Finale Quick Tips – Keeping it Simple

You may have noticed that my blog posts often focus on helping users streamline their workflow; I’m often highlighting shortcuts and tools that save time and simplify common tasks. We’ll still occasionally hear from someone who believes that Finale is difficult to use due to the number of tools needed to complete common tasks. Typically these complaints come from folks who first used an early version of Finale, and who have never changed their workflow as Finale evolved and provided easier and faster solutions.

I recently spoke with a customer who was frustrated by the amount of moving around the Main Tool Palette he had to do. Intrigued, I watched him work. Here’s an example of his workflow:

  1. Select the Simple Entry tool and type in some notes.
  2. Grab the mouse to click on the Articulation tool.
  3. Click on a note, select the staccato articulation, then click Select.
  4. Grab the mouse again and click the Simple Entry tool to resume entering notes.

To add an expression, he added the following steps:

  1. Grab the mouse to click on the Expression tool.
  2. Double-click on a note, choose a forte marking, then click Select.
  3. Grab the mouse again and click the Simple Entry tool to resume entering notes.

Need to change a clef? More steps:

  1. Grab the mouse to click on the Clef tool.
  2. Double-click on a measure, select a bass clef sign, then press OK.
  3. Grab the mouse again and click the Simple Entry tool to resume entering notes.

This IS tedious – and mouse-intensive. One solution would be to segment your work by tools, rather than measures – you could enter all the notes first, then add details like expressions, articulations, and clef changes. That works well, but not everyone’s brain is comfortable working in this manner.

Fortunately the Simple Entry Tool now allows you to perform all of the steps listed above with one tool. Let’s re-examine the above steps using some of the Add/Change Items options in Simple Entry:

  1. Select the Simple Entry Tool and type in some notes.
  2. Press the Numpad * key (to enter an articulation) and press S for the staccato marking. You can also press select and choose the marking from the list (Don’t have a numeric keypad?  See my PS below!).

Note that you don’t need to return to the Simple Tool to resume entering notes: You never left. Need to enter an expression?

  1. Press the X key (to enter an expression) and press 4 to enter a forte marking. Then resume entering notes.

Need a clef change?

  1. Press Alt + C (Option + C for Mac) (to enter a clef) and press 4 to enter a bass clef marking. Then resume entering notes.

As you can see, with these new steps you can greatly reduce the number of mouse moves and keystrokes, and you never have to switch tools. After explaining this to the customer, he was floored.

Where did I get the metatool number/letter for each marking? They are found in the upper right corner of the specific marking’s selection box:

I wanted to enter a forte marking, so I selected #4, which is the default metatool for that expression. As I mentioned in my October 29th blog, you can quickly customize the metatool keystrokes to your liking.

I think you’ll find that using Simple Entry Tool in this way allows you to enter music much more efficiently without taking focus from the entry of notes.

To review, you can access the following tools via the Simple Entry tool by using these key commands:

  • Expression Tool: X
  • Articulation Tool: Numpad *
  • Clef Tool: Alt + C (Win), Option + C (Mac)

In addition to the options covered above, the following tools are available as well:

  • Time Signature Tool: Alt + T (Win), Option + T (Mac)
  • Key Signature Tool: Alt + K (Win), Option + K (Mac)

For more on some quick shortcuts, check out the “Keyboard Shortcuts and Special Mouse Clicks” topic in the Finale User Manual!

Best to all and Happy New Year!

PS: Using a laptop? You can switch to the Laptop Shortcut Set for Simple Entry: To do so, from the Simple menu, choose Simple Entry Options  > Edit Keyboard Shortcuts, then, under Keyboard Shortcut Set, select Laptop Shortcut Table.

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