One of the most common questions that writers new to screenwriting ask is:
What’s the best FREE screenwriting software?
When it comes to screenwriting, what matters more than the tools you use to write is the story you want to tell. So while it goes without saying that it doesn’t really matter what kind of software you use to write your screenplay, there are some clear advantages to writing with software that facilitates your creative process.
Whether you need real-time collaboration to write with a co-writer, or you need pre-production features (if you’re producing your own script), we’ve outlined a few of the key advantages of what we believe are the 6 best free screenwriting software options for screenwriters to choose from.
Let’s go through the best free screenwriting software options, in alphabetical order:
Arc Studio has rocketed to the top of many writers’ lists of best screenwriting software. Why? Because Arc Studio offers tons of professional screenwriting features in a beautiful, minimal user interface that’s easy on the eyes and easy to learn. Arc Studio offers a totally free version that’s got plenty of great features for screenwriters. It even has productivity features such as reminders and writing sprint timers to help you stick to a writing schedule.
If you opt for the Arc Studio Pro subscription, you can access tools like outlining, real-time collaboration, mobile apps and dedicated customer support in case you have any questions. A script written with Arc Studio can be saved as Final Draft format and opened in Final Draft (and vice versa) for seamless editing while preserving all pagination and formatting. Arc Studio also saves as PDF and Fountain file format. The breadth of features, beautiful design and free tier, make this a leading contender for the best free screenwriting software. Sign up for Arc Studio here (free).
Celtx is geared toward professional and DIY video creators. And it offers much more than just screenwriting software. It also has collaboration tools for production planning and scheduling. It has apps for iPhones and tablets and offers collaboration options, so you never have to be away from your script or the many collaborators that it takes to make a film or scripted online video. With over a million users, Celtx is clearly a strong contender for those considering screenwriting software. That said, Celtx may not be the best option for those writers who have their eyes set on Hollywood, because it doesn’t adhere to all industry-standard formatting and pagination. Sign up for Celtx here.
Highland is a minimal, fast and easy screenwriting app that also offers “in-app” purchases for special tools and formats. The professional package is $49.99, and certainly, it’s one of the most inexpensive of the professional tools.
Highland saves as a Fountain file, but you can also export as a PDF or even change the file type to an FDX. Check out our blog post detailing the Highland Features: Top 10 Features You’ll love in Highland 2.5, the Updated Screenwriting Software from Screenwriter John August.
While Final Draft claims to be “the industry standard,” Fade In bills itself as the “new industry standard.” And it’s certainly living up to its claim with many professional film and TV writers who endorse it. At only $79, Fade In is an accessible price that many consider to be fair. Featuring session-based real-time collaboration and a host of professional features, Fade In is a great option for new and experienced screenwriters alike. Sign up for Fade In here.
The market-leading screenwriting software, Final Draft rings in at a whopping $249 per license, however for this price you get a truly comprehensive screenwriting tool that is used by the majority of professional writers. Although it’s been around since the dawn of the computer age, Final Draft has maintained market leadership with an impressive suite of features and a large user base. If you can afford it, Final Draft is a great tool for writers who don’t need the modern convenience of cloud-backups, real-time collaboration and the option to work on your screenplay in your browser. The good news is that Final Draft has a generous free trial period of 30 days, so you can give it a “test drive” before you buy it. Sign up for Final Draft here.
Last on our list but far from least is WriterDuet, a favorite of co-writers who need a collaborative tool for writing a screenplay together. WriterDuet can import/export multiple formats, such as Final Draft, PDF and even Microsoft Word. And it has automatic revision-tracking and mobile apps. WriterDuet has some vocal fans, and professional writers love it too. Sign up for WriterDuet here.
ScreenCraft has partnered with WriterDuet, Final Draft and Celtx in the past, and we genuinely love and recommend all of these great writing tools. We love Arc Studio so much that we’ve entered into a promotional partnership with Arc Studio, so if you end up purchasing the Arc Studio Pro plan, we will receive a financial benefit. Even if we weren’t in a partnership with Arc Studio, we’d be happy to recommend it whole-heartedly because it is the most stable, beautiful and feature-rich software that we’ve encountered (and we’ve tried all of them). We think it’s a great tool for beginner and experienced writers alike. And the fact that there’s a free version of Arc Studio makes it an easy option to try.
Learn more about the screenwriting software we recommend here.