Microsoft has never released a project management tool for Mac so we’ve looked at the best Microsoft Project alternatives for Mac in 2018. We’ve covered all budgets ranging from professional enterprise solutions to more basic project management software on Mac. All of the apps featured here work on the latest versions on macOS including Yosemite, El Capitan, Sierra and High Sierra. Here then is the definitive list of the best alternatives to Microsoft Project on Mac in order of ranking.
Wrike is one of the most popular cloud based project management apps available and according to the makers, is used by over 10,000 organizations worldwide. 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 and visualize team activity within a clear and easy to navigate dashboard.
Rather than simply talk about things in meetings, this is more effective at enabling teams members to put ideas into practice and collaborate 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.
One nifty feature is the ability to go through your 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 however 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 apps have dedicated mobile clients 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 MS Project 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 Wrike for Enterprise 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.
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 there are many tutorial videos which are easy to follow and get started with quickly compared to more complex alternatives on Mac.
Wrike is the best overall project management solution on 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 try it for yourself as all plans have a free trial of Wrike.
Pricing: $9.80+/month – Free Trial
LiquidPlanner is a powerful software-as-a-service (SaaS) project management application 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 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 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 PM management app, 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 which is generally very good value for money compared to most project planning software although it depends on how many users you need it for. Your best bet is to try can a free trial of LiquidPlanner to judge for yourself before subscribing.
Pricing: $9.99+/month – Free Trial
SmartSheet is a powerful online alternative to Microsoft Project which puts making Gantt charts easy at the center of it’s design. It’s incredibly easy to get up and running with SmartSheet as the learning curve is minimal compared to most equivalents to MS Project 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 SmartSheet on Mac for free 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.
Pricing: $10+/month – Free Trial
Teamwork is an intelligent suite of three business management apps mainly aimed at marketing, creative, software and support teams. Teamwork has been around since 2007 so is well established in project management with an estimated 3 million users and almost 400,000 companies including corporate giants such as PayPal, Disney, HP and Honda. It’s easy to see why Teamwork is trusted by such companies because it’s superbly thought out, powerful but extremely easy to use and it really looks like it was designed for Macs.
We really like the fact that Teamwork has decided to separate project management, customer support and communication software rather than lumping it all into one overwhelming but half-baked package like many project management solutions do. Teamwork consists of three apps – Teamwork Projects for project management, Teamwork Desk for support and help-desks and Teamwork Chat which focuses on team communication in general.
All three applications are integrated and communicate with each other but in order to make them highly focused on their specific area, they are separate but they are all included in the price. Whether you choose to use them all is up to you. Teamwork Projects is the project management application and is an extremely well organized, professional and powerful SaaS application.
Teamwork Projects is based on the idea that most PM apps are either too basic or too complicated and Teamwork Projects does a very good job of finding a middle ground. Its main aim, is to reduce meetings and improve productivity by giving Project Manager’s a clear overview of a project’s status, allowing them to manage team efficiently and allowing clients to see what’s going on. The handy thing is that clients can also hook into the app so that they can see exactly what’s going on without the need for regular updates or meetings.
Everything is hosted in the Cloud so there’s nothing to download on your Mac although there are very slick native mobile apps for iPad, iPhone and Android. They allow you to view and edit project timelines, chat with team members and respond to messages.
Teamwork gives Project Managers a high degree of control over privacy regarding who can see what in project timelines. This includes the ability to choose which team members, senior management and clients can see in the Gantt chart overview.
The calendar view gives you a very clear overview of important dates. You can easily add milestones, important events and status updates to help keep on top of deadlines. You can use the mobile apps to check this and also update them wherever you are.
Teamwork is also incredibly well connected with other third party services such as OneDrive, HubSpot, Dropbox, FreshBooks, Microsoft Office, Google Apps and many more. You can also connect through Zapier too to sites such as YouTube, Github and Evernote. Note that most integrations such are only available on the small office, business or professional Teamwork plans. Activating or deactivating integration is as easy as the flick of a switch in the main Teamwork dashboard.
We like as well that you can control the permissions of who in your team is allowed to access data from third party services such as Microsoft OneDrive.
Something that shows extra thought has gone into Teamwork compared to most apps is that it gives you choice of whether to host your projects in the US or Europe. Teamwork is the only US based software that gives you the option of using hosting your account in the EU to comply with the legally binding US-EU Privacy Shield agreement which replaces the old Safe Harbour agreement and grants extra legal protection to EU customer data.
Failure to ensure that your software’s handing of EU client data complies with this could pose problems legal problems for your organization in the future. Although this is of less interest to organizations with mainly US clients, if you have EU clients, it’s an important legal agreement that few project managements apps have complied with and shows that Teamwork has gone the extra mile in being on top of data protection and legal issues that will affect your company.
Privacy and security is always a concern when using a cloud service but Teamwork uses Amazon AWS data centers that are both technically and physically very secure and have passed the SSAE16 audit. It also states that if any staff are requested by you to access your database, all activity is logged and it pledges that it will never resell, share or manipulate your data. The Teamwork Enterprise Plan offers added security in the form of Single Sign On (SSO) via SAML, ADFS and OKTA.
Finally, Teamwork also has a very good reputation for reliability with very few reports of connectivity problems or outage issues which is an important concern when choosing cloud software. You can even check Teamwork uptime to see if there have been any reported problems or issues which makes it easier to identify if connectivity issues are at your end or Teamwork’s.
The biggest downside of Teamwork, is that there is no way to import Microsoft Project files into it. If this essential for you, then you’re better off using something like SmartSheet or Wrike (see review below). It’s also slightly on the top end of project management suites in terms of pricing but with something as crucially important as project management solutions, you often get what you pay for and Teamwork is worth it in terms of its overall usability, functionality and reliability.
Although it’s not really suitable for individuals or freelancers, there is a Free Forever Teamwork plan but it’s limited to just 2 projects and 100MB of storage. Teamwork is however an excellent small business and enterprise PM solution with plans starting at $49 per month for the Small Office Plan going up to $249 per month for the Business Plan. Because its aimed and superbly tailored for small businesses rather than individuals, there’s no cheaper plan for individuals as there is with most other options.
Enterprise Plans are available on request and all plans include with a 30 day free trial (with no credit card required). The free trial does not require a credit card and Teamwork offers a 90 day money back guarantee which is the longest we’ve seen on any PM software.
Overall, Teamwork is a superb blend of power and simplicity for project managers. There’s plenty in it to cater for almost all project management needs but it does not overwhelm you like some apps do. It’s basically effective, reliable, easy to use and feels like something that suits OS X.
You can sign up for a 30 day free trial of Teamwork.
Pricing: $49+/month – Free Trial
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 diagramming software 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 download and try a fully featured free 14 day trial of OmniPlan for Mac before you have to pay for the full version.
Pricing: $149.99 Mac App Store – Free Trial
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 big downside is that ProjectLibre uses Java which is notoriously buggy, slow and insecure on Mac. We don’t recommend installing Java on Mac for many reasons mainly performance and security related. 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.
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 suggests, 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.
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 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 project managements apps 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.
Pricing: 20 Tasks Free then Single version $57 or Multi version $98
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 something idiot proof, Gantter is as easy as it gets.
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 app.
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.
Pricing: Free in Office 365
SG Project Pro is a very detailed, slick and powerful 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. Both versions are integrated with the DropBox online storage solution.
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.
Pricing: $199 Mac App Store
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.
Pricing: 2MB Free/$99 Unlimited
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.
You can get a free trial of ConceptDraw Project Pro project by signing-up for an account to judge for yourself.
Pricing: $199 – Free Trial
iTaskX is a well designed tool 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 replacements for Project 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 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.
Pricing: Starts at $140.00 for one user
NobPlan (formerly known as xPlan and Projector) is a really tasty looking project management app that offers those on a budget a slick tool for planning and tracking projects. NobPlan 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 NobPlan 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, NobPlan 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.
If you’re a real Excel Junkie, then Gantt Chart Excel Template might be of interest. As the name suggests, Gantt Chart Excel Template isn’t actually an application – it’s modified template for Excel that allows you to create Project Management Gantt charts very quickly.
The good thing about Gantt Chart Excel Junkie is that if you’re already a Whizz with Excel, then you’ll be up and running with it very quickly. Gantt Chart Excel Template is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Excel including 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2013. When you open Gantt Chart Excel Template it looks like a version of Excel on steroids. The Excel ribbon has been customized to include a Gantt chart tab which includes tools to add Charts, Tasks, Milestones etc.
You can easily create cascading dependencies and easily see what impact new tasks will have on the final completion date.
You can create detailed project timelines with information such as task names, resources, task percentage completed, costs and other important elements.
There are even project completion dashboards to clearly show you the status if your projects.
And there is a cost module to help you get an overview of how your budget is doing.There are several other useful things you can do with Gantt Chart Excel Template too such as color customize projects, add holidays calendars, group tasks, filter tasks and more.
The best thing is Gantt Chart is free to use although the free version isn’t practical for regular use as it does not allow unlimited Gantt charts and tasks. However, for a very modest one off payment of $59.95, you can download the Mac Ultimate version which offers full functionality and unlimited Gantt charts. There are also slightly cheaper Pro and Ultimate version but these do not work with Excel on Mac. Although it’s not exactly a sophisticated alternative to Microsoft Project, Gantt Chart Excel Template is ideal for anyone that loves Excel and wants a cheap, effective solution on macOS.
ProofHub is an online project management solution that’s used by everyone from freelancers to large corporations. It’s designed for project of all size and industries and according to the developers, is already used by companies such as Netflix, Google, Disney and NASA. One of the main attarctions of ProofHub is it’s accessibility and ease of use for all technical abilities. This is partly because ProofHub feels a little bit like a Google product with a navigational interface like Google Docs and an instant messenger client that’s not unlike GChat.
Although you can use a Gantt shart style overview of your projects, it’s not at the center of ProofHub. You can navigate ProofHub using the different tabs at the top such as the Tasks bar which allows you to add, modify and set the priority of tasks and jobs.
You can breakdown tasks into subtasks with ProofHub and easily assign tasks to different members of your team. If you need to switch to a Gantt chart view of your timeline, you can do using the Gantt tab.
Outside of the main taskbar across the top, the ProofHub chat client allows you to start direct chats, group chats and includes chart history and emojis.
There’s a lot more to ProofHub and you can check out the full list of features here. There are also advanced features such as IP restrictions, white label branding of the client and advanced search tools. The developer is also constantly updating ProofHub with new features and has recently added Kanban, third-party integrations and an iOS app.
You can try ProofHub for free but a basic Individual plan starts at $18 per month (limited to 10 project and 3GB of data) and goes up to $135 per month for Enterprise plans with no restrictions. While ProofHub doesn’t offer anything more than the average PM software, it’s very well designed, easy to use and very complete.
Pricing: $18+/month – Free Trial
Redbooth is one of the cheapest solutions we’ve seen with the most expensive plan costing just $15 per month. Redbooth is actually free for users that only need up to 2GB of storage and 5 work spaces but this includes Gantt charts, unlimited comments and conversations and free integration with Google Drive, Slack and Dropbox. Redbooth is extremely streamlined with a very simple interface that clearly shows tasks in progress and tasks to be done.
You can prioritize tasks, and easily delegate and assign work by tagging members of your team. There are several ready made project templates in Redbooth and you can customize them how you want. You can then re-use customized templates when you start a new project.
One nice touch is integration with Gmail which means you can turn emails into tasks instantly.
There are also native apps for iPad, iPhone, Android and even Apple Watch to keep track of your projects.
Other useful features in Redbooth include spreadsheet importing, @mentions, hashtags, external user invites, email notifications and a Google Chrome extension. Redbooth is for anyone that wants a basic but functional project management app that won’t break the bank. You can try a fully featured version of Redbooth free for 30 days.
Pricing: Free/$5+ per month
Active Collab offers both cloud based and self hosted software that keeps things extremely simple but does not lack power. Active Collab has a clear and distraction free interface with plenty of handy features. One of the things we like most about Active Collab is the Estimated v Tracked Time feature which makes it easy to see where things are getting out of hand. There’s also a useful uninvoiced report which monitors work which hasn’t been invoiced for and a workload report which allows easy macro management of project personnel.
Other nice touch include up to 500GB of file sharing space, Gantt charts accessible to everyone and Kanban Boards for collaboration. The online version includes integration with major online storage and payment solutions such as Dropbox, Google Drive and PayPal but you can also install Active Collab locally to utilize local storage servers instead.
Active Collab starts at $25 a month for the cloud hosted version but starts at $999 for the self hosted version. You can try Active Collab free for 30 days.
Pricing: $25+/month – Free Trial
Celoxis is an advanced Indian based online and on-premise project management tool but still remains surprisingly easy to use. Celoxis is used by companies as notable as HBO, LG and Rolex for project management indicating just how powerful it is. One of the best features of Celoxis is the real-world scheduling engine which calculates project times automatically based on dependencies, constraints and calendars so that you don’t have to do all the number crunching yourself.
Of course, there are Gantt charts which can be edited via keyboard shortcuts and a very useful portfolio report which can assimilate and report on several projects at once. Free online file storage and sharing is limited to 2GB but you can pay $10 for every extra 10GB which is quite steep but flexible. Other features include time tracking, invoicing and extensive reports. Celoxis starts at $25 per month for the online version but goes up to $450 per month for the on-premise version.
Pricing: $25+/month – Free Trial
Clarizen is a cloud based project management tool which tries to take the hard work out of project management. One way it does this is via the Project Highlight Report which automatically summarizes essential project information, status, pending issues etc. There’s also a Portfolio Optimizer which automatically suggests areas where you can make improvements including running “what-if” scenarios such as budget changes, date changes and personnel adjustments.
Online storage is limited to 1GB per user although you can use Dropbox and Google Drive. Other useful tools include Gantt charts, brainstorming discussions and timesheets. Clarizen pricing is done on a per-client needs basis but you can also try a free trial.
Pricing: On Request – Free Trial
Mavenlink is a highly accomplished cloud based software which is used by companies such as Buzzfeed, CocaCola and SalesForce. Mavenlink features everything you’d expect in a PM app such as Gantt Charts, resource utilization, comprehensive customizable reports and budget status.
Mavenlink is a very advanced tool designed for the needs of large enterprises with an upper online file storage limit of 1TB. However, small teams can still use it from $19 per month and if you think your organization is going to grow significantly, it’s definitely worth a looking at.
Pricing: $19+/month – Free Trial
Why You Really Don’t Need Microsoft Project On Mac
Microsoft Project hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years but the world of project management certainly has. Most project management software on Mac is both easier to use, more modern and generally much better looking than Microsoft’s product. Even better, many of them allow you to import and edit MPP and MPX files so you can switch instantly.
Here are some reasons why the applications featured here are better than Microsoft Project.
- Communication: Microsoft Project simply isn’t designed for real-time collaboration and communication. As a standalone project management tool, 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 apps for PMs nowadays are 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 $30 a month for Project. Not only are you then locked into a subscription model but the monthly charges soon add-up.
In addition to all this, MS Project is massively bloated nowadays with tons of features that you’ll probably never actually need.
Before you choose however, there are some essential features you should bear in mind before deciding which one to go for. Most of the software featured here includes these tools but here’s what you should be looking for the in best MS Project alternatives.
- Gantt Charts: Gantt charts are at the center of Microsoft Project and all of the following Microsoft Project equivalents on Mac use Gantt charts to design and manage project timelines. 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 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 apps are 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.
- Privacy Shield Compliance: If you’re based in Europe or are dealing with European clients, then you should also consider whether the software you choose complies with the US-EU Privacy Shield agreement. This mainly applies to cloud based apps but also applies to any desktop Mac project management apps that host data online. In October 2015 the Safe Harbour Privacy Principles were ruled invalid by the European Court of Justice. As a result, a new Privacy Shield Framework was enacted which grants the fundamental rights of anyone in the EU whose personal data is transferred to the USA. At the moment it seems not many developers have signed-up to the Privacy Shield Framework but notable exceptions are Teamwork and Wrike which now has a data center in Amsterdam. As more of Europe moves towards cloud solutions, the Privacy Shield Framework will become increasingly important and many more developers will surely adopt it in the future to comply with the ever evolving issue or EU-US data privacy issues.
Other useful features you’ll find in the replacements for Project featured here include comprehensive reports, file sharing, third party app integration, real time communication between users, timesheets and invoicing.
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 options as a replacement for Project.
All of the solutions 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 cloud based software goes, Wrike wins for the sheer number of features, Trello-Jira like functionality and superb third party integration. LiquidPlanner’s all round design and predictive project planning assistant make life so much easier as a project manager. You also can’t go far wrong with SmartSheet for something simple but still able to import Microsoft Project files and collaborate across platforms. Teamwork is also so well designed, thought-out, looks great on Mac and is very competitively priced.
When it comes to native software for Mac both OmniPlan and SG Project Pro are superb choices 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 ConceptDraw 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 has shown you that there is life after Microsoft Project on Mac. If you’re a project manager that also previously used Visio on Windows, you may also find our look at Visio alternatives for Mac users useful too.
If you have any questions or problems with any of the software featured here, let us know in the comments below.