Importing a PDF into Dorico? It’s Simple with ScanScore

Working with PDF files in Dorico has previously presented a huge challenge… but with ScanScore these difficulties are overcome.

Find out everything you need to know about how to scan PDF files (quickly and easily) into Dorico using ScanScore in this post… 

Steinberg first started work on their notation editing software, Dorico, in 2016. The resulting software is perfect for the modern-day composer, bringing together:

  • easy-to-use tools
  • high-quality playback
  • excellent customization tools

But, as with many notation programs, Dorico has trouble reading PDF files. And it was in response to this type of issue that ScanScore was first developed. Excitingly, ScanScore makes it easy to scan PDF files into Dorico for editing.

Please see our instructions below to help you scan PDFs into Dorico. (These steps may sound a little tricky at first but with practice, the process is simple to do and you’ll be able to import your PDFs in minutes.) 

If you need any further support, please go to ScanScore Support. 

Step By Step Instructions

#1 Program download/update

Make sure you have both programs downloaded and updated. (We suggest checking once a month to make sure you have the programs updated to the newest versions.) 

Dorico is available for Windows and Mac computers. ScanScore is only available on Windows at the moment. You can also download app versions from the Google Play Store and the App Store for Apple devices.

Note: The ScanScore Capture app is free to download, but has a safety measure built in to stop unauthorized users from using it. This safety measure is a “QR code” which you will see on your desktop version. Before using the app, you will need to scan in the code.

IMAGE ScanScore how to scan

#2 Import the PDF using ScanScore

Once you have your chosen PDF file, open up ScanScore. 

In the menu, you will see four buttons. Select the button labeled “Import from image/PDF file” and choose your file. ScanScore will now digitize your file into a notation file.

IMAGE edit from PDF

#3 Edit mistakes

Once ScanScore has uploaded the file, two versions of the score will be displayed on your screen next to each other. The left-hand side shows the original PDF, the right-hand side shows the scanned version for editing. 

Although ScanScore’s programming is advanced, no program can read a score image with a 100% accuracy. However, ScanScore makes it easy to identify and correct errors. And one way it does this is by underlining potential errors in purple and blue. 

Once you’ve found an area to fix, drag a box over the area and use the toolbar to correct the notes. 

ScanScore allows you to correct pitches, rhythms, accidentals, layout (to a certain degree), style markings and other errors. 

For final proofing, we recommend you use the playback function to listen and watch both versions track side by side. This will help you find any mistakes you’ve missed.

Note: ScanScore also has a helpful zoom function. When zooming in on one version, you’ll see the other side zooms in to the same spot too. This allows you to make an in-depth comparison very easily. 

IMAGE export from PDF to xml

#4 Export to MusicXML

When you have made the necessary corrections, the new ScanScore score will match the original PDF. You are now ready to export your work into a MusicXML file.  

This file type is the go-to for music score reading. It contains a lot more than just visual information, including pitches, instruments, layout, meter, style markings, tempo and much more. 

You will find exporting to MusicXML is simple in ScanScore.

Simply go to the menu on the left and select the “Export” button. Now you choose where to save, and what to name, the MusicXML file. 

Pro-tip: To find your file easily in the future, we suggest using the following method to name it: “piece_composer_part.” Example: “FugueGminor_JSBach_organ.” 

#5 Import MusicXML file into Dorico

In this last step, you will import your MusicXML file into Dorico for editing. 

Open up the Dorico program and in the main hub, select the “Open other…” option. 

Next, use the navigator to find and open your file. 

After a few moments, Dorico reads and opens up the file. Now you can edit the score using all the features of this powerful notation software. 

And that’s all there is to it!

You can find more information about using ScanScore in this video. 


Will ScanScore read any PDF sheet music? – Yes! ScanScore reads all standard Western-style notation. 

The accuracy of the scan depends on the quality image in the PDF, but ScanScore’s easy-to-use tools will help you edit and correct any mistakes.

Also, be aware that there are three ScanScore subscription options you can choose from: 

  • The Melody option is the most affordable, but it can only read one stave scores. 
  • Ensemble has the capacity to scan up to 4 staves.
  • Professional is the more expensive option but handles almost any full score and up to 32 staves. 

Why can’t I just edit the score in ScanScore? – You can to a certain degree. However, the highly-advanced scanning programming in ScanScore takes up a lot of data and scanning is its main function. ScanScore’s editing capacity is, therefore, more limited. 

On the other hand, notation programs like Dorico use their computing power for specific notation editing features like: 

  • Layout
  • Transposition
  • Parts
  • Specific instrument playback
  • Customization of parts

ScanScore can do basic editing and playback (quite well, actually) but it needs to work with another program like Dorico for the best work. 

And the same is true the other way. Dorico is great at music editing and playback, but it doesn’t work with PDFs or scan sheet music easily. 

So, the two programs (ScanScore for scanning and a more heavy-duty notation software like Dorico) work well together in combination – each complementing the other.


We hope you have found this short guide helpful. The steps aren’t tricky once practiced and we think you’ll be amazed at how well ScanScore can streamline your music writing process. 

Here are the steps again quickly: 

  1. Program download/update
  2. Import the PDF using ScanScore
  3. Edit mistakes
  4. Export to MusicXML
  5. Import XML into Dorico

You can find more information about using ScanScore with Dorico in our post: 5 Steps to Scanning Sheet Music into Dorico with ScanScore.

If you would like any further information or support, please go to ScanScore Support.

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