Screenwriting Software: 7 Best Programs Compared.

Arc Studio vs. Celtx vs. Fade In vs. Final Draft vs. Movie Magic vs. Script Studio vs. WriterDuet.

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by Script Reader Pro in Best Screenwriting Software
July 26, 2018 78 comments
screenwriting software

Screenwriting software: the 7 best programs compared. 

Comparing all the best screenwriting software options out there can be overwhelming. When each program has multiple cool-sounding features, different price points and different levels of usability, knowing which screenwriting software to choose can be super confusing.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you make up your mind which is the best screenwriting software for you. We’ll be breaking down and comparing each of the six biggest and best script writing software programs on the market.

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something via one of these links we get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

The 7 best screenwriting software options:

Arc Studio


Fade In

Final Draft

Movie Magic Screenwriter

Script Studio


There are of course more programs out there, but we think these are the six best screenwriting software options currently on the market. We’ll be assessing each under the following headings:

An overview of each movie script writing software

Products & prices

Compatibility with other operating systems and screenwriting software

5 best features of each program

Pro screenwriters who use each screenwriting software

Hopefully, this will help you make your choice on which is the best screenwriting software choice for you.

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7 best screenwriting software programs: an overview. 

Let’s kick off with a short introduction and some background information on each script writing software. Who founded them? How long have they been around? What was the motivating factor in their development? etc.

Arc Studio screenwriting software. 

arc studio screenwriting software

While Arc Studio is one of the newer players on the screenwriting scene, they are quickly gaining traction for their distraction-free design, advanced story-building tools, and real-time collaboration (similar to Google Docs).

Arc Studio is also specifically built for writers’ rooms (recently used for Arcane on Netflix), making it a good choice for beginners and professionals alike.

Celtx screenwriting software. 

best screenwriting software

Celtx (an acronym for Crew, Equipment, Location, Talent and XML) is an online screenwriting software built by the same community who gave us the Mozilla Firefox browser.

It began life as a desktop only software, but soon switched to the cloud and has become an all-in-one platform for the writing, planning, and production management of film, video, and digital media projects.

Through the Celtx Studios, teams of users can collaborate in real time to accelerate the pre-production and production cycles, from screenwriting to budgeting to scheduling.

Fade In screenwriting software. 

fade in screenwriting software

Writer/director Kent Tessman began developing Fade In back in 2010 in response to writers like himself being frustrated with certain screenwriting software issues, such as crashing, glitchy display, lack of Unicode, etc.

By 2012, Fade In was in full release to the public and, due to championing by well-known screenwriters, it has become a prominent choice for working and aspiring writers alike.

Final Draft screenwriting software.

final draft software
This script writing software was co-founded way back in 1990 by Marc Madnick and Ben Cahan and grew and advanced over the years, even winning a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award in 2013.

Today it’s still the “big daddy” of screenwriting software. We’ve even had writers email us to ask if it’s okay to use anything other than Final Draft, which just goes to show how popular the program is.

Movie Magic screenwriter software. 

movie magic software

After retiring their Academy-award-winning script formatting software Scriptor in 1995, Write Brothers Inc. introduced Movie Magic Screenwriter in 1996. This was as a script writing software companion to the industry standards Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting.

After a rebranding and significant quality assurance testing, Movie Magic Screenwriter quickly became one of the bestselling screenwriting software programs on the market and remains a dominant presence within entertainment industries worldwide.

Script Studio screenwriting software.

script studio screenwriting software

Script Studio was developed by produced Brit screenwriter and director Dan Bronzite through his company Nuvotech which originally released it in 2004 under the name “Movie Outline” as a step outlining tool to help screenwriters plan their stories before jumping into writing a script.

Since then it has developed into a full screenplay formatting and development app and was rebranded as Script Studio in 2017.

WriterDuet screenwriting software. 

writerduet software

WriterDuet was developed initially to be the real-time collaborative solution for co-writers because there was no solution in that space. But as the company grew, the founder, Guy Goldstein, realized that there were many problems that could stand to be solved with a new, more powerful, and more intuitive standard for screenwriting.

Since then, the screenwriting software has worked especially toward creating a tool that takes zero brainpower to use, but still has everything that your creative, chaotic process will find itself needing, just one click away.

Screenwriting software products and prices. 

When it comes to how much money to spend on screenwriting software, the choice can range from “free” to “two-hundred and fifty dollars.” Going for the free option might seem like a no-brainer, but there are certain technical differences each of these screenwriting software that provide further context to this gulf in pricing.

A free screenwriting software program may be passable when you’re initially starting out as a writer and only two things matter: 1) putting something down on the page and 2) saving money. Free screenwriting software checks both of those boxes.

However, when you feel it’s time to buckle down and start taking your writing career seriously, we would highly recommend purchasing one of the higher grade screenwriting software below. (All prices are in US dollars.)

Arc Studio screenwriting software. 

Arc Studio offers three different plans: a free plan, the Essentials plan, and the Pro plan. The free plan is perfect for getting started and offers industry-standard formatting (with a beautiful design) and a two-script limit. PDF exports have a watermark.

The Essentials plan is ideal for the novice writer, priced at $69/year, allowing access to Arc Studio’s mobile and Desktop apps without watermarks and unlimited scripts. The Pro plan priced at $99/year offers all of Arc Studio’s extensive features, including advanced formatting, outlining tools, and seamless collaboration features.

Another nice bonus is that Arc Studio offers a free 1-week trial of their Pro plan, so writers can try before they commit (and no credit card is required). The screenwriting software also offers periodic updates, student discounts and more.

Celtx screenwriting software. 

Celtx gives you the option of purchasing one of four plans to match your individual needs:

  • Writer: designed for beginners, this plan has entry-level features ($16/mo)
  • Writer Pro: gives access to more writer-focused story development tools ($25/mo)
  • Team: This plan adds production planning tools to the above ($65/mo)
  • Classroom: comes with education and admin controls designed for teaching ($75/mo)

All plans come with a free 7-Day Trial and are cheaper if you pay annually rather than monthly.

Fade In screenwriting software. 

This screenwriting software program retails at a flat one-off fee of $79.95. All current version updates are free. (Although to date all major version upgrades have been free, too, and the company has no plans to charge for one.) So basically you pay once for it and that’s that.

This makes it easy and affordable to jump right into and removes any worry about waiting a year for an update or having to pay for it.

Final Draft screenwriting software.

You can try Final Draft for 30 days for free. The standard version of Final Draft is $249.99 and allows two activations per user. Students & Teachers get Final Draft 11 for a discounted price with an “Educational Version” which is the same product but priced at $129.99.

There is also a portable version of the screenwriting software, “Final Draft Mobile,” for iPhone or iPad which is $9.99. Finally, there’s also a free “reader” version on which you can read scripts, but not edit them.

You can upgrade to Final Draft 11 From Final Draft 10 or older version for a discounted price here. Upgrades don’t come very often, and you usually need to purchase the next version up to take advantage of any new features.

Movie Magic screenwriter software. 

The full version of Movie Magic Screenwriter allows three concurrent activations, has a price of $249.95 via the website, and a street price of around $169. There is also an academic version which allows two concurrent activations and has a website price of $124.95, and a street price of around $99.

Write Brothers offers multi-seat licenses from 5 to 200 seats that require a special order and receive quantity discounts. They also offer deep discounts to guild members (e.g. WGA, SAG, Dramatists Guild, etc.), studios, educators, and has a successful grant program for academic institutions and their computer labs.

Script Studio screenwriting software.

Script Studio retails at $199.95 from their own website, Amazon and the Mac App Store but if you sign up to their newsletter they sometimes run promotions.

You are allowed two activations per user and the license key will work for both Mac and Windows platforms.

They also offer a free demo (without a time-limit) which is basically the full version but with a few feature restrictions, such as not being able to print or export. However, any projects you create in the demo can be accessed in the full version to continue working on.

WriterDuet screenwriting software. 

This screenwriting software has a free version, in which writers can create up to three full-length scripts. Beyond that and for offline writing, collaboration, time-travel, and Pro tools, WriterDuet Pro is available for $11.99 per month or $79 per year. They also offer a one-time-only Lifetime price of $199 that includes all updates for free, forever.

For the fully offline, file-based, more traditional app experience (not cloud-based) WriterSolo is also available for $40 per year or $99 Lifetime (that said, WriterSolo is included with Pro.)

Screenwriting software compatibility. 

What computer operating systems are each screenwriting software compatible with? How easy is it for each one to import and export files to and from other programs?

We list all these below, but if a particular file is missing from an import or export list there are often workarounds involving more software.

(Please note: Unfortunately, the amount of technical factors to take into consideration here is beyond the scope of this blog post. If you have any queries it’s best to contact the product’s support team directly.)

Arc Studio screenwriting software.

Arc Studio Pro is compatible with Mac, Windows, iPad, iOS and any browser.

A mobile app for iOS is also included with their Essentials and Pro plans. These mobile apps are significantly better designed than their peers, with dedicated shortcuts specifically created for writing on the go.

Arc Studio can import files from:

Final Draft (.fdx)

Fountain (.fountain)

PDF (.pdf)

Word (.docx)

Arc Studio can export files from:

PDF (.pdf)

Final Draft (.fdx)

Fountain (.fountain)

Celtx screenwriting software. 

As a browser-accessed screenwriting software, Celtx is universally accessible but for the best possible experience, they recommend using Google Chrome.

There is also a selection of Android/iOS mobile apps that synchronize with your Celtx Studio, allowing you to take aspects of your Celtx workflow on the go.

Currently Celtx can import the following file types:

• Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf)

• Final Draft (.fdx)

• HTML (.html)

• MS Word (.doc and .docx)

• Plain Text (.txt)

• Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Celtx can export to:

• Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf)

• Fountain (.fountain)

• Plain Text (.txt)

Fade In screenwriting software. 

Fade In screenwriting software is compatible with MacMicrosoft Windows and Linux. There’s also a mobile version (a separate $4.95 app) for iOS and/or Android.

Fade In can import and export files from:

Adobe Story (.astx)

Celtx (.celtx)

Final Draft (.fdx or .fdr)

Fountain (.fountain)

HTML (.html)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)


Fade In can also export:

Avid (.txt)

ePub (.epub)

Final Draft screenwriting software.

Final Draft standard screenwriting software is compatible with both Mac and Windows but Final Draft Mobile is iOS compatible only and not suitable for Android devices.

The screenwriting software can import the following files:

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Final Draft can export to:

Avid Script-Based Editing (*.txt)

HTML (.html)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Movie Magic screenwriter software.

The current versions of Movie Magic Screenwriter are compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1, or 10, and MacOS 10.10 and higher.

Movie Magic Screenwriter has slightly different file import/export features in its Mac and Windows versions. Here is the full list for each.

Movie Magic Screenwriter for Mac can import:

Dramatica (Mac)

Dramatica /StoryView Exchange (.dsw Windows)

Final Draft (.fdx)

Plain Text (.txt)

Previous Saved Versions (.bk)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Screenwriter (.mmx)

Screenwriter 4.x and 2000 (.scw)

Timed Backups (.tmb)

Movie Magic Screenwriter for Mac can export:

Avid Editor Format (.txt)

Final Draft (.fdx)

FrameForge 3D Studio (.txt)

Grolla Scheduling (.sex)

Movie Magic Scheduling Export (.sex)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Screenwriter (.mmx) Mac only

Screenwriter 6 (.mmsw) Mac and Windows

Screenwriter 4.x and 2000 (.scw)

Movie Magic Screenwriter for Windows can import:

Dramatica / StoryView Exchange (.dsw – Windows)

Plain Text (.txt)

Previous Saved Versions (.bk)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Timed Backups (.tmb)

Screenwriter 4.x and 2000 (.scw)

Movie Magic Screenwriter for Windows can export:

Avid Editor Format (.txt)

FrameForge 3D Studio (.txt)

Grolla Scheduling (.sex)

HTML (.html)

Movie Magic Scheduling Export (.sex)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Screenwriter 4.x and 2000 (.scw)

Script Studio screenwriting software. 

Script Studio has a user-friendly cross-platform design with project files 100 percent exchangeable between Mac and Windows. They are currently developing an iOS version and hope to develop an Android version too.

It fully supports Unicode text, right-to-left writing systems, WYSIWYG dual dialogue and comes with their own custom screenplay font: “Courier Nuvo.”

The software can import the following formats:

Final Draft (.fdx)

Fountain (.fountain)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

And it can export the following formats:

Final Draft (.fdx)

Fountain (.fountain)

HTML (.html)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

Scheduling (.sex)

Script Studio can also open native Movie Outline and Script It! project files.

WriterDuet screenwriting software.

Since WriterDuet is cloud-based, it can work from any browser and, like Celtx, works great on Google Chrome. The screenwriting software also has desktop apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux and free mobile apps for iOS and Android.

WriterDuet can import:

Adobe Story (.astx)

Celtx (.celtx)

Final Draft (.fdx or .fdr)

Fountain (.fountain)

MS Word (.doc and .docx)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

And the screenwriting software can export:

Celtx (.celtx)

Final Draft (.fdx)

HTML (.html)

PDF (.pdf)

Plain Text (.txt)

Rich Text Format (.rtf)

script coverage services

Best features of each program. 

Now that you’ve got a broad overview, let’s dive into the reasons that make each program one of the best script writing software options on the market.

Arc Studio.

1. Stress-free collaboration. Real-time collaboration is easy, like using Google Docs. Great for writers’ rooms and co-writing.

2. Industry-standard formatting made simple. Never format incorrectly again. Arc Studio makes it simple for writers to format scripts to industry-standard by automatically adding script elements and spell check entire projects with a click.

3. Extensive outlining tools. Arc Studio truly sets itself apart with its comprehensive outlining tools and storyboard features. Outline your entire script with color-coded beats and storylines and easily rearrange plot points by dragging and dropping.

4. Distraction-free interface. Arc Studio’s clean, crisp and intuitive interface helps keep you focused. Turn on distraction-free mode and focus on the words and nothing else.

5. Constant software improvement. A significant benefit of using Arc Studio is their commitment to improving their software. You can expect frequent updates every few weeks.


1. Real-time collaboration. In Celtx, multiple writers can work together simultaneously in a fully-featured script editor.

2. Incremental cloud backup. Celtx is constantly saving your writing to the cloud, meaning you never have to worry about losing your work. This also means you are able to instantly revert your script to any number of previous versions.

3. Productivity tools. With Script Insights, you can set and track writing goals, analyze your writing performance, as well as view graphical breakdowns of your script’s content.

4. Concept-to-camera workflow. The script content you create will automatically pre-populate the other production planning modules, setting the groundwork for taking your story beyond the page.

5. Celtx Gem. This is the screenwriting software program’s latest offering: a one-of-a-kind nonlinear narrative design platform built for writing video games, VR, and other interactive experiences.

Fade In.

1. Stability. This is a big one for users. If it drives you nuts when your screenwriting software crashes or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, Fade In have worked tirelessly to make sure this happens as least often as possible. Users really notice—and appreciate—this, which is probably why Rian Johnson mentions it four times here.

2. Functionality. Fade In tries to concentrate its new feature/function development on things that professional writers actually use. Things like, for instance, the Dialogue Tuner (allowing you to see all of a character’s dialogue in one place), scene versions, and alternates for all elements (not just dialogue.) These are things that many working writers find invaluable.

3. Unicode. Fade In can be used in almost every language on earth, as opposed to many other screenwriting software which are limited to a Western European character set. This is significant, even if you’re just adding a few words or lines of dialogue in another language: this isn’t possible in other screenwriting software.

4. Format support. Fade In tries to import/export every format it can, at least where it makes sense. That includes Final Draft, Fountain, Adobe Store, Celtx, Adobe Story, Rich Text Format, text only and more.

5. Realtime collaboration. Instead of having a system where only one writer can actually modify the document as the others “watch,” Fade In allows multiple users to work in a collaboration session at once.

Final Draft.  

1. Beat Board. This feature replicates the process of plotting using index cards before you begin writing pages.

2. Story Map. Similar to the Beat Board, the Story Map offers a bird’s-eye view of the screenplay’s pages rather than beats. This makes it easy to toggle around and preview certain scenes as well as outline your script.

3. Alternate dialogue. This feature lets you swap out multiple lines for your characters so you can put various options on the page and then plug them in one by one to see which works the best.

4. Collaborate. Both the desktop and mobile versions allow you to write in real-time with another writer and share files via iCloud or Dropbox.

5. Getting the basics down. These are set up as the standard from which all other programs seem to stem from when it comes to macros and tab functionality. Basically, if it were not for Final Draft, all other writing programs would most likely work in a completely different way.

Movie Magic Screenwriter.

1. Real-time formatting. With this screenwriting software, what you see on-screen is what you get when you print. Screenwriter fills in character names, locations, etc., and automatically adds other script elements such as MORE’s, CONT’Ds, page numbers, scene numbers, and conditional page breaks.

2. Inline script notes. Jot down revision notes, casting suggestions, and research questions quicker than you can slap it on a Post-it and show or hide it right in the script text, not in a separate pop-up.

3. Format flexibility. Movie Magic Screenwriter is completely customizable and supports most any form of script writing, from screenplays and teleplays to sitcoms, stage plays, musicals, graphic novels, comics, and more.

4. Full-featured outlining. The outlining system lets you create elaborate outlines up to thirty levels deep. Use the navigation sidebar—the NaviDoc—to show, hide, edit, and move outline elements with ease.

5. Built-in comprehensive production features. Movie Magic Screenwriter has all the production features necessary for complex production scripts and revision controls built-in and is compatible with the industry-standard Movie Magic Scheduling and Budgeting.

Script Studio.  

1. Step-Outlining. Unlike any of its competitors, Script Studio was designed from the ground up to help you outline your story, key sequence by key sequence, and not just scene by scene (which it also does). This means you can group multiple scenes into sequences and easily navigate, drag and drop, merge, organize and structure your narrative.

2. PowerView Structure. This powerful feature allows you to color-code your structure into acts and turning points, load pre-defined structure templates such as “The Hero’s Journey” and create your own structure templates for film and television formats.

3. Character Development. Script Studio enables writers to create detailed character profiles. Chose pictures, generate names, use the “interview” feature, define relationships, focus on a specific character’s dialogue or conversations and, most importantly, develop character arcs step by step.

4. Movie Reference Library. Twelve beat-by-beat outlines and analyses of popular Hollywood movies are included. For example, Dead Poets Society, Die HardScream, Se7en, and There’s Something About Mary. This allows writers to compare the pacing, structure and turning points of their working project with successful movies in the same genre.

5. FeelFactor™ Story Visualization. This unique feature displays two interactive charts to help you gauge the audience engagement level and pacing of your story. Each of the 13 pre-defined FeelFactors represents an element or theme at any given point in your narrative on a scale of 1-10 (which you set), for instance, “Action” or “Romance.”


1. Collaboration. Collaborating is a joy in WriterDuet. Write together on the same line or on opposite ends of the script, or automatically follow your co-writer as they take charge. Chat together on the side or leave comments on any line, color each collaborator’s edits, accept/reject their changes, and more.

2. Ghost mode. This lets you turn invisible until you’re ready to show your edits to collaborators. But even though they’re not seeing your writing, you’re still seeing theirs.

3. Offline mode. This function lets you forget about your internet connection. The app works the same way whether or not there’s a connection, because it’s saving both online and offline all the time when it can, or just offline when it can’t. As soon as you reconnect, it starts syncing online again automatically, without mixing or overwriting edits from collaborators.

4. The Graveyard. WriterDuet’s Graveyard function allows you to cut away content that doesn’t have a place in the script with a simple shortcut. When you find a home for it, simply open the Graveyard and toss it back in.

5. Line alternates. These allow you to add as many versions of a line as you want and then hide them or choose a different winner with a simple shortcut. It’s especially a great feature for trying out jokes.

As used by…

Let’s take a look at which professional screenwriters use and endorse each screenwriting software.

Arc Studio.

Arc Studio Pro fans include the writer’s room of the hit Netflix League of Legions adaptation, Arcane, Netflix writer Anna Klassen and Stefan Lukas (COPS), and many more.


Their website states it’s used by “5 million creatives in 180+ countries worldwide” which is pretty cool. And as Elliot Grove, founder of the Raindance Film Festival says, “As a scriptwriter myself—and someone who has seen thousands of scripts good and bad—I can tell you that Celtx empowers storytellers to write great scripts that really stand out.”

Fade In.

Many of the writers you know, and love, use this program and endorse it, including but not limited to Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi), Craig Mazin (Identity Thief, The Huntsman: Winter’s War), Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, Skyscraper) and more.

Final Draft.

As you can imagine many of the biggest screenwriters in the business use Final Draft. These include James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic), Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens), Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give) and many more.

Movie Magic Screenwriter.

An impressive list of pro screenwriters also swear by this screenwriting software. These include Scott Frank (Logan, Minority Report), Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby), Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) and more.

Script Studio.

Pro fans include Kevin Williamson (Scream), Roger Shulman (Shrek), David Robert Mitchell (It Follows), Matthew Ferro (Happy Feet), Oscar Winner, Kieth Merrill (The Great American Cowboy), Marc Scott Zicree (Star Trek Next Generation), Richard Walter (Former Chairman UCLA Film & TV), Professor John Bernstein (Boston University Screenwriting).


WriterDuet is used by pro screenwriters such as Ed Solomon (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Men In Black), who calls it “the most intuitive, most user-friendly scriptwriting software I’ve ever used.”

The great software roundup. 

Finally, here’s a short summary of each script writing software along with an online demo that should hopefully help you decide which is the best program for you. (Full disclosure: The purchase links below may contain affiliates. This means if you buy a screenwriting software through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but we may get a small commission.)

Arc Studio screenwriting software.

Arc Studio’s feature set is well-thought-out and goes beyond industry-standard formatting. Several features stick out. For example, with their whiteboard solution, you can quickly play with your story’s structure through a drag/drop interface and color-code your scenes, characters, and storylines. Another plus is the software’s flexibility.

The bottom line? Arc Studio Pro lets you focus on writing your story while making formatting industry-standard effortless. This screenwriting software is a great choice for both beginners and professionals.

Buy Arc Studio >>

Celtx screenwriting software.

Celtx is one of the best screenwriting software options for you if you’re looking for a combination of screenwriting, pre-production, production management and team-based collaboration. All in a unified online environment.

It’s an online screenwriting software that is universally accessible, constantly evolving and backed up by a standard of quality. This makes it the go-to platform for millions of professional creatives around the world.

Buy Celtx >>

Fade In screenwriting software.

Fade In is the best screenwriting software to choose if you’re looking for one that’s super stable, has constant free updates and is very competitively priced. And when you have an issue, you’re talking to the developer who’ll help you fix it (or fix it for you.) Instead of someone on a support desk.

With Fade In you can also add images, bookmarks, links, and more to your script. While these might not be used by many writers, they’ve occasionally been employed to great effect. (See Eric Heisserer’s use of images in his screenplay for Arrival.) So Fade In being able to make that easier is an added benefit.

Buy Fade In >>

Final Draft screenwriting software.

Writing a script in Final Draft is a straightforward and intuitive experience. It’s probably the best option to take if you want to use the program most of the industry still use as their go-to screenwriting software program.

Many industry folks are still uninterested in looking into anything other than this screenwriting software since it has always been around. Also, the various other tools to help brainstorm, outline, break down scripts and find statistics, make it still one of the best screenplay software programs.

Buy Final Draft >>

Movie Magic screenwriter software.

Movie Magic Screenwriter is fantastic to use as part of a suite of compatible writing products, such as Movie Magic Scheduling and Budgeting.

The Mac version includes the one-of-a-kind Streamline feature. This searches through your script to find a keyword or phrase changes that can shorten the overall length of a script. Streamline turns a tedious manual process—one that can take hours—into seconds.

Buy Movie Magic Screenwriter >>

Script Studio screenwriting software.

Script Studio is a fantastic, award-winning Windows and Mac screenwriting software that will help you plan your story outline, develop characters, structure your narrative and professionally format your script.

Color-code your structure into acts and sequences, use templates such as “The Hero’s Journey” and compare the progress of your own story side by side with scene by scene breakdowns and analyses of twelve successful Hollywood movies.

Buy Script Studio >>

WriterDuet screenwriting software. 

This is the best script writing software for you if you want your creative process to be able to happen anywhere. From any device, online or offline, and be allowed to time travel to any point in the history of your creative process.

This online script writing software has some of the best technology out there, as that’s what their developers are most passionate about (along with screenwriting.) In short, the program is always striving to build features and enhancements that increase its core power and capabilities for the future.

Get 10% off WriterDuet using this code at checkout: SCRIPTREADERPRO

Buy Writer Duet >>

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Conclusion: the best screenwriting software is…

Well, there is no one best screenwriting software that we can recommend for all users. It really depends what you need it to do, how much you want to spend and what part of the writing process is most important to you.

The only thing we would highly recommend is that if you’re serious about screenwriting, you purchase one of these six programs. Try to avoid downloading a free one, or writing in MS Word.

All of these six best script writing software programs essentially do the same thing but in different ways. Much like with an iPhone or Android phone, the user experience at the basic operation level is quite similar. It has the same type of tabbing and macros built in to make it easy to just sit down and write.

But choosing the software that’s right for you often comes down to the smaller things. Those little things that make for an experience that can be quite different from program to program.

The best screenwriting software for you might be dependent on a number of personal and subjective factors. In the end, though, a program won’t make your script unique or captivating. That’s your job.


What, in your opinion, is the best script writing software currently on the market? Do you prefer offline or online writing? Have we missed any contenders for best screenwriting software you think should be included? Let us know in the comments section below.

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10 Best Script Writing Apps for Writing On the Go

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[© Photo credits: Unsplash]

  1. Jennifer Ellis says:

    Grand slam! Thank you, ma’am, er, sir.

    Thanks for the gift of all of your research and YouTube links and cuts and more. I learned more from this one article than i have in 40 other pieces of paper clipped passages across the web. My husband and I are in a good place to make a decision and upload our already finished script for formatting purposes. Big Texas Hug.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Awesome! Thanks so much, Jennifer.

  2. Tucker Daugh says:

    AS would be the case, all these apparently are great for screenwriting. Is there one that stands out that is best for the format that live theatre musicals or plays should be done in?

  3. Bo Ayars says:

    Haven’t had time to read all the comments, but I’ve found Highland 2 Software, at $49 US, to be a really great tool. Just sent in my first full script using it. Highly recommend it.

  4. Shreenath says:


    On a search for screen-writing software, found this blog and site.
    Bookmarked it. Echo other comments posted on the great key info presented here on the different software for serious screen writers and overall resource reference. Thank you. On this journey, few months ago was looking into this and thought MS Word or maybe Trelby for typing my first draft. But quickly realizing, starting any serious professional endeavor investment must be made in the right tools.

    Number of good options presented here. User requirements will vary. Final Draft (FD) is the de facto standard and it seems MovieMagic arguably takes second spot after FD.

    What I would like to know if anyone can help? One of the comments here (under Tad Bitter) states that WriterDuet is the closest to FD and both have good cross-compatibility for importing/exporting drafts. Anybody else confirm this is the case?
    By the same token, does MovieMagic have good cross-compatibility with FD?

    Any input on the above would be greatly appreciated and help others also who visit this blog. Thanks.

  5. James Polakof says:

    “I am beginning to write a 10 episode limited series based on my published novel. What screen writing software would you suggest that enables me to lift scenes and dialog from my book? ”

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good question! Not sure about novels so your best avenue would probably be to contact all five directly.

  6. Francesco says:

    Really excellent article guys, thanks. Very rarely you find on the web a review article that is so well-written and informative, on any topic. This helps me doing an informed decision. I am starting to write now, will probably go with Final Draft. I am excluding Celtx because of negative comments and the fact they charge a monthly fee instead of a one-off. I don’t understand why they don’t have a free version anymore. The “freemium” model usually works quite well in attracting users and then you have plenty of opportunities to convince then to move to paid version. Not keen on cloud-based softwares, I rather like to have everything local (with backups of course). Fade-In and Movie Magic seem also great choices, but I think it’s probably wise to stick to the software most used one and regarded as industry standard.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You make some great points, Francesco, thanks!

  7. Afonso Malheiro says:

    A lot of detail on all the apps. Thank you for all the work!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome 🙂

  8. Charlie says:

    I’ve always heard that Final Draft is “the industry standard”. What exactly does that mean? Is that some written rule of screenwriting law?

    Also, I was able to write and edit 10 screenplays using the now defunct Amazon Storywriter and saved them all on PDF. It was free, easy to use and allowed us to upload our finished scripts directly to Amazon Studios for production consideration. I would love to find another product like that.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      The “industry standard” line is just a marketing tag from Final Draft. Go with the software that works best for you 🙂

  9. Douglas McConnell says:

    You should have WriterDuet at the top of this list not freaking Celtx!!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      The list is alphabetical.

  10. Jeremy Steel says:

    What’s the name of that Mac application that can use text-to-speech to speak, in different voices, for the different characters?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:


  11. Max says:

    I really appreciate the time you took to put this list together. My options for screenwriting software are narrowing 🙂

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      That’s great to hear, Max!

  12. Theo Hart says:

    Can anybody tell me if Celtx can show edits made in Final Draft like strikethrus different colors etc

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      No, Celtx isn’t the best at importing changes from another screenwriting software.

  13. Angela Freeman says:

    Thanks for this article. I would like to see some free screenwriting software options though.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re in luck – here are 10 Free Screenwriting Software Choices.

  14. Jess Schneider says:

    Does anyone recommend Trelby?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We discuss Trelby in this post on the best free screenwriting software.

  15. Richelle Keller says:

    Wow! A lot of great information in one blog.


    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for reaching out, Richelle!

  16. Allan Dawson says:

    Is Celtx better than Writer Duet?

  17. Clark says:

    I’m late coming to this area but I teach screenwriting and require Final Draft. Celtx is flaky as all get out. WriterDuet problematic. Fade In infinitely flawed. The closest to FD is MovieMagic but I found technical support not as good as with the former. It all comes down to an opinion but my students can get FD for between $99 and – $125 where as with Celtx, that monthly plan adds up quick. In the end, FD just offered (for me) the best of all possible worlds. Affordable. Supportive. Intuitive. Industry standard.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for this, Clark.

  18. Arthur Leskele says:

    Thank you for the very informative write up SRP.

  19. jon says:

    After reading this I feel I have a better idea of what one to go for. Thanks for the advise.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      That’s good to hear, Jon.

  20. Maria Catarina says:

    Do you have any discounts for these screenwriting software please ? I am hard up writer trying to make it thank u

  21. Emma says:


  22. Mina Eriksson says:

    Have people had good experiences with Celtx? I like the idea of working on-line but can it lose your work?

  23. Josh says:

    We need a screenwriting software to break the FD DOMINATION!!!

  24. Simon says:

    If anyone wants a free screen writing software try page2 stage. They used to charge it’s free now. The only catch is there is no support that no one needs anyway. There’s a blog you can ask any question. Check it out.

  25. Uri says:

    Celxt is no longer free and sucks anyway. You should take it off this list.

  26. Elizabeth Johnson says:

    Has anyone had any experience with FadeIn?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Out of our readers, Scott Parisien uses Fade In the most regularly and swears by it.

    2. Paul Toschi says:

      I’m using Fade In for writing my screenplays, it’s great, with a drag-and-drop index card facility as well. I’m using the Mariner suite, viz. Persona which spells out in great detail a Description, Qualities, Flaws and Occupations of 32 personality types for my heroes and villains. Also using Contour for writing the entire structure before I start fleshing it out with Fade In.

      1. Script Reader Pro says:

        Yes, Fade In is great – good luck with your script!

  27. Vincent says:

    I used Final Draft until running into financial difficulties that forced me to lose my apartment and desktop computer. I bought a laptop, but a Chromebook which was relatively inexpensive, but incompatible with FD. So I switched to WriterDuet, first the basic free version. I liked it so much that I bought the lifetime Pro version, which works wonderfully. Even if my finances bounce back and I regain a desktop, I’ll probably keep using WD.

  28. James Rawlinson says:

    I’m sick of FD and looking for alternatives so this post is excellent and timely.

  29. Juan Henrique says:

    Anyone know of where I can get any discounts for Final draft?

  30. Denise Clark says:

    Perfect. Thanks for taking the time to break down the best screenwriting software for us 🙂

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Denise. Thanks.

  31. Roberto Stefo says:

    Just wanted to say what a relief to find a screenwriting blog that actually knows what its talking about?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Roberto!

  32. Vickmar says:

    I have visited some screenwriting software sites and i have found this is the best. It provides the right info in the right way to take the right decision.
    I just have a question. Can I write a fiction book using these software?
    Thank you.

    1. Rosalie Hill says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to thoroughly critique these softwares. While I have never produced a script (I’m working on it), when I first decided that I wanted to write a screenplay I went to the industries best at that time (over 15 years ago). Fast forward to 2021, I’m still leaning towards FD however after reviewing some of the comments I may take a look at Script Studio for their Step Outlining and Character Development features. One of the users above (Tad Bitter) gave some AWESOME feedback and suggestions regarding FD being the industry standard and necessary for production drafts. This blog made gave me some really great insight and I appreciate the knowledge you’ve shared. You’ve cut down some of my research!

  33. Michelle Karman says:

    I use Trelby, which is free, as I can’t afford to upgrade my copy of Final Draft 6 🙁

  34. Peter Breitling says:

    Writer Duet works just fine for me. Much prefer it to MM or FD. Not tried FI or Celtx to be fair.

  35. Ian Su says:

    Great Post! What is the standard courier font of screenplays? Thanks!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks! It’s 12-point Courier.

  36. Warren Milligan says:

    How do I edit a script in Final Draft? It says its locked and I need to upgrade.

  37. Eric Mahony says:

    Excellent comparison. I have a better idea now of what software I want to buy. All the best, Eric.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Eric!

  38. Corey Watts says:

    Right now I can’t find a way to import a script into Celxt from MovieMagic Screenwriter. Any ideas?

  39. Franke says:

    Many people rave about Final Draft so I went ahead and bought it. I was surprised to discover this glitch: Final Draft 10 does not allow the user to print their Beat Board or Story Map! I checked with FD support and they confirmed that fact — but promised that Final Draft 11, expected to be released this fall, will allow printing the Beat Board to a pdf.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      That’s odd – thanks for the heads up, Franke.

  40. Bri says:

    This post gives me a much better idea of all the software out there. I am using MS Word at the moment but everyone keeps telling me to switch to a professional program.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      They’re right, Bri! If you want to take screenwriting seriously you can’t really work with Word.

  41. Greg Mulvern says:

    Very nice post. I think I will take the plunge and buy Fade In today. Thank You.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good choice, Greg.

  42. Chuck Hustmyre says:

    Everyone in production uses Final Draft. Sure, you could use another program for your first drafts, but if you get a script in production or even pre-production, you will need to send the production team the script in FD and all rewrites will need to be in FD. So while FD has some quirks and problems, I do not want to learn two programs, one for first drafts, the other for production drafts, so I use FD. Production people also use FD for boarding, budgeting, and scheduling, so they expect to get the script in FD.

  43. Akugizibwe saimon rumanzi says:

    final draft is best for me.thanx

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Many agree with you 🙂

  44. Noah Broyles says:

    An important subject laid out in a clear and thorough manner. Great post! My personal vote goes to Fade In. Great price and really easy to use.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Noah.

  45. Rick Meyer says:

    So many reasons to use Final Draft. The most important is that it is ultimately the professional standard for most venues. My writing partner and I used Writer Duet for a while, but now simply screen share in a Zoom room.

  46. Amy Warner says:

    Thanks for sharing the list of best screenwriting software. Everyone knows screenwriting is one of the toughest job. It needs a lot of ideas, creativity and much effort. Screenwriting software is just a tool to transform ideas.

  47. Tad Bitter says:

    I wish the article pointed out some of the shortcomings of each program, since they all do basically the same thing. That said, the reason no professionals use Celtx is because it cannot export to Final Draft and over 90% of productions use FD for their production drafts. And without the ability to seamlessly move files over to FD, the program becomes useless. And while the other three programs can export to Final Draft, they are all really “first draft” programs that will ultimately have to be put into Final Draft for production (even John August admits that his program Fountain is just for self-drafts). So while Final Draft isn’t the “best” program, it’s the essential screenwriting program (and as a result, really the only one you need.) The only other program that comes close is WriterDuet. It’s actually a superior program to Final Draft, and is the only one that can flawlessly go back and forth between itself and Final Draft, including revision marks and in-line notes. NONE of the other programs can do that. And I’ve been able to successfully use WriterDuet as my only program, even through productions because of this. Now Final Draft is just my backup program, but I need it as part of my arsenal and it could be my only program, but again WriterDuet is so far superior that I choose to use it instead.


    Wow! This is quite enlightening. From your detailed analysis, is it right for me to assume that it’s only WriterDuet that is offline friendly? Thank you.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the feedback! Only Celtx and WriterDuet are cloud-based.

  49. Robin Chappell says:

    By far and away… The Best Screenwriting Software for me has been Movie Magic Screenwriter. I have tried Final Draft several times over the years (sorry but not the other ones on display here). MMS has always been the easiest for me to use, and like a Mac, is intuitive and non-linear enough for my taste.

    I’ve used it to write seven features, seven short scripts and portions of four novels.. Broad reach and easy.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad you found your personal favorite 🙂

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