Review: Slugline Screenwriting Software for Mac

Review By Heath McKnight (doddleNEWS)

Slugline is a simple and affordable screenwriting software app for Macs that’s very easy-to-use, isn’t bloated with too many features and essentially gets out of your way so you can write your screenplay, while still focusing on formatting it correctly. If you’re used to other screenwriting software, it will take a moment or two to get used to it.

Slugline in many ways reminds me of Apple’s Pages word processor app, part of iWork: it’s simple, doesn’t contain so many features that get in the way, and gets the job done effectively. Not all screenwriters need to worry about production features, like those found in Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, both fine apps, but like Microsoft Word, they’ve become too bloated and take longer time to load.

Some of the features in Slugline include a formatting foundation from Fountain (a screenplay format), fullscreen mode, and integrated outlining. You can easily change fonts, including the cool new Courier Prime, which was developed in part by major screenwriter John August, who also enjoys Slugline. I also highly recommend reading John’s website, which is full of great information for screenwriters, and the Scriptnotes Podcast.

Unlike Final Draft, where you use a combination of the tab and return keys while writing, which tells the software if you want a slugline, action, character name, dialogue, etc., you’ll be using only the tab key. It takes a moment to get used to it, as it did for me. I’ve been using Final Draft since early 2000, and writing with it has become natural and automatic. With Slugline, after some practice, I was off and running, writing some fun scenes for a movie I’ll probably never develop, but it was a great exercise and test of the screenwriting software.

Create an outline as you write in Slugline (click for larger)

Another cool feature is omitting a scene, which allows you to get rid of a scene when printing or previewing without having to delete it. This is great in the event you want to add it back in. It’s there in the app as you write, but won’t be there for delivery (printing or preview). Other features include autosave, templates, find/replace, dictionary and spellcheck, an outline of your script, create text notes, and more. If you have a Mac with a retina display, Slugline is optimized for it.

It won’t open Final Draft’s .FDX or .FDR format, which could be an issue for some writers. But for production crew, such as the Assistant Director and Line Producer, you can export to the .FDX format, albeit with a workaround, which is explained via Slugline’s help window within the app. I don’t really like workarounds, but the price is right, so it’s something I can deal with.

Speaking of the price, Slugline is sold in the Mac App Store for $39.99, which makes it a dealmaker for me. Final Draft sells for $199.99 on the Mac App Store, while Movie Magic Screenwriter costs $249.95 for the boxed software and $159 for a download. Slugline wins the battle of affordable Mac-based screenwriting software vs. these two titans of the industry. But keep in mind, Slugline is only for Macs, and only for OS X 10.8.

Overall, Slugline is an affordable screenwriting app that works and you don’t need to worry about a ton of bloated features. Some writers may miss certain things from the pricier guys like Final Draft, and if you’re not on a Mac running at least OS X 10.8, you won’t be able use it. But as a writer who has been working with Macs for close to 20 years, I really love this screenwriting app. Find out more at slugline.co, plus check out the How-To, FAQ and Blog for great information.

Check out this video from the developers Slugline, which helped me out a lot:

Welcome to Slugline from Slugline on Vimeo.
 

About Heath McKnight

Editor and Web Content Manager at doddleNEWS; I've been a writer for over 10 years, and a producer/director/editor in film and video for over 16 years. I've written for TopTenREVIEWS, Digital Media Net, Videomaker and other sites and magazines.