Using the Clipboards plug-in in Sibelius


zawalich3This blog post is written by Bob Zawalich, composer, guitarist, software designer, and creator of hundreds of useful plug-ins for Sibelius. In this post, Bob describes how to use his new Clipboards plug-in.

The downloadable plug-in Clipboards lets you store the contents of selections into up to 30 numbered clipboards, and to paste from those clipboards into a score.

It is in many ways a much-scaled-down version of Sibelius Ideas, and if you want something like this, I suggest you first have a look at Ideas. One of the few advantages of Clipboards over Ideas is that you can assign shortcuts to specific numbered clipboards by using the Clip Copy x and Clip Paste x plug-ins, and you cannot assign keys to Ideas.

Clipboards is a suite of several plug-ins

1. Clipboards is the main plug-in, and it lets you copy a selection into a numbered clipboard or paste from a filled clipboard to a selected area in your score. Its dialog looks like this:

Make a selection, run the plug-in and choose a clipboard number to copy into. Later, select the target, run the plug-in and choose the number of clipboard to paste from, then paste. If there is a pasteable clipboard the dialog comes up with the highest numbered clipboard selected and the Paste button ready to push.

If you are just using this as a multiple clipboard, and you have small amounts of data, the generated descriptions will probably be adequate as a memory jogger. If you will be using the data for a while you might want to customize the descriptions.

Important: The data in these clipboards only lasts for a single Sibelius session. If you copy from a different score, that score must remain open while you are using the data. (This is another place where Ideas has an advantage).

The data is not held in an actual clipboard, but when you paste the plug-in uses internal Sibelius clipboards. If you paste between scores, even between a score and a part, the system clipboard will be used, so data you might have put there will be overwritten.

2. The plug-ins Clip Copy 1 and Clip Copy 2 will copy the selection to clipboards 1 and 2 respectively. Clip Paste 1 and Clip Paste 2 paste from clipboards 1 and 2, assuming there is something to be pasted. It is intended that you assign keyboard shortcuts to these plug-ins. There are instructions below for creating more of these plug-ins to access more clipboards.

3. The plug-in Load Clipboard Presets came about because some people had a lot of bits (like Ideas) they used all the time and intended to copy a bunch of them into the clipboards at the start of a session. I wrote a plug-in where you can create a Sibelius score containing the bits you want to copy. You delimit the bits with Rehearsal Marks, and you can add Tempo Text starting with “DESC:” to the same bar as a Rehearsal Mark and it will become the description for that clipboard.


Here is a not-particularly-elegant example of a data score:


This score contains six entries that will be copied to clipboards 1 – 6.

Generating additional ClipCopy/Paste plug-ins

You can have up to 30 active clipboards, so if you can remember what is in each of them, you can create more copies of plug-ins like Clip Copy 1 and Clip Paste 1, and assign a shortcut to each. (Good luck finding that many available shortcuts!) If you use Load Clipboard Presets you may find you need fewer of the Clip Copy x variants, and can mostly create clones of Clip Paste x.

The downloadable plug-in Copy Plug-in (category Developers’ Tools) will easily clone these plug-ins and will copy them to the appropriate installation folder (the same place where the original plug-in is stored). It is set up so that if a plug-in ends with a number, the default name for the clone will be the same name with an incremented number. The Clip Copy/Paste plug-ins choose their clipboard number from the number in their name, so you can just make copies and they will need no further editing to work. You can make a bunch of these in no time. After you create the copies you will need to close and restart Sibelius before you can use them.


Clipboards may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 and higher at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Engravers’ Tools. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6 or higher by visiting the plug-in download page and following the usual manual installation procedure, or by using the Install New Plug-in plug-in.


  1. Gregory Winters

    I apologize, but I’m not quite getting how this plug-in actually functions. If it does what I hope it does, however, I would be thrilled to use it.

    In Windows, when you copy something to the clipboard, it doesn’t have a full ‘status’ until it is pasted. There are two fundamental ways that something can be pasted: 1) where the clipboard contents are controlled by the environment where the contents are pasted; 2) where the clipboard contents *override* the environment controls and insert those from which the clipboard contents were originally copied. (All other possibilities are simply variations of these two.) I would love to be able to copy things from other Sibelius files, tools, etc., and be able to choose which of the ‘controllers’

    For example, let’s say I have Score A that has a time signature of 4/4. Score B is in 3/4. I want to copy a measure from Score B to Score A. I’d like to be able to copy the contents, including formatting of the notes, but I’d also like the ability to actually copy the bar, complete with time signature.

    To what extent does this plug-in permit this kind of control? Thanks.

  2. Bob Zawalich

    The plugin was not really designed to use system selections, but it appears from a quick examination that if you start with a system selection and then copy it to the plugin and paste from it, the result is a new passage selection that is inserted.

    I am not really comfortable saying it will always work, because the plugin has to deconstruct a selection to save off its contents, and then reconstruct it later, so there are certainly possibilities for things to go wrong, but it appears to be doing the equivalent of what you would get if you copied into the Sib clipboard and then pasted.

    Which was the intention, of course, but the plugin cannot take the straightforward path to accomplish its goals, so I would keep a close eye on things if you use it that way.

    In theory it appears it should work fine.

  3. Bob Zawalich

    So to clarify a bit: use a normal blue passage selection to copy the contents of bars, and a purple system selection to copy system data, and cause the selected bars to be inserted on paste.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Bob: Thanks for chiming in here and explaining further.

  4. Hans Nel

    Now THIS is what I’m talking about…useful features. It’s a pity Bob does not lead the Sibelius team, Again, as usual Bob…thank you. You are pretty much Sibelius to me as (maybe now) Avid is.

    AVID…look and LEARN! (again, not trying to be rude or anything…just someone who hates wasting my and Military money.

    Off the topic…guys go check out Överture 5″! A Notator-Daw hybrid. Not too shabby.

  5. John Hinchey

    This is a really useful plugin for repetitive tasks like, drum set and percussion notation! Thanks Bob!

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