Trying to figure out what is the best free screenwriting software can feel like an impossible task.
While the sheer number of software programs gives Screenwriters plenty of options from which to choose—and that’s a good thing!—it also can make for a tedious and time-consuming undertaking as you wade through what exactly is available.
And that’s why we did the wading for you! If you’re searching for a free screenwriting software option for your next great script, keep reading…
Why the qualifier of “fully” free software options? The truth is that many screenwriting software programs allow only for a temporary complimentary trial period before they expect you to pay for their goods… But we’ll get to that a bit later!
In the meantime, we’ve put together a list of the nine best free screenwriting software programs that really, truly are free to use as of the date of this article:
- Fade In
- Highland 2
- KIT Scenarist
- Page 2 Stage
- Story Touch
DramaQueen offers free lifetime usage “without any restrictions in the number or length of projects or in the duration of usage.” Not too bad, eh?
Per the description of perks on its page, DramaQueen also makes it easy for Screenwriters to work between its program and that of Final Draft, which is the current top-selling screenwriting software in the world. So if you’re specifically looking for an alternative to Final Draft, DramaQueen can likely quell your fears of not being able to import your old scripts into a different program.
DubScript makes it crystal clear on its site that it is “a free download and all features (import/export, etc.) are… free to use without restriction to number of scripts, number of scenes, etc.” That being said, Screenwriters may see the occasional ad pop up while working on their scripts. DubScript also adds a watermark to any scripts you might want to share with others. For a fee, though, you can get rid of both the ads and the watermarks.
Fade In is one of the more well-known free screenwriting software programs on account that it’s been around for ten years and counting. Because of that, some of you may be saying, “Wait a minute! Fade In makes you pay!” Well, yes and no… You can pay a one-time fee of $79.95 to get the full version that includes complimentary future updates.
That being said, you can continue to use the free trial version as long as you want if you don’t mind exporting or printing out your scripts with its watermark. The free option also doesn’t allow for online real-time collaboration.
Highland 2 is an app that might just be the perfect screenwriting option for you. Like Fade In, it does have a Pro tier with a one-time $69.99 fee, but the important thing to focus on is that you don’t have to upgrade at all! Many of its features are available through its free version as well.
KIT Scenarist is a screenwriting software program born out of the desire to maintain film production consistency on an international scale. Its desktop version is entirely free to use, but like several of the other software options we’ve mentioned so far, you can get a few more perks if you decide to upgrade—but again, it is not required! Should you choose to spend some money on KIT Scenarist, you’ll get cloud access and be able to sync to other devices.
Page 2 Stage is an interesting screenwriting software option because once upon a time it did require users to pay for it. That is no longer the case! You can download this option entirely for free with one catch. As its site states, because “the program is free, there is no support provided. None, zilch, nada.” So there you have it.
Page 2 Stage
We’re including Story Touch, as it’s described as a free screenwriting software option, but there’s relatively little on the internet that goes into detail about it. From the reviews that are available, though, they describe the program in glowing terms. Like all of these software options, Story Touch may be the right fit for you, but you won’t know until you try it.
StudioBinder doesn’t restrict itself to just screenwriting software. It also offers resources for every other part of the filmmaking process. Another great thing about StudioBinder? It doesn’t restrict Screenwriters.
“StudioBinder screenwriting software is completely free to everyone. Create as many projects as you like. Write as many pages as you like. No limitations.” And like several other options already mentioned, StudioBinder makes it easy to convert scripts that you’ve already written with other software programs.
Rounding out our list of the best free screenwriting software options currently available is Trelby, which like Fade In has become one of the more well-known programs over the last several years—and for good reason! For one, it’s free. And two, it happens to be a program that its users can actually contribute to. That’s right! If you have suggestions of how to make the program better, Trelby welcomes them, allowing the software to become continually more intuitive.
We just covered the best free screenwriting options that you can take advantage of without ever having to spend a dime. But we want to make sure you’re fully aware of all your options, including those programs that allow you to try out their goods for a limited time.
Without further ado…
The best screenwriting software with free trials:
- Arc Studio Pro
- Final Draft
- Movie Magic Screenwriter
What you will quickly realize is that many screenwriting software programs will let you try them out for either a few weeks or a few scripts before requiring a fee, one-time or otherwise. Arc Studio Pro is one of those programs. You can use it for your first two scripts written with its software. If you like it enough to want to continue using it, it’ll cost you $99 per year.
Arc Studio Pro
Celtx has become a highly popular screenwriting program, and while not really free, the fact that so many Screenwriters sign up for it is a testament to the quality of its software. If you want to try it out, you have two weeks to do so.
After that, the payment plans will kick in if you decide to stick with it. The lowest of those plans is $7.50 per month for the first year. So keep in mind that the cost will go up after those first twelve months if you commit to Celtx.
There’s really no way of having a conversation about screenwriting software programs without mentioning Final Draft. Would you believe that this program has been around since 1990? As you can imagine, it has built up its fair share of users over the last thirty-one years and continues to be the most in-demand screenwriting software option, though its competition has soared over the years.
If you want to try it out, Final Draft will give you sixty days to do so. Then you’ll have to make a decision of whether to buy, which starts at $99.99 for an educational license and $199.99 for a regular license. Keep in mind that future upgrades will also incur a cost!
Like Celtx, Movie Magic Screenwriter is a program that allows users to test it out for two weeks before having to decide between trying another screenwriting software program or committing to its cost. As of now, that one-time cost is $169. For each purchase, the program allows for three activations.
Movie Magic Screenwriter
Prewrite is a screenwriting software program that follows the same free trial restrictions as Arc Studio Pro, meaning that curious users are limited by the number of scripts they can write for free before being required to pay for it. In this case, Prewrite allows for exactly one free script, and then users must decide if they want to pay its $9.99 per month fee to continue with this particular program.
Another software option that’s growing in popularity is Scrivener. What sets its free trial period apart from those mentioned so far is the way it defines usage. It states that each trial period consists of “30 days of use.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean just a month. If you actively use the program for only five days in a given month, you still have 25 more days for free!
So when Scrivener says “use,” it actually means it, which is great for Writers who want a bit more time to gauge whether this is the program for them. If you decide to pull the trigger, the fee scale is $41.65 for an educational license, $49 for a regular license, or $19.99 for an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch license.
The last on our list of the best free trial screenwriting software programs is WriterDuet. As its name implies, this particular option is great for Screenwriters who have a writing partner or frequently collaborate with others.
WriterDuet also allows for more free scripts than any of the other programs mentioned so far, with Writers getting three of them before being required to purchase. Users can pay by month or by year with the latter option affording some savings. The lowest annual plan begins at just $60.
We’ve just given you quite a bit of information, which we know can sometimes lead to more questions, including:
In a word, yes. Technically speaking, you might be able to format your script through a non-screenwriting program like Microsoft Word or Pages. But why put yourself through that?
Not only would it be incredibly time-consuming to constantly pay attention to how you’re formatting your script, but also just one oversight or mistake can have a migraine-worthy ripple effect on the rest of your project. With so many entirely free screenwriting software programs from which to choose, why not make it easier on yourself so that you can focus your attention solely on that next great story of yours?
Though we’ve already mentioned Final Draft, we’re bringing it up again simply because it has that big of a reputation in the screenwriting world. While a sixty-day free trial is as much as Final Draft allows before requiring users to pay for the software, that amount of time is definitely enough for those testing it out to decide if this is the program they want to use.
Final Draft has been around for more than thirty years because so many users prefer this particular program, but as we’ve shown, it’s hardly the only choice anymore. Especially for emerging Screenwriters who may not be able to drop a couple hundred dollars for it, rest assured you have other options.
Let’s refer to the question above about using screenwriting software. Why? Because when it comes down to it, that’s the point we want to drive home rather than what particular program any given professional Screenwriter uses.
It’s a pro move to recognize that by simply using actual screenwriting software, you’re one step closer to career success. While most of the programs referenced have quotes on their sites from known Screenwriters praising their software, their endorsement doesn’t mean that particular program is the right one for you. What’s far more important than who uses what is that you take the time to choose a program that fits best with your personal requirements and cost parameters.
And there you have our 2021 list of the best free screenwriting software programs. Given that every single option we’ve listed is either entirely free or free for a period of time, you now have at your fingertips the opportunity to find the program perfect for your individual needs as you set off on your screenwriting career. Good luck!