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5 Best Free Alternatives to Final Draft [2023]

a frustrated writer looking at his laptop

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Final Draft is a popular screenwriting software that many professional screenwriters and filmmakers have used for decades. However, it is not the only option for developing industry-standard scripts.

Several free Final Draft alternatives offer similar features and capabilities. We’ve used and tested a variety of options, and in this article, we will discuss five of the best free alternatives to Final Draft that are worth considering.

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio Pro is a powerful screenwriting tool that is becoming a go-to choice among professional and aspiring screenwriters.

WriterDuet

WriterDuet

Writer Duet is a user-friendly software that allows you to collaborate with other writers in real-time.

Read Review →

StudioBinder Logo

StudioBinder

StudioBinder is a web-based production toolkit that includes full-featured screenwriting software.

Read Review →

highland 2 Logo

Highland 2

Highland 2 is a full featured screenwriting app created by John August.

Read Review →

Trelby Logo

Trelby

Trelby is a screenwriting app that is free and open-source, making it an ideal tool for writers.

Read Review →

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio Pro is a powerful screenwriting tool that is becoming a go-to choice for professional and aspiring screenwriters alike.

WriterDuet

WriterDuet

Writer Duet is a user-friendly software that allows you to collaborate with other writers in real-time.

Read Review →

StudioBinder Logo

StudioBinder

StudioBinder is a web-based production toolkit that includes full-featured screenwriting software.

Read Review →

highland 2 Logo

Highland 2

Highland 2 is a full featured screenwriting app created by John August.

Read Review →

Trelby Logo

Trelby

Trelby is a screenwriting app that is free and open-source, making it an ideal tool for writers.

Read Review →

What is Final Draft?

Final Draft is a professional screenwriting software used by many writers and filmmakers. It is widely considered to be the industry standard for feature films and television shows. Final Draft’s position as the industry-leading software is in no small part because it has been around for a long time, dating back to the 1990s.

Nowadays, screenwriters have many options when it comes to screenwriting software. And many of those writing apps are just as good (if not better) than Final Draft, and as we’ll explore in this article, many are available for free.

What are the Best Free Final Draft Alternatives?

Here are the best free alternatives to Final Draft screenwriting software. These free screenwriting programs allow writers to craft and format scripts to industry conventions. They incorporate tools like auto-formatting, keyboard shortcuts, templates, revision marking, and more. Most also allow you to export properly formatted PDF files or Final Draft .fdx files to send scripts to producers or contests.

Editor’s Choice – Best Overall

arc studio logo

Best Overall Screenwriting Software

Arc Studio Pro is quickly becoming a go-to choice among aspiring and professional screenwriters, with a wide range of features that rival those of expensive industry standard software such as Final Draft. Arc Studio Pro provides all the tools necessary for creating professional quality scripts with an easy-to-use interface – all without having to break the bank.

It has become a favorite among independent filmmakers who need a straightforward and powerful tool for writing film and television scripts. Allowing for automatic script formatting, scene outlines, revision tracking, collaboration tools, commenting, and more, Arc Studio Pro is a powerful screenwriting tool.

The Desktop app is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems. Like Final Draft Mobile, Arc Studio Pro offers an iOS app so that you can write on a mobile app. Additionally, it can read and write final draft files (FDX), which means it’s 100% compatible with Final Draft.

For a more in-depth comparison of Final Draft and Arc Studio, check out our detailed comparison of the two apps.

Key Features:

  • Minimalistic and distraction-free interface
  • Perfectly formatted scripts
  • Real-time collaboration with other writers
  • Digital whiteboard for story planning
  • Writing schedule and reminders
  • Notifications and security options
  • Templates for different genres and formats
  • Available for desktop, iOS, and web browser

Free Version Limitations:

  • 2 script limit
  • no desktop or iOS apps
  • PDF exports are watermarked
  • no collaboration features

Best for Teams

writerduet logo

Best For Writing Teams

Whether you’re a solo screenwriter or part of a writing team, consider trying out Writer Duet as your go-to writing tool. It’s a user-friendly and totally free software that allows you to collaborate with other writers in real-time.

With easy-to-use features such as outlining, syncing capabilities, storyboarding, and drag-and-drop scripting, this software allows you to spend less time on technical setup and more time on perfecting the creative elements of your work.

You don’t need to worry about servers, backing up files, or even setting passwords – Writer Duet does it all for you! Try it out today and see how much smoother the writing process can be.

Key Features:

  • Professional and intuitive interface
  • Real-time collaboration similar to Google Docs
  • Suitable for both solo writers and writing teams
  • Tagging and filtering
  • Statistics and reports
  • PDF watermarks and encryption
  • Access to desktop and mobile apps for offline writing

Free Version Limitations:

  • 3 script limit
  • no desktop app
  • collaboration is read-only (invited collaborators cannot make edits)

Best for Production

studiobinder logo

Best for Production Focused Filmmakers

StudioBinder is an all-in-one production toolkit that offers a number of apps via a single interface – the web browser. While StudioBinder’s primary focus is as a script breakdown, scheduling, and call sheet management app, it also includes full-featured screenwriting software.

Because it is browser-based, you have everything synchronized for you in the cloud.

Key Features:

  • Comprehensive production management software
  • Call sheets creation, sending, and tracking
  • Shooting schedules with drag-and-drop scenes
  • Task manager built into the software
  • Plan and assign tasks to different people
  • Version tracking for better organization

Free Version Limitations:

  • 1 project (unlimited scripts within that project)
  • most other limitations relate to production, such as script breakdowns, etc.

Mac Only

Highland2 logo

Best Mac Only Option

Highland 2 is the creation of John August, a very successful screenwriter with a ton of experience and the co-creator of the wonderful script notes podcast. It offers users many of the standard features you would expect from a screenwriting app, such as auto-formatting, outlining and a distraction-free interface.

Highland 2 has one of the simplest learning curves of any scriptwriting software on this list, making it a great choice for beginners. It also offers some very unique tools, such as the gender analysis tool that allows you to examine the ratio of male to female characters and lines of dialogue in your script.

Not only is Highland 2’s user interface modern and intuitive, but it has powerful conversion capabilities to convert PDFs and Final Draft files into Highland projects so that you can import scripts from virtually any other screenwriting software.

Highland 2 is available as a free download from the Apple App Store.

Key Features:

  • Advanced formatting and features
  • Directives for specific writing needs
  • Include tag allows for combining separate files
  • Customizable headers and footers

Free Version Limitations:

  • 5 formatting templates vs. 14 for Pro
  • PDF exports are watermarked
  • no custom color themes
  • No “Word Analysis” to avoid word repetition
  • No revision mode to track revisions

PC Only

Highland2 logo

Best PC Only Option

Trelby, a free and open-source screenwriting app that is available for PC and Linux, might just be the perfect tool for you! This minimalist platform makes writing your story easier than ever before – from simple auto-complete features to compatibility with the latest versions of FDX and Fountain.

This application has everything you need to get started writing today. While it doesn’t offer some of the more complex features, such as beat boards, outlining, or collaboration tools, it does provide a clean, simple interface that makes it easy to focus on the writing process.

Key Features:

  • Basic screenplay formatting
  • Multiple interface setups
  • Import / Export to PDF, Final Draft (FDX), HTML, and Fountain
  • Scene/location/character/dialogue reports

Free Version Limitations:

  • None. The free version is the only version! 🙂

Bonus Option

Highland2 logo

Best for masochists

If pain is your pleasure, then head on over to Google Docs and try your best to get started hacking your way through a script.

All joking aside, Google Docs is extremely powerful, and you can do a lot with that platform. But with all the options listed above, there’s just no need to try to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Use Google Docs to write and manage your standard Word documents, and use a dedicated screenplay writing app with advanced formatting tools for writing scripts.

Key Features:

  • Free to create unlimited documents

Free Version Limitations:

  • None, but to be fair, there aren’t really any features either…

Wrapping Up

Nowadays, there are several free alternatives to Final Draft that offer similar features and capabilities. No matter how big or small your project is, chances are there’s a script-writing software available that fits all of your needs. Whether you are looking for a lightweight alternative or a browser-based editor, there is an option available for you.

Aspiring screenwriters now have high-quality free options that eliminate the financial barrier to crafting scripts. Whether building a writing portfolio or creating your next indie film project, these free Final Draft alternatives empower you to turn your cinematic stories into reality.

Arc Studio Pro, Writer Duet, Studio Binder, Highland 2, and Trelby are all great screenwriting program options to consider. Many are available for use in a browser, desktop, or via mobile apps. Each one has its own unique features and capabilities, so it’s important to evaluate which one best fits your needs. With these free alternatives, you can save money and still have the tools you need to write your screenplay.

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