How to Import a PDF into Finale Using ScanScore

In this article, we look at how to import a PDF file into Finale using our music scanning software, ScanScore.

(For more information about using ScanScore alongside Finale, please see this helpful tutorial.)

Since 1988 when Finale released their revolutionary notation editing software, it has remained a staple in the sheet music software business.

However, Finale struggles to read PDF files and turn them accurately into a readable MusicXML format. And this is where ScanScore comes in.

One of the ScanScore’s main functions is to read PDF files for easy playback and for exporting into files that other programs, like Finale, can read and edit.

Here’s how you can easily import a PDF into Finale with ScanScore… 

Step By Step Instructions

Make sure to read the directions carefully before starting. Once you’ve done them a couple of times, you should find these steps simple to complete.

#1 Download the programs

First, download the programs, or if you already have them, make sure they’re both up-to-date. This will help prevent any problems later on.

Finale can be used with Mac and Windows computers but ScanScore is currently only available on Windows computers. However, you can download app versions of the program on your phone through Google Play or the App Store.

Pro-tip: If you’re using the app, you will need to scan the QR code from your desktop program to link up to the program.

IMAGE ScanScore how to scan

#2 Import the PDF

Next, you need to import the PDF into ScanScore. 

To do this, open up your ScanScore program. In the opening screen, you’ll see three options for getting your sheet music into ScanScore: you can use a scanner, import files or use the app.

For this tutorial, we’re focusing on importing PDF files, so you’ll want to select the “Import image/PDF file.”

Find, select and open your file, and ScanScore will start scanning the image.   

IMAGE edit from PDF

#3 Correct as needed

Once ScanScore has finished scanning, you’ll see two side-by-side documents appear. On the left is the original score, and on the right is the new digital score to correct.

While no software can guarantee a 100% perfect read, if the quality of your file/scan is good, ScanScore gets really close.

ScanScore will highlight areas that it identifies as in need of correction with blue and purple lines.

Having found a part that needs to be corrected, you can zoom in to make the necessary corrections using ScanScore’s “drag and edit” toolbar.

One of ScanScore’s useful features is that when you zoom in on either the original or the new score, the other side will automatically zoom in at the same time. This provides you with an easy-to-use side-by-side view.

Pro-tip: Once the corrections are made, you can make a final check by having ScanScore play the score back to you using MIDI files. 

IMAGE export from PDF to xml

#4 Export in MusicXML

When you’re happy your new version is correct, you need to export it into the MusicXML file. This is the file type read by most notation editing software, including Finale.

To do this, simply go to the menu on the left-hand side and select the export to XML option. Then pick where you’d like to save the file and give it a name you’ll remember.

Pro-tip: When naming a file, we find this format works well: “piece_composer_part.” Here’s a quick example: “FugueGminor_JSBach_organ.”

#5 Open in Finale

Next, open up your Finale program and follow these steps:

  1. Go to “File”
  2. Select “MusicXML”
  3. Select “Import”
  4. Select your file

Finale should only take a few seconds to open up, and then you’ll be able to use the program to edit your score further.

Pro-tip: You can also open up the file in Finale by selecting the file in your finder and right-clicking. Then select “Open with…” and choose Finale in the program bar.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully imported a PDF file into Finale using ScanScore.

For more information about how to use ScanScore itself, check out our intro video.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why use a PDF to get sheet music? – PDF files are easily available online and can be purchased from many reputable online stores. These files can’t be lost or damaged in the same way that physical sheet music can.

Another benefit of PDF is that ScanScore generally reads these the best. Using PDF sheet music, you’ll get the fastest read with the fewest corrections needed.

Most notation programs do not read PDF sheet music, so it has previously been difficult to edit them. This is now possible with ScanScore.

Can ScanScore read any physical sheet music? – Pretty much, yeah! It reads all standard Western-style notation.

However, the number of staves you can scan in does depend on your subscription level for ScanScore. There are three options currently available.

The Melody version is the most affordable and reads one stave scores. You should find this is adequate for editing or transposing one part at a time.

Alternatively, our Ensemble version provides you with the ability to scan up to four staves per system. This is useful for smaller groups and choirs.

The Professional line costs the most but allows for scanning of up to 32 staves, perfect for full scores and composers.

Can’t I just use ScanScore to edit my music? – Not so much, ScanScore is best used in combination with another program.

ScanScore is an essential piece of your whole setup and can make everything much more efficient. It performs the functions of scanning, digitizing and basic playback really well. But for more advanced options, you will need a hefty notation software like Finale.

Here are some of the things you need these other programs for:

  • Layout
  • Transposition
  • Adding and removing parts
  • Specific instrument playback


We hope you’ve found this guide useful. Using ScanScore and following these steps should make your scanning much quicker when working this music notation giant.

Here are those steps once more:

  1. Download the programs
  2. Import the PDF
  3. Correct as needed
  4. Export as MusicXML
  5. Open in Finale

And have fun making music!

If you need any help, please head over to ScanScore support.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *