Dorico chopping off question mark in song name when exporting PDFs

I have a song whose title has a question mark at the end. When I go to Print mode and export PDFs, the question mark in the song name is replaced by a hyphen. (So the song, let’s call it “Is That It?” becomes “Is That It-.pdf”). The Dorico file itself has the question mark “Is That It?.dorico” Of course I can rename the PDF files in the macOS Finder, but I’d rather not have to do this every time I make a change in the song in Dorico and export PDFs again. Is there a solution?

I believe this is because some file systems reject the question mark :question: (it is a forbidden character)


That can be true, I suppose, but the OS does support a question mark as I can change the file name to include one. I would be interested to hear if this issue can be overcome. Maybe one of the developers can comment?

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it’s a Qt limitation since windows doesn’t support it (from what I understand).

That sounds like it could be the case.

I am also on a Mac and observed the following:

When I went into Print mode in Dorico and used Export to PDF, a question mark at the end of the title was replaced with a hyphen.

When I used the OS’s print to PDF function (still within Dorico), the question mark was retained at the end of the title.

For comparison purposes I created a new project with staves but no notes and saved it with a name which ended with a question mark, then used the two methods of creating a PDF. I did not make any comparisons between the layout, placement of content, size of margins, etc. If you wish to pursue that aspect, one way to do so would be to use Save As to save an existing file with a question mark at the end of its title and then compare the PDFs created using the two methods. To resolve any differences, you might need to change the Page Size settings (margins, etc.) in Layout Options.

As far as I know, historically the Mac OS has had only two reserved characters when naming files. The colon ( : ) is still forbidden and is automatically replaced with a hyphen. The forward slash ( / ) was not allowed for years, but I get the impression that it is either allowed now or maybe can sneak through depending on where the file originates. If it was actually allowed from the beginning, I do know that Java-based applications, scripts, etc. would often (possibly always?) treat the forward slash as a directory/folder separator, so that a file called MyPhotos/2015 would be treated as a file called 2015 within a folder called MyPhotos, usually resulting in a File not found error.

Thanks, guys. I don’t know what Qt is but I’m hoping Steinberg is able to resolve this issue.

It’s the programming framework they use to actually write dorico. It’s a bit like using Microsoft word to write a book. For the sake of hypothetical analogy, imagine you have an umlaut in your name, but there’s a bug in the underlying code that Microsoft office relies on. The office suite supports umlauts, but the back end software used to write the actual code for MS Word can’t export that character… so instead of exporting your manuscript with “Röder” on the title page, it exports “R-der”. It’s not really your fault, because you typed it in, and it’s not strictly Microsoft’s either… but rather it’s a manifestation of one of the limitations of the back end software.

If my theory is correct, this is the situation with Qt (Dorico’s back end programming software).

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Am I being excessively picky to think that the file name could serve equally well by just dropping the punctuation at the end?

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If you’d in any way be collaborating with people, like sending PDFs to other musicians who might need to print them, play them, or send them along, it’s better not to assume everyone uses a Mac. Avoid punctuation in filenames, except hyphens and underscores. And avoid very long filenames. Some systems choke on long paths.


It’s a bit like using InDesign to write TWO books: one in German, and one in French; but it saves you from doing it twice. (Essentially it does all the Windows and Mac stuff for you.)

I’d agree that while question marks should be OK on a Mac, I’d generally avoid them in filenames. ? is a wildcard character in the Unix shell, and has a special meaning in URLs.

Colon was the original Mac hierarchy separator, so:
Macintosh HD:Folder:folder:myFile.txt
and is still used in AppleScript.

Forward slash is the Unix hierarchy separator, so that’s been used since OS X in the Unix shell. It is possible to add a slash to a filename, but it’s asking for trouble.

Windows has a lot of forbidden characters, and a surprisingly short total length for filepaths. But I digress.


Thanks for the responses. Wasn’t aware it was a possible limitation. Will just let Dorico export as is; at least it doesn’t change the title shown IN the actual PDF.

to throw in a further observation: in a different context I had unexpected problems which only disappeared after I replaced commas , in the filenames…


A space at the end of a filename can also cause problems in Windows.