Publisher for Mac: Best Desktop Publishing Software

There is no Microsoft Publisher for Mac free trial. Publisher for Mac does not exist but you can open .pub files on Mac or use great alternatives. There are a few simple solutions which allow you to work with Publisher files on Mac. There are also some excellent alternatives to Publisher on Mac which do an even better job than Microsoft Publisher for DTP (Desktop Publishing). First we’ll look at how to open Publisher .pub files on Mac and then we’ll look at the best desktop publishing software alternatives to Publisher. Please note you cannot can access Publisher on your Mac via the online Cloud version of Microsoft Office – Office 365. Publisher is only available on PC within Microsoft Office or by downloading Publisher separately for PC.

First we’ll look at the best desktop publishing software alternatives to Publisher. Then we’ll look at how to open Publisher .pub files on Mac.

Alternatives to Publisher for Mac: Best Desktop Publishing Software for Mac

Most people that have used Publisher on Windows and have switched to Mac will advise you to forget about Publisher completely. Macs are much more geared towards Desktop Publishing than PCs and there are far better alternatives available both free and commercial ranging from beginner to professional. Note that the the only free alternative to Publisher in this list is Scribus. The rest all cost anything from $19.99 upwards but you can download a free trial (if available) by clicking on the names.

Pages ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and part of Apple’s iWork suite. It does both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you’ll never go back to Microsoft Publisher after trying Pages. Note that you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.

publisher for mac - pages

Swift Publisher ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Swift Publisher is a user friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac. It doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. Like Pages, there are lots of professional looking templates, it’s integrated with iPhoto and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF etc. If you want an easy to use alternative to Microsoft Publisher for Windows without a steep learning curve, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option.

publisher for mac - swift publisher

iStudio Publisher ($29.99 Mac App Store)

Like Swift Publisher, iStudio Publisher is another simple but powerful alternative to Publisher for Mac. iStudio Publisher produces very professional results and particularly useful are the video tutorials and Quick Start Guide that make iStudio very easy to get going with. It also works on older versions of OS X from 10.4 upwards.

publisher for mac - istudio publisher

Scribus (Free)

Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do everything that Microsoft Publisher can and much more. However, it is a bit tricky to install. You need to install other components for it to work but if you can be bothered with the hassle, it’s a very powerful program and the only free alternative to Publisher for Mac.

publisher for mac - scribus

LibreOffice (Free. OS X 10.8+. Older version for OS X 10.6.8)

LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and as of version 4.0 is able to both open and edit Microsoft Publisher files. Unfortunately, you can’t export to Publisher format yet. LibreOffice isn’t as user friendly or slick as Publisher but considering you’re getting an entire Office suite for free, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for both a Publisher and Office alternative on Mac.publisher for mac - libreoffice

QuarkXPress (Free Trial. $849 Full Version)

QuarkXPress is probably the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software on the market. It’s traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, Magazines and newspapers. However, nowadays QuarkXPress faces competition from Adobe’s InDesign which forms part of the excellent Adobe Creative Suite. QuarkXPress is complicated to learn how to use but if you’re a professional Designer, it’s an essential package.

publisher for mac - quarkxpress

Adobe InDesign

(Free Trial. $19.99 per month annual subscription or $29.99 on a per month basis. You can however buy a standalone version of Adobe InDesign version CS6 )

Along with QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign is the industry standard DTP software for Mac. For anyone that’s familiar with Adobe products, it’s preferable to QuarkXPress because it’s integrated into the powerful Creative Suite which features Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver etc. However, the latest version of Adobe InDesign is now only available on a monthly subscription basis as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. An older version of InDesign from CS6 is available however without a monthly subscription.

publisher for mac - indesign

How to open .pub files on Mac

There is no way to directly open Publisher .pub files on Mac. However, you can easily get round this by:

a) Exporting the .pub files to a different format. Open the .pub files on Windows and then export them to a different format that can be opened on Mac. Just go to File and Export or Save As in Publisher for Windows and select the desired format.

b) If this is not an option for you, you can convert the .pub files online using an online converter such as Zamzar.

publisher for mac - zamzar convert fileIf you just need to read the .pub files, then exporting to PDF is sufficient. If you want to actually edit the .pub files, then exporting it to RTF format will allow you to edit it in most Word Processing applications including Microsoft Word for Mac.

Microsoft Word for Mac: The closest thing to Publisher for Mac

Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac does pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can do and more although it can’t open .pub files without going through the process described above. However, if in Word for Mac you go to View and then Publishing Layout View, you’ll see that Word turns into a DTP software. It’s probably the closest you’ll get to Publisher on Mac.

publisher for mac - word for mac

If however none of these alternatives or solutions are what you’re looking for and you simply must have Publisher on your Mac, then we recommend installing Windows on your Mac so that you can have the best of both worlds.

42 thoughts on “Publisher for Mac: Best Desktop Publishing Software

  1. This is an EXCELLENT article on Mac versions of Publisher! I’ve been struggling with the decision as to whether to buy or not to buy new Pubisher version, run with Parallels, but have heard pros & cons against it. You are so right–I used the Publishing layout view in MS Word 2011 which I’ve never done, and it works great. I was preparing a tri-fold brochure, used a great template, recolored it to match my theme colors and so far, so good.

    This is an easy-to-understand, self explanatory article that helped me make up my mind to stick with Mac software and as you so aptly stated it, I will leave the world of Publisher behind!!!

    Thanks so much for taking time to explain Mac options in user friendly terms!!!

  2. I did purchase Printfolio Bundle and Swift Publisher 3, but I will admit that it is not as easy as Publisher to navigate. I got so frustrated, trying to put together a tri-fold brochure, (time sensitive) that I returned to a MS Word (for Mac) template to finish project. I don’t have lots of time to be a “student” of new software, so not sure this will keep me away from MS Pubisher. We’ll see!

  3. I am thinking of going to a Mac and was curious about my MS Publisher files and potentially switching to Mac DTP program. Your information was extremely helpful in assisting me in my decision. Thanks for the great information.
    Alvin

  4. Walt thanks so much for the article! It is just what I needed. I am transitioning from PC to Macbk and I am struggling a bit. Publisher is something I have had to work with a great deal and having some options to look at are very much appreciated! I should be fine overall as I have iPhone and iPad for years, just need to more fully take the leap now.

  5. HI, The only reason I need to use publisher on my Mac is to create the curved text from the Wordart function. I use it in my family tree artwork designs that you can view on my website attached if you would like to see what I mean…
    I was going to try and find a friend with Windows 7 to install using bootcamp. The friendly guy at JB Hi Fi suggested this today…! Is this the best way to go or is there a program/app on the mac that will create curved text? Thanks Chels

    • Hi Bill, Glad it helped you. iStudio is excellent, especially if you’re not very familiar with Desktop Publishing Programs. It has lots of easy to follow tutorials for beginners and produces very professional results.

  6. What would be the best program to create a custom map that I can publish to the web? I would like to be able to draw a beautiful map (not by hand) and make it interactive (probably by using a program like mapsalive on the web unless there is a capability to do it in a program that you suggest).

    I also need to make a custom search box for my website that has drop downs and buttons. I have already created the custom links, I just need the html box to control it, and would like to design it myself.

    The more affordable, the better. Thank you in advance!

  7. Are all of these programs able to handle a 200 page book with text and photos? I don’t want to start something only to find out halfway into it that it can’t handle the amount of pages. Thanks in advance.

  8. This is exactly the kind of help I needed. I’m sick of being on the $Adobe$ InDesign bandwagon and needed to understand where my alternatives lay. Thank you for such an in-depth article.

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