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.




  1. Locate the downloaded file and double-click on it to start the installer. Follow the instructions given to you by the installer; we recommend that you leave all the install options checked and use the default installation location. Click the ‘Finish’ button when the installer has completed. LilyPond is now installed.


To uninstall LilyPond either:

  1. Locate the LilyPond folder from the ‘Start’ menu and click on the ‘Uninstall’ icon. Click the ‘Finish’ button when the uninstaller has completed.
  2. Or from within the Control Panel, locate and select LilyPond and then choose the option to uninstall/remove the software. Click the ‘Finish’ button when the uninstaller has completed.

Running on the command-line

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

Windows on the command line

The most convenient way to run LilyPond is by adding the folder which contains LilyPond executable files to the environmental variable “Path”.

  1. Open your “System” on the Control Panel, select Advanced tab and click Environmental Variables button.
  2. Select the Variable “Path” from Environmental variables list and click the Edit button. You will be presented a window titled “Edit System Variable”; append to “Variable value” the name of the folder which contains LilyPond executable files like this:
    [pre-set paths];DIR\LilyPond\usr\bin

    Note: DIR will generally be C:\Program Files (x86) for 64 bit or C:\Program Files for 32 bit systems.

    and click “OK” button to close the window.

Invoking individual executable files

LilyPond executable files – such as lilypond, lilypond-book, convert-ly, and so on – can be run from the command-line by invoking them:


Compiling a file

Note: These instructions assume that you are using the built-in LilyPad editor. 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 LilyPond icon on your desktop and an example file will open.


From the menus that appear along the top of the example file, select File > Save as. Do not use the File > Save for the example file as this will not work until you have given it a valid LilyPond file name.


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


Step 2. Compile

To turn your LilyPond file into a music score, you need to compile it. This can be done a number of ways – using drag and drop, with right-click, double-clicking or using the command line (a DOS box). We’ll look at the first three to start with.

1. Drag-and-drop the file directly onto the LilyPond icon on the desktop.


Not much will seem to happen, but after a short while, you should see two new files on your desktop – ‘test.log’ and ‘test.pdf’.

2. Right-click on the file and from the pop-up context menu and choose Generate PDF.


3. Or simply double-click the ‘’.

Step 3. View output

test.pdf’ contains the engraved ‘’ file. Double-click it and it should open in your PDF viewer:


Other commands

To create a new file, begin by selecting File > New from within any previously created file or File > Open to open and edit any files you have saved before. You can also edit a file by right-clicking it and selecting Edit source.


You must save any edits you make before you try to compile your file. If the PDF file is not created or the output is not what you expected, check the log file that will have been created during the compilation attempt for any errors.


This log file is overwritten each time you compile your LilyPond file.

If you are viewing your file in a PDF viewer, then you must close the PDF if you wish to try a new compilation as it may fail to create the new PDF while it is still being viewed.




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