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
Scoring Notes
Teaching and teaming up with tablets and tech



  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.

      1. Alex

        Thanks for the reply, David.
        Point 1 is clear. Perhaps I initially didn’t understand this point, as I was trying to overthink it, because it is obvious to me that creating an Archive cannot be considered as a constant synchronization, and perhaps I was trying to understand this deeper than necessary. )

        As for the other questions, fortunately, I received an answer from forScore, to whom I also asked similar questions as I did here earlier. Here is an excerpt from what they answered me:

        “Backups and Archives do not save data from the Recently Deleted or Recently Updated menus, and do not wrap any other backup or archive files into themselves when created”.

        So, thanks to the second part of their answer, I came to the conclusion that it makes no sense for user to manually create a backup file before creating an Archive, since during the Archive creation process, previously created backup files (whether it is a manually created backup file, or automatically created ones) are excluded from the created Archive. The application saves to Archive data and settings not from those backup files, which user sees in the “Backups” panel. That’s exactly what I wanted to know. I have been interested in this question for a long time, because I wouldn’t like to perform superfluous and unnecessary actions¹ every time before creating Archives or full forScore backups, using PC and cable.

        ¹ such as creating a new backup file manually, and deleting automatically created backups that the application will ignore anyway when creating an Archive. And also there is no need to clean the “Recently Deleted” or “Recently Updated” menus)

        But in case of backing up using cable and computer (Accessing the iTunes File Sharing panel on PC), if I understand correctly, in the “Backups” panel there must be at least one backup file (automatically or manually created) in order to copy it to a computer along with PDF and mp3 files.

        The only additional question that forScore did not answer is why a manually created backup file always takes up a little more space than a backup file created automatically. Therefore, I prefer to create a backup file manually, as I think it contains a little more information, although I do not know which one.

  3. Kathy Prosser

    Bloody brilliant! I would never have figured this out and you made this so easy and stress-less!!
    You just made my life much easier and I greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you so, so much!!!

    1. David MacDonald

      You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!

    2. Sherry Sid

      I can recommend you to read User Guides, and life will be much easier.
      All this is described in the forScore user Guide. And people use it even without reading third-party articles. I mean, I am grateful for this article and appreciate it. But when I see people for whom this is such a discovery… I can only guess how many more convenient and useful functions you still have to discover.

  4. Bob

    When I transfer my info to another iPad does this remove all my information from the original iPad thank you

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Bob! The transfer process doesn’t remove anything from your original device. You’re creating and moving a duplicate.

    2. Bob

      It worked, it worked,, Thank u so much one more question, on my iPad I’m transferring to had songs and sets, when I move the files does it remove duplicates ? Or should I go in to my sons etc and clean them out first

      1. David MacDonald

        Glad to hear it worked for you, Bob! I’m not completely sure, but I think it would not remove duplicates, as it wouldn’t have a great way to know if the new score is identical to the old one. (You might have two scores called “score.pdf” for example.) I would clean up any possible duplicates beforehand.

        1. Alex

          «You might have two scores called “score.pdf” for example».

          “score.pdf” and “score 2.pdf”

          forScore always automatically starts numbering scores containing the same names.

          1. David MacDonald

            Exactly right. That’s why I don’t expect it would be able to automatically de-duplicate libraries on import.

          2. David MacDonald

            The two “score.pdf” files in my hypothetical would be on two separate devices.

  5. Anne

    Exactly what I needed. Thank you!

  6. Ken Cory

    Thanks for this informative article.

    If you have multiple libraries, as I do, this can complicate things. In my case, all of the items came into the library that was open in the target device at the time. Setting the library on the target device to “All Libraries” will help, but I haven’t got to the bottom of this yet.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Ken, thanks for reading. I think something may have gone wrong with your transfer, but I’m not sure I could say what. I have eight separate libraries and didn’t have this experience when migrating between iPads.

  7. Joe Lawless

    Thank you very much! I also just upgraded to the iPad Pro 12.9. Very excited about having my music on a bigger screen! – but no idea on how to transfer the files. Your video was perfect! Worked like a charm! Saved a lot of time and probably prevented a headache or two- Thank you!!

  8. Timmy

    I tried this method several times to transfer my ForScore files from my iPad 6 generation 128 GB iOS 16.2 to an iPad Air 5 generation 256GB iOS 16.3. It crashes during the archival stage each time and only 1,929 scores out of 4,398 get transferred. Do you have any ideas or alternatives? Your assistance is most appreciated.

    1. David MacDonald

      Hi Timmy. Thanks for reading. I would first recommend that you make sure that your iPad software and forScore are up-to-date. Then, when doing the transfer, make sure that your iPad remains awake and forScore remains in the foreground.

      If that doesn’t work, you could also try using forScore sync, which uses your iCloud storage to sync your library between devices continuously. First, set it up on the source iPad, and let it run until the initial sync is completed. Then, set it up on the destination iPad and let it run there until done. (The length of time this takes is impossible to guess, as there are too many variables.)

      Last, if none of that works, you should contact forScore support. They’re lovely people who would be happy to help you out. If it’s stopping on exactly the same file every time, there might be an issue with a particular file that is the cause, and in that case a direct support contact is probably your best option.

    2. Timmy

      The sync to iCloud worked! If I choose at a later date to store the files locally on my new iPad Air so that I may use ForScore without an Internet connection, can I just toggle the Sync with iCloud button off?

      1. David MacDonald

        You can just leave it on. Those files are _already_ locally stored on your new iPad. If you use Dropbox or Google Drive on your computer, this works the same way. You have a copy that is local, and if it gets updated, those changes will automatically sync back to all your other devices as soon as they can. This does _not_ require a continuous Internet connection. It will just update when you reconnect. If you’re offline, it will just use the file that’s already there. So if you’re offline for a rehearsal, make some changes or annotations, and then open the app later at home on wifi, all your changes from before will sync back to iCloud at that time.

        1. Timmy

          Thank you so much for your assistance and prompt reply! You solved my problem! Best regards.

        2. Timmy Ling

          Dear David,
          I have another question. My iPad and MacBook Air are currently synced via iCloud as you instructed and are working nicely. Is it possible to add my ForScore library to my wife’s iPad Air 5 generation 256GB iOS 16.5? We share iCloud family storage but she is logged into her own iCloud account. The screen on her iPad Air is larger than my iPad 6 generation 128 GB iOS 16.5. Thank you for your kind assistance and patience!

          1. David MacDonald

            Hi Timmy. You can only sync between devices that share the same iCloud account. If you want to get your library to an iPad that is signed into a different iCloud account, your only option is the make an archive backup and transfer it manually using the methods described in this article.

          2. Timmy

            Thank you for your kind and prompt reply. Your solution is very helpful!

  9. Chris

    FYI – ForScore is terrible about providing error messages. So if it crashes during archive process, it is because you need to increase the storage on your device. Delete some items and try the archive process again.

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