SongBook iOS 5.10.1 Your lyrics and chords on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Available on the App Store

SongBook Chordpro for iOS runs on all 64bit iPhones and iPads. It is fully compatible with iOS 16 and the latest devices.

When you upgrade to a new version, all songs and settings will be preserved. You'll find the complete version history at the bottom of this document.

See demo on YouTube. Tutoriel français by Alain Lachapelle. Function map by Peter Reath. Czech blog by Karel Jačko.

Where To Find Songs For SongBook

SongBook uses the chordpro format, a plain text file 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 or tab format: simply type the song name and chords or tabs into your favorite search engine. Or use the built-in Internet search.

You can also easily create your own chordpro songs. 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,

A detailed explanation of the chordpro format as supported by SongBook is available here.

Note: Our desktop applications SongBook Windows and SongBook Mac make it easier to edit or convert chordpro and tab songs on a bigger screen.

How To Get Songs Into SongBook

The SongBook documents folder is accessible in iTunes or Finder. Select SongBook on the Files tab and drag/drop songs to/from Explorer/Finder.

The following file extensions are understood by SongBook

*.pro, *.chordpro, *.chopro, *.txt (native chordpro files)
*.tab, *.crd (tab files, chords on separate lines)
*.lst (playlist files)
*.pdf (PDF files
*.chords.txt (user defined chords)

SongBook can also open files with supported extensions, from e.g. mail attachments, Dropbox or other file sharing apps.

You can import song files from iCloud Drive, Dropbox or others with the Files-App. Tap on - All Songs - or a category, then use the + button at the bottom to select From Files.

Note: SongBook does not work with DOC files, because these cannot be easily reformatted, transposed, searched etc. You need to save your songs in plain text format with one of the supported file extensions (see above) to be able to use them with SongBook.

Cloud Sync

You can synchronize your song collections with various cloud storages: Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive (consumer only, OneDrive Business not supported) , or Nextcloud. Simply link with with your cloud account in Settings, and copy your song files to the /SongBook directory and its subdirectories in the root folder. On iOS 14 or higher you can also sync with a folder in the Files app (if the storage provider supports it), e.g. an iCloud Drive folder or a folder in On My iPhone/iPad. Select Link Folder in Files, then navigate to a folder and tap Open in the top right.

Use the refresh button on the Songs tab to start the synchronization or select Automatic in Settings to sync whenever you go to the Songs tab. Select a song category or go to a different tab to stop the sync any time. We do not use your cloud account data in any way other than to sync your songs. See also this privacy policy for our apps.

If your files do not show up in SongBook, check whether they have one of the supported file extensions (see above).

Note: Synchronization is two-way and (except for the first sync) includes all deletions and modifications since the last sync. It will also sync playlists and custom chords. For technical reasons, subdirectories of the SongBook directory (categories) can only be renamed/removed on the device. To overwrite all songs on the device, unlink SongBook from Dropbox/Google Drive/OneDrive in Settings, then delete all songs/categories, then link the app again.

To synchronize SongBook Windows or SongBook Mac with SongBook Android, just select the Dropbox/Google Drive/OneDrive/iCloud Drive SongBook folder on the PC/Mac as your song folder (with the "..." button next to the category dropdown). Then link and sync SongBook iOS as described above. See this video for details.

Song ListSong List

Song List

Songs are structured in categories. Categories are similar to folders on your computer. You can group songs in categories to help you both organize and search through your song titles. But, just like folders on your computer, deleting a category will delete all songs in it. Songs can also be organized in playlists and filtered by tags.

Use Edit on the Categories list to add, rename or remove a whole category. Removing a category will also remove all songs in that category. From the Edit Categories view, you can add (move) multiple songs to a category by tapping on the + button. Unchecking a song will move it back to - Unfiled -. To put a single song in a different category, open the song, then select Category from the action menu in the lower right.

The song list displays title/subtitle and key of all songs in the selected category. SongBook determines the key by looking at the first chord in the song, or the value of the {key: ...} directive. You can search for a song by title, subtitle, or full text.

To create new songs, select a category, then tap on the + button on the lower toolbar.

Use the sort toolbar button to sort the song list by title, subtitle, key, or last modification date.

Use Edit on the song list (or swipe-to-delete) to delete individual songs.

The globe search button in the middle of the bottom song list toolbar will open a simple Internet search for songs in chordpro format. Songs imported via the search will be added to the currently selected category.

The button on the lower right will give you quick access to the tab to switch to playlists, chords or settings.

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Song ViewSong View

The song view displays the current song with lyrics and chords. Tap on a chord to look up the chord definitions. Use the chord toolbar button to toggle display of the currently used chords at the bottom (or to the right) of the song. The list will start with the first chord of the currently visible part of the song.

Chord, lyrics, comments and tab font and text/background color can be changed by selecting Settings from the action button in the lower right.

Tap with two fingers on the lower/upper third of the song to scroll down/up one page.

Swipe right/left or tap with two fingers in the center part of the song on the left/right side to move to the previous/next song in the currently selected category/playlist.

Auto-ScrollMetronomeZoomChord BandTransposeDisplay OptionsTagsShareMore Options

The toolbar at the bottom gives you access to several functions which in turn will show their own toolbars or menus. On the iPhone in portrait mode some functions are only accessible via the menu button in the lower right due to limited space. Tap anywhere on the screen to go back to the standard toolbar.


The play button will start auto-scrolling the song. You can adjust the total playing time mm:ss of the song (including the last page) with the slider or the +/- buttons. Tap Save to save the playing time in the song (as a {time: } directive). To temporarily pause the current scrolling, tap with two fingers anywhere on the screen. Repeating this multiple times will add to the delay. A three-finger tap will start/stop auto-scrolling without the need to open the auto-scroll toolbar. Note: this will only work if you have not assigned this gesture to some other function in the global iOS settings.

You can optionally insert {pause: x} directives somewhere in a song, where x denotes a pause in seconds (e.g. {pause: 20} to pause for 20 seconds). When the line with this pause statement reaches the top of the screen, auto-scrolling will pause for this amount of time. You can also put that directive at the top of the song to delay the auto-scroll start.


SongBook features a built-in metronome. You can configure whether you want an audible tick or a flash of the upper toolbar (or upper part of the screen) or both in Settings. Use the Save button to save the current metronome speed (in ticks/beats per minute, as {metronome: } directive) in the song. Use the Play button at the right to switch to auto-scroll (and vice versa).

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 also supports sending MIDI commands with each metronome tick or flash.


You can change the font sizes for the current song with the familiar "pinch" gesture, or with the font size icon on the lower toolbar. The pinch gesture changes the zoom level only for the currently displayed song. The zoom buttons change the zoom level permanently for all songs. Use the Save button to save the current zoom level with the song (as a {zoom-iphone/ipad: } directive) so that this particular song will always display in the selected size.

Unlike zooming of pictures, zooming of songs in SongBook will trigger a re-layout of the song, so you will never have to scroll horizontally.

The Auto-Zoom option will zoom the song so that everything fits on one page without scrolling.

Chord Band

Use the chord toolbar button to switch on/off the chord band on the lower/right border (configured in Settings). This chord list shows the easiest variant (or the {define...} variant) for each chord currently visible on the screen. If you don't like the inverted display, switch it off in Settings. If you select the piano instrument in Settings, you will see the notes of the chord (treble). Tap on the chord to see the full chord view with all definitions.


You can use AirTurn or similar bluetooth or USB pedals or MIDI pedals to scroll page-wise up/down and switch to the next/previous song in the current category or playlist. The latter can be switched off in Settings. There you can also configure to start auto-scrolling with a pedal down. The page percentage to scroll can also be configured.

The pedals should be set to send Page Up/Down or Arrow Up/Down keys. In addition, the following keys are supported:

Concert ModeConcert Mode

You can select a special concert mode for simplified usage in live situations in the menu. When this mode is active, the song will be displayed full-screen, with a few bigger buttons at the bottom to go back to song list, start/stop auto-scroll, start/stop music, start/stop metronome and exit. In concert mode, you cannot tap on a chord, instead you can use a single tap in the upper/lower part of the screen to scroll up/down, and swipe left/right for the next/previous song.


You can transpose the song into a different key by tapping on the b# toolbar button. Tap on the b/# buttons to change the tuning in half-tone steps or choose the key to transpose to directly from the popup. To determine the current key, SongBook will look at the {key: ...} directive or (if not found) use the first chord of the song. You can define the key from the menu at the right.

Use the "All b" and "All #" buttons to convert all sharp chords to their flat equivalent or vice versa. Tap on the Save button to permanently save the changed chords in the song, use the reset button ↺ to reset to the original key. If you just tap outside the transpose toolbar, the current transposition will be active until you switch to another song.

You can use Set Capo 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.

The menu at the right-hand side lets you 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). Use the reset button ↺ to undo the conversion.

More Song Functions

The menu button on the right of the main toolbar offers various additional song actions. It lets you switch off display of chords or lyrics, mail the song as an attachment (as chordpro file, formatted PDF or plain text), or change the category or assign the song to a playlist. If you have an AirPrint-capable printer, you can print the current song.


Link with Music

If you want to play along with a music (MP3) file, you can link a SongBook song to an Apple Music file with the menu in the lower right. SongBook will automatically link matching songs based on the song title. Once a SongBook song is linked to a music file, the metronome button is replaced with a notes button to show a mini player toolbar. You can start/pause the song, rewind/fast forward in 10sec intervals, or start the auto-scroll. Unlink a connected music file from the menu.

Alternatively, you can select an MP3 file from the Files app. SongBook will copy the MP3 into song folder and insert a statement {musicpath: file.mp3} in the song. This works across all devices and platforms. Note: for PDFs, there is an automatic link to a music file with the same name in the same folder, e.g. Song.pdf -> Song.mp3

Play together

You can link up to seven iOS or Mac OS X devices running SongBook together, so they will always show the same song and scroll to the same line. Enable Bluetooth or WiFi on all devices, then select Settings - Play together to start the search for other devices. If a song is not found on one of the connected devices or has a different content it can be copied automatically. When you transpose a song, the transpose step will also be sent to the other devices. The connection is peer-to-peer: every device can control all other devices. When a device switches off or shows the lock screen, the connection will be dropped. SongBook will automatically try to re-connect once it is back in the foreground.

Full Screen and VGA Mode

To make maximum use of screen real-estate, SongBook can display a song in full screen mode where the whole display is used to display the song. To switch to/from full screen mode, just tap anywhere on the song view (not on a chord).

SongBook will automatically switch to multi-column mode if the song is narrow enough and would fit without scrolling on the screen.

When you connect a projector or external display using Apple's VGA or HDMI adapter to your iOS device, SongBook will show the current song (or chord view) with full resolution on this display. Note that the screen ratio of the external display may differ from your iPhone/iPad, so the song view on the device is resized to match the display, and may consequently show black stripes. When you scroll/zoom on the device, the song on the display will scroll/zoom accordingly. Note: on newer iPad devices with the HDMI adapter, the device screen will be 1:1 mirrored to the external device using AirPlay. With an external display connected, you can change the external display to only show lyrics via the menu. This can be useful if your audience wants to sing the song you're playing.

If you have a Google Chromecast device in your network and select it from the Chromecast button , SongBook will display the current song in auto-zoom mode on the Chromecast TV/projector.

You can optionally rotate the output on external displays, e.g. if you use a monitor rotated 90 degrees.

Note: SongBook will automatically increase the auto power-off (idle) timeout up to 15min while a song is displayed.

Song Edit ScreenInternet Search

SongBook has a simple Internet search for chordpro files built-in. You can use one of the two main search providers, or type a URL of your own. If the displayed page contains a pre-formatted song, the Import button in the lower right will become active and open the song editor. You can then save the song in the song list or cancel the edit and get back to the search view.

Note: By it's very nature, Internet search can be hit-or-miss, results may vary. You are responsible for obeying the respective copyrights of the material found on the Internet.


SongBook supports MIDI on all iOS devices. When MIDI is activated in menu Settings, 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. Only one {midi: ...} directive is supported, if you want to send multiple MIDI commands, separate them with commas.

You can also use a MIDI pedal to scroll up/down in a song, by entering the respective command in Settings.

The general MIDI command syntax is <id><MSB>.<LSB>:<subvalue>@<channel> (see table below). Numbers are decimal, except when sending (hex) bytes directly. In most cases the easiest way to find out what to send is 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.

You can also send MIDI commands with each metronome tick or flash. E.g. to send MIDI Tap Tempo in Fractal Audio you'd use CC14.127 in Settings - Metronome - MIDI.

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 has a menu entry that can convert songs in tab format to chordpro format by inlining 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 scroll to next/previous page with two-finger tap or a pedal, just like with regular songs. You can also reference PDFs in playlists. However, PDFs cannot be edited, tagged, transposed etc. If the PDF is from a printout (not scanned), you can optionally zoom to content, which will automatically adjust the zoom factor so the white/transparent border will not show. Use the menu button in the upper right to access the various functions. Tap Edit to open the PDF in QuickLook, where you can make changes or annotations.

To import PDFs, use "Open In" SongBook, or copy them into the SongBook folder with iTunes/Finder or cloud sync.

Song Edit ScreenSong Tab Editor ScreenSong Editor

You can edit songs or add new songs. Use the pinch to zoom gesture to change the font size for editing a song. The Preview button next to the Save button will show you a preview how the song would currently be rendered without saving it. On the iPad in landscape mode, the preview will only take up half of the screen so you can edit and see your changes in realtime. On iOS 6 and above, the editor will mark the chordpro control statements in different colors (syntax highlighting).

To see more text on the iPhone, use a three-finger tap on the text view to hide the keyboard. SongBook supports the normal iOS undo methods: shake the device (iPhone) or use the Undo button on the .?123 keyboard (iPad).

The {..} menu in the upper right lets you easily enter the most common chordpro control statements. Inserting {...} controls or [] while text is selected will "wrap" the control around the selection.The first letter after the opening square bracket [ will automatically be converted to upper case.

The entry "Keyboard Chord Row in the {..} menu toggles an extra keyboard row with the chords that are currently used in the song. Chords that do not fit on the toolbar can be accessed from the menu button on the right. There you can also open the built-in chord library for lookup of arbitrary chords.

SongBook features a unique tab editor that lets you edit tablature sections (tabs) with a fixed font. You activate it by choosing Edit Tab from the context menu while inside a {sot}...{eot} section, or when inserting a new {sot}{eot} directive with the {..} button. In the tab editor you can toggle between overwrite mode and insert mode via the context menu. In overwrite mode, tapping space will just move to the next position, while tapping delete will move to the previous position. Use the buttons in the toolbar to insert a whole column of "-" or "|", or delete the current cursor column.

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Playlist ScreenTags

To further organize your song collection, you can assign arbitrary tags to a song. On the main song category screen, you can switch from Categories to Tags to filter songs by tags. Select additional tags from tag icon in the upper right of the song list to show only songs that contain all or any of the selected tags.

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.

Playlist ScreenPlaylists (Set Lists) 

Playlists (aka sets) are collections of songs for a special purpose, e.g. a concert, or training. Playlists behave just like iTunes and iPod playlists. Removing a song from a playlist does not delete the song from either the device (it remains in its category), nor any other playlist the song might be in. Songs can be in multiple playlists, and in fact, can occur multiple times in a single playlist. You can collapse and expand playlists for easier navigation.

Use the Edit button to add, delete or empty existing playlists. The sort button in the upper left allows you to sort the list of playlists alphabetically or by date.

Use the + button to add songs to a playlist. Alternatively, you can add the currently displayed song to a playlist with the "Add To Playlist" menu from the song view.

To change the order of songs in a playlist, select Edit, then drag the song by its handle on the right hand side up and down to the new position in the playlist. You can also shuffle or sort your playlist via the action popup menu.

Use the menu button for various other functions like printing or it or sending a playlist via mail to another SongBook user.

SongBook comes with two automatic playlists that list the most recently created/changed or viewed songs, respectively. You can switch these playlists on/off in edit mode, and also adjust the number of entries.

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 inverse.

Note: Playlists contain only references (via title and subtitle) to the real song. If you remove the song, it is not automatically removed from the playlists but can no longer be viewed. When you change the title or subtitle of a song, all playlists that reference this songs are automatically updated.

You can add notes to playlists, 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.

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Chord List ScreenChord List ScreenChords and Instruments

SongBook comes with comprehensive, extensible chord libraries for many instruments like guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and piano. You can view and change the tuning of the selected instrument in Settings.

Chords are sorted by base pitch. Each chord can have several variations. SongBook knows about identical pitches (e.g. C# = Db). Click on the looking glass to search a chord by name or by fingering (enter e.g. 2 2 1 to find Am and more chords with this fingering).

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.

To change the currently used instrument, select Settings - Instrument or tap on the chord list title. This instrument is used for all chord lookups. If you're left-handed, you can switch on left-handed chord view in Settings to see all chord diagrams with reverse string order. Select latin chords if you prefer DO RE MI formatting instead of C D E. There you can also change the standard tuning of the instrument, and the chord fingerings will be adjusted accordingly.

If a song requires a certain instrument, you can define that with {instrument: ...}. When such a song is displayed, chords will be shown for the given instrument. When you leave the song view or switch to the next song, the default instrument will be used again.

In addition, you can define a custom tuning for a song with {tuning: ...}. This also requires an instrument define in the song. E.g. you want to play a song in Guitar Drop D tuning, write
{instrument: Guita}
{tuning: D A D G B E}

User defined chords

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. The search button on the right will look up the currently defined chord in the chord library. Tap the notes button to play the current chord.

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

Own and favorite chords are saved in a file <instrument>.chords.txt (e.g. guitar.chords.txt) in the documents folder and are synchronized with Dropbox (if linked). 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.

Apple Watch App

SongBook comes with an Apple Watch app for the current playlist. Select a song from a playlist on the iPhone, and you can see the current and next song on your Apple Watch. You'll see the first few chords, you can scroll through the play list and select a different song, and see chord definitions for song chords. You can select a different song from the playlist which will be shown in SongBook iPhone, and - if you use Play Together - in all connected SongBook apps.


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

Like the app? Please rate us on the App Store.

Special thanks to Kenny Song for his invaluable help and constant encouragement.

Version History

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Last Update: 2024-06-08