The Best Screenwriting Software in 2019

Brad Smith


I'm the creator of this site (Grammar Gang). I'm also the founder of Codeless, a long-form content creation company that's been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and hundreds more.

We produce around ~100 long, in-depth articles each month. So we're relying on these tools on a daily basis. Here, I break down the good, bad, and uuuuuuggggllllyyyy.
Brad Smith

Finding a general writing app is easy. There are so many to choose from.

But there are only a few ones that also serve as a screenwriting app. And in this post, we’re going to talk about these primos.

I’ve broken down each tool with their respective pros and cons, pricing, and at last, mentioned whether you should go for it or not.

So without wasting any time, here are the top four screenwriting apps available in the market in 2019.

Scrivener
One time
$45.00
Best All-Around
★★★★★
✅ Content organization
✅ Storyboard
✅ 14+ templates
✅ Distraction-free
❌ No collaboration
❌ 24+ hour response
Visit Scrivener

1. Final Draft

Best of the best, but expensive.

Before I came across Final Draft, I used to consider Scrivener as the ultimate choice for writing scripts. But Final Draft surpasses all expectations.

This app is made uniquely for screenwriters and presents all the necessary weapons you need to write your next blockbuster script.

Final Draft Pros

#1. Final Draft has more than 300 writing templates to help you write anything from play scripts to graphic novels.

#2. The most vital feature in Final Draft is its collaboration function. Unlike all the other apps in this post, it lets you collaborate with your writing partner for as many projects as you want.

final draft collaboration 1

#3. It provides you Beatboard where you can store your notes, research facts, character notes, ideas, etc.

Focus draft beatboard 1

#4. You can also get back to the older versions of your script by utilizing the revision mode.

#5. Though it’s not a major strength of Final Draft, it’s worth mentioning that you can use the app on Windows, Mac, as well as on iOS devices. But unfortunately, there are no Android apps.

#6. The export options is not as broad as its templates, but you can still export content as PDF, RTF, HTML, .fdx, and .sex files.

Final Draft Cons

#1. When it comes to the service itself, the drawback I noticed was the absence of Full-Screen Mode or Focus Mode that help writers fight interruptions and fully concentrate on their work.

#2. Customer support is also a big concern. The support team never bothered to return to me when I contacted them.

So even though I won’t discourage you from using their contact form, it’s advisable not to rely on them and figure out your own solutions.

Final Draft pricing plans

Final Draft offers two different pricing options – one for its Mac and Windows variant, and the other one for the iOS variant.

The Mac and Windows license would cost you $249. If you want a test ride, there’s also a 30-day trial.

final draft pricing 1

Unfortunately, you can’t test the iOS app. You have to pay $9.99 to use it.

final draft mobile pricing 1

Do I recommend Final Draft?

Definitely. Final Draft is the perfect tool for screenwriters. You can’t get a better deal than this!

Except for Full-Screen mode and Focus mode, which is a minor flaw, it boasts everything you need to create a quality script.

2. Scrivener

Best “budget” alternative

Scrivener is the second best in this list. It is one of the most reputable names among writers be it novelist, eBook writers, or screenwriters (the group in focus now).

It’s affordable, easy to learn, and loaded with vital tools. The only thing that creates a difference between Final Draft and Scrivener is the collaboration ability the former provides you with. Otherwise, both the tools are ditto.

Take a look at its benefits and flaws:

Scrivener Pros

#1. When writing a script, it’s normal to dance between previous and current versions of your dialogues. And the Snapshot feature of Scrivener lets you do that so you don’t lose anything.

scrivener snapshot 1

#2. Scrivener enhances the experience by offering an array of export options to extract files. It includes PDF, Word, RTF, OpenOffice, Plain Text, Final Draft, HTML, XHTML, and ePub.

#3. To keep the writers focused, it has Full-Screen mode that covers the whole screen so that it’s just you and your writing.

scrivener full screen 1

#4. The template collection is not as vast as Final Draft’s, but you still get over a dozen writing templates covering a variety of writing projects like novels, plays, poetry, and much more.

#5. Minus Android, Scrivener has no limitations in terms of device compatibility. It works smoothly on Windows, Mac, iPhones, as well as iPads.

#6. Though you can’t call it a direct feature of Scrivener, Scapple is more than just handy when it comes to take notes or write down unbaked thoughts.

But as I just mentioned, it’s not a native Scrivener tool, but a sister product, and you have to pay extra for it.

scapple 1

Scrivener Cons

#1. The only reason I ranked Scrivener below Final Draft is its inability to share files with other users. And when you can’t share files, there’s no question of working on it together.

It won’t be a big deal for others, but from a screenwriters perspective, it is a serious flaw that can make or break the deal.

#2. Similar to Final Draft, Scrivener’s customer support is not so swift, too. But unlike Final Draft, they at least, get back to the users and solve the problems.

Scrivener pricing plans

Scrivener is a budget-friendly tool that cost only $45 for the Mac and Windows license. The price could go as low as $38.25 if you’re a student. And considering its qualities, it sounds like a steal!

scrivener windows 1

iPhone or iPad users need to pay $19.99 for the complete license.

Do I recommend Scrivener?

Yes, I do recommend Scrivener.

It’s an outstanding option if you don’t want to spend a hefty amount on Final Draft because you get the same quality in 1/6th of the total cost.

The only time it upsets you is when you want to edit a script together with your co-writer. Otherwise, no glitches; it’s smooth as baby’s ass.

3. Script Studio

Along with being a writing app, Script Studio also acts as a writing workshop for budding screenwriters.

It helps screenwriters sharpen their skills by breaking down the scripts of some superhit Hollywood flicks like Die Hard, Spider Man, and When Harry Met Sally.

You can compare your work with these masterpieces to figure out what your scripts lack. Besides this, it also measures the pace of your story and comes with cross-platform support.

Here are a few more reasons why Script Studio booked a spot in this list.

Script Studio Pros

#1. It can import and export files as Final Draft (.fdx), PDF, RTF, Plain Text, HTML, and Fountain Files.

Script studio export options 2

#2. Toggles into Full-Screen mode to hide screen icons, notifications, tabs, and menu bars so that you can get a clean, distraction-free space to write.

#3. Taking notes in Script Studio is easy and fun. Using the Scratch Pad tool you can dump and organize your notes in seconds. And the best part is, it’s already divided into eight categories, so you don’t need to do anything manually.

script studio scratch pad 2

#4. Story Task is another excellent tool that eases explicitly the process of outlining stories and turning it into different directions.

You can also work on different characters and give them a shape using its color-coded index cards.

#5. As mentioned above, if you want to know if your story is persuasive or if it wakes the emotions of your target audience, FeelFactor is the function to go for.

It’ll show you the level of each emotion (romance, action, drama, etc.) your story has through a colorful graph.

script studio feelfactor 2

#6. The scene by scene breakdown is a revolutionary feature that other screenwriting apps should also adopt because it aids the writers to improve their craft big time.

#7. The electrifying, ever-ready support team adds a few more stars to the service. They’re swift in solving customer issues whether it’s a busy Monday or a lazy Sunday.

I’m beyond impressed by their performance!

Script Studio Cons

#1. Having a version control function is a non-negotiable when you’re hunting for a screenwriting app. And this is where Script Studio misses the mark entirely.

You can’t save each version of your app in the same file. It forces you to create a different project for each version. A total waste of time and effort!

#2. You can’t share your files with colleagues or invite other writers to work with you on your project.

However, if the recipient also uses Script Studio, you can share your script through email. But once again, it’s not possible to work together at the same time on the same project.

#3. The good news? Script Studio works on Mac as well as Windows computers. The bad news is, there aren’t any mobile app to provide location free access to your files.

Script Studio pricing plans

Before we talk about money, I would recommend you to take the one month trial before making any decision. If you’re happy with the results you get, you can buy the permanent license of Script Studio for $199.95 (for Mac and Windows).

script studio pricing 2

Also, it is one of the few apps that assure the users a 30-day money back guarantee which is a win-win deal!

Do I recommend Script Studio?

Depends. If you’re a novice who is looking for a writing tool that can also get you the means to improve your skills, the two hundred bucks investment is worth it.

Otherwise, I would not suggest a pro to buy a Script Studio license when there’s a better and cheaper option available in the form of Scrivener.

4. Storyist

Storyist is somewhat ambidextrous – it can be used as a word processor and also as a screenwriting app. But since we are talking about screenwriting apps, when you compare it with other players it looks pale.

But still, there are some areas where it shines more than its counterparts.

Storyist Pros

#1. It has the most extensive export options out of all the screenwriting apps. You can download your content as Word, PDF, RTF, TXT, HTML, ODT, ePub, Final Draft, Scrivener, and Fountain Files. Phew! So many to choose from.

#2. Storyist saves your script spontaneously as you type. It uses the version technology of Apple and doesn’t call for manual efforts to keep different versions.

Whatever changes you make, it gets stored spontaneously. So you are free to go back to the older copies whenever you want.

#3. Story Sheets is the go-to tool if you have some hints and want to prepare the initial outline of your story. You also get color-coded index cards that let you store your notes, thoughts, character research and all the other miscellaneous ideas that are in their infant phase.

storyist storysheets 2

(Image Source)

#4. If you feel lost or don’t know how to start your script, you can take some inspiration from the pre-existing templates in Storyist.

However, if you didn’t get the desired model, you can create your own and keep it in the repository so you can pull it out whenever you tackle a similar type of project.

#5. After the export options, if there’s something that stands out, it would be the lighting fast support team of Storyist. They serve you 24 hours, every day a week. And you can expect them to react to your request within a few hours (it took them three hours to resolve my issue).

storyist customer support 1

Storyist Cons

#1. You cannot collaborate with another scriptwriter even though they, too, are Storyist users.

#2. An app with so many functions, icons, and tabs is like a website full of pop-up ads. And no one likes it, right?

Same case with Storyist. Although the interface is clean, there is no way you can enter a full-screen mode or edit your scripts using the Focus mode.

#3. Finally, the last drawback I noticed in Storyist is the non-existent of a Windows or Android app. In short, it is useless for Windows and Android users and by doing so, it misses a large portion of potential buyers.

Storyist pricing plans

The iOS version of Storyist is free, but also comes with loads of restrictions. To see the app functioning in its full form, you’ll have to buy the Mac version that costs $59.

Storyist pricing for Mac 2

Do I recommend Storyist?

To be honest, my answer is no. Storyist doesn’t stand a chance when we compare it against Scrivener or Final Draft. And the limited device compatibility further pales its chances.

But you might question, then why do I recommend Script Studio when both of them have almost the same qualities and deficiencies?

That’s because Script Studio, at least, has some x-factor for the newbie writers while there’s nothing that separates Storyist from the crowd.

That’s why I won’t recommend Storyist as a screenwriting software.

Final Verdict

As you can guess from this post, it’s tough to find a screenwriting app. And those that exist cannot be called a complete deal.

After analyzing all the four tools, I would break them down as follows:

  1. All-around: Final Draft tops the list as the best all-around screenwriting tool. It’s near perfect if you’re ready to ignore the tiny bug. And even though it’s costliest of them all, it worth every penny.
  2. Budget: Scrivener is the top choice if your budget is tight and expectations are high. Barring the collaboration aspect, it has everything Final Draft has in the fraction of its price.
  3. Newbie Writer: Script Studio is the go-to app for newbie screenwriters solely because it has the tools to enhance your script writing prowess.