There are about 650 published Sibelius plug-ins, of which 150 ship with Sibelius. A lot of people never use plug-ins. They can’t find them, or can’t install downloadable plug-ins, or can’t figure out which plug-in does what. This is unfortunate, because plug-ins could save them a lot of work.
A Working Set of Plug-ins
In Sibelius, plug-ins are organized by category and you run them by finding their names on a menu or by using a keyboard shortcut.
As an alternative, you can create a set of favorite plug-ins that you identify by name and find in the same place. I call this a working set. The plug-ins in the working set should be ones you use often and will be easily available when you need them.
A curated plug-in set is a working set of plug-ins chosen for certain groups of users. It can be based on instruments, such as harp or guitar, or it can be created for a specific project or a school class. A set consists of a zip file containing a text file of plug-in names that make up the set and a folder of downloaded plug-in files which will be installed on your machine.
The files needed to create a curated plugin set can be provided by a plug-in curator, who is an experienced Sibelius user who selects a set of plug-ins that would be useful. This could be a teacher, or a co-worker, or anyone else you trust who is comfortable choosing plug-ins.
To install a plug-in set you must have previously installed the downloadable plug-in Install New Plugin (category Other), which will copy the plug-in files to an appropriate location. If it is not yet installed, see the Of Note post Curated plug-in sets: Installing the first plug-in.
You will also need to run the downloadable plug-in My Plugins. This is included in the plug-in files folder, so it will be installed as part of the files installed by Install New Plugin.
Installing the curated set
The first step is to install any downloadable plug-ins in the set. The plug-ins are installed from a folder of plug-in files by Install New Plugins. This plug-in will copy all the files into a plug-in folder, and it will prevent any plug-ins that are already installed from being duplicated.
The second step is to import the list of plug-in names to My Plugins, which will then be used to run the plug-ins in the list.
As an example, let’s go through the steps of installing Harp Plugin Set, available at the link in my website.
Download the zip file, called Harp Plugin Set-date-.zip.
Your web browser may unzip these automatically, but if it does not, you may need a utility for this purpose. On Mac, simply double click on the archive to uncompress it. In Windows 7 and later, Windows Explorer will open with the unzipped available to be copied.
The unzipped file contains a folder, in this case Harp-Plugin-Set. Extract the folder to a temporary location on your computer where it will be easy for you to find. It will actually be simplest to extract it to your default Sibelius Scores folder, because that is where some of the tools will will use will look first.
When the installation is complete you can delete the entire temporary folder.
The folder you extracted will contain 2 files and a file folder:
Installing the Plug-in Files
Use the downloadable plug-in Install New Plugin to open this folder of files and install them so Sibelius can find them.
- You will want to create a new plug-in folder to hold the files you will import, so choose the button Create a new plug-in folder or choose an empty folder…. In the Subfolder name edit box type in Harp Plugin Set.
- Upon return, choose Get Folder of Plug-in Files…, which opens a browser dialog. It will open by default in your default Scores folder. You will first need to find the extracted folder Harp-Plugin-Set. If you extracted that folder to the Scores folder, it would be easy to find, otherwise you will need to navigate to find it. Open Harp-Plugin-Set to find the folder of plug-ins Harp Plugins. Select it and choose Select Folder.
The plug-in will copy the files in the folder to the user Harp Plugin Set subfolder.
If a plug-in in the folder is already installed on your machine, you will see a warning message, which will also be written to the plug-in Trace window. The previously installed plug-in will not be replaced.
When the folder is copied, you will need to close and restart Sibelius to be able to use the plug-ins. After restarting, look in the appropriate Plug-ins menu to see that they are available.
- In Sibelius 6 look in Plugins > Harp Plugin Set
- In Sibelius 7+ look in Home > Plug-ins> Harp Plugin Set
The Harp Plugins folder includes the My Plugins plugin, so you will not need to install it if it had not been installed already. (If My Plugins had been installed you will get a warning from Install New Plugin, which you can safely ignore). My Plugins is not part of the list in Harp Plugins.txt, since My Plugins will have no need to run itself.
Importing the file of plug-in names to My Plugins
Assuming the plug-ins were correctly installed, set up My Plugins to use them. Run My Plugins and click on Customize.
To run any of these plug-ins in My Plugins click in the list or type the first number of letter in the list entry and then click on Run Plugin. (Note that is is not possible to double-click a plugin name in the list to run it). If you assign a keyboard shortcut to My Plugins in File > Preferences> Keyboards Shortcuts>Plug-ins>My Plugins, you will be able to run it without having to find it on a menu, and you can run any plug-in on the list without needing to know where it is installed.
My Plugins will remember this new list whenever you run it.
At this point you might want to clean up the installation. You could delete the temporary Curated folder and its contents, and delete the import text file Harp Plugins.txt from your Scores folder.
You will not need to customize again unless you want to change the list of plug-ins to run. You now have a curated working set of plug-ins, and if your curator did a good job, your work in Sibelius should become easier!
Appendix: How a curator creates a folder of plug-in files and a plug-in name list (if you are not a curator, you do not need to read this!)
Decide which plug-ins (shipping and downloadable) you wish to make available. You can choose up to 35 of them (the limit is because there is a 1 character shortcut for each plug-in, 1-9 and A-Z).
Creating a folder of plug-in files
- Decide which downloadable plug-ins you want to make available, and create a distribution folder of plug-in files (extension .plg).
- If you know your own plug-ins are up-to-date, copy them from your personal plug-ins folder into your distribution folder. If you are not sure, get the most current versions of the plug-ins from the download page.
- In Sib 7 or later, install plug-ins into a distribution folder with File>Plug-ins>Install Plugins.
- Go to All Plugins, and choose the first plug-in you want to provide.
- In Location, choose Other, and choose a new folder name for your distribution folder so installed plug-ins will go into that folder.
- Install that plug-in to your folder.
- Install more plug-ins, each time ensuring that the Location chosen is your new folder. Be careful – the installer will change back to its default location whenever it can, so check the Other checkbox each time, and it will work well.
- Include My Plugins in the folder of plug-ins; having it there will save your user from having to install it separately. My Plugins should not appear in the text file of plug-in names (otherwise it would just run itself which is not that useful).
- In Sibelius 6 or earlier, download the plug-ins you want from the plug-in download page, and unzip them into your distribution folder.
- When you have all your plug-ins, move the plug-in files to a different folder outside the user plug-in folder tree. You can delete the folder you created or reuse it as a holder for other plug-in sets.
- Close and restart Sibelius, or it will think those plug-ins are installed. Give the folder of plug-in files a name that includes the date created, such as HarpPlugins-2016-03-12, so you will be able to tell later if it needs to be updated. You will need to check periodically that the plug-in files you are offering are the most current versions. It is not hard to recreate a set if you are using Sibelius 7+.
Creating a text file of plug-in menu names
- Be sure all the plug-ins you want in the list are installed on your machine.
- Run My Plugins and choose Customize.
- If you want to preserve your own current list, click on Trace list on the far right to trace the list of plug-in names in your Current set Save these to a text file, and import that file after you are done.
- Click in Clear list to start fresh. Add all the plug-ins you want to appear in the Current set Sort the list or arrange the plug-ins by priority, or both.
- Click on Trace list. This will write these names to the plug-in Trace Copy these lines of text from the Trace window and paste them into a text file. Give it a name that corresponds to the plug-in files, such as Harp-Plugins-2016-03-16.txt.
- The names of plug-ins are language specific, so you need to produce a file appropriate to the language of the target audience.
- When My Plugins is run using this file, it will warn the user if any plug-ins in the list are not installed, and such plug-ins will not be added to the current set list.