with my now obsolete but old faithful Elite XL606 laser printer by GCC, for which I doubt there are any drivers available any more. Can Sibelius 7.5 running on Yosemite do this? How do you do your printing?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Tom: You should be able to run Sibelius 6.2 on your new Yosemite iMac and update later to 7.5.1. Be advised, however, that although users generally report OK results, Avid does not officially support 6.2 on Yosemite. So if Apple introduces an update to Yosemite that somehow affects how 6.2 works, Avid is unlikely to fix any problem on their end.

      I print using a HP CP6015. You can read more about my setup here.

  10. antonio

    How do i install Sibelius 7.5 sounds?

  11. Lisa

    I have not had success in installing 6.2 on Yosemite as a fresh install.. it tells me “unspecified error”. Makes it difficult when moving a teacher to a new laptop. Anyone have any tips on doing this successfully?


    My computer some time ago crashed and now it’s Ok, but I can’t re-instal Sibelius 6.02 because Avid
    don’t permit it, How can I solve this situation? Can you help me? I’ll appreciate very much.
    Thank you again,
    Jorge Costa Pinto

  13. Jim

    I have the same issue on El Capitan. Sibelius 6.2 has worked flawlessly for me for 10 years. Now, having to reformat a drive, installation will not be supported by Sibelius.

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