Convert Finale files to PDF

How to create a PDF file of a music score: PDF files allow you to share electronic copies of your music scores with people who do not have Finale and do not wish to install additional software (such as Finale Reader).


You will need to install a separate PDF converter (also called a PDF writer). The good news is the software can convert all your electronic documents, not just Finale files. Download a PDF converter (see list below for some suggestions) and install it on your computer.

List of PDF converters


  • CutePDF Writer [Installation hint: Two files are need for this installation. Make sure you download and install both of them.]
  • doPDF
  • Pdf995 [Not recommended: includes advertising and pop-ups]
  • PDFCreator [Most capable of the free coverters]
  • PDF Redirect
  • PrimoPDF

Not Free

Many of the products below offer advanced features for PDF editing. For simple .MUS to .PDF conversion the free programs (above) work fine.

Using the PDF converter

Make sure you have installed a PDF converter first (see above). Although there are variations between PDF converters most will work with one of the methods outlined below. The First Method is only necessary for Finale 2007 or earlier and requires a capable PDF converter such as PDFCreator. Finale 2008 produces quality output using either method.

  1. Open up the .MUS file you want to convert
  2. From the menu bar in Finale select File > Compile PostScript Listing
  3. Press Compile and select a location to save the PostScript file
  4. Open your new PostScript file with your PDF converter

If step 4 poses a problem make sure your PDF converter is set to automatically recognize PostScript (.PS) files.

Instructions for PDFCreator: (1) Open PDFCreator from the programs menu, (2) Select Printer > Options, (3) Go to "General Settings 2," (4) Click the button that reads "Associate PDFCreator with postscript files." When you open a PostScript file it should now convert to a PDF automatically as described in the last step.

If you are using Finale 2007 or older then this method will produce PDF files that look better on your screen and are more cross-compatible than PDF files created using the second method outlined below.

Second method (Not recommended for Finale 2007 or older)

  1. Open up the .MUS file you want to convert
  2. From the menu bar in Finale select File > Print
  3. Your new PDF converter should be listed as a "printer." Select the PDF converter as your chosen printer, and press Print.
  4. The converter may ask you where to save the new PDF and what to call it. After a few moments, it will create a new PDF file for you

When you "print" using the PDF converter it will create a PDF file on your computer rather than printing onto paper. If you are using Finale 2007 or older than the staff lines may vary in thickness when viewed on-screen, but it should still print out correctly. If this is a concern, then the First Method (above) will produce a higher quality PDF on Windows.

Note: you can use the second method to convert other files types such as word or text files, etc.

Possible issues

Funny characters instead of note heads

First make sure your PDF converter is set to embed fonts. Also note that the first method will have less problems than the second. If you are using the first method you should also make sure "Include fonts in listing" is marked on the Compile PostScript Listing dialog. Both these setting should be enabled by default. "Embedding" or "including" fonts allows you to share the file with others so that they can view the file properly even if they do not have the "Maestro" or "Jazz" fonts installed.

If you send the file to someone (who doesn't have Finale installed) and they complain of funny characters instead instead of note heads, make sure this option is turned on under your converter's preferences. In some PDF converters, this is referred to as "print-quality" (select the highest quality). Others will have a specific option such as "embed all fonts".

Combining files into one PDF (e.g. a multi-movement work)

PDFCreator has this capability built in (read about the "Wait-Collect" button in PDFCreator at this FAQ) as do many of the advanced PDF editors. You may find it more convenient to use a separate program such as PDF Blender.


Convert the other way: from .PDF to .MUS

This is more difficult for a computer to do. You would need to use "music scanning software" (such as SmartScore or SharpEye). The accuracy of the conversion will depend on the quality of the PDF file and the abilities of your music scanning software. If the PDF file was created directly from a music program, rather than a scanned image from paper, I would also recommend looking at PDFtoMusic.

David Bolton, May 2007 (Updated July 2007, January 2008, November 2008)