Best piano notation software for Mac?

What is the best Piano Notation Software for Mac that is reasonably priced? I have used Crescendo to write out my scores, but think it is pretty basic and cumbersome. It was not designed with Mac in mind, so it is missing some of the functions that should be there.
Has anyone used PreSonus Notation 6? It is more expensive, but I want to know if anyone actually has found it useful before I purchase it.

Hi @noreen :wave:

I’m an avid Sibelius user (excuse the pun :grin:)

When I first started using Sibelius I had a free educational license through my university and at that time if I remember correctly it was a $600 one-time-payment for the license.

Avid Technologies have since introduced tiers including a free version which is very feature-limited, but free. I currently use the “Sibelius” mid tier which is $9.99 per month and suits my needs perfectly for notating arrangements and little things that I have transcribed.

Here are their plans:

They do also offer a free trial on Sibelius Ultimate but those features are beyond my notation needs. I think that tier is more geared towards orchestral arrangement and the like.

I find Sibelius to be the perfect notation software on my MacBook, but that’s just my personal preference.

I have no experience with PreSonus Notation but perhaps some of our other community members have used it before.

There is also MuseScore which is open source software so that could be one to try out. I know many of our community members use it and like it:

Personally I much prefer the Sibelius interface and layout, perhaps because it was the program that I initially learnt with.

Out of interest @Jovino - what notation software do you use? I know you do a lot of arranging and also use Mac so it would be interesting to hear your opinion.


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Thank you, Hayden, for taking the time to respond to my query. I really appreciate your reply. The Sibelius monthly or yearly subscription is probably the way to go. As I collect the music that I am working on the sheet music gets very cluttered with my written notations.

Maybe some of your subscribers have found MuseScore to be a good alternative. (?) I would value any feedback. I am a little concerned, however, about MuseScore because it is open source and could set me up for a can of spam and other unwanted intrusion problems.

I also appreciate that you truthfully remind your students that grasping jazz theory and arranging is an ongoing challenge and not learned or completed over night. So often the hook is “learn this style or fantastic chord progression in 20 minutes.” That false deception discourages someone who truly is interested in grasping the many styles and substance of jazz and music theory. At least for me and I am not a beginner pianist, it has not been an instant process and takes hard work and application.

I really enjoy your lessons. Thank you for making so many of them available on Youtube.
So much to digest and to learn! :wink:
A fan also a fan of Jovino as well!


I’ll chime in as a MuseScore user, with the caveat that I’m still a novice and my needs are relatively simple.

It took me a few days to learn, but I think the learning curve is probably similar for Sibelius. In fact, I believe it’s pretty easy to switch back and forth between MuseScore, Sibelius, and Finale. I use MuseScore for my own transcribing as well as importing and sharing scores from/with others; there’s a large user base for MuseScore so it’s efficient and easy to find answers; there’s also a large community of shared scores (see Free sheet music | Download PDF or print on, all free.

I use MuseScore on a Mac (both desktop and laptop) and find it convenient and intuitive. But I think it works equally well on a PC. Also, open source software is just as safe as any other software; in fact, the Mac OS is built on a linux/unix base which is also open source.

There are a few things that MuseScore can’t do that I think Sibelius can:

  1. Enter notes that start at the same time but end at different times. (This can be done by adding a second “voice”, e.g. lead1 + lead2, but it’s cumbersome so I just use ties instead).

  2. Use VSTs or high quality sample sounds for playback. The built-in sounds in MuseScore are, er, primitive. That doesn’t bother me so much because I just use it for transcribing not for performance.

  3. Add complex extensive notation for professional publishing.

Tuomo uses MuseScore, Hayden uses Sibelius. Will be interesting to see what Jovino, Jon, and others use!

Hope this helps.

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Awesome insights as usual Greg, and interesting to know Mac OS is built on an open source base!

Yes my version of Sibelius supports up to 4 voices. I sometimes use 2 voices for my left hand parts as I like how clean it looks, but as you say it is a little fiddly and ties do the same job.

Likewise I’m interested to hear the thoughts of others.

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What @gregb said.

Open-source software is as safe as any other software if you have firewall and antiviral protection.

I have musescore on my iMac Pro laptop and on my PC desktops. It works well on all. I’ve had only one serious viral breach ever and it was in the 1980s.


I’ve used MuseScore and I like it. I definitely like the price. It has a learning curve, and there are certain features that are non-intuitive, but there is a vibrant community of people who answer questions. I’ve found that googling gets me the answers I need on the community site.

Using it has definitely helped me with rhythm patterns. It’s one thing to learn a rhythm, another to transcribe it correctly. Very good experience. Plus it lets me make a backing track exactly as I want it.

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