Although Microsoft has never released Visio for Mac, the good news is there are some superb alternatives that can do everything Visio can – and more. In some cases, we think they’re even better than Microsoft’s product, are certainly easier to use and in most cases, more cost effective than Visio Pro which currently costs $589.99. There’s no need to say goodbye to your precious Visio diagrams either. All of the tools here can import and export MS Visio files although it should be noted that only SmartDraw can export to the latest Visio 2016 VSDX format.
So whether you’re a Project Manager that needs to visualize processes better or you just want to create flowcharts or diagrams on your Mac, here are the best Mac alternatives to Visio in order of ranking.
SmartDraw is hands down the most powerful yet accessible alternative to Microsoft Visio on a Mac.
The best thing about SmartDraw is that it does everything that Visio can but makes it far easier and faster. It’s been designed specifically as an alternative to Visio and this is clear in the little touches that make it stand-out from the crowd.
For example, it’s the only tool that can import and export to the latest Visio 2016 VSDX format. This is absolutely crucial if you need to work on diagrams with Visio based colleagues or Windows users. The same goes for Visio stencils. If you have hundreds of Visio stencils that you don’t want to say goodbye to, we like the fact that you can just import VSD and VSDX Visio stencils into SmartDraw and keep using them.
The interface of SmartDraw will also feel familiar to anyone that’s ever used Visio but its far more user-friendly with a slick aesthetic that looks great on macOS.
One area where SmartDraw definitely blows Visio out of the water is in templates and objects. There are more than 4,500 diagram templates in SmartDraw compared to around 100 in Visio. These cover almost every conceivable need from flowcharts, org-charts and floorplans to topics as diverse as crime scene reconstructions. The time you save by being able to instantly dive in and edit these ready-made templates means it takes significantly less time to diagram in SmartDraw compared to Visio.
The same goes for the toolset which has more than 34,000 symbols compared to around 4,800 in Visio 2016. They look better too because they’re in high quality crisp SVG vector format.
One of the biggest advantages SmartDraw has over Visio is the Smart Formatting and auto-diagramming features. SmartDraw automatically re-balances diagrams and layouts so when you change connectors and move things around, it adjusts things for you to keep things tidy. This makes a big difference compared to Visio where you have to do a lot more painstaking and tedious manual adjustment of swimlanes, text wrapping, shapes and other diagram elements.
SmartDraw also recognizes that there’s a lot of Project Managers out there making the switch from Visio need both a visual communication tool and project management tool on their Mac. You can instantly turn SmartDraw Mind Maps into Gantt Charts and even send tasks to Trello where they are dynamically updated as task are completed. This is a realy slick touch to SmartDraw 2018 and we like the way changes made in one view, are instantly refelected in the other.
We also like the fact that SmartDraw doesn’t try and lock you into its own ecosystem. If you want to share diagrams, you can easily can export files to Microsoft Office, PDF, SVG or PNG format. Or if you just want to send someone a diagram online, you can send a URL of the diagram with customized permissions which allows anyone to view or edit it.
The same goes for Jira and Confluence. SmartDraw has plugins for both that allow you to create diagrams within Confluence for example without even opening SmartDraw. This is another big plus over Visio which offers no official way of even viewing Visio diagrams in Confluence, never mind actually create diagrams in it. Although there are other rivals to Visio that offer Confluence integration, SmartDraw has the best by some distance.
Overall, SmartDraw is a powerful alternative for anyone looking for Visio on a Mac. It can produce results easily on a par with Visio but with considerably less effort and time.
You can get started now with SmartDraw for free to judge for yourself.
You can also check out our in-depth SmartDraw review.
Pricing: $5.95/month for 5 users+, Single Plans $9.95/month.
If online apps are not your thing, OmniGraffle is the closest thing to a native Mac desktop alternative to MS Visio. OmniGraffle is designed specifically for Mac although it’s a more artistic design tool than Visio and it’s not as easy to use at SmartDraw.
However, once mastered OmniGraffle produces attractive, professional diagrams, user interfaces and wireframes that look better than anything possible in Visio.
It’s important to note from the start that although OmniGraffle can import Visio files, it can’t export files to the latest Visio VSDX format like SmartDraw can. If you’re going to working alongside with PC based Visio colleagues, that will rule it out straight from the off.
OmniGraffle Pro can import all Visio formats (VSDX, VSD, VDX) fand Visio stencil files (VST, VTX, VSX and VSS). Note that Visio import support is not available in the Standard Version of OmniGraffle ($99).
Although there’s aren’t so many stencils and templates included in OmniGraffle, it has a dedicated following of users that have created repositories of free OmniGraffle Stencils.
Diagrams created in OmniGraffle look better than those in Visio because it uses high quality vector graphics. There are more tools for illustrating diagrams in OmniGraffle meaning you can create some really eye-catching flowcharts.
OmniGraffle is also the only diagramming software on Mac that allows you to use the Touch Bar on new MacBook Pros. This helps streamline your workflow and improve productivity without having to use the TouchPad or mouse all the time.
It also has a very good native iPad app OmniGraffle for iOS ($49) that supports the Apple Pencil and syncs with Mac via iCloud.
Finally, for Project Managers, OmniGraffle is fully integrated with project management tool OmniPlan from the same developer. OmniPlan is a powerful project management tool which makes a great replacement for Microsoft Project on Mac.
Overall, we really like OmniGraffle because it’s designed specifically for Mac with the needs of Mac users in mind. It’s not as fast and easy to use as SmartDraw and it’s more expensive but if you want something desktop based rather than Cloud based, OmniGraffle is one of the best alternatives to Visio out there.
You can try OmniGraffle free for 7 days by downloading it from the Mac App Store.
If you decide not to upgrade to the Pro version, you can still keep OmniGraffle as a free desktop Visio viewer on your Mac.
Pricing: OmniGraffle Standard ($99.99) / Professional ($199.99 – includes Visio import support)
Lucidchart is a powerful online diagramming software with strong team collaboration features and excellent integration with Microsoft Office.
While it’s not as slick as similar Cloud based solutions like SmartDraw and doesn’t come close to it in terms of templates, objects or graphics quality, it’s still one of the leading diagramming tools out there.
Here are some of the things we like about Lucidchart.
- It can import Visio files (although it can’t export to the latest Visio VSDX format).
- You can import Visio stencils in VSS or VSX format (although Visio templates in VST or VTX format are not supported).
- Lucidchart tailors the interface and toolset according to your industry and needs such as engineering, flowcharting, UML diagramming etc.
- It really excels at multi user collaboration and allows you to chat with others inside the app, see revision changes, leave comments etc.
- There are free plugins for JIRA, Confluence and Jive integration.
- Lucidchart is very well-integrated with Microsoft Office 2016 so you can draw diagrams directly in Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
- There’s a handy Chrome plugin that allows you to draw diagrams offline.
Overall Lucidchart is an easy to use online diagramming tool ideal for team collaboration and those that need good integration with Microsoft Office.
For a more in-depth look at Lucidchart, check-out our full Lucidchart review.
You can also try a free trial of Lucidchart.
Pricing: $8.95+/month per user
ConceptDraw Pro is the only professional diagramming cross platform desktop alternative to Visio that works on both Mac and Windows PCs. ConceptDraw Pro can even export to Visio VSDX format although we found the results are not as accurate as with SmartDraw.
Here’s some highlights of ConceptDraw Pro for Mac:
- It can import Visio files including VSD and VDX (Visio 2007-2010 format) and Microsoft’s newer open XML file format VSDX used in Visio 2013 and above.
- It can export diagrams to Microsoft Office and Evernote among other formats.
- There are hundreds of templates to get you going divided into different areas such as landscaping, engineering, management, science, flowcharts etc.
- There’s also a rich collection of high quality vector objects, audiovisual clips, additional templates and tutorials in ConceptDraw Solution Park.
- ConceptDraw Pro allows you to create presentations and slideshows of your diagrams.
- For Project Managers, it can be used alongside ConceptDraw Project.
ConceptDraw Pro is a solid choice if you want something similar to Visio that works on both Mac and PC.
You can try a free trial by signing up for a ConceptDraw account.
Pricing: $199. Minor updates are free but not major updates.
Gliffy is an extremely easy to use team focused Cloud diagramming software that’s ideal for collaborating on UML, network diagrams and org charts. Gliffy can import Visio files although it can’t export them although it does export to SVG format which can be opened in Visio (although you’ll have to do a lot of manual adjustment).
Here’s what makes Gliffy a great team diagramming solution.
- Gliffy has a Chrome extension so although it’s Cloud based, you can create diagrams offline.
- It syncs with online storage solutions such as Google Drive and Dropbox directly from your desktop.
- Gliffy’s WYSIWYG interface is based on HTML5 which means it’s fast and responsive.
- It uses a drag-and-drop interface which makes it easy to add objects and connectors to your diagrams.
- Gliffy is an excellent choice for teams as it has full revision histories for diagrams, private sharing and all users can leave comments on diagrams.
- Sharing diagrams is easy. If you want to share diagrams with a non Gliffy user, it generates a simple URL which can be shared on social media and other channels so anyone can view the diagram.
- There are Gliffy plugins for Confluence and Jira.
- Gliffy also allows you to export diagrams to Google Docs, presentations, web pages and most major image formats including JPG, PNG, PNG with transparent background and SVG.
- There’s a good choice of real objects to illustrate diagrams with although there aren’t many templates to choose from.
If you just want a basic but easy online diagramming solution that imports Visio files, allows you to diagram offline and is suitable for teams, Gliffy is definitely worth checking out.
You can try Gliffy for free and test drive it for yourself.
Pricing: Starts at $7.99/user per month
Creately is a lightweight, fast and cost-effective alternative to Visio. Creately is a lot simpler than Visio but you can create some pretty impressive diagrams, Venn diagrams, flowcharts and process flows with it.
Here’s a few things that stand out.
- Creately can import Visio files (although it can’t export to Visio).
- There are some neat touches like shared project libraries, a useful Google Image search tool and auto snapping of objects connectors.
- Creately also integrates with Confluence, Jira and the G Suite Marketplace.
- Creately has a Mac desktop client which allows you to draw offline and sync any changes when you go online again.
- There are thousands of templates to choose from to get things done quickly.
You can also create up to 5 diagrams for free before deciding whether it’s for you.
Pricing: $5 a month or $49 per year for individual users.
If you mainly use Visio for creating flowcharts then Textografo is a data input based alternative with a clean, minimalist interface.
Textografo claims that by automating diagrams, it’s the fastest diagramming software on the market although it takes some getting used to first.
Textografo doesn’t cater for all diagram formats but consists of a Flowchart Maker, Mindmap Maker, Decision Tree Maker, Organizational Chart Maker and a Sitemap Maker.
Here’s what we like about Textografo compared to Visio:
- Textografo takes a data input approach to diagramming by automating diagrams based on the data you feed it. Instead of drawing diagrams, you describe it using hashtags and instructions in the left hand margin and Textografo draws it. So for example, if you type “#decision” a decision box will appear in the diagram. This removes the need to constantly align, resize and connect elements and objects in flowcharts by automating much of the process for you via syntax.
- You can also drag and drop elements although Textografo is not really designed for that. Textografo is designed particularly with business processes in mind especially those in Process Analysis, Business Operations, Software Development, Sales & Marketing and Customer Service roles.In terms of pricing plans, Textografo Essentials is the basic version of Textografo and costs $4 per month but is limited to 5 private diagrams and 50 shapes per diagram.
You can use Textografo free for 7 days before you have to purchase a plan.
Pricing: Textografo Premium costs $8 per month.
MyDraw (formerly known as Nevron Draw) is a budget desktop alternative to MS Visio. If the interface of MyDraw looks familiar, that’s because it’s heavily inspired by Microsoft Office’s Ribbon UI used in all MS Office products.
Some of the reasons MyDraw makes a good replacement for MS Visio on macOS include:
- Visio file format support is excellent in MyDraw including support for importing older VDX format and VSSX stencils too.
- MyDraw can also import, edit and export Visio VSDX files (although the results aren’t always great).
- MyDraw can also import family tree diagrams in GEDCOM format used in genealogy software on Mac. Other export formats supported include PDF, AutoCAD’s DXF format and as high-resolution images.
- MyDraw has a very large number of shapes and objects to choose from and uses a powerful formula based engine similar to Visio.
- It also has automatic layout algorithms to speed things up when creating diagrams.
- There are plenty of free templates for simple mind maps, network diagrams, floor plans, fish bone diagrams, work flows, UML diagrams and electrical diagrams.
If you like to draw diagrams on your iPad, MyDraw also supports the Apple Pencil and other graphics tablets that work with Macs.
MyDraw isn’t quite on the same level as Visio but if you’re on a really tight budget and want a Mac desktop solution, it’s definitely worth downloading the free trial.
Edraw Max is a cheaper desktop alternative to Visio but with a strikingly similar interface. There are a lot of similarities between Edraw and MyDraw, most notably that they’re both desktop apps plus they can both import and export Visio files.
Here’s what we like about Edraw Max:
- Edraw supports high quality vector graphics allowing you to create eye-catching diagrams.
- Edraw supports VDX as well as VSDX files although the exported results aren’t always great and may involve some manual adjustment depending on the complexity of the diagram.
- The Edraw Max UI is very closely modeled on Microsoft Visio’s ribbon interface – so close in fact that it’s actually hard to distinguish the difference at first glance.
- Although there are only around 200 templates in Edraw Max, there’s enough there for basic flowcharts, org charts and brainstorming.
- You can snap and connect shapes or objects easily and there’s enough to create basic Visio diagrams.
Overall, Edraw Max is an interesting option if you want something that looks like Visio, works on your Mac desktop but is considerably cheaper.
There’s a fully functional free trial of Edraw Max
Pricing: Perpetual License costs $179 with no upgrade costs for 3 years. Lifetime License costs $245 with no upgrade costs. Subscription costs $99 per year.
Finally, Ardoq is an Enterprise level, data input driven replacement for Visio which like Textografo, takes information you throw at it and then automatically generates Visio like flowcharts and diagrams. It’s aimed particularly at Product or Project Managers as it calculates dependencies and can provide estimates of project timelines and completion dates.
Here are some of the benefits of Ardoq:
- It gives a good overview of complex workflows and systems so that they can get a better overview of knock-on effects and the interconnections between process flows.
- It automatically translates complex data that you give it into useful flowcharts and diagrams. This means less time sketching flowcharts and process flows manually.
- Diagrams dynamically update and change as you update the data that powers them such as via an Excel sheet or any other tool that has an API.
- Although Ardoq doesn’t allow much manual adjustment of diagrams, there are templates that you can customize manually and a plugin editor to configure how Ardoq visualizes data.
The main drawback to Ardoq is the price. At $999 per month, it’s not exactly cheap but if you’re a Project Manager in a large enterprise, Ardoq is a powerful data driven, project management focused Visio like tool.
You can request a free demo of Ardoq to see if it’s right for your organization.
Which Is The Best Visio Alternative For Mac?
SmartDraw is hard to beat as a powerful but far easier to use alternative to Visio. Its been around longer than almost any other diagramming software and all that experience, features and user interface know-how has clearly gone into SmartDraw Cloud for Mac users. Crucially, it’s the best alternative to Visio when it comes to importing and exporting VSDX files and if you’re going to be working with Visio based clients or colleagues, you should definitely look no further.
Is Visio Part Of Office 365 For Mac?
Microsoft Visio is not included in the Standard version of Office 365. However, Microsoft Visio Online is available in Office 365 to both Mac and PC users but it only allows basic editing and viewing of Visio files and there are many limitations.
For example Visio Online lacks things such as shape data, you can’t edit hyperlinks in diagrams and there are annoying glitches like session timeouts if you leave the browser tab idle for more than a few minutes. It also only works if you have saved the files in SharePoint Online or One Drive for Business – you can’t open Visio files that are saved locally on your Mac’s hard drive or sent to you via email. Mac users can however leave comments for other users in diagrams and Visio Online is also integrated with Skype for Business for Mac so that stakeholders can discuss diagrams with others.
For iPhone and iPad users, there is also Microsoft Visio Viewer for iOS.
Is There A Google Visio Alternative?
There is no software made by Google that can compare with Microsoft Visio. The closest thing available is Google Drawings which is free and allows you to do very basic diagramming in your browser. There’s also Google Sketchup but it’s a 3D modelling software mainly designed for doing CAD work on a Mac.
Are There Any Free Alternatives To Visio On A Mac?
The simple answer is you won’t get anything for free that can compete with a complex enterprise product like Microsoft Visio. However, there are some free alternatives to Visio that allow a certain amount of diagramming for free. You will find however that there are stict limitations on them such as the number of diagrams, tools and files you can save. They all use the free versions as gateways to encourage you to upgrade to the paid versions.
Is It Possible To Run Visio On A Mac?
Yes it is possible to run Visio on a Mac although we don’t recommend it as a solution as you can read here. You can watch Visio running on a Mac below.
Why Is There No Mac Version Of Visio?
The main reason is the relatively small market share of Macs compared to PC. The cost of dedicating a team of developers and engineers to creating and maintaining a macOS version of Visio is not considered economically viable by Microsoft. Naturally, Microsoft also wants to keep its business users within the Windows ecosystem as far as possible.
We hope this article has helped you find a replacement for Visio on your Mac but if you have any suggestions, comments or experiences with the software featured here, let us know in the comments below.
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