StaffPad Frequently Asked Questions

Let's take a look at some of the most common questions about StaffPad. Remember, you can always get in touch with us if your question isn't answered here.

Is StaffPad available for iOS/Android?

Not at this time. StaffPad is exclusively designed for Windows 10.

But, why not?

We know that many of you probably already own an iPad, and at first glance StaffPad might seem like the ideal app for it. However, we simply couldn't build StaffPad the way we wanted to on iPad.

The reason is fairly simple: StaffPad couldn't exist without a great pen experience. The iPad lacks the screen technology which makes an app like StaffPad possible. There's many other technical reasons why StaffPad wouldn't be as useful or as functional on iPad, and we felt that the only way to really make this app shine was not to compromise.

Is StaffPad compatible with my device?

That depends. We designed StaffPad to work best with the Surface 3, Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4. However, if you own a device which has support for an active digitiser, you can probably use StaffPad with it. To check if your device has pen support, use the search bar and type in "pen". An option should come up to view "Pen and Touch" info - and if you see no mention of pen in that dialog, then your device isn't compatible and won't run StaffPad.

You can usually do a quick web search as well to find out if your device is compatible with an active pen. Please note that it HAS to be an active pen, made by Microsoft, Wacom, N-Trig or Synaptics. A regular passive/capactitive stylus won't work with the app at all.

Is StaffPad only available for the Microsoft Surface?

StaffPad is a Windows 10 app, which you download from the Windows Store, meaning it will run on any compatible device - not just the Surface. For a device to be compatible, it must support pen and touch. There are many Windows devices out there that will work with StaffPad, but you should check with the manufacturer before getting StaffPad that you have the right hardware.

That being said, we designed StaffPad to work best with Surface. It's thin, light, extremely powerful and has a great pen. The additional RAM and fast CPU mean we can bump up the quality of the sound library, and the larger high resolution screen means you can see more of your score and in greater detail.

Simply put: the technology available in the Surface allowed us to take a no-compromises approach to building StaffPad, and we believe it offers the best experience available.

Where do I get StaffPad?

StaffPad is available exclusively in the Windows Store.

How much is it?

Pricing varies by territory - it's best to check the price in the Windows Store for the most up to date pricing.

Who is StaffPad for?

When designing StaffPad, we felt that we should focus on the composer first. We weren't interested in trying to replicate existing notation packages, since they work very well for what they do. Instead, we wanted to create something that was simple and intuitive enough that composers could focus on writing music - nothing else.

In the process, we realised that StaffPad was also hugely appealing to musicians, students, teachers and hobbyists who might want to write their ideas down but don't have the inclination or reason to invest valuable time and money in one of the major notation packages.

StaffPad focuses on the most common notation cases, and is designed for quickly and efficiently writing music without complex engraving options getting in the way. Advanced engraving techniques, like feathered beams, nested tuplets, microtonal notation and other notation systems other than SWN are not the focus of StaffPad.

Can I write lyrics with StaffPad?

Yes - lyrics were added in an update shortly after release. StaffPad supports multiple verse, and quick entry via the onscreen keyboard.

What about chord symbols?

You can enter chord symbols by inserting text above the staff. However, we plan on much more in-depth and intuitive support for chord symbols in the near future.

Is there any way of running StaffPad on a Mac?

Techncially, yes. You can install Parallels Desktop for Mac, or another VM solution - or use Bootcamp - to run Windows on your Mac. You'll need a peripheral to give you pen and touch support, such as those made by Wacom. I've run StaffPad on a Mac Pro, running Bootcamp with a Wacom Cintiq 27QHD Touch. It's an extremely nice experience :)

Can I purchase a USB pen tablet and use StaffPad with my desktop PC?

You can purchase a USB pen tablet, such as the Wacom Bamboo, and use it with StaffPad. However, the experience of writing on a separate graphics tablet, which sits on your desk, is very different to that of writing directly onto the screen. The cognitive distance of writing on the desk, but looking at the screen can be quite awkward, although it gets easier with practice. Still, the most natural experience is to write directly onto the screen. You could get a Wacom Cintiq Touch, if you're looking for a desktop display that will work with StaffPad.

What are some of the features that StaffPad offers?

StaffPad is a powerful application. Here’s just a few of the included features:

  1. Advanced handwriting recognition for music notation
  2. Detailed score playback, with a full orchestral sample library included
  3. Support for most common musical symbols
  4. Write for unlimited staves
  5. MIDI/MusicXML import/export
  6. Automatic layout with intelligent music spacing
  7. Printed score support, plus print auto-formatted, individual parts for each musician
  8. Transposing score support
  9. Easy sharing capabilities
  10. An innovative “Expression” layer, which allows fine-tuning of instrument dynamics
  11. A freehand sketch layer for quick markings, comments and brainstorming of ideas
  12. Write music in up to 4 independent voices.
  13. Sync scores with OneDrive
  14. Step back in time with score versions
  15. Organise scores into collections, for easier management
  16. Additional instruments available in the in-app store
  17. A voice activated composer-assistant
    18. Intelligent “Quick Symbols”, including trills, tremolos, multi-note tremolos, glisses, portamentos, fermatas, reheasral marks, arpeggios and more.
  18. Beautifully fluid, smooth score navigation
  19. Intelligent, predictive text engine for quicker and smarter text entry
  20. Intuitive score editing - easily add/remove bars, quickly copy/paste/repeat, transpose selections and more.
I can't write music notation. Can StaffPad teach me?

StaffPad assumes a basic level of knowledge with music notation. The video tutorials that are included focus mostly on how to get the most out of the app, rather than music theory. However, the app can be an amazing learning tool, especially when combined with a music course or video lessons online. For students, this app can really enhance the musical ear, technical ability and freedom to write.

Can I record my microphone with this the app?

Not at this time. StaffPad is designed purely for writing notation, not for audio recording and editing.

Can I plug in a MIDI keyboard?

No - StaffPad is a pen-first application, meaning that the point of the app is to obviate the need for lots of peripherals like MIDI keyboards, or even traditional QWERTY keyboards. All you need is your Surface and it’s pen... it means you can write anywhere!

Does StaffPad work with other notation programs?

Absolutely. You can import existing scores via MusicXML or MIDI files, and you can export scores to those formats just as easily, which can be read by all the major notation and DAW software packages available today.

Can I print my scores?

Of course! Not only can you print your score, but you can also choose to print each individual instrument part as well. You can go from sketching, to putting down sheet music in front of musicians in just a couple of taps. You don’t have to worry about anything - all the layout work and formatting is done automatically.

Is there a free trial available?

Not currently... There's many complex reasons that prevent this, mostly around distribution and licensing, etc.

What are the minimum requirements?

StaffPad will run on any Windows 10 device with pen and touch. Of course, the size of the score you can write and play back is dependent on the speed of your device's CPU, RAM and disk. Although our engine is very efficient, large scores are taxing on your CPU. We recommend the i5 Surface Pro 4 for an optimal experience.

Does StaffPad work with Windows 8.1?

StaffPad is a Windows 10 app, meaning that it's been written specifically to take advantage of technologies and APIs found only in Windows 10. Windows 8 is no longer supported.

Although we originally designed StaffPad for Windows 8, we had to completely redesign the app for Windows 10 systems. Since Windows 10 is a free update for everyone from Windows 8, and since Win 10 adds many useful features, we decided to focus our energies and make StaffPad a Windows 10 app only, from this point on. This means we can allocate all our time and resources into using the latest technologies, and make the best app we can for the most up-to-date platform.

Does StaffPad do guitar tablature?

Not currently. Guitar tab is a numerical based system, which is pretty fast to enter on a keyboard. It's also very specific to guitar, and there's a lot of tablature programs out there already available which do the job very well. We wanted to focus on writing music notation, rather than a tab system, and push things forward in that area.