Finale Tips: Delete vs. Clear (or Backspace)

Finale Tips: Delete vs. Clear (or Backspace)

As I mentioned previously,  in Finale version 25.5 the keystroke Function-Shift-Delete was added as an alternative for the Clear key on Macintosh computers.

So What?

In most applications, Clear and Delete mean different things. For example, in Microsoft Excel, Clear will remove contents of a cell, while Delete will remove the cell from the document. Finale follows a similar paradigm.

Windows users have a Backspace to accomplish the same results as the Clear key. Some Mac users own an extended keyboard that includes a numpad on the right side with a Clear key next to the Equal (=) key. The keystroke added in 25.5 is for all the rest of us Mac users who have a smaller keyboard offering only the Delete key. We can now type Function-Shift-Delete to clear information (as folks with more robust keyboards have done for years).

When to Avoid the Delete Key in Finale

When would you use Clear, Backspace, or Function-Shift-Delete in Finale?

When you want to remove formatting or positioning. In contrast, you’d use Delete to completely remove the element from your score. I like to think of Delete as being more destructive.

There are many places you can put this to use. While the full list of keyboard shortcuts are provided here, here are a few of the most common ways this keystroke can save you time by resetting or reverting the positioning of an item to the default setting:

  • Articulations
  • Slurs
  • Expressions
  • Special Tools Edits
  • Lyrics
  • Chords
  • Group or Staff Names
  • Tuplets

Note that you can simply use these keystrokes with the Selection tool to resort to defaults: you don’t have to choose a specific tool beforehand.

Here are  a few more uses, specific to note entry:

  • In Simple Entry, the Caret/Selection is cleared
  • In Speedy Entry, a note can be removed from a chord or a single pitch can be changed to a rest

And one of my favorites is to clear the contents of a measure without deleting the whole measure. This even works if a partial measure is selected.

Finally, Clear functionality does not relink an element between the score and the linked part. This means you can go to a linked part, press Clear (or Backspace or Function-Shift-Delete) to reset the positioning to default settings without relinking to the score and thus causing potentially bigger problems.

Did it Have to Be Three Keys?

While many will find it pretty easy to hit Function-Shift with the left-hand while hitting Delete with the right, you might wonder why a simpler key combination wasn’t used. Pairs like Shift-Delete or Option-Delete come immediately to mind. It turns out that the OS uses these and many other key combinations, so we selected an option that will not produce conflicts elsewhere.

If you’re curious about what some of those other Macintosh key combinations actually do, here you go (courtesy of this link from Apple):

  • Option+Delete = Delete the word to the left of the insertion point
  • Fn+Delete = Forward delete on keyboards that don’t have a Forward Delete key. Or use Control-D
  • Cmd+Delete = Select Delete or Don’t Save in a dialog that contains a Delete or Don’t Save button
  • Shift-Command-Delete = Empty the Trash
  • Option-Shift-Command-Delete = Empty the Trash without confirmation dialog

Because I find this functionality so useful (and a significant productivity boost) it’s my hope that you find this post to be perfectly clear on the subject.

Michael JohnsonMichael Johnson is the vice president of professional notation at MakeMusic. He first joined the company in 1996 as a technical support representative, solving tricky issues with Finale 3.5.2. He earned his music education degree from the University of Dayton and his computer science degree from Metropolitan State University.

Michael lives in Colorado with his spouse, Owen, and their son, Elliot. When he isn’t working in Finale, he enjoys playing the trumpet and bicycling around the Rocky Mountains.

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