Finale v26.1 release

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”  ~Goethe

MakeMusic just announced the release of version 26.1 of Finale. This is a solid point release update which refines new features introduced since the initial release of Finale v26 in October of 2018 and earlier, and also squashes some bugs which were affecting productivity for some users, as well as improvements for MusicXML and SmartMusic.

Here’s a quick look:

Auto-Stacking Articulations were a focus of the initial Finale 26 release, and this update takes the feature up a notch:

Articulation Centering

Articulations that normally center on-stem when stem-side now properly center relative to the notehead if there is also a notehead-centered articulation present on stem-side:

The staccato marks when by themselves are positioned centered on stem:

However, when an accent or another articulation is added to the same note, the pair of articulations now centers with the notehead together, providing a correctly balanced placement of the articulation pair:

Articulations Applied to Layers

Behavior of articulations are now also smarter when Layers are being used. Articulations with their positioning set to Above Note will now avoid collisions with articulations in other layers when Place stem side when multiple layers are present is checked in the Articulation Designer dialog box.

Set the vertical positioning of the articulation to Above Note and check “Place stem side when multiple layers are present”:

…when a new Layer is introduced causing the stems to flip, the Above Note articulations position themselves correctly stem side.

…Note that this works even if the layers are not following the stem direction rules in Document Options > Layers:

These are both great improvements to the evolving articulations feature of Finale.

There is only one articulation placement wish remaining on my personal list now: the ability to apply the same Auto-Note-Stem-Side articulations to both regular notation and rhythmic notation, and have these appear properly positioned (above) on rhythmic notation, rather than below the staff. Common practice for rhythmic notation (except in very rare circumstances) is stems down, and any associated articulations above the staff.

But for now, I greatly appreciate the two major improvements to articulation placement which were included in this update.

Positioning of Tremolo articulations

According to the documentation,  “Patterson Plug-ins Lite which ships with Finale has been updated to display improved visual results when running the plug-in on a beam group with on-stem tremolo articulations”.

I’m assuming the documentation refers to the Patterson Beams plugin in the set? It really isn’t clear in the documentation.

There is a daunting display of user controls in the Patterson Beams plugin dialog; designed for tweaking only by bonafide professional engravers. In a quick test, I was able to get great looking results when applying the plugin to tremolo on beamed notes in a single layer. With two layers, though, not so much; the stems were much too short; colliding with the beams or notes. I don’t remember this being a problem in the previous version of Finale.

Again, because of the documentation, I’m not even sure Patterson Beams is the plugin which was updated, though!

I tried a couple of tweaks with no luck, and it wasn’t long before I had no idea what the optimal settings of this plugin are supposed to be.

A Reset to Defaults button to the Patterson Beams plugin dialog would be helpful  for novice users, and experts alike.

Also, some more documentation about how to take advantage of the new  “improved visual results”  would be most welcome.


There have been a number of improvements in the area of MusicXML:

⦁ Linked parts are automatically generated when importing a MusicXML file.

⦁ Repeat endings (backward and forward) and text repeat marks appear in all linked parts when exported and re-imported into Finale.

⦁ Tempo marks, tempo alterations, and rehearsal marks appear in all linked parts when exported and re-imported into Finale.

⦁ Page sizes and margins, system breaks, and page-attached text are accurately exported and reimported into Finale when exporting compressed MusicXML files with the export linked parts option set. When the MusicXML preference for including linked parts in the export is off, the linked parts use the page layout settings specified in the default file.


Finale’s companion product for education, SmartMusic has historically relied on Finale for content creation, with interested educators able to create their own SmartMusic content.

Back on February 28th of this year, it was announced that the classic SmartMusic file format would be retired in favor of a web-based file format beginning August 31, 2020.

In support of this evolution, Finale v26.1 can now convert files created in the classic .SMP and .SMPX file formats to a new file type (.SMZ) that can be read by the new web-based SmartMusic.

There is a new Convert menu option in the File Menu to facilitate this.


There have been a number of fixes to this version, in the areas of Playback, Memory use, MusicXML, Support Files, Templates and more.

I worked with this latest version for several hours on a large orchestral score project, and everything seems solid and fast, and I’m really enjoying the new articulation placement enhancements.

If you already own Finale 26, it’s a free update, so updating is a no-brainer. It’s good to see MakeMusic focusing on improving on the auto-stacking articulations with this incremental update.

And, if you’ve been holding out with an older version of Finale, it’s definitely time to take a look, if your computer supports it:

Finale for Windows® (version 26)

Windows 7 SP1/Windows 8 or 8.1/Windows 10 (64-bit only)
4 GB of RAM minimum
1280×800 minimum monitor resolution
Internet connection for installer download and authorization
1 GB hard drive space required for software with an additional 8 GB hard drive space required for Garritan Instruments for Finale
ASIO, DirectSound, or WASAPI audio support

Finale for Macintosh® (version 26)

macOS 10.12 Sierra/10.13 High Sierra/10.14 Mojave
4 GB RAM Minimum
1280×800 minimum monitor resolution
Internet connection required for installer download and authorization
1 GB hard drive space required for software with an additional 8 GB hard drive space required for Garritan Instruments for Finale
CoreAudio or ASIO audio support

A full list of improvements and fixes in Finale v.26.1 is available from MakeMusic’s web site for both Mac and Windows.

I also want to use a few sentences to promote NotePerformer 3 for Finale. Software updates are always at least partially, a sort of face-lift, and new sounds definitely can be an inspiration to the creative process.

If you don’t already own NotePerformer, I highly recommend you download the free 30 day demo. Although still officially in beta for Finale, I’ve been using it with Finale 26 for several months and it has been really stable and the sounds are great. There is a 1 second latency when using the transport to play back your score, but trust me, you won’t care when creating and saving a fabulous sounding demo mockup of your score.

All in all, this seems to be a solid, stable update with a focus on some needed improvements. Recommended.


Finale Blog

Scoring Notes Review

Finale 26.1 MusicXML Updates

One Reply to “Finale v26.1 release”

  1. Thanks for the review, very helpful. The $99 price tag is very tempting, even on my starving grad student’s budget. Your info is very helpful in my decision.

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