Add custom shortcuts for Keypad features in Sibelius

by Philip Rothman on February 24, 2016 · 21 comments

in Tips

When things are busy and time is tight, every second saved is a second earned, so to speak. One of the best ways to slash your time is to make good use of keyboard shortcuts — not just in Sibelius, but in most desktop software programs and operating systems.

Fortunately, Sibelius comes with a good many built-in shortcuts. They’re listed in the Reference near the back in a separate section. Moreover, every command in the ribbon also has an extended text description, which appears if you hover your mouse over it for a moment. If a shortcut exists for that command, you’ll see it there.


What’s more, you can define your own shortcuts by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts. Some useful places to start might be in the Home tab, where you can define shortcuts for all the filters, and Plug-ins, many of which are turbo-charged when assigned shortcuts.

Keep all this in mind — we’ll come back to it shortly.

Now, many if not most Sibelius users use the Keypad to enter in note values, articulations, accidentals, and more. When you use your numeric keypad on your keyboard to type these in, these are technically keyboard shortcuts as well, albeit the most elementary kind: each key on your numeric keypad corresponds to the symbol or function on the Keypad.

The Keypad has six layouts, and you can switch among them by typing the + key to cycle through them or by using the function keys F7 through F12.


Two of the six Keypad layouts (Common notes and Articulations)

That’s fine for placing the occasional fermata or marcato, but it still requires at minimum three taps to place them: (at least) one to get to the appropriate layout, one to place the articulation, and one to get back to the first layout.

But as I mentioned earlier, speed is essential sometimes — wouldn’t it be great to get it down to just one key command without having to leave the first Keypad layout?

As it turns out, you can. Shortcuts for all of the items on all six Keypad layouts are customizable in the same way as any other keyboard shortcut: by going to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.


Near the bottom of the Tab or category list, you’ll see the six Keypad layouts. In the example above, I’ve assigned Control-8 on Mac to the marcato. I’ve made similar assignments for the other articulations: Control-4 for plus/closed, Control-5 for upbow, Control-6 for downbow, etc.

Likewise, I’ve made use of Shift-Control-[number] for assignments on the beams/tremolos layout: Shift-Control-1 for 1 tremolo slash (Sibelius calls this “2 tremolos”), Shift-Control-2 for 2 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “4 tremolos”), Shift-Control-3 for 3 tremolo slashes (Sibelius calls this “8 tremolos”), as well as similar assignments for the other tremolo and beaming options.

To add a custom shortcut, simply select the Feature, click Add…, type your shortcut in the small pop-up dialog, and click OK.

Once you get used to using your own shortcuts regularly, you’ll wonder how you got along without them before. With the free time that you’ve saved, why not take a moment to leave a comment below and share some of your favorite shortcuts or time-saving tips?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Derek Williams February 24, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Very useful. May I also draw to your attention my Sibelius Wizard, viewable via my website (Services > iPad Sibelius Wizard), that triggers keyboard shortcuts via the customisable iPad interface.

Mac only at this stage.


Ron Puente February 24, 2016 at 11:23 AM


Great,useful information-as usual! Thanks for all you posts.


Tiago Costa February 24, 2016 at 1:52 PM

Some of my favorite custom shortcut:

ctrl + / Arrange
ctrl + | reset note spacing
ctrl + } reset position
ctrl + { Optimize Staff Spacing
ctrl + R Paste Rhythm to Pitches
ctrl + shift + B Respell Sharps as Flats
ctrl + shift + 3 Respell Flats as Sharps
command + shift + ‘ Reduce
option + shift + K Filter Chords
option + shift + T Filter Technique Text
option + shift + E Filter Expression Text
ctrl + page down Next Part
ctrl + page up Previous Part
option + “-” Decrease Dynamics
option + “=” Increase Dynamics


Philip Rothman February 24, 2016 at 1:57 PM



Kenneth Gaw February 24, 2016 at 4:34 PM

Normally I’m quite happy with the default Sibelius shortcuts but if I find myself shifting to a different keypad layout a lot I tend to add one to layout 1. So far I’ve set up the following useful ones. They are all Shift+Alt+….
8 double sharp, 9 double flat, / marcato,1 fermata, 5 up bow, 6 down bow.


Melinda Yin March 5, 2016 at 10:11 AM

Here, here.


Bob Zawalich February 24, 2016 at 5:12 PM

This is a great idea.

Unfortunately for Windows users, the “ctrl” key is generally not available for custom shortcuts – it is the equivalent of “cmnd” in OSX. So it is harder to find a large block of available shortcuts. Further, as of Sib 7, the Alt key (Mac Option key) gets used by the Ribbon shortcuts.

The Sibelius Reference has a section on Finding unused keyboard shortcuts. There are still some unused keys, and I have also been known to just reuse convenient keys that are mapped to commands, but which I I don’t often use, like the function keys, for my own purposes.

You do have to be aware, though, that if you reassign an existing shortcut, it will no longer do what it did before. Sometimes if someone is using my machine they are caught off guard, but they are already confused by my left handed mouse, so it is probably not fatal…


Kenneth Gaw February 24, 2016 at 5:18 PM

I should have mentioned that there are two plugin shortcuts I use a lot. Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F1-4 for the Delete Voice plugins and Ctrl+Alt+Home/End for the Move Selection Right/Left Plugins. This is particularly useful if I have something like lyric or rehearsal mark that’s not quite in right place. It means that it can easily be shoved along rather than copied and pasted.


Dereck Werner February 24, 2016 at 10:12 PM

Best post ever. Customizing the number pad is a dream come true. I’ll now have to play with it, before I come up with my favorites. Thanks!!!!!!!


Philip Rothman February 25, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!


Bernie Cossentino February 25, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Just a few of my frequently used..

alt+6 (marcato)
shift+ctrl+ = (insert double barline)
shift+ctrl+ [ (insert left barline repeat)
shift+ctrl+ ] (insert right barline repeat)
shift+ctrl+ \ (insert final barline)

Voice commands will probably be the next phase :)


Bernie Cossentino February 25, 2016 at 4:21 PM

voice activated, that is…


Philip Rothman February 25, 2016 at 4:29 PM
Bernie Cossentino February 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM


Avid…are we listening?


Andrei February 26, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Here’s mine (some legacy from Encore).
Mostly used for conventional string music, some piano. Pitch entry done with MIDI keyboard or mouse, which freed some letters for shortcuts.

Mac: c=command, s=shift, opt=option

TITLE / Subtitle s+1 / s+2
Composer / © s+3 / s+4
Plain / Small text s+5 / s+6

Time sig / Key sig T / K
Tempo c+opt+T
Line / Symbol L / Z

Treble / Alto opt+A / opt+S
Tenor / Bass opt+D / opt+F

Whole 1
Half / quarter note 2 / 3
8th / 16th / 32nd 4 / 5 / 6
Duplet / Triplet,etc. c+2 / c+3
Dot / Tie D / c+T
Appogg. (no slash) . (period)
Acciacc. (slash) , (comma)
Notes/Rests toggle R
M.M. c+M

# / Natural / Flat M / N / F
Respell accidental enter

Cresc. / decresc. H / s+H
Expression c+E

SLUR above/below S / s+S
Stacc / Tenuto / Accent 7 / 8 / 9
Fermata 0 (zero)
Downbow/Upbow c+D / V
Fingering/Trill c+F / c+Y
Ornaments s+O
Chord symbol c+K
Rehearsal mark c+R

Start beam fn+F1
Middle of beam fn+F2
End of beam fn+F3
Flip object X

BAR add at end c+B
Repeat: start / end A / B
Final/Double line C / O
Bar # change s+B
Use multi rests c+s+M

PAGE # change s+P
Make into system s+ –
Make into page s+ +
System brake enter (on barline)

SPACING reset c+s+N
Export graphic G
HIDE/show W
ZOOM in/out c+ +/-
Play from selection P
Copy object alt+click
Repeat object s+R


Philip Rothman February 27, 2016 at 8:13 AM

Thanks for sharing these, Andrei!


Melinda Yin February 27, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Love making keyboard short cuts, but never thought about short cutting the keypad itself. Thank you so much for that tip, Philip.

In my workflow I use my keyboard shortcuts + Wacom Tablet driver’s on-screen controls to make my own button-based palettes/menus for frequently used commands.
For example, during casting off stage I will slap up “palettes” that have controls for “make into page”, “make into system”, “align into row”, etc or other groups of commands that work well together.

Different palettes are used for proofing, adding cues, general editing. Now with this new tip maybe I can make one for note-entry stage!


Philip Rothman February 27, 2016 at 2:18 PM

Very cool, Melinda!


Larry March 1, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Anyone know (or have you created) a shortcut for inputting a note up (or down) an octave? It’s not a huge deal, but it does slow me down to my hand to reach ctrl+up arrow, and then re-position it on the keypad.


Bill Nelson March 1, 2016 at 3:34 PM

Ctr+Shift+1 = Begin Repeat Barline
Ctr+Shift+2 = End Repeat Barline
Ctr+Shift+3 = Double Barline
Ctr+Shift+4 = Final Barline
Alt+Shift+B+Enter = Add Brackets to Reprise Script (if I don’t hit Enter, I can adjust settings)
Shift+K = Respell Chord Text (for some reason Sibelius 7 eliminated the keyboard shortcut for this)


Dave P-B March 15, 2016 at 4:50 AM

Brilliant Philip. I was never aware that I could set shortcuts to the keypad. Begone days of Keypad 5 / Fermata numeric keypad 1 / minus key back to Keypad 1 !!!



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