Carrying Giants, Part 2: How to create big note versions of sheet music for the iPad using a PC

by airturn

This is really hard for me to admit as a longtime die-hard Windows user, but I really enjoy the smooth workflow of creating custom screen clips on my Mac.  I wanted to see if I could come as close as possible to recreating that workflow with my Windows PC to make the tedious task of creating big note versions of digital sheet music scores a little less so.

Windows 7 and Windows Vista operating systems come bundled with a handy little program called Snipping Tool – just do a search for it from the Start button.

Snipping Tool gives you the option to create rectangular or freehand selections of the screen and save them as image files and even mark them up with ink and highlight annotations.  The only problem with Snipping Tools is that it requires you to move your mouse around to select the tool, activate a new snip, name the file, etc…all the mousing around can make it easy to lose your place on the digital page when you have to scan dozens of cuts per page.  I would rather use as few mouse movements and keyboard taps as possible to keep my workflow streamlined.

Gadwin PrintScreen is a great alternative to Snipping Tool – it’s free, and it’s available for all versions of Windows, including ol’ faithful Windows XP.  You can assign a hotkey (geek talk for a specific key on your keyboard to activate the program – the default for Gadwin PrintScreen is the “PrtSc”/PrintScreen button) and a host of other custom features.  Here’s a walkthrough of my recommended setup:

After you install Gadwin PrintScreen, you should see its icon appear in your taskbar:

Right click on the icon to bring up its menu options, and select “Properties“.

Along the left hand column, click on “Source”.  In the main window to the right, within the “Captured area” pane, select the radio button for “Rectangular Area”.

Next, select the “Image” option in the left column.  In the main window under “Type of Image”, you will see that the default file format is Windows Bitmap (*.bmp).  Click on the drop down menu and select JPEG Bitmat (*.jpg) instead.

Click the “OK” button on the bottom and your preferences will be saved.

Next, we will want to install a virtual PDF printer to convert your clipped image files into PDF files.  One of my favorites is a free program called doPDF, which you can download from

After you download and install doPDF, you’re ready to go.

Open up your sheet music PDF file with a PDF reader like Adobe Reader and set the view to maximize the width of the page you want to work with.

If you are using Gadwin PrintScreen’s default hotkey setup, press the PrtSc key and you should see a magnification reticle appear:

Click your left mouse button and drag a rectangle around the measures you want to clip.

Press “Enter”, and your selection will appear in a popup window.

Press “Enter” again and you will see a confirmation popup saying that the capture has been completed.  Hit “Enter” again to make the popup disappear.

Go back and repeat for all the successive measures you want to clip on the screen.  Once you’re done, navigate to your Documents folder, then look for the PrintScreen Files folder.  You will see all your screen clips automatically named as ScreenShot### where the ### will automatically increment the order that the clips were created.

Press the key combination Ctrl+A to select all the files within the PrintScreen Files folder, and then click on “Print” in the folder menu bar.

In the Print Pictures window, make sure you select “doPDF v7” as the printer in the top left menu bar.  If you notice that the image in the preview window is oriented the wrong way, then you will need to adjust the paper settings.  Click on “Options” in the lower right corner.

In the next popup window, click on the “Printer Properties” link.

In the next screen within the “Orientation” panel on the lower right, make sure that the “landscape” radio button is selected, then click “OK”.

Now the preview window will show the screen clip in the proper orientation, but the zoom may be incorrect.  Make sure that the “Fit picture to frame” box is unselected (click on it to remove the check mark).

Click on “Print”, and you will see a dialogue box pop up, giving you the option to name the PDF file within the “File name” box.  Just change the text after “C:\Users\Your Name\Documents\” and make sure you leave the “.pdf” after your file name.  In this example, I changed the file name to “Giant Note PC Example.pdf”.  Click on “OK” to create the PDF file.

You will find your new file within your Documents folder.  Use iTunes to connect to your iPad and transfer the file into the DeepDish Gigbook app file window (see the section on “Transferring Converted Music to an iPad using iTunes“).  Here’s how the final PDF giant note sheet music page looks with the iPad turned to its side: