Tricks for more efficient note-entry?

Free sounds good! What are they called?


This is the free one that is starting to pick up the most steam:

Its very flexible, more flexible the Lemur and TouchOSC…and free. Also more involved to set up.

TouchOSC and Lemur are not free, but they are quite affordable also… They are both a bit more flexible then MetaGrid…MetaGrid is hands down the most simple to setup…but so far anyway…its more limited, more comparable to a virtual streamdeck. I think MetaGrid is the most popular so far…primarily because of simplicity.

But Open Stage Control is totally open source and very very flexible in what can be done with it. T he sky is the limit if you’re willing to spend the time to set it up. I’m not sure if it can use custom icons though…might not. but is free. It also runs on Mac/pc in addition to touchpad. It actually runs its client in a webbrowser, so you can use it anywhere you can connect with a web browser. There are numerous tutorials on You Tube if you wanna see examples in action.

I think my biggest time saver was to quit the alt in all the alt- commands to make them single letters. Since I never use the letters for note input, it works just great. I also reverted to the Sibelius num keypad, ended up changing nearly all shortcuts, hacked the json files, build tons of macros, added a stream deck… and wonder if I’ll ever save enough time to compensate for all the time lost programming all these!


Metgrid ‘knows’ all the Dorico commands, which you can assign to a button on your iPad screen, with text or a picture on it. So you can assign each note duration, slur start, etc to buttons, instead of using the QWERTY keyboard.

Thank you! Is it limited to a maximum of 15 commands, or can one switch between screenfuls?


There are a number of different sized ‘grids’ you can have, and yes, you can have several.

The easiest way for me is to use a MIDI keyboard for the notes and the laptop to set up the note duration. Doing it this way runs of same note length ( eg eighth notes/ quavers) is easy.
I use a Roland RD700 keyboard for note entry via a Strindberg UR22C usb interface.

Like most things practice gives fluency if not perfection

Some thoughts on controlling Dorico via Metagrid on an iPad. (background: I’ve been building a Metagrid / Dorico interface for quite a while)

  1. Metagrid is a poor option for selecting objects, and don’t even think about positioning the caret with it. You’ll still need a mouse and keyboard.

  2. The upshot of this is that you if use it, an iPad / Metagrid setup will be another controller.

  3. An additional controller isn’t all win-win. Moving between controllers requires additional thought, disturbs the workflow and, unless you’re disciplined and careful, leads to controllers being out of sync with each other.

  4. The Dorico team have put a great deal of thought and care into efficient entry and editing. Where these processes are relatively straightforward (and can be enhanced through touch typing as is the case for much of note entry, for example), the Dorico approach cannot be beaten IMHO.

  5. Where it gets interesting is when Dorico’s processes aren’t so straightforward. These can be defined as processes that require combinations of keystrokes, sometimes lengthy combinations that also involve text strings, and processes that are menu-driven or require navigation. In these cases Metagrid is a fast and convenient alternative.

  6. Dorico has over 1,100 assignable keystrokes. Even experienced users will only be using a fraction of that number - inexperienced users substantially less. Metagrid enables users to only have to remember basic keystrokes (for 4, above).

  7. Combinations of keystrokes (macros) are not the only benefit Metagrid can bring. Unlike Dorico, which is set up for everyone, a Metagrid setup can be tailored specifically to your needs. For me, these two points are where the real opportunities lie.

  8. A setup that is tailored to your needs would, for example, have the majority of options you would be likely to use regularly close to hand.

  9. Metagrid becomes significantly more powerful when used in conjunction with Keyboard Maestro. This enables access to anything on the screen, anything buried away in menus and even bridges Dorico with OSX.

  10. There is no limit to the number of screens your Metagrid / Dorico application can have.

  11. Metagrid is easy to use. The team there are quick to respond and very helpful (remind you of anyone?). It’s a good product.

  12. Over the years, there have been quite a few comments in this forum about Metagrid apps never delivering what users really want by way of working with Dorico. I think that’s a perfectly fair response but I also think it’s a consequence of just how detailed and complex Dorico is. To deliver anything other than limited functionality (which people will inevitably find lacking) a Metagrid / Dorico setup has to be able to handle Dorico’s complexity - and that involves a quite staggering amount of work.

If I haven’t put you off completely, I’ve leave you with a few screens of what I’m working with that hopefully give a better sense of some of the possibilities of working with Metagrid.

This is the page I use for Write Mode / Note Entry. I posted this one a few days ago but already it’s changed as I found out I now only need the one button to turn slurs on and off. Do I use the notes at the top? No, they’re only there for completeness. But I do use the dotted notes below and, articulations aside, everything else on the screen. Not having to remember the keystrokes for Cross Above etc. is very useful (especially at my age!)

At the top right of that screen is a Common Edits button. That takes me to this screen:

… where part of the display gives way to showing edits I most commonly use. There are further options along the top for beaming etc. and options down the right if I want to head to some aspect of Engrave mode.

If I want a more complete list of dynamics, for example, the button at the top left takes me to this screen…

… which pretty much lists all the options for dynamics.

There a couple of points worth making about this screen - it’s also an opportunity to introduce edit functionality (Place Above etc.) - the more you can keep things together, the better. Also - this is a powerful feature in Metagrid - you can enable onward navigation so you’re automatically taken back to the screen you want. So if I was to select an mfz, it’d implement it and then take me back to the main note edit screen. One less button to press.

Referring back to the very first point I made, all of those edits need something to be selected so Metagrid is always working in conjunction with the mouse.

The idea of Common Edits is one I’m using a lot. So, for example, I have Common Options as a first stop for Layout Options. That way I don’t have to go hunting through different pages for settings I use all the time.

These buttons will either set the option for me or, if there are range of options available, take me to the place in Layout Options where I can change it myself. These are all prime examples of what I referred to earlier as sometimes lengthy combinations that involve text strings.

I hope this is useful and has given those of you interested in Metagrid some ideas for how you can use it. I don’t pretend to have all the answers on this but, compared to when I started on this last year, I do have a much clearer sense of how yet can be used. Bottom line: it’s not an alternative to Dorico’s methods, it’s an assistant.

Apologies in advance to anyone who’s looking for me to post any setups - I’m miles away from that stage. The next big task is adapting it for Metagrid 2.0. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to post a fair number of icons - that’ll save a lot of work!

Best wishes,


Maybe I’m not seeing it but I’m curious–on your main write mode/note entry window, I don’t see the space bar.

Hi @lafin

If you’re referring to the area in Metagrid with scenes and the two shift buttons - I’m not using that. I tried but it became too unwieldy and I found I needed to maximise the space for the buttons. Pull the main screen down and that area disappears leaving the area above to fill the whole screen.

The screenshots I’ve shown are mockups for Metagrid 2.0. The functionality is already there and working in 1.7 but user-defined icons can only be implemented from 2.0. At first glance, all the icons in the examples are user-defined icons.


do you have any other knowledge about what new features are being added to 2.0 besides custom icons?

Thank you, David, for you comprehensive discussion of the pros and cons and practical illustration of Metagrid! It is very helpful.


1 Like

Should one wait for the release of Metagrid 2.0, or will it be a free upgrade from 1.7?


Thanks David,
I’m referring to pressing space to advance the caret in note entry creating rests.

@Dewdman42 Hi. I have a fair idea but that’ll be for them to say and anyway, I don’t know for sure how many of things discussed will make it into the final release. If you want, you can see for yourself by signing up for the beta program which will available sometime this month. Just e-mail them at

@david-p I honestly don’t know, David. I’ll try and find out and get back to you.

@lafin Ah. That make more sense! Personally, I don’t use the space bar, it’s arrows all the way for me. I use the right arrow to advance to where the next note starts and any rests in between notes are created automatically by Dorico.

On the rare occasions where I do need to input a rest I’ll enter a note duration and then the rest icon in Metagrid. The advantage of doing it that way round is that it enters the rest, advances the caret and then turns the rest off. I’m forever leaving things like that on - now I don’t need to think about it.

1 Like

I have found that the spacebar can advance the cursor in larger steps, depending on what note value is selected. In 4/4, selecting a semibreve causes it to jump one bar at a time.


1 Like

I think Metagrid could be quite useful to me. The only time that I find the QWERTZ and mouse interface slow me down is when inputting notes. As most of my work with Dorico is in transcribing already composed pieces, I do this first. After that is done, the formatting and use of Engrave mode is not so repetitive , and I would probably only use Metagrid for navigation. But the use of Metagrid, just for selecting notevalues alone, would appear to offer a significant increase in speed in reducing the hand movements. Others who spend their working live sitting in front of Dorico will find more uses, whereas I assume I can use Metagrid for the other programs I interact with.


Sure. I think the reason I settled on the arrows is that it’s just the one key and over time I’ve become pretty nifty at moving it to where I want quickly. If I want to go to the next bar (or further) I use Cmd / right arrow.

It doesn’t work so well when the Rhythmic grid is cranked up high. :frowning_face: