Note: LilyPond is a text-based music engraver; it is more similar to a programming language than a graphical score editing program. Before downloading LilyPond, please read about our Text input.




Double-click the downloaded file, then drag it to wherever you want.


Delete the folder.

Running on the command-line

Note: If you are happy with the GUI instructions below, then please ignore these instructions.

MacOS X on the command line

The most convenient way to run lilypond scripts is by setting up “helper” scripts of your own.

  1. Create a directory to store these scripts,
    mkdir -p ~/bin
    cd ~/bin
  2. Create a file called lilypond which contains
    exec DIR/ "$@"

    Note: DIR will generally be /Applications/

  3. Create similar files lilypond-book, convert-ly, and any other scripts you wish to use, by replacing the bin/lilypond with bin/convert-ly (or other program name).
  4. Make the file executable,
    chmod u+x lilypond
  5. Now, add this directory to your path. Modify (or create) a file called .profile in your home directory such that it contains
    export PATH=$PATH:~/bin

    This file should end with a blank line.

Invoking individual scripts

The scripts — such as lilypond-book, convert-ly, abc2ly, and even lilypond itself — are included inside the .app file for MacOS X.

Scripts can also be run from the command line by invoking them directly:


The same is true for all other scripts in that directory, such as lilypond-book and convert-ly.

Compiling a file

Note: These instructions assume that you are using the LilyPond application. If you are using any of the programs described in Easier editing, consult the documentation for those programs should you have any problems.

Step 1. Create your ‘.ly’ file

Double click the, an example file will open.


From the menus along the top left of your screen, select File > Save.


Choose a name for your file, for example ‘’.


Step 2. Compile (with LilyPad)

From the same menus, select Compile > Typeset.


A new window will open showing a progress log of the compilation of the file you have just saved.


Step 3. View output

Once the compilation has finished, a PDF file will be created with the same name as the original file and will be automatically opened in the default PDF viewer and displayed on your screen.


Other commands

To create new files for LilyPond, begin by selecting File > New


or File > Open to open and edit existing files you have saved previously.


You must save any new edits you make to your file before you Compile > Typeset and if the PDF file is not displayed check the window with the progress log for any errors.

If you are not using the default Preview PDF viewer that comes with the Mac Operating system and you have the PDF file generated from a previous compilation open, then any further compilations may fail to generate an update PDF until you close the original.



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