SE download via download manager just installs pro version

I tried to install Dorico SE (free) via Steinberg Download Manager but it just installs Pro version. It seems all versions of Dorico are the same on DM?

Yes, they are all the same binary. It only depends on available licences (purchased or trial), or on special keys held down during startup, what flavour of Dorico will present itself to you.

So how does one access the free version? I’m only assuming you don’t need a key for that one.

If Dorico Pro has been authorized on your computer (either via a purchased or a trial license) hold down CTRL/CMD as you start Dorico until you see the splash screen.

Yes, you do need an activation code, but you can easily get it via our website.
Go to the page and click on the field DOWNLOAD FOR FREE.
That leads you to a page where you can create a Steinberg ID. If you register with your e-mail address, an activation code will get automatically sent to you.

If you already have Cubase Pro and are using a USB-eLicenser, your licenser contains a time-limited “all applications” license. That will be used in preference to the Dorico SE license while there is still time remaining on your license. When the time-limited license runs out, Dorico will thereafter run as Dorico SE instead of Dorico Pro.

I have the All Applications license as I own Cubase Pro 10.5.

Am I to understand that I have to “demo” Dorico Pro before I can actually use the version (Dorico Elements) that I paid for?

If so that’s ridiculous.

Dorico automatically runs with the highest available licence on the system unless you use keyboard shortcuts to override this behaviour as others have said.

I have a Dorico Pro 3 licence on the soft eLicenser of my main computer. So that I can always run Dorico with basic functionality on any computer with my USB eLicenser connected, I have a Dorico SE licence on the USB eLicenser as well as my Cubase Pro 10.5 and WaveLab Pro 10 licences. In this scenario - and most other people’s usage scenario - I want the highest licence to be preferred. Some will have a Dorico Pro or Elements licence on a USB eLicenser and Dorico SE on a soft eLicenser so that they have basic Dorico functionality without their USB eLicenser connected.

The time limited “all applications” licence is an awkward case because there are two main scenarios where it is available.

If you buy a boxed copy of a Steinberg product protected by USB eLicenser then the eLicenser contains an “all applications” licence to allow you to use your product until you activate the purchased permanent licence using the activation code in the box. In this scenario it may be that the user does not want the “all applications” licence to authorise Dorico as Dorico Pro.

I am pretty sure that a Steinberg “zero downtime” claim results in issuance of an “all applications” licence whilst replacement permanent licences are sorted out. In this scenario the lost licences might include Dorico Pro and the user does want Dorico authorised as Dorico Pro.

Perhaps the answer is a preference that allows the user to configure the highest edition that Dorico will start as, defaulting to “Dorico Pro”. If this is set to “Dorico Elements”, then no attempt will be made to start as Dorico Pro, but the application starts as Dorico SE if the highest licence available is SE.

Lannister, welcome to the forum. Hold down the Alt key when you start Dorico, and it will run as Dorico Elements.