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Finale is a music notation program that gives you control over every aspect of the printed page and provides control over MIDI I/O.

What's New

Version 2014.3.4736:
  • MIDI key velocity information is now played back in all layers.
  • The audio sample rate is now retained in the Finale preferences.
  • Documents no longer print off-center when selecting crop marks or registration marks.
  • Stop and start values are now interpreted correctly by Human Playback.


  • OS X 10.7 or later
  • Intel Core 2 Duo or better, Intel i3 and above recommended

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Finale User Discussion

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Monkeyjunkey Member IconComment+1407

Finale 2014 is out.

Reply1 reply
Version 2012.0.r3

I keep being amazed to receive down votes for letting MU know about new versions. The logic behind that is beyond me. As Einstein said: two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity...

lemon-kun Member IconComment+254

Everybody who gets into music notation/composing knows Finale. It's the quasi industry standard, in its segment challenged only by Sibelius. I use both apps (and some other, more specialised software), and both have their positive and negative points.

I think the key for using Finale well, you have to make your own templates, and find your own workflow. That takes time, as Finale allows for more customisation than any other app in this field, it is very versatile; many give up on it during this process, but once you have "set up" the app for you and your needs, Finale shows its strengths. The core of this app is brilliant, I love entering notes real time by MIDI-keyboard (if you're not very good at it, you can first tap the rhythm with the hyperscribe-tool and then the correct pitches with the repitch-tool), the "engine" for those things is very good. Anyway the input-methods are great, if you do composing, the speedy entry (with MIDI-keyboard) is fantastic (you can play/try your music at the keyboard and Finale will only write down when you type together the rhythmic values). And yes, this app can create really beautiful professional scores – the point here is that you can really make your own, individually styled scores – nobody will see what app you have used for it. The web is full with plug-ins and additional fonts for Finale, so you have lots of possibilities to make your scores look personal. If you want to write avant-garde music, with advanced new notation, you nearly *have to* go with Finale – the only other app I can imagine for this is NoteAbilityPro. So, if you want to seriously get into music notation/composing and you want to invest time and money in your scores, Finale is a good choice.

If you're a music teacher or student and want to write some etudes or compose something from time to time, then I'd recommend MuseScore. You can try with Finale, but probably you won't get happy with it. I mean, if you just use Finale's default templates, you won't be really creating professional-looking scores (for example, the default font of Finale is Times New Roman :-) and you will still use a lot of time learning it. The best, but also the WORST looking sheet music I have ever seen was made with Finale.

If you do composing with more traditional notation (film music, pop music, most of the classical repertoire) I'd have a look at Notion. It has muuuch better sounds than Finale (or any other notation app), which is great if you do orchestration. It is easy to use and also has a good iPad app. Version 4 is just out, but no demo yet. Maybe also interesting for music teachers.

No, I haven't forgotten Sibelius: great for quickly making professionally looking scores (with beautiful fonts), only little learning curve. Good input methods, stable app, aimed more at traditional notation, but still flexible enough for most music. Actually a great app, however given the current situation with Avid, I wouldn't invest time and money in it at this point (for further details see my comment at MacUpdate's Sibelius page).

Back to Finale: there are negative points. The complexity of Finale, that is often attributed to its rich feature set, is in my opinion to a large percentage caused from poor design. I am really sorry to say it: the whole UI feels like a gigantic workaround. OK, there have been improvements, Finale is much easier to learn then it was 10 years ago, but basically, the interface in its core hasn't kept up with the addition of new features and basically remained the same for the last 20 years. There have been only small steps of progress to improve the interface, like in Finale 2012 the new Score Manager – still, these attempts are only half-hearted and make the user experience sometimes even more inconsistent. People claim "you can do everything with Finale" – well, yes, if you like tinkering. Because actually, Finale does have its limitations (and not only for very specialised stuff); but if you know how, you can overcome those with workarounds; and since Finale has great support, useful forums and tutorials, and (most importantly:) a huge user base, it's quite possible that you will find solutions quickly and easily.

But: a whole different problem is that the developer has adopted this "workaround"-style as the basic design concept of the app; this way the developer doesn't have to work on good UI design. It's like a bleeding arm covered with tiny pieces of band-aid, and as soon as there is some blood showing, one is putting another tiny patch on top of it. I feel there is only little will to improve Finale in this regard (keep in mind there is also a sort of "Finale-help-market", with many people earning money by giving workshops, seminars, classes of "how to learn Finale"). It's funny, if you don't know where to find or how to change something, don't even try – check the manual or Google: otherwise you will never find it. For us Mac users that feels strange, as we are used to well designed software, where you can find solutions by thinking logically. But well, don't try that with Finale, you'll just waste time…

Resulting from that developer's mindset, the updates are often disappointing. Some of the new features are just beta-style implemented, often just new workarounds… Bugs don't get fixed, etc. etc. etc. At least, MakeMusic has changed its policy of throwing each year a new version on the market. But in the meantime I have given up hope for any major improvements, because somehow everybody who is still with Finale has arranged him/herself with the app and can live with it.

Well then, is Finale worth the $600? To be honest, I don't think many users have paid that much for the app. Most of us got it from an institution or with educational discount, or through a competitive upgrade. I mean, if you buy Notion 4 (now on sale for about 60$), you get Finale for 130$. And maybe you stick with Notion anyway… And well, there is some $50-hardware (M-Audio mini-MIDI-keyboard for example) that have an older version of Sibelius included, with which you qualify for a competitive upgrade of Finale too. So if you have time, I would recommend to look for a good deal, can save you a lot of money. I'd recommend NOT to use any of the "smaller" versions of Finale, like "Allegro" or "PrintMusic" or whatever. Since you will almost certainly need to google to get some help using Finale, and many useful (some even necessary) workarounds and also tutorials etc. probably won't work with one of the "little" versions.

Reply0 replies
Version 2012.0.r3
Monkeyjunkey Member IconComment+1407

A screenshot of the music devices section is probably the worst decision possible for a screenshot of finale. How about a screenshot of the software itself?

Reply0 replies
Version 2012.0.r3
--marc Member IconReview+35

As a new Finale user, I found the 2012 Finale to be quite useable. Good training videos, and I was up speed quickly.

... so, I switched from Sibelius to Finale. The tipping point for me was that Finale can export to MusiciXML versions 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 and 3.0 and better MusicXML imports (in my test). Sibelius only exports MusicXML 2.0.

I use MusicXML exports for SeeScore on the iPad.

As an adjunct to Finale, I use Harmony Assistant create midi with lyrics like the karaoke *.kar format files. and rich midi files for transport to Logic Pro and MainStage. (I've not yet found a way for Finale to put lyrics in the Finale generated midi file)

Reply1 reply
Version 2012.0.r3

No longer true. Sibelius 7.1.2 exports MusicXML 3.0 as well.

Switmyer Member IconComment+2

There's been much commentary regarding Finale's steep learning curve. I've been using Finale since version 3 when the learning curve was much steeper than it is now. In my opinion, those who are still continuing to propagate this criticism are bit out of touch with current events. Thanks to competition with Sibelius, Finale has become much easier to use. Finale is to music notation what Adobe Photoshop is to image editing. Both are complicated professional-ware that require a high degree of skill. To learn PhotoShop, people buy "missing manuals," purchase expensive tutorials, or enroll in classes. Yet I have never heard a graphic designer or a photographer complain that Photoshop has a steep learning curve. While it may be true that Sibelius is initially more intuitive than Finale, at some point, just beyond "Mary Had a Little Lamb," you will have to consult the manual even in Sibelius. Both programs have their strengths and weaknesses so I won't get drawn into a debate over which is better. For me, Finale is now a breeze to use, although I have paid my dues with the program. I just wish people would stop all the bellyaching and read the manual and do the tutorials. As musicians, we wouldn't be anywhere if we hadn't taken the time to practice our scales. If you don't want to put in the effort to learn a professional program, then maybe you need a simpler, non-professional program or a copyist.

Reply1 reply
Version 2011.0.r3

You're right, but then again, musicians really should practice scales instead of practicing finale ;-)

Henry Oz Member IconComment+1
Henry Oz

Finale 2010 DVD installer must install Rosetta if it isn't installed - even though Finale 2010 doesn't need it. Quitting the install just after the Must Install Rosetta warning leaves an incomplete install - even though it appears Ok at first. A second install from the DVD after installing Rosetta works fine - even though an updated version of the Garritan Aria Player is necessary to download and install before launching Finale. MacBook Pro/SL 10.6.1

Finale 2010 FTW - even though the installer is currently POS.

Reply0 replies
Version 2010
PiotrGM Member IconReview+2

Finale has a very, very steep learning curve; it has irritating bugs that have been there for a long time and are not yet fixed; it relies too much on the user's own inventiveness in creating workarounds; some of its modules are clumsy; its help section is immense in its size - and very confusing. It is all true.
But what is also true is this. I have been using it heavily since 1994 to create a variety of scores - including graphics driven experimental ones - and during that time it crashed twice (yes, twice). Not bad, right? It makes it one crash per seven and a half years. I would like to see another Mac programme which is so sturdy. Finale offers unmatched flexibility in terms of advanced notations, MIDI manipulation and the like. It is very highly customisable - you can focus on some modules only, those which you know you will use. The other modules are always out of your way unless you need them. Once you've mastered it, Finale is a delight, many of its plug-ins saving the conscious user dozens of hours of potentially crippling, time-consuming work.
Finale is not perfect and never will be, but it is nonetheless way ahead of its competitors in terms of the sheer number of options it gives the user.

Reply0 replies
Version 2010
dgatwood Member IconComment-1

Finale 2009 is a pretty significant regression from 2007 in that it won't even install if you use a case-sensitive HFS+ volume as your boot volume. The installer just sits there and does nothing when you click install.

I've posted a detailed list of Finale bugs (including some specific to case-sensitive HFS+) with workarounds over on VersionTracker, along with many other bugs for which no workaround is possible. Here's an abbreviated list:

0. Installer fails to work.

Workaround: In Terminal, type:

cd /System/Library/CoreServices/Installer.app
ln -s Contents contents
cd Contents/MacOS/
ln -s Installer installer

1. Finale repeatedly asks if you want to check for updates.

Workaround: In Terminal, type:

sudo chmod g+w /Library/Preferences

Next, run Finale and tell it whether to check for updates. Finally, in Terminal, type:

chmod g-w /Library/Preferences

2. Finale (since at least 2007) spews a bunch of warnings from the shell when it loads plug-ins.

sh: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching `''
sh: -c: line 1: syntax error: unexpected end of file

No known workaround, possibly harmless?

3. Finale installs 326 files with the execute bits set to true. Of these, probably only one (the main Finale binary) should be executable.

4. Finale help index won't open.

Workaround: In Terminal, type:

cd /Applications/
cd "Finale 2009"
cd "Help Files"
ln -s Finale_CSH.htm Finale_csh.htm

5. Very high CPU overhead and poor battery life. Basically, they keep their Core Audio worker thread running and providing audio data continuously even when no documents are open (much less playing). The result is 8-9% of the CPU wasted while the application is idle. This translates to a significant reduction in battery life on portables.

Workaround: Always quit Finale when not in use and carry a spare battery.

Reply5 replies
Version 2009b

A single workaround takes care of all this: competitive crossgrade to Sibelius ASAP. Why is anyone still futzin' around with this crapware?


To call this excellent programme a "crapware" is truly rude and very inconsiderate. How much time have you spent learning it? How comfortable are you using it? What are you using it for? Show me examples of your work so that I can see you're so versatile in using Finale you have a right to make derogatory, nasty comments. I suspect you are not a pro because professionals do not use such language.


I used Finale c. 1995-2003…through two composition degrees. I used it because my teachers used it and I didn't know there was something better. I even engraved my doctoral dissertation with it…a 35-minute flute concerto. Preparing parts was an agonizing process. This program's all about clicking submenus and making the mouse travel to the palette. Then somebody suggested I try Sibelius. I've since been kicking myself for using Finale all those years, paying for "upgrade" after "upgrade." Getting useless new features when the fundamental underlying problems of the interface remained and the size of the program became more bloated.

I do make my living from engraving, arranging and original work, which makes that my profession. Nonetheless, I will stick with my original assessment of this "programme" (as you call it) as crapware. I'm not sure what being a professional has to do with it one way or another. I call 'em like I see 'em. I even tried 2009 thinking that after 10 years, surely they would have improved the interface. But no. It's still clunky as ever.


Thank you for the explanation. Let us agree to disagree, then. Call those programmes what you will. I am not eager to use harsh words because two of my friends are programmers (one Mac, one Windows) and I simply know how much work goes into those things (regardless of how successful or unsuccessful software might turn out be).
I still think Finale is very good and yes, I have created a number of pretty complex scores using it, including pieces for orchestra such as a series of concerti (all performed) for violin and viola (double concerto), saxophone, and organ.
For a time, I supported myself as a copyist (or engraver, if you will) and used Finale for it. Finale is extremely flexible - and this is what I like. I tried Sibelius and was not too impressed. However, some people tell me it is easier to learn than Finale and hence its popularity with those who are not interested in extended notation.


For whatever it's worth, recent Finale versions are a lot better with regards to part extractions, in that they finally caught up with what Igor Engraver did a decade ago, keeping the part formatting as an integral part of the score. I think in terms of functionality, Finale and Sibelius are probably about on par with one another. I think that Sibelius does a better job of automatically getting the formatting right, however, while Finale gives more control for when it gets positioning wrong (which is crucial because it almost inevitably gets it wrong).

Finale seems pretty buggy to me, from a programmer perspective, and has really poor CPU performance, causing it to run down a normally six hour laptop battery in a little over two hours. IMHO, most of Finale's performance problems came when they moved to Mac OS X. It seemed like they did the port and then never bothered to go back and optimize it afterwards. I haven't done the same level of experimentation with Sibelius, but I would expect it to be better in both regards, if only because it is a much more recent code base with less legacy cruft lying around.

Finally, for what it's worth, Apple has a technical note, TN2096, that describes how to track down most case sensitivity issues. If MakeMusic hasn't read it, they should.

Jmsuijkerbuijk Member IconComment+67

One simply cannot stick to a version that one is satisfied with, because there is not a single bug-free version in the history of Finale. Sure, they fix some of the bugs with the 'a' and 'b' updates, but the rest will not be fixed until the next upgrade, which in turn introduces new ones, etcetera, etcetera.
E.g., 2007 could not be quit with the cmd-Q key combination (probably THE oldest key command in the history of the Mac OS). This bug was never fixed in the updates on 2007. It wasn't even fixed in the payed for upgrade 2008, but only in 2008a. And there are bugs like this,
I'm a user since 3.0 and have paid the app SIX times over since, for 'upgrades' only. I am still satisfied with what I can do with the app and that's why I use it, but I strongly protest against the way MakeMusic declares us all morons and sucks us all dry with their abjectable policy that defies any etiquette of software development. They know their app is the best in the market, and they'll make sure we'll know it as well ... through our wallet.

Reply1 reply
Version 2008b

JMSUIJKERBUIJK One simply cannot stick to a version that one is satisfied with, because there is not a single bug-free version in the history of Finale. Sure, they fix some of the bugs with the 'a' and 'b' updates, but the rest will not be fixed until the next upgrade, which in turn introduces new ones, etcetera, etcetera.

E.g., 2007 could not be quit with the cmd-Q key combination (probably THE oldest key command in the history of the Mac OS). This bug was never fixed in the updates on 2007. It wasn't even fixed in the payed for upgrade 2008, but only in 2008a. And there are bugs like this, in more or less serious degree, in each and every version that I have used todate, and that is ever version since 3.0.

I'm a longtime user as well and have paid the app SIX times over since, for 'upgrades' only. I am still satisfied with what I can do with the app and that's why I use it, but I strongly protest against the way MakeMusic declares us all morons and sucks us all dry with their abjectable policy that defies any etiquette of software development. They know their app is the best in the market, and they'll make sure we'll know it as well ... through our wallet.

[duplicate because of missing text]

Anonymous Member IconReview

As a long time Finale user I've learned over the years that it's not necessary to upgrade to every single yearly version. If you're happy with your current version then don't bother to upgrade. This pretty much goes for any software in general.

However, for people to constantly put Finale down because they charge for their commitment to the product, in making it the absolute best notation program on the market, is simply outrageous.

Sibelius is great if you're a student or beginner, but nothing holds a candle to Finale for precise music notation. Sibelius simply produces sloppy scores. If you're a serious composer Finale is the ultimate tool.

Reply1 reply
Version 2006
Anonymous Member Icon

I've seen very sloppy Finale scores. It makes no difference which program you're using. Sloppy composers create sloppy scores. All I know is it takes me about 1/10th of the time to prep my orchestral scores for publication with Sibelius than it did when I used Finale.

user icon+0
Version 2014.2.4722
> 5 6


Current Version (2014.x)


Downloads 29,717
Version Downloads 175
License Updater
Date 07 Jul 2014
Platform OS X / Intel 32
Price $600.00