An interesting question from a beginner

Just a thought : I find the prospect of writing music in Dorico 5 difficult, partly due to the amazing options, extra facilities , etc.

So, the thought of a different approach - can I download D5 in a simpler form, or will this damage D5 Pro for the future ? Is this a sensible option, or am I just not able to do this ?

You can start Dorico in any of the 3 versions SE, Elements or Pro (I can’t speak for Mac, but) on Windows hold shift-alt while launching and you get Elements, ctrl-alt and you get SE


On macOS, hold down Option (it could be named Alt on your keyboard) and then launch Dorico. It will launch in SE, and Option-Shift will launch in Elements.


The Shift key is not involved. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s only one key at a time you need to hold.

I’m curious about what you mean here exactly. The options are so amazing that it makes writing music more difficult…?

And do you mean composing, or just entering music into a project file?

Learning a new app can be daunting, but I’d say most people can become reasonably familiar with Dorico in a few weeks, if they use it regularly, watch some of tutorial videos – and ask here for help!


And for the n’th time I disagree. On my Windows machine, without the shift key it always boots to Pro.

Thank you for the info, and sorry I didn’t hear that before. My reply should be just to Mac users, then.


Maybe focus on learning just a handful of key commands for note entry? To me the commands are the answer both to simplicity in the beginning and power later. Maybe there is video for that, the minimalist guide, I dunno.

I would invest a little time in understanding popovers as they are like little personal helpers all their own. What I mean is , you type Ctrl-P for playing techniques and let’s say you then start typing pizz for pizzicato. Huh, so you wonder what would happen if you typed mute, or sul pointe or …. Yep, yep, It’s like a little Google and when you learn to use one, you’ve suddenly learned how to do a hundred different things just by typing a few letters of their name. And maybe then it feels a little less intimidating?


One of the main features missing from SE, Elements is Engrave, which you could simply ignore if you are in the Pro version, until you find you need it. Dorico handles many layout things very well without needing to go there. SE has limitations on the number of players, but you can work in the Pro version with just a few (obviously).
For reference, comparison of SE, Elements, Pro (and iPad):

Have you seen this:

You will see the “First Steps” which will guide you through a tutorial very simply. By doing tutorials you learn without being overcome with any complications or distractions or complexities … and see the results it produces with just those directions.
Also there is a “Resources” link which will be another place to start if you have already done First Steps.
This way you learn with small steps and get a sense of how Dorico works and its terminology.

Best wishes, and if you want to do something but cannot find out how, ask here :slight_smile:


I have struggled through First Steps, and the variations from writen details to the videos on it are so marked that it led to even more confusion. I have written about this before, and unless and alternative version - using something like Bach Anna Magdelana piano pieces , where the music is simple and easy to adapt for the Dorico software is used - it is too complex. I do not wish to write such complicated music as a first instance. It is a case of either compose without reference to Dorico, or learn on Dorico and then write something afterwards.

The point about Engrave is a good one, but again until I have written something that will need to be changed in its appearance I can possibly manage without it.

Thank you for the points about CTRL and ALT - I may well have to use this, but all the complicated discussions about playback - VST, sound libraries, etc - make this such a minefield to try to understand what it is all about.

At present, my approach to Dorico is like trying to catch a moving train as it leaves the station : no atter how fast I try to run, thmake the reading of help,the train is accelerating away from me. The options, facilities, extra possibilities (many which could be useful later, but not yet) are making me despair that I will ever be able to use Dorico.

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Try printing one of these and keeping it handy on your desk:

And here is a more dense version for when you need a few more details:


Then stop, get a coffee, and wait for the next Dorico Express in 30 minutes.

It should be very quick and easy to get the basics of adding instruments, layouts and Flows in Setup mode. Entering notation in Write mode is a little more complex, by virtue of the different types of notation, but there are common, similar procedures throughout.

You’ve been using Dorico for over three years now. I’d be very surprised if you haven’t broadly got the hang of those two parts in that time, particular for things like Eine Kleine and Bach keyboard works.

Add a little bit of knowledge of how Layout Options work, and some optional Engrave mode fine tuning, and that should be enough to get a basic score completed.

But I think it would be more useful if you asked for help with specific problems that you are having, rather than more lengthy posts about how it’s too difficult and you’ll never manage.


When I moved from using MOTU’s Professional Composer to Finale decades ago, I tried Finale briefly and then went back to Professional Composer. Finale was just too complex.

Then I realized that all I had to do really was to learn enough of Finale to mimic the output I had been getting in Professional Composer, an achievable goal.

That gave me the foothold I needed in Finale to become more and more adept with each project and grow with the program over the years.

When Dorico came out, I knew I had to be an early adopter in order to learn the program incrementally. Not sorry I did, and asking questions on this forum (since Dorico did not initially have a manual to consult) was (as Ben suggetss) a key to successful adoption.


I am always easily visually distracted. So what I always do is close all the panels. Then you start with a blank sheet. So Ctrl 7 left panel, Ctrl 8 bottom panel, Ctrl 9 right panel and I also close the top panel Ctrl 6.

In most promotional images of Dorico you often see multiple panels open. But for me to work calmly and concentrated, it is better to close everything. If you don’t know something, look for the key combination in the manual or in the Quick reference card.

I only open a panel when absolutely necessary, but if you often need to open a panel there is usually a faster and better method.

The advantage is that you do not see all the options. And let’s be honest, I think there is hardly anyone who uses all the options.


Thank you Romanos - these options when printed out will be most useful.

Benwiggy, you are incorrect. I have been mpnitoring the forum for three years, and the more I see, the more discouraged I get . It is so much more complicated than 3.5 which I initially bought, and I have upgraded right up to 5.3, in the hope that things would get easier to sort out. Instead, it has become an amazing software package, and there are options I would not have thought possible.

For example Notation Express - what is it ? can I leave it out of my thoughts ? No, I have not dared to venture past the awful First Steps idea, which made things more intimidating. I do appreciate the ideas - like using Ctrl and Alt to limit which version will run, and the printouts I going to give Dorico one last try , writing some simple music FOR THE FIRST TIME, Benwiggy, and see what happens.

It’s a third-party set of template documents. It’s not “part of Dorico”, so nothing you need to worry about.

TBH, I doubt whether the differences between Pro, Elements and SE will bring you any great relief.

I’m sorry Ben, you’re mixing up with Scoring Express (no pun intended, I always wonder which is which). Notation Express is a specific Streamdeck profile that gives Streamdeck users a whole well programmed streamdeck profile to use Dorico pushing buttons instead of (or better said, in addition to) pressing keycommands.

Oh well: the second sentence still stands.


I’m not sure how you struggle to write a staff, let alone a bar with a single melody. There’s a thousand of tutorials on youtube, that’s how I “learned” how Dorico worked when I still didn’t acquire it, was merely accompanying the progress.
The problem isn’t the options, it’s the focus.
Believe in yourself.


Can you tell us exactly what you are trying to write, and where do you encounter difficulties? Is it a piano score? Vocal lead sheet? Solo flute line? Something more? Some context of what you’re trying to do would be helpful. Then list what you are able to do, and what stops your progress. Someone will be able to list the exact steps to help you get further, but we need to know what you’re trying to accomplish, and where you get hung up.