Using Dorico WITHOUT key commands

I know that key commands are the rage and recommended. But I hate them and would rather use tabs and pull-down menus to do what I need.

I’ve learned that I can create an interface using stream deck hardware with the Notation Express profile. and that does look cool. But before I go that route, I have a question for the forum…

Shouldn’t there be a way to organically function in Dorico without using key commands? Is there a plugin I need to make it more user-friendly?

Thank you,

Howard, how do you want to give commands to your computer?
a) by using keys of your keyboard?
b) by giving voice commands?
c) by doing mouse clicks?
I only know of these three routes and I am personally a friend of a) - as being the most effective.
Going the mouse route is easy at the beginning, but you need good eye sight and have to be patient, as it is a slower method.

I think the first keyboard in history was that of an hydraulic organ. So, there is nothing as intimately musical as a keyboard!


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Most notation can be entered using the side-panels in Write mode. What is it you can’t do?

However, it’s demonstrably slower. Compare the following:

  1. select the staff, move the mouse over to the right of the screen, click on the key signature button, select the number of sharps I want, press the button; then click on the time signature button, click on a time signature (assuming I don’t have to create it specially); then click on the Bars button, click on the Insert Bars field, type “50”, and then click on “Insert Bars”.

  2. Shift M 3/4 Enter Shift K F Enter Shift B 50 Enter

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You are not obliged to use key commands. As far as I know you can do everything with the mouse and the side panels, including entering notes.

It does seem to be universally acknowledged that keyboard commands are faster and more fluent, unless there are accessibility issues that make it hard to use a keyboard - is that what you are referring to?

Furthermore, apart from the built-in key shortcuts for operations, I use the free and excellent AutoHotKey to automate commonly used sequences of commands. For example, I have all the complex tuplets I use all day set up on function keys - nothing could be simpler. The grammar of the files for AHK can be learned in ten minutes.

I am not clear what ‘organically function’ means.

Welcome to the forum, Howard! In general, you should find that most (if not all) functions have a menu or panel way of invoking them, in addition to a key command. Many functions by default only exist as menu items, although users can assign custom key commands to whichever functions they so choose.

  • For inputting notes, the left panel in Write mode is your on-screen friend.

  • For inputting notations, the right zone in Write mode is likewise. Make sure the paint palette icon is selected at the top – that allows you to access panels from the toolbox, rather than popovers.

  • For editing things, like changing beam grouping or stem direction, you want the Edit or context menu; for changing the appearance of things, it’s the Properties panel in the lower zone.

Dorico does not have a plugin architecture like Finale does. The technical consensus is that this is a good thing.

Is there something you want to do but cannot find the command for? Do be aware that the drop down menus change between write and engrave modes, so it’s possible you’re looking for a function that is only accessible in certain modes, and you’re currently in the wrong mode. Also, there is tremendous manipulation afforded by the bottom properties panel, and that’s all controlled via mouse.

But in the end, as you’ve acknowledged, the most authentic working model involves key commands. We certainly hope you stick around (and we will help you all we can) but some people just really want To do things their way, rather than working within the framework provided by dorico. (And for the record, most of us here have had a period of reckoning as we adapted to dorico’s working model. My point of tension was the whiplash between write and engrave mode.)

WOW! What a great family here. Thank you all for your kind responses and suggestions. I switched over from Sibelius after 20 years which was supposed to be more user-friendly than Finale but their interface in many cases is so illogical to me. Dorico seems much more logical so I’m determined to understand how things work.

I think I didn’t get the interplay between the left and right panel and this is now making sense!! (Thank you).

What was also confusing to me is that the instruction manual at first seems to ONLY indicate how to do things using key commands but I see if you scroll through they also have “TIP” where they indicate mouse movements as well.

Thank you for your support!! Howard

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The First Steps guide (if that’s what you’re referring to?) does indeed prefer keyboard usage in its instructions: partly to make the set of steps to follow simpler and cleaner, but also to make sure that the key commands (which are less immediately discoverable because they’re not on the screen) are offered to users as an option, as they can be very powerful.

You should find that in the full Operation Manual, both equivalents are given, even if this sometimes means needing separate sets of instructions for popover input and panel input.

Hi Lillie, thank you for the clarification and that make sense!