There are many Microsoft Project for Mac alternatives so we’ve taken a look at the very best equivalents to MS Project on Mac OS X. If you’re a Project Manager looking for a better or cheaper alternative to Project on Mac, or are simply tired of its inefficiencies, shortcomings and expense, there is plenty of excellent project management software on Mac. The main decision you’ll need to make is whether to go with a cloud application such as Wrike, SmartSheet and LiquidPlanner, or a native OS X application built specifically for Mac such OmniPlan or SG Project Pro. The good news is that whichever you choose, most project management software on Mac is both easier to use, more modern and generally much better looking than Microsoft Project. Even better, many of them allow you to import and edit MPP and MPX files meaning it’s no longer necessary to struggle installing Windows on your Mac just to use Project on it. Note that all of the software featured here will also work on Sierra, El Capitan and Yosemite.
- 1 Best Microsoft Project For Mac Alternatives
- 2 What To Look For In Mac Project Management Software
- 2.1 SmartSheet (Basic: $10/month Team: $15/month. Free Trial)
- 2.2 Wrike (Various Pricing Plans. Free Trial)
- 2.3 LiquidPlanner (Small Team $9.99/month. Pro $39/month. Free Trial)
- 2.4 OmniPlan ($149.99 Mac App Store)
- 2.5 SG Project Pro ($199 Mac App Store)
- 2.6 Project Plan 365 (Free for up to 2MB/$99 Unlimited)
- 2.7 ConceptDraw Project ($199)
- 2.8 iTaskX ($149.99 Mac App Store)
- 2.9 xPlan ($29.99 Mac App Store)
- 2.10 Merlin Project ($299)
- 2.11 ProjectManager.com (From $25/month)
- 2.12 FastTrack Schedule ($349)
- 3 Best Free Alternatives To Microsoft Project On Mac
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 Further Reading
Best Microsoft Project For Mac Alternatives
Microsoft Project hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years but the world of project management in 2016 certainly has. Here are some reasons to consider ditching Microsoft Project on Mac and choose one of the alternatives featured here.
- Communication: Microsoft Project simply isn’t designed for real-time collaboration and communication. As a standalone project management software, it’s very powerful but when it comes to collaborating with others, especially those on other platforms such as OS X, it’s behind the times.
- Mobility: MS Project has never caught-up with the mobile world and there’s still no mobile or iPad version of Project. Most PMs need 24/7 access to their projects whether they are on the move or in a meeting and Project doesn’t measure up here either. You can access Project on the move but it’s simply not designed for mobile usage.
- Complexity: MS Project is showing it’s age. 30 years ago, project management software was complex but now that’s not the case. Most project management software nowadays is easy to pick-up in a few days for beginners but Project takes months to master. This is partly because the interface is bloated with many features that you’ll never need to use.
- Price: Whichever way you look at it, Microsoft Project is expensive. At almost $600 for the standalone PC version, MS Project is at least twice as expensive as any of the software featured here. Even if you go the Microsoft Office 365 route and use the web version of Microsoft Project Pro, you still need an Office 365 subscription and then it’s an extra $25 a month for Project. Not only are you then locked into a subscription model but the monthly charges soon add-up.
What To Look For In Mac Project Management Software
MS Project is bloated with tons of features that you’ll probably never actually need. There are however some essential features you should ensure the PM software you choose includes. All of the software feature here includes these tools and features but they are:
- Gantt Charts: Gantt charts are at the center of Microsoft Project and all of the following Microsoft Project alternatives for Mac use Gantt charts to design and manage project timelines. Gantt charts were named after the American Engineer Henry Gantt who designed Gantt charts as a way to organize projects and plans and it’s such a simple and effective system that project management software still uses it today. The basic principle of a Gantt chart are tasks down the left hand margin and then timelines to the right or above. Color coordinating these timelines makes it easy to see who’s doing what and what’s been accomplished in a glance. These should allow you to view the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) along with tasks, sub-tasks, start and end times and of course, dependencies. Note that you should consider whether you need fixed duration work allocation and/or fixed work duration as many project management software tools don’t feature the latter. RationalPlan for example allows you to do both.
- Import/Export Microsoft Project Files: At some point, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up working with colleagues or teams that use Microsoft Project. It’s important to make sure that the software you choose can import MS Project MPP files and ideally, MPX and XML files. Check that the software can also export into Project format – there’s no point being able to edit Projects but then be unable to share them with MS Project colleagues.
- Export to PDF and Summary Charts: Sometimes you just need to share project status and progress with other parts of your company or organization. If you need to do a presentation or send an email for example, this means being able to export in common formats like PDF or common image formats such as PNG and JPG.
- Security: If you’re working on highly sensitive or confidential projects such as governmental projects, you should consider carefully whether cloud based and online project management software is suitable. The same goes if you’re considering setting up a server to collaborate with others using desktop clients. For governmental agencies for example, it may be worth checking whether the software can be run off AWS GovCloud which complies with ITAR and offers much greater security than using the vendors own servers.
Whether you simply need a way to be more organized when planning projects or need to show your boss why yet another project has gone overtime, here are the best project management applications for Mac. You’ll see that the best project management software on Mac isn’t cheap but when you consider the standalone version of Microsoft Project costs over $500, Mac project management software really isn’t that expensive.
For those working on a budget though, we’ve also taken a look here at the best free alternatives to Microsoft Project on Mac too. You can download them, find out more and in most cases start a free trial by clicking on the names of the apps.
SmartSheet is a powerful online alternative to Microsoft Project for Mac which puts making Gantt charts easy at the center of it’s design. Its incredibly easy to get up and running with SmartSheet as the learning curve is minimal compared to most alternatives to MS Project on Mac but it does not skimp on features and capabilities. You don’t have to download any software to use SmartSheet as it’s all based in the Cloud so it works on any platform including Mac OS X and Windows. Despite it’s many features, SmartSheet is very easy to use and makes it simple to create timelines, calendars and share or collaborate on projects with other users. If you need to work with Microsoft Project users, SmartSheet can import and export Microsoft Project files as well as PDF, PNG and other major formats.
SmartSheet has lots of templates which do a lot of the hard work for you such as templates for Expense Reports, Asset Manager With Depreciation and a simple Project With Schedule And Budget Variation. These are very helpful in getting you up and running with SmartSheet and there are templates for most major project management needs. Templates are well organized by category such as Client Management, Company Management, Finance & Legal, Human Resources etc.
Editing in SmartSheet is very intuitive – in many ways it feels like a Microsoft Office product enabling you to edit and customize columns from an easy to access toolset. For instance, once you’ve select a Project template, you can edit the names of columns, add hierarchies, priorities, dates and assignee’s very easily as you can in MS Project. To translate all this into a Gantt chart, you simply click on the “Gantt Chart” view tool and it instantly displays a Gantt chart of your project.
Managing timelines is also easy allowing you to drag and drop tasks to change duration or completion dates and enter more information. You can also add Milestones and choose whether you want them to have a knock-on effect on the rest of your tasks or not. The reporting functions in SmartSheet are comprehensive and you can choose whether to generate automatic reports or extract specific data at any time which you can export for sharing in PDF or Excel. You can upload reports and diagrams directly to Cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive from within the SmartSheet interface. You can also share projects with other users or collaborators simply by entering their email address.
Even the clearest and most organized Gantt charts however sometimes make it hard to identify potential problems or issue with a Project. SmartSheet’s answer to this is SmartSheet Sights which presents a convenient holistic overview of your current project. This allows you to more easily view reports on goals and deadlines in a customizable dashboard. If you’re managing large or multiple project, this is another very useful aspect to SmartSheet.
The other thing we like about SmartSheet is that they are constantly adding new features to it and because its cloud based, they’re added automatically without having to pay for expensive updates. For example, they’ve recently added a Card View Gallery to make SmartSheet compete with workflow tools such as Trello and Jira. The Agile Backlog view for example allows Agile teams to manage their projects by tracking sprints and importing cards from Trello. These can of course be dynamically linked with your Gantt charts to make it much easier to prepare project status information for your boss or meetings.
Other useful card views include Sales Pipelines, Task and Issue Trackers, IT Ticketing and Initiative Tracking. These enhancements to visual tracking of projects with SmartSheet are welcome additions to the product and come at no extra cost to subscribers.
SmartSheet is remarkably powerful for a project management tool that costs $10 a month for single users or $15 per month for team users of more than three people. Both the Basic and Team versions include unlimited collaborators, Gantt charts and mobile access. The Team version also allows multiple creators, user management and reporting and is essential for those working in corporate or company environments. There is also an Enterprise version of SmartSheet for companies of all sizes which features additional features to the Team versions such as single sign-on, a live data connector and a dedicated account manager and pricing for this is available on request. You can also try SmartDraw on Mac for free for 30 days before deciding whether to subscribe. To get a better idea of the difference between the different versions of SmartDraw, check-out the SmartDraw comparison table:
SmartSheet is generally very intuitive although there are many features and to get the most out of it we recommend checking out the SmartSheet tutorial videos which are comprehensive and easy to follow. Alternatively, if you want to implement SmartSheet in your company or team, you can order personal training for your team. You can also see SmartSheet in action here:
Wrike is one of the most popular Microsoft Project alternatives available and according to the makers, is used by over 10,000 organizations worldwide. Although it is not specifically made for Mac, Wrike is entirely cloud based so it works on any platform making it ideal for those Mac users working with colleagues on PC and Windows. Wrike is like a mix between project management tools Trello and Jira but in a slicker and more intuitive interface. Wrike is very flexible and suitable for everything from creative projects, to business project management and marketing campaigns.
One of the main aims of Wrike is to cut down on unproductive meetings and make your working life more productive. One of the ways it does this is via the Wrike Activity Stream which gives project managers and collaborators a very clear overview of who is working on what. The Wrike Activity Stream makes it very easy to manage tasks, share files, see team activity within a clear and easy to navigate dashboard. Rather than simply talk about things in meetings, this allows team members to put ideas into practice and colloborate on them in real time reducing the need for multiple follow-up meetings.
If you want to focus on tracking one particular part of a project, the Activity Stream can be filtered so that only certain task, subtasks or folders are shown. The Task view gives a very clear overview of what’s been done by who and let’s other members of the team add their feedback in the comments below.
Note however that Folder/Project Stream view is not available for all users on free accounts which is a typical limitation of the free version or Wrike meaning most organizations will need either the Professional, Business or Enterprise versions of Wrike to make it a realistic alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac.
One nifty feature is the ability to go through your You can go through tasks and label them “Not Started, Pending Approval, In Progress etc” to customize your workflow.
You can then get an instant overview of them in the Wrike Workspace. This is very useful for project managers to prioritize tasks and get an instant overview of the most pressing issues that need action.
When it comes to scheduling and project overviews, Wrike uses a classic Gantt chart timeline to help you see how you’re doing and make adjustments to project estimates. Again, the dynamic Gantt Chart timeline is only available in the Business, Professional and Enterprise editions but is essential for effective project management as it allows you to break-down tasks into sub-tasks and allows you to perform multiple actions in one go such as delete, completed, move to folder etc.
To help summarize everything at the end of the day, week or month, Wrike Reports offer Wrike’s own analytical tools to help spot trends, activity and potential problems or issues. Reports are again Business or Enterprise plan features only but provide a useful summary of project activity. These include infographics on current project status, performance chart, baseline chart and work progress chart.
When it comes to third party application support, Wrike is also one of the most integrated apps we’ve seen and is fully integrated with over 30 major apps such as Microsoft Office 365 including Microsoft Project, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. Note that MS Project and Excel integration is not included in the free version of Wrike. You can import MS Project files into the Professional and Business versions of Wrike as long as they are in MPP, MPX and XML format. You never quite know how well data is going to import from Microsoft Office applications into other apps but we found importing from Microsoft Project into Wrike is generally pretty reliable with all Project tasks, durations, dependencies and responsible parties imported. Wrike will also attempt to match your contacts with those people assigned in your projects but if they’re not matched, you can invite them into Wrike manually. Note however, that Wrike only exports in Excel XLS format and the more a project is shared and exported, you may find that maintaining spreadsheet structure in XLS can be a bit of a nightmare. Wrike does however also export in PDF format for non-collaborative sharing.
Finally, not all project management software has dedicated mobile apps that are genuinely useful Wrike also has iPhone and iPad apps for iOS and Android that are pretty effective to manage projects on the move. These are really useful if for prioritizing tasks before you sit down at your desktop, searching through tasks or taking photos that what you want to attach to tasks. The mobile apps also support push notifications for alerts for anything important that happens on a project while you’re away. In general, mobile project management apps tend to be limited in their functionality compared to using them on desktop but Wrike offers a decent amount of functionality and features to make them useful.
When it comes to pricing, there are 4 main versions of Wrike, Free, Professional, Business and Enterprise plus an extra version Wrike for Marketeers which is designed specifically for marketing professionals. The free version of Wrike isn’t a serious alternative to Microsoft Project for Mac with major feature limitations as outlined above and a limit of 5 users. Wrike Professional is suitable for small start-ups and costs $9.80 per user/month with a maximum of 15 users. If you’re a small to medium sized business, you’ll need Wrike for Business which supports up to 200 users and costs $24.80 per user/month. If you’re a really big operation of more than 200 users, you’ll need the Enterprise version which includes several added features such as custom fields, custom workflows, real-time reports, Salesforce integration and much greater control over permissions. Enterprise pricing is available on request as it will depend on the size of your team and note that all Wrike plans are billed annually.
You can get more information on Wrike pricing here and see the difference between them in the Wrike comparison chart below. You can try all plans for free including even the full Enterprise Version of Wrike for free which is a good idea as it gives you access to all Wrike features and helps you decide which features you really need and which you don’t before choosing which plan to purchase.
In addition to these plans, Wrike offers an additional Proofing and Approval add-on service for $9.80 per user/month which provides faster review and proofing of digital images and documents. This includes constructive feedback to help produce polished final versions quicker.
Finally, Wrike for Marketeers is a specially adapted version of Wrike for marketing professionals. These include an extension for integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, Online Proofing and Approval and Creative Brief Request Forms. Wrike for Marketeers currently costs $34.60 per user per month billed annually and you can also try a free trial.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into both the functionality and presentation of Wrike with a solid understanding of the needs of project managers. The interface is easy to understand and navigate and the tutorial videos are easy to follow and get started with quickly compared to more complex project management software on Mac. Wrike is one of the best project management software for Mac we’ve tried and will certainly cut down on pointless meetings and tedious report creation. Surely any project manager or team member will say Amen to that.
You can watch Wrike in action below and you can try it for yourself as all plans have a free trial of Wrike.
LiquidPlanner is a powerful software-as-a-service (SaaS) project management software aimed at technology teams. LiquidPlanner is ideal for task management, project scheduling, and team collaboration in one application. LiquidPlanner attempts to be a bit different from most project management software by using “predictive project management” to help identify issues, bottlenecks and problems before they arise. The idea behind this is that you end up with more realistic deadlines due to the LiquidPlanner scheduling engine which automatically calculates dates for projects and task across the entire project timeline in real-time. In theory, this should provide you with a more accurate prediction of when tasks will be completed based on their priority and resources allocated to them.
The dashboards can be personalized by each and are where your reports are delivered. This gives you a very good overview of critical issues, progress and potential problems.
If however you already use a CRM software for Mac, you can integrate LiquidPlanner into major CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Zapier. If you want to integrate into a specific application, there’s a RESTful API to connect to other services.
Some of the best features of LiquidPlanner include probabilistic scheduling, professional time tracking, resource balancing, personalized dashboards for all users and integrated commenting. Time tracking is particularly well deployed, allowing you to track project, task and portfolio time very easily. You can use timers or make notes of work by the hour and there are also timesheets built-in for managers. Each user also gets a Daily Digest delivered to their email inbox every day which gives an overview of how complete a project is, tasks remaining with links to start working on them and tracking time. This is a nice touch for both team members and managers to keep on top of things without even accessing the LiquidPlanner dashboard.
One thing that makes LiquidPlanner a bit different to most project management software on Mac is the way it helps predict realistic deadlines in real time through ranged estimates. It calls this “probabilistic scheduling” and is very useful if you have lots of interlinked, complex projects that share resources and are likely to conflict with each other. It does however still rely on team members giving a realistic estimate of exactly how much time they plan to spend on tasks but can nevertheless provide a more realistic project completion date than trying to assess it yourself. LiquidPlanner uses its own “Monte Carlo” algorithm method which basically performs some pretty complex number crunching to give you a Best Case, Expected Finish and Worst Case scenario for project completion.
Collaborating in LiquidPlanner is very well done with all conversations always linked to their tasks so you know what it relates to. You can subscribe to task comments and filter comments by keyword. You can also upload and share most files types in your LiquidPlanner workspace including photos, documents and PDFs. If you don’t like having to constantly switch between your email and project management software, this is very useful.
Note that LiquidPlanner is suitable for agile environments but could also be easily deployed in waterfall environments too. There are no mobile apps for LiquidPlanner but since it is web based, you can access it from iOS and Android devices to track and update your projects. The only slight drawback of LiquidPlanner is that is quite heavily aimed at tech companies and IT project managers but in theory, it could be applied and made relevant to any industry.
LiquidPlanner starts at $9.99 per user per month for small businesses and $39 for bigger enterprises. Your best bet is to try can a free trial of LiquidPlanner to judge for yourself before subscribing.
You can also watch LiquidPlanner in action below:
OmniPlan is easily the most popular native alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac and it’s easy to see why. OmniPlan is easier to use than Project, imports MS Project files and looks great on a Mac because it’s designed specifically for OS X. OmniPlan is from Omni Group, the same team that created the excellent Visio alternative for Mac OmniGraffle and the popular mind-mapping tool OmniFocus. OmniPlan uses a clear Gantt chart layout which gives you a very clear overview of what needs to be done. The smart thing is OmniPlan adjusts itself according to the resources you drag and drop into the project bars. The more people you drag into them, the more the bars reduce in size as theoretically at least, tasks should be completed quicker.
OmniPlan supports importing and exporting of Microsoft Project files including MPP, XML and MPX file formats. Until recently OmniPlan officially supported importing of Microsoft Project 2003-2010 files but the latest release supports importing of all files up to Microsoft Project 2016. You’ll find in OmniPlan all the standard features in Microsoft Project such as tasks and subtasks, resource names, critical paths, milestones and dependencies. You can also use OmniPlan on the move with OmniPlan for iPad although this costs an extra $49.99. OmniPlan is of course also fully integrated with OmniGroup’s mind mapping software OmniFocus ($39.99 for the Standard version) and diagramming software OmniGraffle ($99 from the Mac App Store for the Standard version).
OmniPlan is overall an excellent alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac and we highly recommend reading our full OmniPlan for Mac review to see exactly what it can do for your business. You can also try a free 14 day trial of OmniPlan for Mac before you have to pay for the full version.
SG Project Pro is a very detailed, slick and powerful project management software suitable for businesses of all sizes. Although SG Project Pro is less known than OmniPlan, it has a similar Gantt chart layout to OmniPlan and offers almost all of the same advantages. The one major drawback is that there’s no support for importing or exporting MS Project files but if you don’t need that, then it’s as good as OmniPlan if not better in certain areas. Managing multiple projects that are ongoing at the same time is particularly well implemented giving you a clear overview of how resources have been deployed and any potential conflicts.
SG Project Pro also has a companion iPad app which allows you to manage projects on the go although it’s limited in functionality and costs an extra $49.99 on top of the $199 for the Mac desktop app. However, there is a lite version of SG Project which includes the basic features of SG Project Pro and costs $49.99 from the Mac App Store. The lite version is obviously more limited easier to learn and if you just need a way of monitoring projects and allowing others to see what’s going on too, it’s more than sufficient. Overall, SG Project Pro is packed with essential project management features but doesn’t overwhelm you with hundreds of functions and tools that you’ll never use like Microsoft Project.
Project Plan 365 is a no fuss, powerful alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac that has both a desktop client and a web version. Project Plan 365 can open MS Project files instantly in your browser with no downloads or plugins required. It opens MPP 2003-2016 files and you can edit, save and share files up to 2MB absolutely free but for a one-off purchase of $99, you can open and edit files of any size.
Project Plan 365 doesn’t have the flashiest or slickest of interfaces but it’s incredibly good at working with MS Project files. You can maintain Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and project schedules, easily assign resources (including people and material) and calculate project costs just as you would in Microsoft Project. Project Plan 365 supports duration, work and unit driven scheduling and you can save projects to the cloud for access anywhere. You can work on the same projects with clients or colleagues in other locations.
You can choose from a range of views including Gantt, Calendar, Task Sheet and Network Diagram and you can color coordinate them. You can also open projects in Resource Sheet, Resource Usage, Task Sheet and Task Usage views.
Overall Project Plan 365 is a no fuss and versatile alternative to Project that represents excellent value for money at $99. You can try Project Plan 365 for Mac free for 30 days to find out for yourself.
ConceptDraw Project is a highly professional project management tool that leaves no stone unturned. ConceptDraw Project features a huge number of reports, allows you to add hyperlinks and files to projects and displays the current status of your projects via Gantt charts. Everything is updated in real time so project managers and participants are always up to date on what’s happening. One of ConceptDraw’s strongest points is how powerful it is when it comes to importing files. It can import and export files not only from Microsoft Project but also from Microsoft Word and Excel so you don’t have to tediously manually input lines of text or data.
In addition, unlike OmniPlan, ConceptDraw Project supports importing and exporting Microsoft Project 2013 files too. The ConceptDraw Solutions Park site also allows you to extend the functionality of ConceptDraw in a huge number of ways. ConceptDraw Project isn’t as easy as either OmniPlan or SG Project Pro to learn and working out how to make reports accurate is a bit tricky but once mastered, it’s one of the most powerful project management tools you’ll find on Mac. ConceptDraw is also fully integrated with the rest of ConceptDraw’s products including professional diagramming software ConceptDraw Pro ($199) and mind mapping package ConceptDraw Mindmap ($199) which are available together discounted in one package as ConceptDraw Office for $499. ConceptDraw products are quite rich in features and take some getting used to but you also get a free personalized 30 minute one-one-one webinar with each purchase to help you get to grips with them. If you’re looking for something really powerful when it comes to project management on your Mac though, ConceptDraw’s products cover almost every possible area and import/export support for the latest versions of MPP files gives ConceptDraw Project a significant advantage over other products.
iTaskX is a well designed project management software for Mac that’s surprisingly powerful and imports Microsoft Project MPP files. iTaskX supports over 60 different detailed task fields such as calculations for slack time, overtime, WBS codes and much more. Some of the features unique to iTaskX include cost rate tables for work and material resources, usage views which work similar to MS Project, support for all resource types (work, material, cost) and task types (fixed units, fixed duration, fixed work).
iTaskX is highly customizable allowing you to customize fonts, bar labels and inserting graphics and images in schedules. iTaskX supports importing of MPP, MS Project XML and MS Project MPX files. Importing doesn’t always turn out perfectly – some formatting may be lost but this is the same for most alternatives to Project on Mac and you can fix this manually. It’s still a hell of a lot easier than having to run Windows on Mac just to use MS Project.
You can also export iTaskX files to XML, OPML, iCal and PDF format plus edit headers, footers and legends before printing. iTaskX isn’t quite as powerful as OmniPlan, ConceptDraw Project or SG Project Pro but it is a bit cheaper than them and if you need a relatively economic solution to open MPP files on your Mac, it’s an excellent choice.
You buy iTaskX from the Mac App Store for $149.99 or direct from the developer for $140 for one user, $650 for 5 users, $1,200 for 10 users and $2,750 for up to 25 users. Buying direct from the developer also gives more flexibility for upgrade pricing, discounts and access to new releases.
xPlan (formerly known as Projector) is a really tasty looking project management app that offers those on a budget a slick tool for planning and tracking projects. xPlan certainly looks good with very smooth looking Gantt charts, integration with DropBox and iCloud and a companion iPad and iPhone app. The main strength of xPlan is the ability to cost projects in a simple manner and it can export data into several different formats easily. It also allows you to import and export Microsoft Project files although only in the XML format that is open to developers – MPX format is not supported unfortunately. If you’ve never used Gantt charts before and just need something fairly simple which looks good on Mac and doesn’t break the bank, xPlan is a great start.
Merlin Project is probably the best looking alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac and the software has come a long way in a short time. Merlin Project has a super clean and slick Gantt chart interface and is excellent at showing the dependencies between multiple projects and therefore potential problems or issues. Merlin allows you a very high degree of control over complex procedural structures and costing. Merlin Project is also very useful for those that run multiple projects with similar characteristics as it allows you to create templates when creating new projects.
It even includes it’s own mind mapping tool to help you brainstorm ideas which it can then automatically breakdown into a project Gantt chart.
The tracking capabilities are arguably better than in Microsoft Project and the different viewing windows and overall presentation are incredibly well done. There’s also a free Merlin iPad and iPhone app and the German development team are very helpful when it comes to feedback and support issues. If you’re new to project management, Merlin Project is user friendly, looks great and the integrated mind mapping tool gives it something extra that takes a lot of stress out of project planning. The main downside is the lack of MPP file support although once you’ve used Merlin Project, you’ll probably never go back to MS Project anyway.
ProjectManager.com is a web based project management tool which provides an easy to use and colorful way to plan and track projects. Although it’s web based, there is a free iPad and iPhone app which syncs with it so you can edit projects anywhere. The useful thing about ProjectManager.com is that multiple members of a team can log onto it at the same time and update tasks, roadmaps and reports in real time. ProjectManager looks a bit cheap and cheerful but it’s actually very complete with major corporate customers such as Volvo, NASA and Nike using it. There’s a 30 day free trial of ProjectManager.com and then pricing plans start from $25 a month for 1-5 users up to $45 a month for more than 10 users.
Note that ProjectManager.com is not to be confused with the now defunct ProjectPlan.com which appears to be made by the same developer and seems almost exactly the same but with a few less features. Both of them also allow you to import and export to Microsoft Project.
FastTrack Schedule is a slick project management tool that has lots of project templates, useful reports and even works on older PPC Macs. FastTrack Schedule has been around a long time on Mac and over the years more and more features have been added to make it an excellent alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac. In fact other than OmniPlan, it’s probably the best looking and most professional project manager available for Mac and the looks was originally inspired by Apple’s iWork suite. There are so many different tools and reports that it can be intimidating at first but from the minute you open it, there lots of video tutorials to help you get to grips with all of FastTrack Schedule’s features. If you need something really high-end, we recommend trying the 21 day FastTrack Schedule free trial because at $349, it’s one of the most expensive project management apps available.
Best Free Alternatives To Microsoft Project On Mac
The market for project management software is so competitive that there are also several interesting free alternatives to MS Project on Mac. As we’ve seen so far, project management isn’t cheap on Mac so if you’re a small organization on a tight budget, or don’t want to get locked into a monthly subscription then these are the best free Microsoft Project alternatives for Mac. Note that you can use Wrike for free if your team is 5 users or less although the free versions doesn’t include Gantt Chart layouts. The same goes for many of these free alternatives to Project – you’ll often find limitations on the free versions but they can usually be enhanced to make them more equivalent with Project if you upgrade.
ProjectLibre is an OpenOffice style alternative to Project on Mac which provides an open source project management application for any platform absolutely free. ProjectLibre can open MS Project 2003, 2007 and 2010 files and is based on the same user experience that you get in Project. For example, you can create resources and dependencies in ProjectLibre similar to the way you can in MS Project and it uses the same Gantt chart view to display your projects. The reporting features aren’t on the same level as Project but the basics are there, are easy to generate and you can export all of them to PDF format. The downside is that ProjectLibre uses Java which is notoriously buggy, slow and insecure on Mac. This means the the interface can be very buggy at times and can leave you frustrated when trying to perform even the most basic of function. If you just need something that can handle WBS, resource association and exporting do PDF, ProjectLibre is a good alternative to Microsoft Project on Mac. However, for long term use with more complex activities, it will probably end up driving you mad especially because there’s very little Help documentation when you get stuck. To get a better idea of how it works, you can see ProjectLibre in action here.
Like ProjectLibre, Gantt Project is another Java based alternative to Project which also opens Project files. It has better reporting features than ProjectLibre although there are virtually no costing tools or ability to add holiday or level resources. As the name suggest, Gantt Project uses Gantt charts to display project details and there are more ways to customize the Gantt views than in LibreOffice. Overall, we prefer Gantt Project over LibreOffice but it’s just a shame that it has to be based on Java with some of the associated GUI problems seen in LibreOffice too. You can see an excellent tutorial for using Gantt Project below.
2-Plan Project Management Software is another cross platform Java based alternative to Project that can be extended with different plugins. 2-Plan is aimed more at large organizations with complex project planning needs and as a result is quite complicated to learn compared to Gantt Project and ProjectLibre. There are various free plugins to extend the functionality of 2-Plan along with paid plugins for more powerful commercial needs. However, most of what you need even for complex projects is provided for free in 2-Plan and if you’re willing to put the time in, you can get a very powerful alternative to Microsoft Project absolutely free. Again though, it’s another Java based application and you will find it slow, unresponsive and awkward to use at times.
RationalPlan Single Project / Multi Project (Free Up To 20 Tasks)
RationalPlan is a non-Java alternative to Project which comes in two versions. RationalPlan Single Project is suitable for those that just need to manage one project and RationalPlan Multi Project allows you to manage several projects at once. RationalPlan is one of the few alternatives to Project that includes Fixed Duration, Fixed Work and Fixed Units including Dependency Driven Durations for complex projects. Although you can purchase RationalPlan, the trial versions can be used for an unlimited period of time although there is a limitation of 20 tasks (apart from on Linux where the Single version is completely free). After that, it’s $57 for the Single version or $98 for the multi version. RationalPlan can import files from Microsoft Project and displays projects using Gantt charts. RationalPlan works as a desktop client on Mac but you can collaborate with other users in real-time using the web app. RationalPlan is far more complete than most free project management apps on Mac and it’s not based on dodgy old Java either.
Gantter is a free web based project management tool which is heavily integrated with Google Drive and can import MS Project files. If you’re a big Google Drive fan then you’ll probably really like Gantter because as soon as you grant Gantter permission to access it, it starts immediately in your browser. You can also export files to MS Project , Dropbox and other online storage solutions. Gantter is very slick and allows anyone with a Google account to chat and collaborate in projects. It’s not the most complex project management app and you need to be online to use it but if you’re looking for idiot proof project management software, Gantter is as easy as it gets. You can see Gantter at work below.
There are signs that Microsoft is acknowledging the need to modernize both Microsoft Project and its approach to project planning. In June 2016, Microsoft launched Microsoft Planner – an online basic project management tool for Office 365 users that works on both Mac and PC. Planner isn’t exactly a replacement for Microsoft Project but it is similar to web based, easy to use Project Management tools such as Trello.
Planner can be launched from the Office 365 app launcher and allows you to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, set due dates, share files, send email updates and use a whiteboard. The interface will be familiar to anyone that’s ever used an online project management software.
For Project Managers, Planner gives a simple overview of the status of tasks assigned, unassigned, not started, in progress, completed and late along with the person working on them.
Microsoft claims that one regional authority in Cascais, Portugal with over 1000 employees has moved all of it’s work planning to Planner already and claims significant improvements in collaboration between employees. At the moment, Planner is quite basic but Microsoft plans to build on it with the ability to assign tasks to multiple users, external user access and more customizable boards among others. Note that Microsoft Planner is only available to Office 365 users on specific plans such as Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education – the basic Office 365 Business Plan & Pro Plus plans are not included for example so you must check your Office 365 dashboard to see if it is available to you. Also, currently there’s no way to collaborate or share with none Office 365 users although this ability is on the Planner roadmap. Note that Planner is available to Office 365 users on eligible plans worldwide, not just in the USA.
You can see Microsoft Planner in action below.
We hope this article has helped you find the right equivalent to Microsoft Project on Mac for you. The fact is, Microsoft Project is a very dated application nowadays with few changes in the past 30 years a steep learning curve and you’re probably better off without it on Mac anyway. There are other applications that are marketed as project management-brainstorming applications that we haven’t featured here (such as Curio) but the software we’ve focused on are dedicated project management applications which are genuine alternatives to MS Project on Mac.
All of the Microsoft Project for Mac alternatives featured here are excellent substitutes and which one you choose depends on whether you want a cloud or native solution, need MPP file support, what your budget will allow and how much time you’re willing to spend learning how to use the software. As far as online project management software goes, we’re still big fans of Wrike, LiquidPlanner and SmartSheet both for the sheer number of features, ease of use and ease of collaboration across platforms.
When it comes to native project management software for Mac both OmniPlan and SG Project Pro are superb alternatives to Microsoft Project if you’re working on Projects alongside people that are only using Macs. Meanwhile ConceptDraw Project is probably the most powerful of the lot especially if you combine it with ConceptDraw MindMap and ConcepDraw Pro but FastTrack Schedule continues to get bigger and better and catch-up with it with every release. The more recent arrival, Merlin Project also looks increasingly promising with every release and considering you get the mind mapping tool included for free, it’s definitely worth trying and one we’ll keep an eye on.
We hope this article shows you that there is life after Microsoft Project on Mac. If you found this article helpful, you may also find the following articles interesting:
- Best Microsoft Project Viewers For Mac
- Publisher For Mac Alternatives
- Best Microsoft Access for Mac Alternatives
- Best Visio For Mac Alternatives
If you have any questions or problems with project management software on Mac, let us know in the comments below. If however after reading this, you still feel that nothing beats having Microsoft Project, don’t forget to read our guide on How To Install Windows On Mac.