There's an Updated Version of this list at my new website: screenwritingapp.com!Welcome to our round up of the Best Screenwriting Apps for the iPad! When the iPad first came out in April 2010 my first thought when how much fun I could have writing a script on that device. The size of the screen was roughly equivalent to the size of a movie script. Whereas movie scripts tended to have dozens, if not hundreds of revisions scribbled in the margins, the iPad could make it so you could revise it daily and have it looking clean and pristine.
In fact, Hollywood has adopted the iPad to the point where it has become indispensable. The writers of 2009's Star Trek Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof) pitched their proposal for Star Trek 2 to studio bosses using only an iPad in their presentation. Actors like Julianna Margulies and Dana Delany use the "Rehearsal" app to help them memorize their lines on set.
When the iPad first came out, the screenwriting apps were terrible. They couldn't handle the screenplay format, and you had to email yourself a copy every time you made a revision.
Luckily there's been a massive improvement in quality lately, with most apps offering syncing over dropbox or iCloud and you no longer have to deal with formatting issues. I've tried dozens of screenwriting apps, and these are the best apps available (so far).
If you want to use your iPad for writing, I advise using a bluetooth keyboard or a keyboard case with you iPad or iPad Mini. I've written scripts on desktops, laptops, and even on the iPhone. I prefer the iPad over all the others for 3 Reasons:
1. The iPad is (mostly) Distraction Free
The lack of multi-tasking has been a criticism of the iPad, but it helps me focus on what I'm doing. On a laptop, Facebook is just a quick "alt-tab" away. With the iPad I have to touch the screen to exit out of my screenwriting app. That doesn't sound like much, but that little inconvenience can make the difference between a productive writing day or a wasted one.
2. You Can Capture Inspiration Before It Evaporates..
Famous writers and artist such as Leonardo daVinci, Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain were known for carrying around notebooks at all times to capture random thoughts and ideas. There's no worse feeling than to have a great idea...and then lose it. The iPad can function as a modern notebook, capturing images, words, phrases, anything that strikes your fancy. Never let inspiration disappear again.
3. The iPad Looks Like a Script
When in portrait mode, the screen of the iPad looks just like a screenplay. There's something about envisioning your writing as a finished script that can help you inspired to get your script finished and polished as quickly as possible The official screenwriting app from Final Draft has been a long time coming, but the app is one of the most complete apps ever created for the iPad. Final Draft Writer has almost every feature of its desktop counterpart. This is the first app where you truly could write an entire screenplay on your iPad or iPad Mini. It has the ability to add and manage script notes, which in the industry is a requirement that all the other screenwriting apps have lacked up until this point.
Final Draft costs $49.99, which is expensive for an app. But it really is so good you could use the app and not even use the desktop version (don't tell Final Draft I said that!!) It's the best screenwriting app because it is the most complete. It also syncs with dropbox, which is a handy feature to keep all your scripts up to date.
Click here for my full review of Final Draft Writer.
Features: Character highlighting; add and edit script notes; switch between different revisions of scripts; professional templates to get you started; storyboards; headers and footers.
Importing/Exporting Scripts: Dropbox, iTunes, email.
2. Storyist for iPadThe most functional and complete screenwriting app for the iPad isn't even a 'screenplay app': Storyist.
Mac users are probably familiar with story writing software Storyist. This app purports to create 'submission-ready' manuscripts, with working headers, footers and images that you can easily insert to create a professional looking manuscript.
When you open a new project in Storyist, you can choose the 'screenplay' format. It has all the usual elements of screenwriting software: scene heading, action, character, parenthetical, dialog, and transition elements.
-There are two views, Project view and Text view. In project view you can see the formatting elements of your script, and you can rearrange scenes in this view. The text view is for writing.
Compatible Formats:.fdx, .txt,
Features: reordering of scenes, character database, storyboards, headers and footers. .
Importing/Exporting Scripts: Dropbox, iTunes, email;
3. Screenplay for iPad
$8.99This app is almost as old as ScriptsPro, but has undergone the biggest transformation since it's inception. At first Screenplay was just a blown-up version of the iphone app, which made it and difficult to use. Now Screenplay has evolved to being as fully functional as any of the other screenwriting apps. It now features Dropbox support, character lists, storyboards, scene reordering, and most importantly FDX support. The interface is clean and pristine, with a slim black bar on the top and bottom. ScriptsPro (listed below) actually added a brown leather bar to their app which I consider kind of tacky (that may just be me).
Features:Storyboards, Index Cards, the whole nine yards.
Importing/Exporting Scripts:Dropbox, iTunes, Email,
Screenplay for iPad - Black Mana Studios
4. Scripts Pro for iPad
$12.99When I bought my iPad in April 2010 this was the only screenwriting app on the market. Thanks to a new update early this year, ScriptPro manages to be among the top 3 screenwriting apps on the market.
Before ScriptsPro wasn't anything special, but it was still functional: you could write some ideas on your iPad, then email them to yourself and open them on your home computer and polish it. However, it was unrefined: it would strip out things like headers and title pages if you tried to sync with your Desktop. You could write on ScriptsPro, but you needed to polish in Final Draft.
However, the new update made Scripts Pro into everything I've wanted in a screenwriting app: all the special formatting is retained from your Final Draft script, even index cards. It supports both FDX and CELTX formats. It integrates with Dropbox, iCloud and even Airprint.
When I first started out I had a Windows PC, iPad and Linux laptop, so having a screenwriting app that was compatible with all of them was a Godsend. I have since moved on to using Storyist mostly because I like to write novels as well. But if you only want an app for screenwriting, the $2 cheaper ScriptsPro may make more sense.
Compatible Formats:FDX, .CELTX, .txt
Features:Index Cards, Storyboards, Scene Reordering, Characters Lists.
Importing/Exporting Scripts:Dropbox, iTunes, iCloud, Airprint
Click here to learn more about ScriptsPro
Celtx Script for iPadCeltx isn't just about screenwriting: they offer open-source software for all aspects of the filmmaking process. As a result Celtx has created an ecosystem of movie-making tools so that you can make an entire film with their software. The software version of Celtx's screenwriting software is free, but the iPad app will cost you $4.99. It's slightly cheaper than ScriptsPro and Storyist, but it's self-contained within their ecosystem. It won't work with Final Draft or any other screenwriting software other than Celtx.
While the idea of free screenwriting software is great, I've had a heck of a time making it work. Linux no longer officially supports Celtx software, so getting Celtx to work on my laptop was one heck of a coding nightmare.
One feature I did like the option to have a 'parchment background'. The blue light from our iPads and iPhones can affect your sleep, so having a yellow background helps me get writing done between 10pm and 12pm without making me toss and turn all night.
There's no iCloud or Dropbox support with Celtx, but instead they have their own Celtx account that you can use to sync your scripts. This is an online account that you create and will sync all your scripts. You can also invite others to the account, if you're taking a collaborative approach to screenwriting.
Overall Celtx Script is as functional as ScriptsPro for writing your scripts. Where it loses points is in trying to bring you into the Celtx ecosystem, at the cost of convenience. Dropbox works seamlessly and many people already have accounts, so why not use it? It also doesn't have FDX support, which is a real drawback.
Features:More complex features like storyboards are stripped out in the iPad version, but when they will return when you open your script on the desktop version.
Importing/Exporting Scripts:Only PDFs and Text files. In an industry where FDX format is everything, Celtx refuses to make it easy on us.
Click here to learn more about Celtx Script
ScriptWrite for iPad
$3.99Scriptwrite started out as an iPhone-only app and so I ignored it for a long time. But it has gradually evolved to become a full-functional screenplay app for the iPad. It works with all three screenplay formats: .fdx, .txt. and .celtx; It added dropbox and airprint.
The only complaints I have are in the formatting department. I found that when I'm editing scenes and moving them around, the scenes have a tendency to 'catapult' into far-flung areas of the script. It's an annoyance that I didn't experience with any of the others.
Compatible Formats:.fdx, .txt, .celtx
Features:reordering of scenes, character database, smart scroll so that large script don't hang up the app.
Importing/Exporting Scripts:Dropbox, Airprint, iTunes,
Click here to learn more about ScriptWrite
Best App for Brainstorming Your Story
Syd Field's Script LauncherAll the app features in the world won't make a difference if you don't have a story to start with. This app is designed to take you through every stage of the storytelling process before you start writing your script: from brainstorming ideas, to characters, to creating an outline, this app take Syd Field's screenwriting techniques and literally takes you through the whole process.
If you have an idea but don't know how to go from that idea to writing a completed script, this app will help you.
Click here to learn more about Syd Field's Script Launcher.
The Best Screenwriting App not meant for WritersFinal Draft announced that they were making an app for the iPad...before the iPad even came out. Most people (like me) assumed it would be a couple of weeks, but here we are 3 years later, and they have just released a screenplay app...that you can't write or edit scripts on. What???
Final Draft Reader only works if you have the full desktop version of their software. From there, you can add scripts to your iPad to read and make notes on. But that's it.
Who is this App for, if not Screenwriters?
This App is designed for industry professionals: Producers, Agents, Managers, Professional Scriptreaders, Studio Heads, all so they can write script notes and send them to the original Screenwriter.
Why Would I Buy It?
One Reason: Script Notes. Instead of Screenwriters getting dozens of Post-It Notes on their script, they can now get them electronically.
Why is it so Expensive?
Like I said before, this is for people in the Industry to make notes. It's a targeted audience that tends to be well paid and can write the expense of this app off as a business expense.
Click here to Learn More about Final Draft Reader.
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