Song Lyrics on an iphone

Lyric Pad

I have used LyricPad 2.52 full version for many years and it worked really well for me, and I thoroughly recommend it to android users.  It still works very well on my £30 10 year old Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet (with a new battery) running Android version 4.1.2.

I find it’s best to use Script Automation. I could never get the scrolling speed consistent in the other modes. I set the scroll speed to 3, Font size to 30.  I use the sidebar for chords sometimes, especially if the Mandolin and Guitar have different capo positions. I keep the files on the icloud and transfer them to the tablet using WiFi Transfer Pro, so back ups are not a problem. They are actually stored on a memory card, so will be retained even if the app has to be re-installed.

I can still use it on my old Moto G5, but it is old and battery life is an issue. But I switched to an iphone and it doesn’t work on that. So I have been looking for an iphone alternative.


I tried using Pages.  Why? Well it came with the iphone and the MacBook but also because it has a presentation mode in which the text can be scrolled. When you are using a small screen, as on an iphone this is important.  It’s not so important on a larger screen like an ipad.

It worked after a fashion but there were issues

  • No setlists
  • No backing tracks (we never used them anyway)
  • No easy key change facility.
  • No simple jump to next song
  • No individual control over scrolling speed.
  • If the lyrics are written on Pages on the Macbook, they do NOT automatically get stored on the phone.  They are called down from the icloud – or not if there is no signal.


But I then found Songbook Pro, (SBP) which seems actually better than Lyric Pad.  But as it’s new to me, and a bit of a learning curve I am documenting it here.  
This will definitely help me, and may help anyone else looking for a lyrics program.  There is also an android and a Windows version.  There is not a MacBook version but bundled with the program is SongbookPro Manager, which is a superb bit of software which enable you to write and edit songs on a Macbook or a PC.

Getting the lyrics in.

All of this is done on the MacBook.
I have lots of songs stored in Lyric Pad as text files, and and also in my master songbook as ods files (now in Libreoffice but originally in Word).  I find the best way is to edit them in Libreoffice as it is an excellent word processor and better than the Apple offerings.

LyricPad uses plain text files which look like this:-

(I have to post these as images as WordPress mangles and text I copy and paste)

Lyric pad detects the chord notations and shows them as a different colour. SBP uses chordpro format. All you need to do is put the chords is square brackets!

Adding the brackets is easily done using  find and replace C with [C] using match case and whole words only.

The modifies file is copied into a new song in SBP manager where it can be changed into “Chord over Lyrics so the lyrics now look like this (after adding the Intro and Verse notation):-

Title, artist and other info can be entered at the same time.

Jims song book has thousands of songs with the Lyrics and chords. It also has a feature to change they key. The chords are already in brackets so the lyric can be copied straight into SBP (The chords in Jims song book are not always correct but they can easily be edited within the app.)

Using the lyrics

Currently, we trying to use this on a single iphone 12.  This is small, inobtrusive, has a case which will stand up (horizontally), and I always have it with me.  But it is a compromise.  The text must be big enough so we can both read it from a few feet away.This means a largish font and that means that only 6 lines appear on the screen at anytime. They scroll , of course,  but our singing speed, and the scrolling speed have to be pretty well matched.  If we want to be perfectly matched the line we are singing at any point should be in the middle of the screen.  If we are 3 lines out then the line we want has either disappeared off the top or not yet come up from the bottom.

For example, one song is 3:40 seconds long. A line shows on the screen for 25 seconds. So if we are more than 12 seconds out then we are too far out of sync to see the line.

You can define the length of the song in minutes and seconds, and it should scroll from beginning to end in that time. Also there is a metronome which can play for 10 seconds at the start to get the right timing, but these have to be set by experiment.

I use an app called “Tap that tempo” to work out the “beats per minute” (BPM) of the song then put that figure into the song settings in SBP.  The metronome plays for 10 seconds and we start playing after around 5. It would be better if it stopped after a predefined number of beats.

The “Notes” Function can be used to display some text, maybe an introduction to the song.

As the settings are not saved with a back up (see below) I have decided to write them down here so I can set it up quickly.


  • Theme. I use Dark
  • Auto. Some songs scroll and some don’t. I can’t find out why. I don’t use it.
  • Scroll Songs. A grey arrow on the screen appears and scrolling starts when it is touched and it turns green. Touching it again stops scrolling. The lyrics can be dragged  up or down whether or not they are scrolling. I tick this box.
  • Live Buttons. I disable Quicklinks, backing tracks and handwritten notes.
  • Hide top Bar. Theoretically this should be a good thing on a small screen.  However getting the top bar back doesn’t work in portrait mode so the phone has to be turned to landscape mode.  It would give an extra line of text – 13 as opposed to 12 including the lines for chords.  I find it a lot less hassle to keep it on “Never”


  • Title Font size 24 ; Colour Default
  • Meta data Font size 18; Colour Default; all visible
  • Lyrics Font size 26 ; Colours all Default
  • Split long lines ticked
  • Headings on Font size 18; Colour Default;
  • Chords Font size 20; Colour Green;
  • Notes all Default

Foot Pedals

  • Not used currently

Back up & Sync

  • Backup Library Save to file – Pages
  • Online sync on – provider dropbox , Manual sync only

Chord diagrams 

  • These are useful for looking up chords but are Hidden normally.


  • Metronome all default
  • Auto-Scroll   Duration 2:30 Autoscroll delay off. Overscroll off (I have no idea what this does)
  • ChordPro Settings  all default except Printing Settings:- Print in colour and set font size dependent on song to fill page(s) and Optional features:- Number songs in set lists


  • Not really a quirk, just a feature of this and also Lyric Pad. The app disables the phones timeout so the screen will stay on, so if you simply ignore the phone after using it, the battery will steadily drain until it flattens. A Quit button be good idea.
  • Songbook Pro manager. When this is activated the app cannot be used on the phone.
  • Edit song. Song duration (under Advanced) does NOT control the scroll speed.  In fact it doesn’t seem to do anything and it reverts to zero after being set. Scroll speed is set in Quick Edit when you can type in the length of the song.

10/9/2022 Update

The bloody app has crashed. All I get is a white screen – even after a hard reboot.  I have asked SBP for a solution. (they have not replied). This now does not look a reliable option. LyricPad never did this.

I have reinstalled the app – the six songs I have added are gone.  I should have checked out backups first!

From the manual:-
From here, you can export and save a full backup of your whole song library formatted as a .SBPBackup file. This includes all songs and setlists, but does not include the values of any settings you may have set.

Backups done by SBP manager go as a file, that nothing else can open, into Downloads on the Macbook. They seem to get renumbered each time with a name like Backup-2.sbpbackup, but they can only be restored from the iphone or the icloud so I have to manually move the backup file onto the icloud. 

Backups on the iphone have more, although weirder, places to store the backups.  I am offered Chrome,  NHS App, Open DocumentationReader Lite, Pages, and Word, or the icloud. I chose Pages as all of the other options may be removed at some time. This time it offers to overwrite the previous file or keep both

I have set up sync to DropBox, but I am not sure I could recover the files from DropBox.  

  • I run sync on a full library and it is stored in DropBox
  • the app crashes and has to be re-installed
  • I run sync again

Does the DropBox version fill up my Library, or does the empty Library overwrite the DropBox one?  This is not explained in the manual.

The jury is still out on Songbook Pro.  I can’t find any recent posts about blank screens on the web and, according to the version history, this was a problem that was fixed in 2018.

I think we will always take a back up paper copy when we go out.  My crash may be an isolated incident that may not happen again. But it did happen after only 2 days of use.  Better now than at a gig I suppose.

We do have a foot pedal that we bought to use with LyricPad but it was no a success. We may try it here.

I’ll probably modify this post as we get more experience.  I may simply stick with my Samsung tablet.  The Lyric pad on tablet shows 21 lines on the screen in horizontal mode compared to the Songbook-pro’s 6 lines on the iphone so performance speed is far last critical.

Update 16/9/2022

After spending quite a lot of time setting up the phone we have decided that an iphone is really to small to be usable with Songbook-pro.  Just a little bit out on the timing, and the lyrics are either off the screen or yet to appear.  Lyric Pad was easier on the android phone as the chords were in with the lyrics.  Songbook-pro always puts them above the lyrics thus reducing the number of lines on the screen.  Also we do worry about it crashing again.  Songbook-pro have not replied to my email so we worry about support and reliability.

But a spin off is that we have revisited LyricPad on the Samsung Note, and it’s working fine.