Last week, I urged Final Draft to release a free converter app to let screenwriters move their old-and-busted .fdr files to the newer .fdx format.

A reader wrote in to say that Final Draft already has one. Sort of.

The evaluation version of Final Draft 8 — which supports both .fdr and .fdx — is free on the Final Draft website.

You can open an .fdr file, then save it as .fdx. The problem is, the evaluation version is limited to 15 pages.

Mac Harwood has a solution:

  1. Select the menu Format > Elements to bring up the Elements dialog box.
  2. In the Font tab, select ‘Set Font’ and change the font size to ’1′.
  3. Then press Apply Font/Size to all elements.
  4. In the Paragraph tab, set ‘Space before’ to be 0, and then do the same for each element.

Now the 200 page epic will only be a few pages, which you can save with the evaluation version.

This works, but the resulting file is a mess of tiny letters. His fix:

Just open up the created .fdx file in your favourite text editor (I use Notepad++) and do a search and replace for all occurrences of “Size=1″ to a blank. Then save.

This workflow could save your life if you were stuck somewhere with an .fdr file and no way to open it, but it’s hardly a practical solution for screenwriters staring at folders full of old files. 1

Erik Harrison offers a possible explanation for why a Final Draft converter isn’t forthcoming:

There probably ISN’T a file format [for .fdr]. It’s likely just a binary dump of the state of internal memory at the time of save. Certainly that was true of a lot of word processors I used in the old day, and even still is true for Word in some senses.

If that’s the case, it helps explain why the new iPad app doesn’t support .fdr. In order to support the old format, the app would have to duplicate way too much of the full Final Draft.

  1. If someone out there finds a way to automate this crazy workflow, let me know.