Sibelius on a laptop, without a keypad

Shortly after writing my previous post last year, about using Sibelius on a laptop, I went on a tour with Alondra de la Parra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, during which I had to orchestrate a number of songs rapidly, often in tight spaces, such as buses and planes. There was no space to use a keypad (as suggested in the previous post), and the lapdesk was weighing down my bag.

As such, in part by suggestion of Daniel Spreadbury of SibeliusBlog — I tweaked a solution for working with Sibelius on a MacBook Pro, without extraneous numeric keypads, lapdesks or other accessories except headphones.

This necessitated remapping certain shortcuts into something that works well under one hand, though gratefully the “option” key on the Mac is present on both the left and right.

Here are my modifications – see how they work for you:

Before you read this, please note that I’m using a MacBook Pro with a US English keyboard layout.
Also, this refers to the mapping of the first keypad set, the “common notes” – obviously, it’s mirrored on the subsequent keypad sets as well.

Option-1 – Accent
Option-2 – Dot
Option-3 – Tenuto
Option Q – Natural
Option W – Sharp
Option E – Flat
Option A – 1/4 note (crotchet)
Option S – 1/2 note (minim)
Option D – whole note (semibreve)
Option Z – 1/32 note (demisemiquaver)
Option X – 1/16 note (semiquaver)
Option C – 1/8th note (quaver)

Programming such shortcuts necessitated moving other shortcuts around. For example, I had to switch the “Voice 1 / Voice 2 / Voice 3”, which would typically be accessed by Option-1/Option-2/Option-3, to Command-Option-1 / Command-Option-2 / Command-Option-3.

In addition to these modifications, here are some other modifications I’ve made that I find extremely useful in working with full scores:

Option-Command-S — optimize staff spacing – very useful for full scores and parts alike
Option-Shift-S – select/filter slurs
Option-Shift-D – select/filter dynamics
Option-Shift-R – Rehearsal Mark text (very useful for custom rehearsal marks like “V1”, i.e. verse 1)

Hope this works for you – let me know!

As per those arrangements I had to finish on tour, many of them can be seen and heard in this YouTube playlist — enjoy!



  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much. (Im a different person to the other “Anonymous” I’m Katrina))
    The only complication deferring my purchase of a Macbook Pro laptop has seeemingly been removed.

    Presumabley you can still use the keys as normal 123 qwe etc for normal typing? Is there a special “option” key to change between the two setups?

  • Anonymous says:

    Brilliant informations: I just adopted (with some little adjustments) your shortcuts and they work great! The only thing, I just noticed you didn’t mention how you mapped the “rest” key (enter button on the keypad): I found it very handy to shortcut it as ALT+TAB :).

    Thanks again, I’m looking forward to read some more blogging on Sibelius tricks!

    Best, Lorenzo

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please solve * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.