How to transfer your forScore library to a new iPad


The longer I use forScore, the more invested I become in the library that I’ve built there. It’s not just the collection of PDFs that I’ve imported — which includes scores that I’ve studied, taught, and conducted from. Those files still exist on my computer, but what’s truly irreplaceable is everything I’ve created after importing them: performance markings, analytical annotations, metadata for sorting, bookmarks for quick navigation, organized libraries, and curated set lists.

In lots of ways, the data that I’ve created in forScore after importing scores is more valuable than the scores themselves. So when I upgrade to a new iPad, I want to take every piece of my forScore library with me. It’s not hard to do, but it may also not be very obvious. In this video, I’ll show you how it’s done.

Step 1: Create an archive on the old device

With forScore installed on both devices, start by making an “Archive” on the old device. Tap the Toolbox icon in the top right corner and select Backup. Tap the plus sign and select Create Archive. Unlike a Backup, your Archive will include all of your scores along with all of your metadata. Depending on the size of your library, this may take a little while. When complete, the new Archive will show up in the Backups list.

Step 2: Transfer the archive to the new device

Swipe right-to-left on the newly created Archive and select the Share icon (square with upward-pointing arrow). This will send your Archive wherever you like as a .4sb file. You can use any of the share options to get the file to your new device. I find AirDrop to be great if I have both of the iPads in front of me at the same time. Otherwise, you can use any cloud storage or even an email if your library will fit in an attachment.

Step 3: Import the archive

On your new device, open the .4sb file. If you used AirDrop, this should happen instantly as soon as the transfer completes. If you used cloud storage or something else, open it in the Files app or your mail client. The iPad knows to open it in forScore, which will give you a “Backup Saved” message. Then, you can find your Archive file in the forScore Backups list on the new device (Toolbox > Backups). Tap that Archive and select Restore Library & Settings. Then you’ll have everything on your new device just as it was on the previous one.

Other notes

This is a one-way trip. I wouldn’t recommend going back and forth with this if you regularly use multiple devices. It’s also not going to save you if you loose (or destroy) your iPad, so you may want to make a habit of creating an archive on a regular basis, or after adding lots of new scores.

I’ll also note that as of this writing, forScore 12.1 has just been released, which includes the option for forScore Pro subscribers to sync their libraries across multiple devices over iCloud. This feature is labeled as “Early Access” for subscribers, to eventually roll out to all users (though the timframe on that isn’t specified). And while iCloud sync has been very smooth and reliable for me throughout the beta process, I would strongly recommend that you create a forScore Archive of your library before turning it on, just to be safe. If anything goes wrong, you can use the steps above to restore your library.

In addition to a Pro subscription, cloud sync will also require enough iCloud Drive storage space to fit your entire library, which you may or may not have available after accounting for your iCloud Photos, Messages attachments, device backups, and other things that get stored in Apple’s cloud. So for a handful of reasons I think it’s worth knowing this manual migration method.

In conclusion, always remember to backup regularly, and enjoy your new device!

More from the iPad desk: Teaching and teaming up with tablets and tech

On the Scoring Notes podcast, David MacDonald shows Philip Rothman how to create a process for teaching paperless composition lessons using the iPad, Apple Pencil, and several apps like GoodNotes and PDF Expert, that works seamlessly for student and teacher alike. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Teaching and teaming up with tablets and tech



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  1. Philip Benjamin

    Thanks for taking the time to help people David.

  2. Alex

    Thank you for the guide and video. I always like to read/watch materials about forScore, even if they cover topics that I think I know.

    1) However, I didn’t really understand the first paragraph from the “Other notes” section (including because English is not my native language). I didn’t understand the phrase “This is a one-way trip” and “It’s also not going to save you if you loose (or destroy) your iPad”. But that’s why we create backup Archives as a backup, to help out just in case of loss or destruction of our iPads, not just for migrating for a new iPad…

    2) I wonder if such information from the Backups section as “Recently Deleted” and “Recently Updated” is saved to the Archive? Usually, before creating an Archive, I clear these two sections (maybe this is not necessary?).

    3) I also always delete the automatically created Backups (“Automatic Backup (previous)” and “Automatic Backup”) before creating an Archive and create a new Backup file manually, which I believe will be included in the Archive. Maybe this is also not necessary to do? And I have always wondered: if I delete both automatically created Backup files, but also do not manually create a Backup file, is a Backup file automatically created in any case at the time of the Archive creation?

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Alex.

      1. When I say it’s a one-way trip, I mean that it’s not the same as sync. It’s not a great solution if you’re planning to continue using forScore on both devices. You wouldn’t want to do this if you’re going back and forth between devices regularly. When I say that it won’t save you if you lose your iPad, I mean that you need to still have the original iPad to make the Archive.

      2. I don’t know about the recently deleted/updated sections of the archive. I’ve never looked inside them or used them for anything.

      3. The automatic backup won’t have any impact on the ones you create manually. Every Archive includes all the things that are in a Backup *plus* your scores. All the data that would be included in a backup is also in an archive, but they’re not created at separate files.

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