Getting Started#

If you are using Windows or a Debian-based Linux distribtuion, you can install novelWriter from package installers. If you are on macOS, you have the option to run novelWriter from a standalone folder. See Minimal Package Install. This option is also available for Windows and Linux. The third option is to install novelWriter from the Python Package Index. See Install from PyPi.

Spell checking in novelWriter is provided by a third party library called Enchant. Generally, it should pull dictionaries from your operating system automatically. However, on Windows they must be installed manually. See Spell Check Dictionaries for more details.

Help Wanted

If you would like to help making more installers, the project is currently looking for people who can help make releases for Red Hat-based Linux distros (RPM) and for macOS. See the issues posted for RPM and macOS on GitHub.

Install on Windows#

You can install novelWriter with both Python and library dependencies embedded using the Windows Installer (setup.exe) file from the main website, or from the Releases page on GitHub. Installing it should be straightforward.

If you have any issues, try uninstalling the previous version and making a fresh install. If you already had a version installed via a different method, you should uninstall that first.

Install on Linux#

A Debian package can be downloaded from the main website, or from the Releases page on GitHub. This package should work on both Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint, at least.

If you prefer, you can also add the novelWriter repository on Launchpad to your package manager.


You can add the Ubuntu PPA and install novelWriter with the following commands.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vkbo/novelwriter
sudo apt update
sudo apt install novelwriter

If you want pre-releases, add the ppa:vkbo/novelwriter-pre repository instead.

Debian and Mint#

Since this is a pure Python package, the Launchpad PPA can in principle also be used on Debian or Mint. However, the above command will fail to add the signing key.

Instead, run the following commands to add the repository and key:

sudo gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/novelwriter-ppa-keyring.gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys F19F1FCE50043114
echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/novelwriter-ppa-keyring.gpg] focal main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/novelwriter.list

Then run the update and install commands as for Ubuntu:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install novelwriter


Please use the Ubuntu 20.04 (focal) packages for Debian. The newer Ubuntu packages use a different compression algorithm that Debian doesn’t currently support.

AppImage Releases#

For other Linux distros than the ones mentioned above, the primary option is AppImage. These are completely standalone images for the app that include the necessary environment to run novelWriter. They can of course be run on any Linux distro, if you prefer this to native packages.

Minimal Package Install#

On the main website and on the Releases page on GitHub you will also find “Minimal Package” install files for Windows, Linux and macOS. These are zip files of just the files you need to run novelWriter on that specific platform.

These zip files don’t include any dependencies, so you must install them separately.

Minimal Package on Windows#

First, make sure you have Python installed on your system. If you don’t, you can download it from Python 3.7 or higher is required, but it is recommended that you install the latest version.

Make sure you select the “Add Python to PATH” option during installation, otherwise the python command will not work in the command line window.


When Python is installed, extract the novelWriter zip file and move the extracted folder to a suitable location. You should probably not keep it on your desktop or in your downloads folder where it may be accidentally deleted. Instead, move and rename it to for instance C:\novelWriter.

After you’ve got the folder where you want it, open it and double-click the file named windows_install.bat. This will open a command line window and run the setup script to install dependencies, and add desktop and start menu icons.

Running windows_uninstall.bat will reverse the process if you wish to uninstall. After that, you can just delete the novelWriter folder.

Minimal Package on Linux#

On Linux you need to install the following packages on Debian-based distros, including Ubuntu and Linux Mint:

sudo apt install python3-pyqt5 python3-lxml python3-enchant

On Fedora, you need the following packages:

sudo dnf install python3-qt5 python3-lxml python3-enchant

A standard desktop launcher can be installed via the main setup script. It will create the needed desktop file and add it to the Applications menu. The necessary icons will also be installed, and a file association with .nwx project files added.

To set this up, run the following from inside the extracted novelWriter folder:

python3 xdg-install

This installs icons for the current user. Run with sudo to install system-wide.

To uninstall the icons, run:

python3 xdg-uninstall

Minimal Package on macOS#

These instructions assume you’re using brew, and have Python and pip set up. If not, see the brew docs for help. The main requirements for novelWriter are installed via the requirements file. You also need to install the pyobjc package, so you should run:

pip3 install --user -r requirements.txt
pip3 install --user pyobjc

For spell checking you may also need to install the enchant package. It comes with a lot of default dictionaries.

brew install enchant

With the dependencies in place, you can launch the script directly to run novelWriter.


Right now there isn’t a better integration with macOS available. Contributions from someone more familiar with macOS would be very much appreciated. See the macOS issue on GitHub.

Install from PyPi#

novelWriter is also available on the Python Package Index, or PyPi. This install method works on all supported operating systems.

To install from PyPi you must first have the python and pip commands available on your system. If you don’t, see specific instructions for your operating system in this documentation on how to get the Python environment set up.

To install novelWriter from PyPi, use the following command:

pip install novelwriter

To upgrade an existing installation, use:

pip install --upgrade novelwriter

When installing via pip, novelWriter can be launched from command line with:


Make sure the install location for pip is in your PATH variable. This is not always the case by default.


On systems with both Python 2 and 3, you may have to replace the pip command with pip3.