This 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 covers in methodical detail the inner workings of user folders and user-editable files, what their purposes are, where to find them, and how to modify them, if necessary.
Sibelius refers to files like plug-ins, Manuscript Papers, and House Styles as user-editable files, and the files and their folders are discussed in the Sibelius Reference in the section called User-editable files.
Prior to Sibelius 4, new plug-ins, Manuscript Papers, House Styles, and similar files were stored in the same folders as the shipping versions of these files, at the location where Sibelius was installed. If you edited a shipping plug-in in the Sibelius shipping plug-in editor, the shipping plug-in was changed and you could no longer access the original unless you reinstalled Sibelius. If you made up new plug-ins or exported House styles, those files would mingle with the shipping files.
In Sibelius 4, the concept of user folders was introduced. Edited plug-ins, and exported House Styles, Manuscript papers and other user-editable files would no longer be stored with the shipping files, but would be stored in a separate set of folders.
The advantage of this is that the original files are in less risk of being corrupted, and you can modify a shipping file by making a copy of it, and Sibelius will use that file rather than the shipping version. If you delete the “user copy”, Sibelius will go back to using the shipping file.
Making user copies of shipping user-editable files
If you modify shipping files using the standard Sibelius mechanisms, Sibelius will make a copy of the shipping file and place it in one of the user subfolders.
If you have to manually create new files that are not scores, or edit existing ones, do the work in the user subfolders. Do not modify the files that are shipped with Sibelius.
Changing shipping files increases the chance of something going wrong, and will probably cause problems when you update a Sibelius version. At the very least you are likely to lose your changed and added files in an update; at worst it might mess up the update.
If you have a user subfolder with the same name as a shipping folder, and create a Plug-in, House Style, or Manuscript Paper file with the same name as a shipping file, Sibelius will use your file instead of the shipping file. As an example, you might edit the shipping Respell Sharps As Flats plug-in to modify its behavior:
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