Finale’s SmartFind and Paint

Ever used “SmartFind and Paint”?


In my travels I speak to many Finale users, and it’s rare that I meet someone who does – but when I do they’re very excited about it. SmartFind and Paint seems ready-made to be a “secret tip,” as it’s a little-known but powerful tool that could save you lots of time! I think it’s pretty cool and enjoy sharing it with other Finale users.


Imagine this scenario — you have piece like this:

There are many repeating rhythmic patterns throughout your piece. In fact, you have 64 pages of them! Arg.

Your goal? To automate the process of discovering where these patterns reoccur, and, as appropriate, “paint” them with similar markings, possibly including dynamics, slurs, trills, accents, decrescendos, etc.

Every December I attend the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. A few years ago I met an exhibitor there who told me he engraved/published an average of 60 Brass Quintet arrangements each year. Upon discovering that he had never used SmartFind and Paint I brought up the example above and showed him these steps:

  1. Using the Selection Tool, select any part of your score; in this example the Oboe’s first measure
  2. Under Finale’s Edit menu select SmartFind and Paint, then Set SmartFind Source.
  3. From the Edit menu select Apply SmartFind and Paint.

In the resulting dialog box you can choose what you want to paint and where you want to paint it.

Maybe you want to pain JUST the slurs, or perhaps everything BUT the slurs. But for today’s example, however, let’s just…

4. Select Paint All.

OMG. You have just put the exact same SmartShapes, articulations, and expressions on each rhythmic pattern in your 64 page score – in ONE SECOND.

I asked the Brass Quintet publisher how long it would have taken him to do that. He said, “Possibly a morning.” I told him; “Let’s say it takes you two hours.” He was getting where I was headed: If he could save two hours from each of his 60 projects next year, he would save 120 hours: the equivalent of a THREE WEEK VACATION!

Try it yourself, and then be sure to send me a nice postcard from Tuscany.

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