Nov 222011
Free Chord Lyric Software for Windows®

Jazz and rock musicians often play from chord and lyric sheets instead of sheet music. I wrote this simple Windows program to replace the printed chord sheets I used to use during practice, and decided to make it available for anyone else who may find it useful. Digital Fake Book displays chords and lyrics in plain text format on 1 or 2 sheets. It is not able to display standard music notation.

Latest update 1.9.7

Main Features
  • Keeps all your songs in one place for easy, one-click selection.
  • Built-in metronome with tempo setting for each song.
  • Chord transpose to change the key of the song.
  • Audio file linking with A/B section looping helps with learning songs by ear.
  • Audio files can also be transposed.
  • Text size and sheet divider position is saved with each song enabling the largest text size possible while still fitting the whole song on the screen.
  • Random sets can be created to make practice more varied.
  • Several color schemes (themes) to choose from.

Digital Fake Book. Free chord lyrics software for Windows.

Download Version 1.9.7
Size:953.0 kB – 5,102 downloads

License: Freeware. Digital Fake Book is copyright Mike Warren. It may be used and distributed freely as long as no fee is charged and the author is not misrepresented. This software is distributed on an “AS IS” basis, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.

The Digital Fake Book forum is available here if you have any questions, or want to discuss the program with other users.

Click here to view the Digital Fake Book help online:  How to Use Digital Fake Book

Download Manual
Size:399.7 kB – 2,183 downloads
Thanks to danmar for creating it.

Digital Fake Book Portable

A portable version of Digital Fake Book can be downloaded if you want to use the same set of data on more than one computer. This is supplied as a zip file, and needs to be extracted to the location you want to run it from. This is exactly the same program as above, but is packaged in such a way that it doesn’t need to be installed to run.

It’s important to keep the file and folder structure the same as it is in the zip as the program expects to find the various files in particular locations in relation the the program file. There is no installer to run, but you may want to download and install the Bitstream Vera font

The portable version is also useful if you want to run multiple versions with different configurations of song data. See the help file for more information.

Download Portable Version 1.9.7
Size:1.1 MB – 1,532 downloads

Using Digital Fake Book on a Mac

I’ve been informed that DFB can be used on OSX by installing WineBottler. The downside is that media file playback and the metronome won’t work.

If you find any bugs or have any suggestions for improvements, please email me, post on The Digital Fake Book Forum or leave a comment below.


  143 Responses to “Digital Fake Book”

  1. Since making a portable backup to take out with me I have since added a number of files to my song list and I’m not sure how to up date the usb stick can anyone give me an idea ???

    • Fred,
      It’s so simple to back up your DBF data.
      1. Insert your memory stick into the computer
      2. Open Digital Fake Book
      3. Select the [OPTIONS] Tab
      4. Scroll down and select the 4th item, “BACKUP/EXPORT DATA FILE…”
      5. A box will pop up asking which items you wish to backup or export.
      6. Be sure all boxes are checked, which they likely will be. Un-check anything you wish to omit.
      7. PRESS [OK] and you’ll then be given the choice of destination for your data file.
      8. Browse to Locate your MEMORY STICK’s location
      9. Once you’ve located the MEMORY STICK, click on [SAVE] and you are done!

      If you have difficulties with any of the above or other DBF questions, please contact me – and I’ll walk you through it.

  2. Mike,

    I read all the different posts throughout and became excited with downloading the program and getting it up and running. And I was planning on using my Windows based notebook called the “Surface” version 1. I store the majority of my words in notepad. As I went to download your latest version, I got a notice that this could not be run on my pc. Then it gave me an option to go to the Windows store to look for a app to open DFB with. At best, I am stuck as to what to do next. Your help would be much appreciated.

    Thanking you in advance!

    Tom Towner

    • Unfortunately, the Surface does not have an Intel X86 compatible CPU so won’t run standard Windows programs.

      The surface is really just a tablet and uses an ARM processor.

      • Thank You Mike,

        I was afraid of hearing something like that. I will probably do something to make the compromise. I am just trying to keep the computers down, as I use (2) Two now, (1) One at my Keyboards using Midi Cubase, and another at my guitar and footswitches.

        Thank you for the quick reply, very much appreciated.

        Kindest Personal Regards,

        TOM TOWNER

  3. Hi Mike Thanx for this awesome but simple Program. We as band love using it. The Only thing that we would like is to be able to change the font type and Bold and that’s it.
    Thank You again

  4. Thanks for your work. I can not find the links to the individual song files. Can you tell me where they reside. I am trying to launch songs from outside the program. The purpose is to make a master list of songs that open in different programs like finale, a pdf viewer etc.

    • The songs are all in a flat database file called DfbSongData.dat in your {AppData} folder under your your account. In Win7/Win8 it’s something like this: C:\Users\Mike\AppData\Roaming\DigitalFakeBook

      The only real way to get access to individual songs is to export them as text.

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to do. If you want to create a desktop icon that will launch DFB at a particular song, then that’s not supported in the current version. It’s something to consider for V2, though.

  5. Great looking software, thanks for the work. I love the simplicity of it. A couple of questions though; first, would you expect to experience in problems running it with a screen in portrait mode? Any tips or suggestions concerning that? Are there any foot switches that anyone can recommend? Prefer wireless with a dongle.

    • I’ve used DFB for several years now. It performs flawlessly in portrait mode as long as you limit yourself to single page. Currently I have 2050+ song files in DBF, and have no problems. I am careful to format each song to be readable as a single page.
      Be sure to use the “AUTO TEXT SCALING” option. This will allow the full text to appear in both landscape and portrait mode. I usually edit in the landscape mode, then use in portrait mode for performance.

      I currently use DBF on a DELL XPS-12 ULTRABOOK and a DELL XPS 18 ALL-IN-ONE. The 18″ screen in portrait mode is WONDERFUL for these tired old eyes! The 12″ screen works good, too and I used it for several years before adding the 18″.

      For page turning, I used a PageFlip Cicada Bluetooth Page Turner Pedal for a time, but now just keep a Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball Mouse on my stand. Since all my songs are set as one page, this works well. I play out 4-5 times a week.

      I hope this information helps

      DBF is wonderful, and I thank Mike Warren once again for his development and improvement of this program to version 1.9.7. I (and many others) eagerly await the release of version 2.

      PageFlip Cicada Bluetooth Page Turner Pedal:
      Kensington Orbit Wireless Trackball Mouse:

    • This foot switch has been doing a GREAT job for me for many years now with DFB – – about $50 with a long cable. Then, you can get free key-assigning software from –, that works flawlessly with it.

      • Thanks for the replies. I just bought a Rasberry Pi2 from Amazon. The plan is to repurpose an old BFI monitor speaker and imbed a 24″ display running off of the RPi2 with a wireless foot switch and an additional HDMI out for a second screen. Currently it looks like it’s mostly Linux based OSs but rumor has it Windows10 will be available in June so I can run DFB on it.

        • I’m pretty certain the RPi will not be able to run Win32 programs such as DFB. The RPi has an ARM processor, not Intel. The version of Windows 10 will probably be based on the Windows CE for ARM code, which also won’t run normal Windows desktop programs. It’s meant for IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

          • Well that’s a bummer. I really like your program and was looking forward to using it for this project. I’m still going to build it and hope for the best in either finding something similar or, better yet, that W10 will run it. That or get a crash course in programming. Thanks for the program and for chiming in here.

          • Change of plans. I decided to repurpose an old laptop running Windows Vista as I found that having the “Songs” screen up on the off stage laptop and the main DFB screen on the two portrait mode displays on stage to be a much better way to run it. It was also much easier to rotate the second display(s) on that platform and know that I won’t have to go digging through a configuration set up the day of a show. I just found the highlight line feature, which I like.

            Three features/suggestions I wouldn’t mind seeing in future versions, if there are any, would be- 1) A way to import from a word file and the ability to keep the formatting so that that things line up when copying and pasting. 2) A way to italicize when needed. As I said, I just found the highlighter, but it would be nice to be able to italicize just chords for instance. And 3) A way to scroll so that longer songs can be kept on one song page. I’m probably using my set up from further away than most but I can wish can’t I? I’m sure that one’s not practical.

            In any case, thank you very much for a very cool program. I’m looking forward to my first show with it in July.

          • The second and third are on the list for V2. The first one, I’d like to do, but there is a lot of work in it in relation the the benefit, so if it happens it won’t be for a while.

  6. Mike as usual I want to reiterate how much I appreciate your program. I sent in a couple requests before / Ideas to improve usability for gigging musicians. I usually set up 80 song sets for a 4 hour gigs and I was wondering if you could look at two possible changes for V2 when you upgrade. Right now you have up and down buttons to move songs within a set. Is it possible to set it up so a song could be clicked on in a set and then dragged and drop to the position you want without having to move it by buttons. If it’s a big set this takes quite of bit of time to click the button up to or down sometimes 70+ to move a song a song in a set especially if it at the start
    The other request I was hoping you might look at is ability to change an existing set’s name. This would allow the user to put his sets in alpha order to make it easier to find a particular set when searching at a live gig.
    I have set up numerous sets to expedite searching for example if you have a request for southern rock, a waltz, cha cha, rock, line dance, doo wop, and so on. My reason for asking for this change as the users set files grows there is no way to currently put them in Alpha order. Thanks for considering our suggestions and as I have said in the past I hope you allow us to pay something for V2. I love what you have done for all of us and I use your program 3 to 4 times every week at live gigs and I love it.
    Thank You so much

    • Renaming sets is already added to V2. I had deliberately not allowed drag reordering of songs in a set to allow marquee multi-selection, but since dragging is the usual function in most programs now days, I’ll change that.

      The feature creep continues. 🙂

  7. Hi

    Is it going to be possible to increase the text size within the program ?

    • I’m not sure what you mean, Mike.
      If you mean increase the size of the displayed lyrics, you can do that easily with the TEXT SIZE ARROWS .
      If you don’t SEE the TEXT SIZE ARROWS when you use the program, that means you have the AUTO TEXT SCALING enabled.

      FIRST, be sure you have the latest version of Digital Fake Book installed.
      It SHOULD be “Version”.

      You can check that by going to the OPTIONS Menu and clicking on
      the VERY LAST ITEM which is “ABOUT”.

      If you need to update, do so before you proceed.

      1. Open the OPTIONS Menu.
      2. Scroll down to AUTO TEXT SCALING, which is the 9th item down on the Menu.
      3. Click on that item to disable it.

      You should now be able to use the TEXT SIZE ARROWS.

      You may email me directly if you need any more assistance:

  8. I am getting involved with a band, and was looking for an accessible fake book. YOur softward would allow me to export to a text file, put it in my braille notetaker, and read it in braille. What do you think?

    • I don’t think it will be any help to you. Digital Fake Book is just a viewer program. You would have to import the text before exporting it, so you’d gain nothing.

  9. Fantastic looking. Wife has been asking me for this for quite a while. Note that the EXE download using Norton shows that it has a virus and will not allow me to use that one. I did download the .ZIP file, checked it before running and it was clean. Sometimes these Virus checkers just are not happy with EXE files, so whether it is an actual virus or not is unknown.
    Thanks for what looks to be a great program. Now I just have to get the footswitch and import her lyrics, MP3s, etc. etc.

    • Hey Doug,
      This foot switch has been doing a GREAT job for me for many years with DFB – – along with free key-assigning software from –
      Good Luck with your project!

      • Thanks, I was just getting ready to look up a USB solution. Good timing!

      • Hi John, I check out the infinity foot pedal and it looks to be cheaper than Altoedge but they claim infinity wont work with the free software,I’m a bit confused

        • I should mention something that may be of interest to people wanting footswitch control.

          The company I work for will shortly be releasing an 8 channel USB switch controller for Windows. This has eight 1/4″ jacks on it, allowing up to 8 foot switches or other switch controllers to be plugged in, and will send programmable keystrokes to programs.

          The upcoming version 2 of Digital Fake Book will support his controller natively.

        • certainly has worked for me perfectly since day one. You can always return the pedal is all doesn’t work as it should, and get your $ back. I’ve been using mine several days/nights a week for over three years now 🙂

    • I use a free installer system called Inno Setup that is extremely popular. Because Inno Setup is sometimes used by virus makers, many anti-virus programs have mistakenly marked any Inno Setup installer as a virus,

      Very frustrating.

      • No problems, just wanted to comment about it in case someone else runs into the same issue. Great programming job, btw.

  10. Mike
    I can’t thank you enough for the great job you did on putting this program together. You can’t believe how much you have lightened my load at gigs. No more hauling in books and searching for requests song is so much easier. In the past I used an MP3 player to play my backing tracks and word pages for my files. So finding the page and then pulling up the backing track was to time consuming and if you got them up dancing you need to keep songs coming quick. I have 2 reguests.
    1.) Please allow us to donate something – you have helped so many others with this program and I for one would like to send a donation.
    2.) I sent this request before, but I was hoping in your update that you can add a change that allows you
    to exit a current gig playlist when you have a song requested at a gig and when you return to the the gig playlist that it returns you to the same place you were when you left it so you don’t have to search for your
    previous spot in the playlist again.
    Thanks so much

    • Hi John,

      I’m not sure I understand your request. DFB should remember the playlist and position on exit and put you back in the same spot when restart. Do you close DFB before you shut down the computer? If not, it may be that Windows is pulling the rug out from under DFB before it has a chance to complete writing the settings file.

    • If I may echo the same question about exiting playlist…
      DFB will come back to the same playlist (and song) upon exit, but not when opening another playlist without closing the program.
      I suppose you could add the song request to the existing playlist, but you’d still be at the bottom and have to scroll back up to where you were.
      I think the idea is to temporarily close the existing playlist, finding the requested song, then a resume button to go back to the previous playlist.
      I have been planning to ask the same question. (That, and, could you put in a small digital clock somewhere in the display?)

      • Heheh! I LOVE the idea of a digital clock in a corner I don’t wear a watch..and am always squinting at the small desktop one in the right lower corner, and would rather not have to minimize my screen to accommodate some other program. Is this an easy add, Mike?
        PS _ I play out professionally several nights per week, for the last four years, and ALWAYS use this program on stage. When I drag along a new player with me (bass or keyboards usually), I have a second laptop stand with a 17″ flat panel monitor attached, cloning my laptop display of DFB via the VGA out on the lappy. That setup, along with the use of a three button USB footswitch, makes the gigs easier in many ways:)
        THANKS, MIKE..for all your hard work taking care of us musicians!!!

      • The playlist thing will be in version 2, which is delayed (of course) due to family commitments. It’s progressing, but way slower than I was hoping.

        I’ve added the clock to the list, and that will be in V2 as well. It’s going to have to go in the increasingly busy top bar and will only show if your screen is wide enough (most will be).

  11. Just a comment Friends to make this better!

    – there also other solutions like Musicreader etc.

    -what is really needed are:
    – any switch -forward
    – any switch or the same twice -backward
    – that’s all for the switches needed

    – notes transposition +/- x–keys
    – save your selection.

    that’s all what’s needed.


  12. Mike,
    How is the new version of DFB coming along?
    I have 2 requests for inclusion in the new one:
    1. Text formatting or the ability to keep existing formatting, such as from MS Word.
    2. The ability to import scans & images as files, thus allowing a scan or image of sheet music to become a file.
    Thanks for all you do. Have you yet considered accepting “donations” from your grateful software users for all your hard work?
    Thanks again!!!

    • I haven’t done any work on the new program for several months due to having no large blocks of spare time. I’m designing this version properly to allow for future direction and the only actual code I’ve written is the shell for the user interface.

      If I had been accepting donations I would’ve felt obliged to put other, more important things in my life aside to work on DFB.

      I may consider accepting donations with the new program.

      “1. Text formatting or the ability to keep existing formatting, such as from MS Word.”

      Handling Word format won’t be in the first release, but because of the modular way I’m designing it, it won’t be hard to add later.

      “2. The ability to import scans & images as files, thus allowing a scan or image of sheet music to become a file.”

      A graphics display mode will be there. I’ll support the easy formats first (BMP, JPEG, GIF) and add others further down the track.

  13. Hi Mike:
    Would it be possible to program a 3rd
    Foot switch into the program?



    • Hey Tim,
      If you can get hold of almost any usb footswitch, whether one-two-three-four-five, etc., buttons, it can be told to emulate any keystrokes for each button/pedal, as long as Mike has programmed the keystrokes in the program. I have a three button usb pedal and use one button for advance, one for going back, and one for toggling the songlist on and off. The button assignments are done by a free program from Pedalware. Hope this helps!

      • Thanks for the info and I understand all that, but I already have a serial footswitch and don’t really want to invest more money into more equipment.


        • Unfortunately, there are only 2 input wires on a standard COM port that can be easily used as a switch. Adding more switches would become very complicated, hardware wise.

          • I have found a db9 based foot switch and can provide you with a diagram as to the wiring. this foot switch has a fwd switch, rew switch and a play switch.all wired to db9.

          • Hmm, I guess the third switch is between TxD and RxD. That would mean a continuous stream of data would have to be transmitted. I could probably do that, but would need to check how it would affect CPU usage.

    I’ve used this program several years now, and it is an important part of my musical set-up. Currently I’m using DFB with a Dell Inspiron 12″ laptop/tablet convertible, running Windows 8.1. I have accumulated 1755 songs on file and am constantly adding more. I’ve found Mike to be very responsive to requests for tweaks in the DBF program, and the current version implements several of my suggestions. I realize Mike is working on an entirely new ‘from the ground up’ version of DBF, possibly to be called “DBF 2”. I’s been a long time coming, and it apparently still is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions for Mike to include in the new version, go to the forum linked below.

    Please note that he has stated he’ll NOT be doing a Mac, iOs, or Android version, due to time and equipment restraints.

    Here’s the link to the forum:

    Thanks again Mike!

  15. I love this. Very handy. I do need for Android though.

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