In Depth

Design Brief: forScore 13

| In Depth

Every year in the fall we release a forScore update in tandem with Apple’s own major OS revisions. This inevitably includes some slight visual changes and features new capabilities or user interface elements. In almost every situation, we strive to never get in the way or force people to change how they work. This year, however, we’re making some bolder decisions and wanted to take a little bit of time to explain what they are and why we’re doing them.


This spring we were fortunate to be able to get some feedback directly from Apple’s design team, offering us a unique perspective on the first impressions some of our users may have when getting started with forScore. This included minor visual concerns to bigger questions about certain areas where the complexity and flexibility forScore offers can overwhelm those who are just getting started.

We also added support for secondary windows to forScore 13, forcing us to consider which functions should be window-specific versus app-wide. Finally, Apple’s addition of pull-down menus in iOS 14 gave us new flexibility to tightly couple actions to specific content.

These three elements became the primary drivers of the usability changes we made, from minor visual tweaks to major revisions to forScore’s experience.

Display Options

With last year’s addition of page display modes and enhanced external display support, we introduced the Display Options overlay to give you quick access to frequently changed settings that affect page appearance, layout, and turning behavior. That interface became even more important this year with multi-window support, since each of these options can be adjusted independently for each window. Other features now behave this way and have been moved into the Display Options overlay as a result: Perform, Reflow, Face Gestures, and AirPods Pro gestures.

Title Bar

The biggest changes we made concern forScore’s title bar. Before, it featured two pages and customizable icons that provided quick access to many of forScore’s tools and settings. It offered a ton of flexibility if you knew about it, but it was generally undiscoverable, redundant, and space constrained.

Due to the expanded scope and importance of the Display Options overlay, and thanks to iOS 14’s addition of pull-down menus, we reworked the title bar and refocused it on two essential functions. On the left, the gear icon presents the Display Options overlay; although double-tapping the page provides easy access to this overlay at any time, the gear icon allows new users to discover it without having to memorize all of forScore’s gestures, and it provides a fallback access method for those who prefer to customize the double tap gesture.

On the right, the ellipsis button now provides access to content-specific options like sharing the current score or flagging the current page. With this reorganization, features are more clearly organized into three categories: window-specific (Display Options), content-specific (the ellipsis menu), or app-wide (the Tools menu).

Finally, iPadOS 15 introduces some enhancements to multitasking and window management and now places an ellipsis button at the top of every window—right in the middle—which overlaps important content if you use forScore’s settings panel to hide the status bar. To account for this, forScore’s title display labels are now left-aligned. In addition, full-screen panels like Links, Buttons, Rearrange, and Scan always show the status bar on iPadOS 15 to ensure that all controls are fully accessible.


When forScore’s title bar is hidden, tapping the top left or top right corner of the page acts as a shortcut and reopens the last menu you used on either side (scores, bookmarks, and setlist on the left, and search, audio utilities, and tools on the right). After an update inadvertently changed the last-saved choice for some users, we realized just how much confusion this was causing people. Those who never used the search panel or audio utilities thought this tap always opened the Tools menu and didn’t understand what was happening.

So the final change we made in forScore 13 is to make these corner taps optional and turn them off for all new users (and we removed references to it in all of our documentation, including the Quick Start guide). No one who already uses these gestures should notice anything, but if you reset your settings in the future and find that corner taps are no longer working, this is why.


In most of these cases, any functionality that has been removed as a result of these changes can restored using customizable gestures, shortcuts, or by changing the fourth items that appear on either side of the title bar when space permits. We know this won’t cover 100% of situations, but we think that in the end these are the right choices for providing a great forScore experience going forward.