SongBook macOS 4.6 Songs and Chords

Available on the App Store

screenshotInstallation And Upgrade

SongBook runs on all 64-bit Macs with macOS/OS X 10.13 or higher. It is optimized for macOS Ventura and Apple Silicon. You can download and install SongBook from the Mac App Store. You can find the version history at the end of this page.

At first program start, you need to select the directory where your songs will be stored. The default is <Documents>\SongBook. You can change the song directory at any time with the "..." button next to the category dropdown. To synchronize your songs with SongBook for iOS or other platforms, simply select your Dropbox/SongBook folder as the song folder. See this video for details.


SongBook consists of a single window with three areas: the song list, the song view, and the song editor. You can switch on/off any of these areas with the View selector in the upper right or via the view menu. Almost all functions have keyboard shortcuts (see menu).

Where To Find Songs For SongBook

SongBook understands the widespread chordpro format where chords are written in square brackets within the lyrics. It can also work with tab files. Unfortunately, we cannot provide songs on this site due to copyright restrictions. However, the Internet has huge archives of songs in chordpro format: simply type the song name and file extension pro, chopro or chordpro into your favorite search engine in your browser, e.g. "song title chordpro" or "song title tab", then copy/paste the song text into a new song in SongBook.

The built-in SongBook editor can also help with converting tab files (chords are written on separate lines above the lyrics). To use songs stored in Pages, Word or TextEdit, convert or save them in plain text (*.txt) format, then copy the text file into the SongBook folder.

You can also easily create your own songs. Just write the lyrics as usual and insert the chord names in square brackets at the appropriate positions as in the following example:

[Em]Alas, my [G]love, you [D]do me [Bm]wrong,

SongBook will render this as:

Alas, my love, you do me wrong,

Cloud Sync

You can synchronize your song collection across devices using Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive (consumer only), or Nextcloud. Install the respective cloud sync app from their web site, then select the folder SongBook (upper case S and B) in My Drive/OneDrive/Nextcloud as your song folder (with the "..." button next to the category dropdown). Link and sync SongBook Android or SongBook iOS with your cloud account in Settings. See this video for details.

You can also sync SongBook Mac and SongBook iOS with any folder in iCloud Drive.


Song List

The song list displays title, subtitle and key of all songs currently in your SongBook folder. You can filter by category (sub folder), and sort the list by title, subtitle or key. Use the search box at the bottom to search for songs with a certain title, subtitle or text. Use the "..." button next to the category dropdown to change the main SongBook folder. Hold down the Alt-Key and click on the "..." button to open Finder with the current song folder.

Right-click (or Ctrl-click) on a song to change it's category, add it to one or more playlists, delete it, or reveal it's location and file name in Finder.

To add songs to SongBook select menu File - Open, or drag-and-drop files to the song list. SongBook will watch for changes in the SongBook folder and automatically refresh the song list, so you can also work with other programs directly in this folder.

You can export indivdual songs in Tab, RTF or HTML format via the File - Export menu.

Note: you can show/hide the Song List via View - Song List.

Song View

The song view displays the current song with lyrics and chords. Click on a chord to look up the chord definitions. Chord, lyrics and tab font and color can be changed in Preferences. You can also quickly increase/decrease the font size with the zoom slider, or via the View - Zoom menu. The song will be re-formatted according to the current size. When you select View - Zoom - Auto-Zoom, SongBook will try to show the song as large as possible so that it still fits on the screen without scrolling.

SongBook will automatically display a song in multiple columns, if it fits on the screen without scrolling and all lines of the lyrics are short enough.


To start/stop automatic scrolling, select on View - Auto-Scroll - Start/Stop. Use the Auto-Scroll menu to accelerate/decelerate until you find the right speed. If you want, you can save the current playing time in the song, so it will automatically be preset the next time you open the song.


With menu View - Transpose, SongBook lets you transpose a song to a different key by automatically adjusting all chords. The transposition is only temporary. To permanently change the chords in the song, select menu View - Transpose - Update Song.

Alternatively you can directly transposes parts of the song by selecting it in the song editor and then transposing it with the context menu Transpose Selection Up/Down.

You can use the Capo button to define a fret for a capo. This works just like a transpose down the same number of steps, but will show a Capo: ... indicator at the beginning of the song.

Note that if the song contains special chord definitions, these will usually no longer be valid after transposing.

In the Transpose menu, you can convert song chords into the Nashville Numbering System which will convert all chord names into number 1,2,3... This only works if a key is set in the song (with Set Key from the menu). If a song is already in Nashville Number format, you can convert it back into regular chords (again based on the defined key). Chord lookup will work as usual based on the Nashville Numbers and the given key.

Link With Music

If you want to play along with a music background, you can link to an MP3 file with menu File - Music - Link with music. This will copy the MP3 into the SongBook folder and insert a {musicpath: ...} statement into the song. Use File - Music - Play to play the linked music with a built-in mini music player. Music linked this way will also play in SongBook Android, iOS or Windows. Songs that have linked music are marked with a ♫ symbol in the song list.


SongBook features a simple metronome. You can save the selected metronome tempo in the song (as {metronome: ...}). You can select ticks and/or a flash or count-in with the settings icon in the metronome toolbar.

If the song contains a {time: 3/4} directive or similar, the metronome will sound with an up-time beat, and the number will also be used for count-in.


SongBook supports MIDI. When MIDI is activated in menu SongBook, SongBook will connect to all input and output sources on the MIDI bus.

You can select a song with a MIDI command by inserting a directive {midi-index: <command>, <command>,...} in the song. You can also send certain MIDI commands when opening a song by inserting {midi: <command>,<command>,...} in the song.

The general MIDI command syntax is <id><MSB>.<LSB>:<subvalue>@<channel> (see table below). However, in most cases it is easier to just select the MIDI command from the list of last received commands (via menu in song editor, or for up/down pedal in Settings).

NNote (On/Off)N60
PCProgram ChangePC6
CCControl Change/Bank SelectCC100.10
SSSong SelectSS99
PAUSEPause milliseconds before sending next command PAUSE10
XX.XX.XX...Arbitrary bytes (e.g. System Exclusive)F0.

For testing, write {midi: N60} anywhere in the song. This will play a C1 note on a connected keyboard whenever you display this song. Alternatively, if you have {midi-index: N60} anywhere in the song, this song will be displayed whenever you play a C1 on the keyboard.

Note: MIDI is a very complex topic. Unfortunately we're not able to help with specific questions about MIDI setup or MIDI commands.

Tab files

Songs that are not in chordpro format, i.e. don't have a {title: } or {t: } directive are considered tab files. Unlike chordpro files, tab files have separate lines for the chords, like

 Em       G         D     Bm Alas, my love, you do me wrong,

To have fixed chord positions regardless of font preferences, SongBook renders tab files with a fixed font (also in the editor). SongBook will automatically recognize chords within the tab file, render them in chord color, transpose them or let you look up the chord fingering. You can switch off tab support in Settings. The song editor lets you convert songs in tab format to chordpro format by inlining the chords with lyrics.

PDF documents

SongBook can display PDF documents. It will always show a single page at a time, or two pages in landscape mode. You can reference PDFs in playlists. However, PDFs cannot be zoomed, edited, tagged, transposed etc. To import PDFs into SongBook, use Finder to copy them into the SongBook folder.


Song Editor

You can edit songs or add new songs with chordpro syntax highlighting.

The Edit - Chordpro menu lets you easily enter the most common chordpro control statements. There you can also find keyboard shortcuts for faster input. When you've selected some text, the chordpro control statement (e.g. [] or {c: }) will be inserted around the selection.

You can easily apply chords from one verse to another with Copy Chords/Insert Chords from the context menu, see this video for details.

Double-clicking on a chord will select it including the square brackets [] around it. Then you can easily move the chord with the mouse to a new position. See this Youtube video for a short demonstration.

Use Edit - Chordpro - Convert Tab to convert the current song or the selected text from tab format (where chords are on separate lines above the lyrics) into the compact chordpro format used by SongBook.

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To further organize your song collection, you can assign arbitrary tags to any song. With the filter control in the toolbar at the top you can switch between viewing songs by Categories, Tags or Playlists. When you remove a tag, the song is not deleted. However, if you delete all songs that contain a certain tag, that tag will disappear from the list of tags. Unlike with categories, songs can have several tags assigned. In the song, tags are stored with a {tag: xx} directive.

Note: tags in SongBook are independent of the new tag file feature in OS X Mavericks. Tags in SongBook are stored in the song file, and work the same way as in SongBook iOS.


Playlists (sets) are collections of songs for a special purpose, e.g. for a concert, or for practising. Playlists contain references to songs (by title/subtitle, independent of their category). You can add songs to multiple playlists, and one song can occur multiple times in one playlist. You can switch between song list and playlist with the List selector in the toolbar.

To add songs to a playlist, right-click on a song in the song list and select Add to Playlist... There you can also create new playlists

To remove a song from a playlist right click on the song in the playlist and select Remove From Playlist...

Use drag-and-drop to change the order of songs in a playlist. You can, rename, delete, sort or shuffle (randomize) playlists via right-click menu.

Playlists can automatically transpose songs to different keys. To store a different key for a song in a playlist, open the song from the playlist (not from the song list), then transpose it as usual, but do not save the transposed song. If a playlist song has a different key then the original, the key will be shown in bold.

Note: Playlists contain only references (title and subtitle) to the real song. If you delete the song, it is not automatically removed from the playlists. Playlist files are standard text files with extension *.lst stored in the SongBook folder.

You can add notes to playlists via the context menu, e.g. "Break" or a short story to tell between songs. These notes are displayed and edited just like normal songs, but are only stored in the playlist.

Chord List ScreenChords and Instruments

SongBook comes with comprehensive, extensible chord libraries for guitar, ukulele (C and D tuning), mandolin and many other instruments. You can select the currently used instrument in Preferences - General. To see the chord definitions, click on a chord in a song, or select View - All Chords...

Chords are sorted by base pitch (tone) and name. Each chord can have several variations. SongBook knows about identical pitches (e.g. C# = Db).

By default, SongBook displays the most simple variation (lowest base fret, least number of fingers) in the chord band. If you always prefer a certain variation, you can mark it as favorite. If you want a different variation for a certain song, you can define the chord variation in the song.

There's a setting in SongBook to mark base tones in chord diagrams.

Chord List ScreenYou can extend the string chord libraries with your own chords. SongBook comes with a chord editor that lets you define fingerings, base fret and muted strings.

User defined chords will always show up in the last position in the chord view. Note: if you need a special chord only for a certain song, you'd better define the chord in the song with {define: G 1 3 2 0 0 0 3} rather than in the chord library.

Added chords and favorites are saved in a file <instrument>.chords.txt (e.g. guitar.chords.txt) in the song folder and can be synchronized with mobile devices via Dropbox. You can also edit this file with a standard text editor like Notepad or TextEdit. If you want your extra chords appear in the built-in SongBook chord libraries, please send us this file.


Do you have a song that is not rendered correctly? Is an important chord missing in the chord database? Please let us know.

Version History

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Last Update: 2024-02-09