9 Best FREE Screenwriting Software For Serious & Professional Writers In 2021

The purpose of this software is to understand the Screenplay Language and auto format scripts to industry standards.
Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Screenwriting is fun!

But it takes lots of efforts and time. You need to focus on both writing as well as formatting.

Script formatting is a crucial part of screenwriting!

A dedicated Screenwriting Software is very useful in this case because it takes care of script formatting and lets you focus on writing.

However, you can write scripts in Microsoft Word, Text Editor and Notepad! But for sincere screenwriters, it is not the best way of script writing.

While talking at Scriptmag, an award-winning playwright and screenwriter Corey Mandell says,

Every year there are millions of people who choose screenwriting as their career but only 1% of them are able to write really good-to-great scripts, and another 4% are able to put out good scripts.

So the chances of really succeeding are few in millions!

And, the key to success is allowing ideas to flow seamlessly from your brain to page at an easy pace.

Why to choose a Screenwriting Software?

The program is designed to understand the Screenplay Language and improve efficiency as well as the speed of writing.

One of the main reasons of having this software at your end is the availability of excellent templates for making writer’s life easier.

In general, a screenwriting software is capable of Auto-typing, Spell and Grammar check.

But in contrast to common word processing tools, it is capable of

  1. Automatic script formatting based on screenplay language
  2. SmartType
  3. Outlining
  4. Mind mapping
  5. PDF import and export
  6. Revision history
  7. Storyboards
  8. Progress tracker
  9. Report generating tools
  10. Cloud storage
  11. Real-time collaboration with your team
  12. And more….

BOOM! I believe, you might be surprised by knowing this awesome capabilities of a screenwriting software.

Overall, understand that normal word processing tools cannot withstand the special needs of a Professional Script Writer. It is a wise choice to choose excellent program like a screenwriting software to write error-free and compelling scripts that gets accepted.

Benefits of using a Screenwriting Software

The program offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface that has complete knowledge of scene headers like “Int” and “EXT”.

Ex. If you will type-in something in all caps, the software understands it as a character name. So, getting that typed text in the center of the corresponding line and automatically entering next line as a dialogue.

Scriptwriting Software Interface - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com
Screenplay Language Formatting

You can quickly map ideas, analyze, and organize scripts using a screenwriting software.

Few programs on this list comes with Production Management Tools for people with additional responsibilities.

List of Screenwriting Software

  1. Final DraftBest Overall
  2. Movie Magic Screenwriter
  3. StudioBinderBest Free
  4. CeltxEditor’s Choice
  5. HighlandBest for Mac
  6. Fade In
  7. WriterDuetBest for Team Collaboration
  8. Trelby
  9. Slugline

Now without any further ado, let’s start,

1. Final Draft

Final Draft - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Discussion about best Screenwriting Software is incomplete without mentioning Final Draft.

It is the film industry standard for script writing!

Final Draft was launched back in 1990 by scriptwriter Marc Madnick and software engineer Ben Cahan.

This software has attracted a huge fan base. Features of each new Screenwriting Software in the market is compared with Final Draft to see if it meets the industry standards or not.

Is it Worth trying?

With Final Draft, script auto-formatting is a breeze. It includes more than 300+ templates!

The SmartType feature displays a dropdown menu each time you type initials of a scene header, location, and character name.

Final Draft offers an intuitive user interface along with the features like auto backup, real-time team collaboration, alternate dialogue, story map, beat board, and more to organize your script ideas.

This program can be used in pre-production management as well.

It packs special reporting tools to analyze actors and scenes. The price of this software is $249 (one-time purchase). If you wish to test the Final Draft, then there is a 30-DAY TRIAL version available.

Benefits

  • Compatible with Windows & Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • iPhone app
  • Production management tools
  • Excellent reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • No Android App

2. Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Movie Magic Screenwriter is the biggest competitor of Final Draft. They both have identical features!

Together they are known as the “Big Two” of the industry.

This program was launched back in 1983 and sold by Write Brothers.

Formatting movie, television, novel, stage play and even comic book scripts is a breeze.

Movie Magic Screenwriter is the first to receive Academy Technical Achievement Award for inventing an excellent screenwriting software.

Is it Worth trying?

It will automatically format your script to industry standards.

In contrast to Final Draft’s organizing tools (story map and beat board), the Movie Magic Screenwriter offers a custom NaviDoc Interface to outline and display notes, scenes, bookmarks, etc.

There are hundreds of templates for stage plays, teleplays, musicals, comic books, novels, short stories, etc.

Movie Magic Screenwriter can be easily synced with other production management tools.

Benefits

  • Compatible with Windows & Mac OS
  • Team Collaboration
  • Production management tools
  • Excellent reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • No Android & iPhone app

3. StudioBinder

StudioBinder - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

This Screenwriting Software is a new rising star in the film industry.

StudioBinder is all-in-one solution to manage workflows of photo, video, TV, and film production through a centralized location.

Sidenote: It is a Web App program, you can access it through web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

It offers excellent production management and reporting tools.

Is it Worth trying?

An easy-to-use and intuitive user interface lets you write and sync your scripts brilliantly.

StudioBinder is excellent at managing locations as well as cast and crew, sending call sheets, and team collaboration.

This software is capable of tracking script elements like scenes and character names. This features makes StudioBinder very convenient in breaking down script and creating storyboards.

Script writing service is FREE. But, if you wish to use their Production Management Suite then you have to pay monthly charges.

Benefits

  • FREE
  • Web app program
  • Team collaboration
  • Excellent production management suite
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • You must be connected to the internet to use their Web app

4. Celtx

Celtx - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The Celtx stands for Crew, Equipment, location, Talent, and XML.

It is an impressive tool for taking a film from script to shoot.

In the initial days, this program was totally FREE to use! But now, you need to pay $10/month to use Celtx.

Along with the screenwriting, this software is highly popular as an excellent real-time collaboration tool.

Is it Worth trying?

It packs auto script formatting, revision tracking, script breakdown, storyboards, index cards, and offers an excellent customer support.

The Celtx can import scripts from PDF, Word Document, and other screenwriting software like Final Draft.

You can use this software as a budget-friendly alternative to the “Big Two” (Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter software).

In contrast to the Final Draft which is available at $249 for lifetime, the Celtx is a monthly paid service. It will save your money if you plan to use a professional-grade screenwriting software for short period time.

Benefits

  • Budget-friendly
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • Production management tools
  • Reporting tools
  • Andoid and iPhone app

Drawbacks

  • We didn’t find anything noticeable here!

5. Highland 2

Highland 2 - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Highland is a FREE screenwriting software and compatible only with Mac OS.

The intuitive and easy-to-use interface of this software has attracted a huge fan base over last few years.

Highland’s Fountain file format can be opened and edited in any Text Editor. This feature makes Highland standout on this list.

You can use Sprint Feature to track how much time you take to get the job done.

Is it Worth trying?

Script auto-formatting with Highland is a breeze!

You can drag and drop scenes and notes for re-ordering them, create alternate scenes, breakdown scripts based on character names and gender, track revisions, etc.

The PDF you will export will be watermarked in FREE version of Highland 2.

The Highland premium version costs $49 (one-time purchase) and offers perks like priority email support, ten built-in editor themes, 14 screenplay templates, etc.

Benefits

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Compatible with Mac OS
  • iPhone app
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Windows OS
  • No Android app

6. Fade In

Fade In - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Fade In is an another budget-friendly alternative to the “Big Two” (Final Draft & Movie Magic Screenwriter).

You can download a fully functional demo for a limited time period.

Desktop premium version is available at the price of $79. To enjoy this software on your phone you need to purchase Android or iPhone app separately for the price of $5.

It comes with the image import support which let you insert images into the document.

Is it Worth trying?

Similar to other screenwriters on this list, the Fade In offers auto-formatting, auto-typing, revision tracking, script breakdown, Cloud backup, and real-time team collaboration.

Also, it boasts few unique features like Dialogue Tuner for keeping consistent character voice, action to dialogue calculator, overused word counter, etc.

With an impressive easy-to-use interface, it also offers a bunch of useful templates for getting started quickly.

The Fade In can import scripts from Rich Text and other screenwriting software. You can export scripts into PDF format and Open Screenplay Format XML.

Benefits

  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Mobile app needs to be purchased separately.

7. WriterDuet

WriterDuet - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The WriterDuet is popular as an impressive screenwriting software for team collaboration. Several people can work on the same line and see the changes in real-time.

It has a unique chatbox and commenting feature for flexible real-time communication with teammates.

Sidenote: It is a Web App program, you can access it through web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

Is it Worth trying?

This program offers auto-formatting, revision tracking, asset tagging, alternate dialogue storage, Cloud backup, etc.

It is an excellent tool for teaching institutes!

WriterDuet is available for FREE with limited capabilities. For getting maximum out of their software choose from one of the paid plans starting at $7.99 per month.

Benefits

  • Web app program
  • Excellent team collaboration
  • Android and iPhone app
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • You must be connected to the internet to use their Web App

8. Trelby

Trelby - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Trelby is a popular script writing software launched back in 2003 as “Blyte”.

In 2011, the owners renamed it as “Trelby” and made it an open-source software.

Trelby is FREE and beginner friendly program.

Is it Worth trying?

It offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Like most others on this list, the Trelby offers industry-grade auto script formatting, auto-typing, spelling check, revision tracking, a full-screen mode, etc.

You can generate reports based on character names, scenes, locations, and dialogues.

It allow you to import scripts from Final Draft, Celtx, Fountain, Adobe Story, and Fade In file formats. And, then export into PDF, Rich Text, Fountain, and HTML format.

Benefits

  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with Windows and Linux OS
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Mac OS
  • No mobile app

9. Slugline

Slugline - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The Slugline is an excellent Screenwriting Software for Mac users. It is not compatible with Windows OS.

This software is developed with writing in mind, so it doesn’t include any production management features.

Is it Worth trying?

The program offers an extremely easy-to-use, intuitive and ready-to-type interface.

Although Slugline cannot compete with other Screenwriting Software on this list yet it is an excellent choice for beginners.

This program uses popular Fountain file format.

You can install this software on Mac as well as on your iPhone or iPad.

Script writing up to six pages is free! For scripts that are longer than six pages you need to pay $40. The iPhone app is available at the price of $20.

Benefits

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Compatible with Mac OS
  • iPhone app

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Windows OS

Conclusion

When it comes to Screenwriting Software, the “Big Two” is inevitable.

  1. Final Draft
  2. Movie Magic Screenwriter.

We highly recommend you to opt-in for Final Draft if you are taking script writing very seriously.

Celtx, and Fade In are the budget-friendly alternatives to the “Big Two”.

If you are looking for screenwriting software with the excellent Production Management tools, look no further and go ahead with StudioBinder.

Finally, while wrapping-up, I would like to say,

If you think I am missing any fantastic Screenwriting Software worth mentioning on this list, then comment below. I will look forward to adding it to this list.

Rakesh Kurhade
Rakesh is a tech enthusiast, engineer, team leader and digital growth hacker. He is working for Robu.in (robotics e-commerce website) for the past 4+ years. His expertise includes research, reading, writing, thinking, planning, organizing and striving for perfection. He is passionate, hardworking and committed to plan and develop the brand Robu. In his free time, he writes articles at ULTRAdvice to help people find the answers to the questions that Google cannot answer. Contact him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.