Getting Started

This section contains brief guides to how you can get novelWriter running on your computer. These are the methods currently supported by the developer. Packages may also be available in other package managers, but those are not managed by the developer. A Windows installer file is also provided on the GitHub releases page and linked from the main website.

As novelWriter matures, more options for how to install it and get it running will be added. For non-Windows users the install process is at the present time best suited for people used to working with the command line. But even if you’re not, the install process is fairly straightforward.

The next pages have specific install instructions for the various operating systems novelWriter can run on. The instructions below are supplementary information, instructions for alterbative methods, and additional build options.


The text below assumes the command python corresponds to a Python 3 executable. For operating systems with both Python 2 and 3, the command python3 may be needed instead. On Linux, the scripts can also be made executable and run without the python command. Likewise, pip may need to be replaced with pip3.


novelWriter has been designed to rely on as few dependencies as possible. Aside from the packages needed to communicate with the Qt GUI libraries, only one package is required for handling the XML format of the main project file. Everything else is handled with standard Python libraries.

The following Python packages are needed to run novelWriter:

  • pyqt5 – needed for connecting with the Qt5 libraries.
  • lxml – needed for full XML support.
  • pyenchant – needed for efficient spell checking (optional).

PyQt/Qt should be at least 5.2.1, but ideally 5.10 or higher for nearly all features to work. Exporting to standard Markdown, for instance, requires PyQt/Qt 5.14. Searching using regular expressions requires 5.3, and for full Unicode support, 5.13. There is no known minimum version requirement for package lxml, but the code was originally written with 4.2, which is therefore set as the minimum. It may work on lower versions. You have to test it.

Optionally, a package can be installed to interface with the Enchant spell checking libaries, but this isn’t strictly required. If no external spell checking library is available, novelWriter falls back to using the internal difflib of Python to check spelling. This is a much slower approach, and it is less sophisticated than full spell checking libaries, but if you only work with small files, the performance loss is not noticeable. The spell check library must be at least 3.0 to work with Windows. On Linux, 2.0 also works fine.

If you install from PyPi, these dependencies should be installed automatically. If you install from source, dependencies can still be installed from PyPi with:

pip install -r requirements.txt

Installing via PyPi

The application is written in Python 3 using Qt5 via PyQt5. It is developed on Linux, but it should in principle work fine on other operating systems as long as dependencies are met.

You can download the latest version of novelWriter from the source repository on GitHub. novelWriter is also hosted on PyPi, and can be installed on all operating systems that support Qt5 and Python 3. It is regularly tested on Linux, Windows and macOS. The latest version of novelWriter is 1.0.4.

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 later in this document. 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.

Building the Documentation

If you installed novelWriter from a package, the documentation should be included. If you’re running novelWriter from the source code, a local copy of this documentation can be generated. It requires the following Python packages on Debian and Ubuntu.

  • python3-sphinx
  • python3-sphinxcontrib.qthelp

Or from PyPi:

pip install sphinx sphinxcontrib-qthelp

The documentation can then be built from the docs folder in the source code by running:

make html

If successful, the documentation should be available in the docs/build/html folder and you can open the index.html file in your browser.

The documentation can also be built for the Qt Assistant. To build the help packages from the documentation source, run the following from the root source folder:

python qthelp

The setup script will copy the generated files into the nw/assets/help folder, and novelWriter will detect the presence of the files and redirect the menu help entry to open help locally instead of sending the user to the website. Pressing the F1 key will in any case try to open help locally first, then send you to the website as a fallback.


In order for the local version of help to work, the Qt Assistant must be installed on the local computer. If it isn’t available, or novelWriter cannot find it, the help feature will fall back to redirecting you to the documentation website.