Scrivener for macOS and Windows is an Award-winning writing software for novelists, scriptwriters, academics or anyone working on long texts requiring research and structure, or taming the chaotic process of writing. If you are looking for the best Book Writing Software, take us for a free 30 day trial period. Finish your ebooks, short stories, novels and other writing projects today quickly with Scrivener.
Links for Writers
- A site with forums where writers can discuss their craft and the road to getting published, and also get critiques from other writers (and would-be writers). Be warned, the folks over there can be quite harsh.
- The official site for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Don’t worry if you’re not interested in writing in these genres—this site has some great articles on writing in general.
- The Gutenberg Project
- An amazing repository of free e-books. Volumes upon volumes (18,000 of them) of classic literature that is now in the public domain can be searched and read online, from Dante Alighieri to Emile Zola.
- A great free online encylopedia—a fantastic resource for research. You can even edit it yourself if you think something is missing (though bear in mind that because it is editable by anyone, you should always double-check facts when using it for research).
- National Novel Writing Month. Okay, so it’s a bit more than national—I’m English and NaNoWriMo is a U.S. site, so these days IntNoWriMo would be more accurate. Still, a fantastic venture with a lively community.
- A respectful community of writers who’re passionate about improving each other’s writing through thoughtful critiques and the sharing of knowledge and experience. Earn points by writing good critiques, and use those points to post your own writings for the community to critique.
Writing Software for macOS
There is a lot of good writing software out there for the Mac. Most of the programs linked to below are direct competition for Scrivener. I provide links because the writing process is different for everyone. Scrivener suits the way I write, and hopefully some others too, but if it doesn’t suit the way that you write, then you may want to check out some of the excellent software below to see if any of it fits the way you work.
- Oh wait, that’s our software! Chances are that you already know about Scrivener since we develop it, but if you happened to stumble across this links page by searching for information about Mac writing software and haven’t checked Scrivener out yet, then please do take a look at it. Scrivener was designed to make first drafts easier and is used by novelists, short story writers, script writers, journalists, academics and other writers who need to organise long writing projects. It may be the tool for you—but if not, read on, because maybe one of the other packages below will suit you.
- WriteRoom is a dedicated full screen writing application for distraction-free writing. Imagine a better-looking TextEdit that can operate in a beautiful full screen mode. WriteRoom has deservedly caused quite a buzz among the Mac writing community for its simplicity, style and ability to help you concentrate on the text. If you want to work on a single document without any distractions, WriteRoom is where it’s at.
- Ulysses, by Blue-Tec, was one of the first programs on the Mac to be aimed specifically at creative writers. It was also, to my knowledge, the first to offer a full-screen view for text-editing. It is a beautiful piece of software, though it only allows plain text editing and makes you use tags to define where you want italics to go, which never quite did it for me. The designers have a very strong design philosophy—if that philosophy matches the way you work, you will love this software; if not, you might find yourself frustrated at the lack of rich text and hierarchical organisation capabilities. Either way, you owe it to yourself to check out Ulysses.
- Available for iOS (and one day the Mac), WriteRight makes text editing easy and beautiful while you’re on the go. In addition to offering the basic features you would expect from a text editor, it can also recognise synonyms and antonyms, conjugations and tenses. With Dropbox integration, it can be used in conjunction with Scrivener for the Mac.
- CopyWrite was once the most popular creative writing software available for the Mac, although development seems to have ceased in recent years. As I understand it, CopyWrite has a similar gestation history to Scrivener: the author liked Ulysses but was frustrated by its limitations, so came up with his own writing management software. CopyWrite is rich-text and features full-screen editing and versioning. Personally, I find the lack of hierarchical organisation limiting (there is only one level of categorisation), and I’ve always found it a little quirky in many ways, but plenty of people rave about it and it’s definitely worth checking out.
- StoryMill (originally Avenir) is a piece of writing management software written by the same developer, Todd Ransom, who developed Montage, the new Mac screenwriting software, for Mariner Software. There are a lot of similarities between the two. StoryMill provides scene, chapter and character management capabilities along with the ability to annotate your text.
- PaperToolsPro has an interface that vaguely resembles that of Ulysses (see above), but it is mainly aimed at writers of research papers, dedicated to helping you assemble the paper whilst keeping track of references and avoiding plagiarism.
- Not so much writing software as a great database tool for your research, DevonThink is a very powerful organisational tool and does provide basic text-editing capabilities.
- OmniOutliner is probably the most powerful—and certainly the most popular—outlining tool available for the Mac. It’s so good, that the basic version came free with new Macs, until Apple abandoned their bundled software program. OmniOutliner provided inspiration for the outlining capabilities of Scrivener.
- WriteItNow (Mac and PC)
- WriteItNow was originally designed for the PC, so the interface isn’t quite as pretty as much of the other writing software mentioned here because it isn’t written in Cocoa. Nonetheless, it provides hierarchical organisation of your work and some powerful research tools, and is worth a look.
- MacJournal is blogging software rather than creative writing software, although you could bend it to creative writing if you really wanted to. It is very powerful, very easy to use, and has a lovely tabbed interface. It has also provided some inspiration for the Scrivener interface in the past. Recommended.
Word Processing Software for macOS
Why have a separate section for “word processing software”? Why not just put it all under “writing software”? Word processing software is writing software by definition, of couse, and much of the software in the “writing software” section above might equally be categorised as word processors. The main difference drawn here is that a word processor is usually used for writing and printing the final document; it shows on screen exactly what you will see when you print. The applications in the “writing software” section are more about developing ideas and getting the words down.
Some users may use one of those applications right up to and including printing; many will use one of the dedicated writing applications in conjunction with a word processor, hammering out the first draft in one of the programs above and then exporting it to a word processor for final revisions and formatting. And many, too, will only ever work in a word processor, from first idea to final draft. So whereas the previous section was dedicated to software that is all about freeing up the writer to write, this section is dedicated to software that is great for the final formatting and getting a document ready for printing. Oh, and I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you all know about Word and Pages (the one thing that Word and Pages have that these other programs do not yet have, incidentally, is “track changes” if that’s not important to you, you should definitely try out these alternatives).
- Nisus Writer (Pro)
- Nisus Writer has a great reputation that goes back long before OS X; I’ve heard many reports that the old version of Nisus on OS 9 was the best word processor ever. Nisus Writer has a familiar interface—it doesn’t look radically different from Word on first glance, so switchers will be immediately at home—but does everything in a very “Mac” way. It’s beautifully designed and has nearly all of the features you would expect from a top-end word processor, including good tables support, margin comments, footnotes and endnotes and so on. In my ideal world everyone would use Nisus, as it uses RTF (rich text format—a long established format that can do almost everything .doc can) as its file format and thus has the best RTF support on the Mac (Pages’ support for RTF, by comparison—despite great support for .doc and .docx—is very poor, as it loses comments, footnotes, images and so forth). The best file format for import and export with Scrivener is RTF, making Nisus the ideal word processor for the Scrivener user wanting best compatibility.
- If you ignore the obviously omnipresent Word and Pages, I imagine that Nisus and Mellel are the two most popular word processors on the Mac. Whilst Nisus is more familiar and easier to use, Mellel requires some adjusting to as it is rather unique in the way it does many things, such as in its use of styles. It is beautifully designed and it is this uniqueness that is also its greatest draw, though—many academics swear by Mellel. And although I have to rely on the opinions on others for this, I am also told that it has some of the best multi-language support anywhere. Like Nisus, it has good RTF support (again, better than that of Pages), although only through export and it doesn’t support comments. Anyone shopping for a new word processor should seriously put both of these programs through their paces, as the chances are that the one you choose will depend on your individual requirements and tastes.
- Bean isn’t really in direct competition with Nisus Writer or Mellel; rather, it is a more lightweight word processor which provides the main features you will need for every day documents. It’s fast to open, well-designed and simple to use. Moreover, it’s completely free. For many users, Bean is fast replacing TextEdit as the go-to application for writing quick notes and documents.
- Mariner Write
- This may be as popular as Nisus and Mellel, I’m not sure; I have certainly heard some good things about it. It’s not quite as pretty or “Mac-like” as the other word processors mentioned above, but it has most of the features you would expect in a solid word processor, is well established, and is worth checking out.
Scriptwriting Software for macOS
Although Scrivener allows you to put together first drafts of scripts, if you are serious about scriptwriting you will need to export to a dedicated scriptwriting package.
- Final Draft
- The original and still the most popular, Final Draft is the industry standard when it comes to scriptwriting. (Literature & Latte are proud to be one of their development partners.) If you’ve been developing a script in Scrivener, Final Draft is the best way of finishing it and preparing it for submission or production.
- CeltX is a free scriptwriting program, so if you’re on a budget it might be for you. It is written using the Mozilla application framework so the interface isn’t as pretty as native Mac alternatives, but it has been growing in popularity and has some nifty features.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter
- The second most popular scriptwriting software out there—although Final Draft remains unsurpassed as the industry standard, Screenwriter has developed a strong following within the industry too.
- Movie Draft
- A new program for Mac writers, Movie Draft features a smiliar working style as Scrivener, so if you like the overall concept of Scrivener’s organisation and non-linear approach, but need just a bit more by way of automatic script formatting as you write, this might be a good one to check out. Alternatively, if you wish to use it as a finishing tool for your draft in Scrivener, it reads and writes .fdx files as well, meaning you can easily transfer scripts between programs.
- The most recent dedicated scriptwriting package is Mac-only and the sister application of StoryMill (see above).
Writing Software for Windows
If you came here looking for an alternative to Scrivener because you thought it was Mac only, we are happy to announce that this is no longer the case. We have released a version of Scrivener for Windows, which you can view on the main product page. But, if the Scrivener way of working isn’t to your taste, here is a list of other programs for Windows which cater to writing.
- PageFour allows you to edit and organise your writing in a tabbed interface. It provides word processing and outlining capabilities, and is probably the product closest to Scrivener on Windows. It also provides versioning (called “Snapshots” in PageFour—the direct inspiration for Scrivener’s implementation of versioning; and yes, I shamelessly borrowed the name of the feature, too). Highly recommended.
- From the developer of PageFour (above), SmartEdit focusses on the editing phase of a writing project. It’s not a replacement for a human editor, naturally, but it will help you get your manuscript into a shape that your editor will thank you for. It contains tools to help you discover repeatedly used phrases, adverb over-use and other common problems. SmartEdit is currently available for Windows, though the developer has stated a Mac version may one day appear.
- RoughDraft is a great piece of organisational software that allows you to create and edit rich text files in a tabbed interface, organise them in a Windows Explorer-like side panel, and to keep notes on each one. Unlike other writing software mentioned here, RoughDraft doesn’t keep your files inside its own package, but instead just aids you in organising them on your hard drive. Recommended, though with the caveat that it is no longer under active development
- WriteWay Pro
- WriteWay Pro is a designed to be a professional writer’s tool. It restricts you to using Acts, Chapters and Scenes, but other than that it is fairly freeform, with a “scratch pad” for storing ideas or scenes you don’t know what to do with. It has decent word processing capabilities, but for me it’s a little over-complicated and clunky, with the option to fill in numerous forms about characters, what should happen in chapters and so forth. I prefer my software not to prompt me, but to leave me to get on with things. Nonetheless, WriteWay Pro seems powerful and relatively flexible, and it is fairly popular.
- Liquid Story Binder
- The developers of Liquid Story Binder seem to have had a similar idea to me: to allow writers to store and view their research in the same application as they do their writing. It lets you view pictures and multiple files, although it does force you to do so in different windows. It also features a decent labelling system and various other tools aimed at the creative writer.
- Outline 4D
- Outline 4D (was StoryView) is an intriguing idea and potentially very powerful. It is essentially an outliner & timeline, except that as well as being able to view your story synopsis in a traditional(ish) outliner, you can also view it as a hiearchical storyboard. So at the top, you have a very wide box that may be a description of your book as a whole; underneath that, you might have three boxes describing the three main sections of the book; beneath each of those, you might have several boxes describing the chapters in each part; and so on. Definitely worth trying out.
- NewNovelist seems to be one of the more popular creative writing software titles available on the PC. I’m not a big fan of it myself, but it seems to have gotten quite a good review from the Sunday Times (according to their website), and I do owe NewNovelist a big debt as it gave me the initial spark of inspiration for Scrivener. The trouble with NewNovelist is that although it keeps a list of your documents over on the left and allows you to create the text and edit on the right, it is very rigid and formulaic. It forces you to divide your writing into twelve parts, which are based (through various annoying onscreen prompts) on Christopher Vogler’s twelve-step interpretation of Joseph Campbell’s work on the hero’s journey. So if you want to write anything that doesn’t fit that particular structure, you are out of luck. Still, all these limitations did give me the idea for a piece of software without such limitations…
- yWriter is a free application which helps writers organise their work into chapters and scenes. It is a freeform tool which doesn’t impose plot ideas or perform other creative tasks. Rather, it helps the author keep track of characters, locations, point-of-view, notes, and so forth, all in one application. yWriter is a multi-platform application, which can run on Linux and macOS as well as Windows, using the Mono platform.
- In the same vein as WriteRoom for the Mac, Q10 for Windows, and jDarkroom for multi-platform, Writemonkey presents a stripped down and isolated space for pure writing. It is a plain-text editor, optionally integrating with Markdown or Textile to allow for easily formatted exports. It’s primary purpose is the development of text, rather than the editing of text, promoting the theory of reduced distractions to increase writing quality and speed.
- A free, lightweight, full screen plain-text editor for Windows featuring useful tools for writers, such as live text statistics, customisable page count calculation, target goals, autosave, timer alarm for timed writing sessions, a spell checker, inline commentation, and more. If you are looking for something like WriteRoom which runs on Windows, Q10 is an good alternative. It will not help you out with planning and organising long texts, but as a focussed first-draft tool, it’s isolated full-screen implementation is great for blocking out distractions.
- This research, information manager and creativity tool brings the power of wiki-style connective thought to your computer. While it’s not a dedicated writing program, it has interesting, unique features that could easily be used in conjunction with an application like Scrivener for Windows, as a research assistant—or even as a stand-alone writing application.
I’m sure most of us want to get our tomes published professionally and then lap up the rave reviews that are bound to follow… However, for those who wish to self-publish, there are some good options out there. Even if you ultimately hope your work will be accepted by a publishing house, there are reasons you may wish to produce a bound copy of your work beforehand. For instance, Jason Snell, editor of Macworld magazine, decided that rather than hand the first readers of his novel a bundle of manscript pages, he wanted to hand them something that felt more like a book. You can read his write up on this process here.
- A subsidiary of Amazon.com, CreateSpace makes it easy to self-publish, providing many services that would be difficult to get access to otherwise. Quality print on demand, e-book publishing, marketing, and graphic design services are available. Scrivener for the Mac supports CreateSpace publication specifications with version 2.1.
- Lulu remains perhaps the most popular self-publishing solution on the internet. You can upload a book in PDF format (it supports certain other formats, too), choose the specifications, and order as many—or as few—as you wish.
- BookBaby is a leading eBook publishing company for independent authors. BookBaby makes it easy to sell your eBook through the world’s biggest retailers, including Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iTunes Bookstore, the Sony Reader Store, NOOK by Barnes & Noble, and more. Best of all, you get paid 100%. BookBaby takes nothing. Need eBook formatting, cover design, short run book printing, or web hosting services? No problem. BookBaby makes publishing your eBook easy. BookBaby is part of the AVL Digital family of businesses, which also includes Disc Makers, CD Baby, and HostBaby.
- Blurb offers a similar service to Lulu, except it provides software to create the book you will upload. I saw a sample of some the books created in Blurb at the 2009 Macworld Expo, and was very impressed with the paperback (it’s also great for picture books). The main drawback is that its import features seem somewhat limited, supporting only the Microsoft Word format (although you can paste in text from pretty much any program).
- Do It Yourself
- Of course, if you’re feeling adventurous and have a bit of time on your hands, you could even try a spot of bookbinding yourself. Hamish MacDonald describes how he binds his own books here, and the results are breathtaking.
Other Writing-Related Software
- This subscription-based Web service boasts a comprehensive grammar and contextual spell check system.
- This community-built list of iOS text editors is the best reference I have found for feature comparison between popular editors. If you’re looking for a specific set of features, this is the list to go to. Maintained by Brett Terpstra, the maker of Marked, a Markdown previewer for the Mac, which is also capable of previewing Markdown formatted Scrivener projects directly.
- iWrite Assistant
- iWrite Assistant is a Web service designed for freelance writers and journalists to keep track of the manuscripts they send out to publishers.
- “AUTHORS.me is a smarter, faster, easier, and friendlier method of managing submissions for writers, agents and publishers. Our platform increases the agent and publisher efficiency, collaboration, and makes it possible to discover manuscripts that match their criteria. Writers benefit from the service that promotes both their work and themselves professionally.”
- Reference Managers
- There are several great stand-alone reference managers for handling citations and generating bibliographies that work well with Scrivener’s RTF output. If you are working in a field that requires extensive citation and bibliography generation, you might be interested in checking out the free Zotero, Sente for the Mac, Bookends, also for the Mac, or the well-known cross-platform EndNote.
- For those working in technical writing and requiring the DocBook format, this tool can make publishing DocBook out of Scrivener easy to accomplish. Tuned specifically for O’Reilly Media and being a “home brew” tool for one author’s way of working, it may require some adjustment for your use.
- Scrindesign 2
- Designed to make transitioning from Scrivener to Adobe InDesign easy, this script will help you move from the writing phase to the publishing phase with a few clicks.