What are the best free screenwriting software options for writers?
Below you’ll find our picks for the best 12 FREE screenwriting software options for the aspiring screenwriter in 2022.
Here’s the criteria we used while compiling the list:
• You must be able to write and export at least one script for free. Many “best free screenwriting” posts contain software that you have to purchase after a free trial in order to continue using it. While a couple on this list do have free trials, you’ll still be able to use the software after the trial’s expired to complete your script(s).
• Must be a program that we can personally vouch for. In order to make the list, each program has been used and tested by our team.
So let’s get to it!
Free scriptwriting software #1: Arc Studio Pro.
Arc Studio Pro has a clear and distraction-free interface that lets you focus on your story while making formatting to industry-standard a piece of cake.
Improved collaboration features and smooth feedback management are also made to keep your workflow straightforward and efficient while it keeps track of all your edits so that nothing gets lost. On top of that, an intuitive drag-and-drop and color-coding system lets you organize or rearrange your story in no time.
The app is available on desktop for Windows and Mac but also has a web version. Their basic free plan includes two scripts for free without any limit on the number of pages.
Free screenwriting software #2: Causality.
This free screenwriting app is different from most on this list in that it works by laying out the beats of your screenplay visually, rather than in a conventional movie script format.
In other words, Causality is a new kind of screenwriting app that helps you develop the story on a macro level, rather than get caught up “in the weeds” of each scene on a micro-level.
It doesn’t matter how complex the story is, Causality will be able to give you an overview of the events using its Story Sequencing Engine to analyze your story’s events. It can even unearth plot problems you may not have considered and suggest more logical sequences.
As far as drawbacks go, the actual writing is limited within this free version of Causality. You have to unlock the paid version for unlimited writing, and a few other features, such as exporting and printing.
Free screenwriting software #3: DramaQueen.
DramaQueen is a free screenwriting software download that’s compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems. It’s also very compatible with Final Draft, so if you want to import, export and format using that platform, DramaQueen is a good choice.
The software has a range of handy features including structuring a story into “steps,” auto-formatting, an ideas panel and drag-and-drop navigator. The ideas panel is particularly useful, allowing you to collect and edit all of your research and ideas in one place.
DramaQueen is completely free of charge with no limits on the number of scripts you can upload or length of usage.
Free screenwriting software #4: Fade In.
This is one of the best screenwriting software programs out there. Is Fade In free? Yes, there’s a demo version of the paid version and the functionality is exactly the same.
As they say on the site, “The free downloadable demo offers the same functionality as the full version, although it will pop up an occasional purchase reminder after 10 pages, and includes a watermark on print/PDF output.”
Some of its best features are real-time collaboration, and the fact you’re not restricted just to using scenes and index cards to organize your script. You can also color-code it and mark significant plot points, characters and other elements as you like, giving you a personalized, clear overview of the story.
Available for Mac, Windows and Linux users and the only drawback with the free version we can see is that your script will include a watermark once you print it out or convert to a PDF.
Free screenwriting software #5: Highland 2.
This is a Mac-only free scriptwriting software program developed by professional screenwriter, John August. Its tagline is “More Power. Less Distraction,” and that’s exactly what it’s like to write using this program.
Beautifully designed and feature abundant, the software handles formatting automatically, so you can focus on writing, rather than worrying about menu commands.
Highland 2 is able to indent characters, parentheticals and dialogue as you type, organize your screenplay by acts and sequences instead of sluglines, and much more. A new feature that’s been added recently is Revision Mode in which you can track all your changes in different colors.
This free screenwriting software download is also adept at moving files between Final Draft, Fountain, and PDF formats. The only two downsides are that it’s only available for Mac OS, and PDFs you create will be watermarked.
Free screenwriting software #6: Kit Scenarist.
What makes Kit Scenarist one of the best free screenwriting software options out there is the fact that it’s not just a word processor. The program is also a one-stop research, planning and statistical hub.
Kit Scenarist enables you to collect all your research for a script in one place—characters, locations, descriptions, photos, etc.— alongside the actual script itself. Plus, track statistics such as how many dialogue lines each character has.
If you’re a fan of visualizing your story on index cards Save the Cat-style, the program also contains a card module that allows you to see your story laid out on a board.
The word processor itself is pretty standard and does a good job of formatting a script to industry standards and you’re even able to configure the program’s algorithm to suit your writing needs. Kit Scenarist is available for Mac, Windows and Linux users and is able to import/export to Final Draft.
Free screenwriting software #7: Milanote.
Milanote lets you see your story structure at a glance—just like your wall of index cards, but portable. Easily drag and drop to rearrange the key parts as your story comes to life. It’s the perfect companion to your script.
Organize your research, ideas, characters and outline in one place. And they have a wealth of templates to help you get started. Milanote has a free plan, and is available as a web app and Mac app. They also have accompanying mobile apps for recording ideas on the go.
Free screenwriting software #8: Page 2 Stage.
You used to have to pay for Page 2 Stage, but it’s now a 100 percent free open source scriptwriting program. The main advantage it has over other software on the list is that it’s available in thirty languages. So if you’re, say, Turkish, and are looking for a free screenwriting software program, this could be the one for you.
The program’s language capability also comes in handy if you’re British, Australian or Canadian and want to make sure your screenplay adheres to US English for the American market.
A disadvantage of Page 2 Stage is that it only runs on Windows operating systems. On the other hand, this can be seen as an advantage if you’re a PC user. As they say on their site, “We concentrate on Windows so we can make it perfect for Windows without the compromises necessary for a program that runs on multiple platforms.”
Free screenwriting software #9: Prewrite.
Prewrite is another visual outlining tool rather than traditional free screenwriting software to write your script on. It comes with an emphasis on perfecting story structure.
Compared to other programs, it’s uniquely positioned as the first step in the writing process, with multiple layouts to view and analyze your work before exporting out to Final Draft (or any programs that opens .fdx) to finish the job.)
Bring your scenes and characters to life with inspiring commercial-free images from Unsplash and The Movie Database, all searchable right from within the app.
The Story Stats view breaks down INT. vs. EXT., location time of day, overall tone, and which scenes specific characters appear in together. If you’ve already started from the blank page, you can import an existing script to analyze and refine its structure.
Check out Prewrite >>
Free screenwriting software #10: StudioBinder.
Similar to WriterDuet (see #11 below), StudioBinder have produced a great, free screenwriting software that’s cloud-based. If this doesn’t bother you and you’re looking for a fast, clean program on which to write, this could be the one for you.
It’s super simple to set up and use and will serve you just fine if you’re trying out screenwriting for the first time and/or aren’t worried about a lack of bells and whistles. (For example, we can’t see a way to remove scene numbers, and it appears to only export to PDF.)
That said, the software does come with a host of production features for budding movie makers, such as shot lists, shooting schedules and storyboards. And for a grand price of $0, that’s a pretty good deal, we think.
Free screenwriting software #11: Trelby.
Is Trelby free? Yes! It’s a great open-source screenplay software that’s downloaded and recommended by many aspiring screenwriters. No locked features, no watermarks, no script limits. And if you know how to code you can even modify the software yourself to suit your needs.
Using Trelby is fast and simple and it’s able to import Final Draft software, Celtx, Fountain and Fade In Pro. Likewise, it can export to PDF, Final Draft and Fountain, as well as HTML and RTF. Not only that, but the software generates the exact same output, meaning it behaves identically across all platforms.
The main drawback with Trelby is that it’s currently only available for Microsoft Windows and Linux, although a Mac version is said to be on the way… And is it still being supported and updated? Hard to tell but does the job.
Free screenwriting software #12: WriterDuet.
Another great free screenwriting software option is WriterDuet which allows real-time collaborative work in which you and your writing partner will immediately see all edits made. And you can both filter any changes made by who made them, the date and line.
WriterDuet backs up your work locally when offline, and automatically syncs it once you reconnect. Its compatibility with other screenwriting software is equally impressive, allowing you to import and export Final Draft software, Fountain, Celtx, PDF and Word files.
While the free version won’t watermark your script when you print or export it, bear in mind this software is online only. As such, you’re only able to upload three scripts with one account, but all are without page limits, time limits or export/import quotas.
To work with more than three screenplays and access the more feature-rich version, you have to pay, but you can get 10 percent off by adding this code at checkout:
(Please note: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase a paid version of one of these programs we’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
Frequently asked questions on the best free screenwriting software.
Q. What is the best program to write scripts on: a free option or a paid one?
A. If you’re serious about screenwriting your best option is purchase some professional software as you’ll be able to access more features. You can read about our top 5 recommend paid programs here. If you’re on a budget, though, or just testing the waters with screenwriting, then our 10 best free screenwriting software options above are a great place to start.
Q. What is the best free script writing app?
A. Luckily we have post on the best free screenwriting apps for you too. Follow the link here to check ’em out our 10 Best Screenwriting Apps for Writers On-the-Go.
Q. Why should I take your word that these are the best free screenwriting software options on the market?
A. You don’t have to. We always recommend you do as much independent research as you can. Try putting a search term in your browser like “best screenwriting software reddit” and see what other writers out there think.
Q. Is Celtx completely free?
A. According to this page on the Celtx website, it is. And on this one, it isn’t. That’s enough confusion for us to leave it off the list.
Top 12 best free screenwriting software: conclusion.
What is the best software for screenwriting? What screenwriting software do professionals use?
We generally advise writers to follow in the footsteps of professional screenwriters and purchase one of these five best screenwriting software programs. If they’re taking it seriously, that is.
However, for the less serious writers out there, the free software market has made some big gains in recent years.
There are some great free screenwriting software programs out there that are virtually identical to their paid counterparts, such as Fade In and WriterDuet.
Overall, give a few free programs a test drive and go for the one that feels best for your writing needs. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Finally, one last point…
Can you write a script on Microsoft Word?
Technically, yes. But we really don’t recommend it. Even if you’re not taking screenwriting super seriously or can’t afford a paid program, there’s no need to struggle along in Word.
Check out our best free screenwriting software above and let them do the heavy lifting of formatting for you.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below with any free screenwriting software or screenwriting apps you think we’ve missed out. What’s the best free screenwriting software out there in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.