First-time user struggles (coming from Finale)

I am about to cry, have to finish an arrangement for the university tomorrow and my computer with Finale crashed, I bought Dorico a while ago for the other laptop but never really used it, now I had to. It is the most frustrating software on earth, just let people write the way they want. I am returning this tomorrow.

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Did you read the manual, watch any tutorials, or ask for help?

If you were hoping to wing it at the last second while under deadline, well…

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If you’ve never put in the effort to learn new software and expect what is unique to behave like what you’re familiar with, then I guess your frustrations are warranted. There are plenty of resources available for you to learn Dorico (like many before you have done successfully). But it’s a given, that if you’re facing a deadline and have to use new software to achieve your ends you will be disappointed—anyway, good luck with returning your software.

You could find useful help on this forum. Use it!

Maybe it is too late now but…
Why not just install Finale in your other laptop to continue working in the software you already know how to use (and maybe later take the time to learn Dorico)?
You can register your Finale license in two computers.

Your computer crashed, but Dorico which you never tried to learn but now want to get into in only 1 day is to blame? Not like, you know, the manufacturer of your PC?
Yeah, sure, why not.

Dorico has its very own (and most of the times better) way of “thinking” about writing music. Trying to get from 0 to 100 here in only one day simply will not work.

College will do that. My son is in engineering and was destitute yesterday over a single linear algebra problem. It’s all relative :smile_cat:

To be fair, in the last minute crunch you’re in, with no background in the software, nothing would make a person happy.

Sorry to hear about your situation @Paulo_Correa , batting heads with a software under pressure is never fun.

If you want some help with any specific issues you’re encountering and that receiving help with might help you finish your arrangement, please do share them – either in this thread, or in their own threads. You should find a number of fellow users (and some members of the dev team, like me!) happy and willing to help you.

Hi Lillie, thank you for your kind words. I know the software can be great if you have the necessary time to invest, I am just complaining that it is no non intuitive. There is a review on YouTube that summarises it very well: Sibelius (or also Finale) lets you write as you please, whereas Dorico wants you to write as Dorico likes. It s quite annoying having to look for a tutorial for almost anything. Also the Irrational Time Signature option doesn’t really work too well. Best regards, Paulo

“Intuitive” tends to equate to “what you know”.

For balance: I’ve been working in Finale over the past few weeks, pretty much for the first time, and coming from six years with Dorico and ~18 with Sibelius I’ve probably spent longer reading Finale manuals, forum posts and watching tutorials than actually using the software. I’m sure that for an experienced Finale user many things in that program are intuitive, but notation software is a complex beast and is always going to come with a learning curve.


No, Dorico will write what you have told it to do (e.g. set the Options to your satisfaction).

The review you mention comes from the perspective that all functions should be ‘discoverable’ just by staring at the screen. (And that’s not even true for MuseScore, either.) That might be the best way for new users, but not the best way to get tools that are productive and powerful. And most people will only be ‘new users’ for a short time.


Finale is “not intuitive” either, and I have used Finale since its first iteration 30-some years ago. After 30-or-so years, I pretty well know my way around; but I well remember switching to Finale from Professional Composer all those years ago. No one pretended or expected Finale would be “intuitive.” Instead they expected it to be powerful. Same thing for Dorico.

One should never switch software platforms (or even editions) when on deadline. Sorry your computer put you in such a desperate position.

Ugh, an intuitive discussion again … Dorico is high level WYSIWYG just like Microsoft Word where you focus on content and let the software fiddle the format, but if you want to fiddle you can do it to a microscopic level. I wonder why people can get upset at how Dorico does auto layout, just as Word does for you? Never used Sibelius but must be coming from that background.

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That ridiculous video has been the source of more misinformation about Dorico than I thought could be possible. :rage: If Martin was trying to poison the well of a competitor, it seems he certainly succeeded.


What I’ve discovered about any program that one uses is that there are two parts to intuitive. Part 1 is does it use the common OS way of doing things (like copy and paste as an example) - Dorico does. Part 2 is getting inside of the programmers head and their way of thinking. That takes time to figure out. I’m using the manual for this and now I’m beginning to see how they think. The manual is 1659 pages long, 100 pages of which is just the index (which I find very helpful).

To think that you can buy this (or any software) and be up and running in a day is crazy to say the least. Sure, you can write some simple music and it may be good enough to publish in a day, but complex music - I don’t think so.

I, too, was frustrated at first and complained a lot about how non-intuitive it seems to be. But now, I just ask questions if I can’t figure out something and leave it at that. And, having used it for awhile, it’s becoming somewhat intuitive for me.

Doug :slight_smile:


This scale could be adapted for putting a numerical score on aspects of Dorico which users find problematical in some way. :wink:

eg. How easy is it for the “average user” (not an expert, but one who is reasonably familiar with the software) to produce a condensed score, or to produce a Playback Template ?

One could compare similar tasks using Dorico with Sibelius or Finale for example, and then see which scores higher or lower.

As an example: on a Mac with Dorico set to full screen, it’s not possible to see the Flow title in Galley View without moving the pointer to the top of the screen to reveal the menu bar. I’d give that 2 - or maybe between 2 and 1.

Wow – I do not envy that. I started in September 1988 and once I’d used Sibelius a couple of years I quit taking any more Finale work.

I’m not ready to abandon Sibelius for Dorico yet, but I’m getting there. Certainly now I choose Dorico for any actual music (other than exercises, samples, etc.).

Pianoleo: …“For balance: I’ve been working in Finale over the past few weeks, pretty much for the first time”

That is laudable, pianoleo. If you have questions, or want to post your impressions, you might try Finale Forum, a very knowledgeable and helpful user group.

The old Make Music forum was shut down 6 years ago but remains an excellent Finale resource in its archived form. The search function doesn’t work but Google Advanced Search does and was always preferable.

There is another, independently run forum for Finale. It appears it is located here.

Many of the luminaries from the original Finale Forum moved there when the newer MakeMusic forum used truly inferior forum software to tie into their content management system.