Microsoft has never released Visio for Mac but we’ve looked at the very best Visio alternatives for Mac that make diagramming easier, faster and cost less.
Many of these solutions work across all platforms either online or with native desktop clients so this article will interest Windows users on PC too.
All of them can import Visio files and most of them can even export to Microsoft Visio too.
So whether you’re a Project Manager that needs to visualize processes better or you just want to create flowcharts on your Mac, you’ll find a solution here for your budget.
Here then are our top 10 alternatives to Visio on Mac in order of ranking.
When it comes to diagramming, it doesn’t get much better than with SmartDraw. SmartDraw does pretty much everything that Visio can do but somehow makes it far easier and faster.
It also helps that it looks and feels like a diagramming tool that was made for macOS.
These are just some of the standout reasons that make SmartDraw a great alternative to Visio on Mac:
- It both imports and exports Visio files and the results are excellent.
- It’s the only professional diagramming software on Mac that can export to the latest VSDX format used in Visio 2013 and 2016.
- It’s the only online diagramming software that uses high quality SVG vector graphics compared to lower quality Bitmap graphics used by other diagramming apps.
- The toolset has more than 34,000 symbols compared to around 4,800 in Visio 2016 – and they look better too.
- 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 floor-plans to topics as diverse as crime scene reconstructions.
- It automates diagramming. So for example, when you change connectors and move things around, it re-balances your flowcharts, process flows and other elements. It’s hard to emphasize just how much easier this makes diagramming but you can see it in action here.
- It can export to Microsoft Office. So if you need to insert a SmartDraw diagram into Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel, it’s easy to do.
- It’s easy to share diagrams with none SmartDraw users. You simply generate a URL that allows anyone to view a diagram in SmartDraw and customize what kind of restrictions you want to put on it.
- You can use SmartDraw within Jira and Confluence thanks to plugins.
- The same goes for Trello.
SmartDraw simply makes diagramming easier while not sacrificing the diagramming tools that make Visio so powerful.
SmartDraw even works out cheaper than Visio. The standalone version of Microsoft Visio Pro costs $589.99 and an Office 365 subscription for online use is $15 per month.
SmartDraw costs just $5.95 per month for teams of 5 or more. Individual subscriptions are $9.95 per month.
You can check out our full review of SmartDraw for a more in-depth look.
You can also try a free trial of SmartDraw to judge for yourself.
Imports Visio files
Exports to the latest Visio 2016 format VSDX
Thousands more objects and templates than Visio
Automated diagramming makes it easy to use
Cheaper than Microsoft Visio Pro
Doesn’t import VST/VTX stencils
Price: $5.95 per month for teams of 5+ / $9.95 per month individuals
Lucidchart is a powerful online diagramming software with strong team collaboration features and impressive integration with Microsoft Office.
While it’s not quite as slick as SmartDraw and doesn’t come close to it in terms of templates, objects or vector graphic quality, it can import and export both Visio files and stencils.
Note that unlike SmartDraw though, it cannot export to the latest Visio VSDX format.
What we like about Lucidchart is that it tailors the interface and toolset according to your industry and needs.
If you need to extend the templates with specific Visio stencils however, you can also import Visio stencils in VSS or VSX format into Lucidchart (although Visio templates in VST or VTX format are not supported).
If you’re planning to work in a team, Lucidchart really excels at multi user collaboration and allows you to chat with others inside the app.
Like SmartDraw, there are also 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.
One other thing we really like in Lucidchart is that it has Chrome plugin that allows you to draw diagrams offline.
We also like that Lucidchart doesn’t take itself too seriously either. There are also some more light hearted pop-culture flowchart templates such as this one to see Which Game of Thrones House Do You Belong To?
Overall Lucidchart is a powerful online equivalent to Visio but is far more user friendly than Microsoft’s product.
Imports Visio files
Works offline in Chrome
Excellent team collaboration features
Can’t export to the latest Visio VSDX format
No VST/VTX stencil import support
Bitmap graphics only
Price: Teams $6.70/m, Individuals $8.95/m
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 and produces attractive, professional diagrams.
Diagrams created in OmniGraffle look better than those in Visio because it uses high quality vector graphics.
OmniGraffle opens all Visio formats including VSDX, VSD, VDX files and Visio stencil files in VST, VTX, VSX and VSS format.
Note that only the more expensive Professional version of OmniGraffle can import Visio files and it can’t export to VSDX format used by Visio 2016.
OmniGraffle doesn’t have so many stencils or templates but all the essentials are there.
If you need more however, it does however have dedicated following of users that have created repositories of free OmniGraffle Stencils.
OmniGraffle is the only diagramming software on Mac that allows you to use the Touch Bar on new MacBook Pros.
It also has a very good native iPad app. OmniGraffle for iOS ($49) supports the Apple Pencil and syncs diagrams with the Mac version via iCloud.
OmniGraffle is a slick, powerful and more artistic desktop alternative to Visio on macOS. It does require more learning than more user friendly online tools like SmartDraw and Lucidchart however. If you’re working in Mac only environment and want a desktop diagramming app, OmniGraffle is an excellent choice.
Native desktop Mac app
Imports Visio files (Pro version only)
Great macOS style interface
Lots of templates available via third party sources
Powerful iOS app
Can’t export to the latest Visio VSDX format
Expensive upfront cost
iOS app costs extra
Price: Standard $99.99 / Professional $199.99
Platforms: Mac, iOS
ConceptDraw Pro is the only professional diagramming cross platform desktop alternative to Visio that works on both Mac and Windows PCs.
ConceptDraw Pro 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.
ConceptDraw Pro can even export to Visio VSDX format.
You can also export diagrams to Microsoft Office and Evernote among other formats.
ConceptDraw Pro has hundreds of templates to get you going divided into different areas such as landscaping, engineering, management, science, flowcharts etc.
One difference between ConceptDraw Pro and Visio is that it also allows you to create presentations and slideshows of your diagrams.
It also allows you to use ConceptDraw Solution Park which provides a rich resource of high quality vector objects, audiovisual clips, additional templates and tutorials.
Project Managers will also find ConceptDraw Pro a convenient solution as it’s integrated with the company’s powerful project management solution ConceptDraw Project.
ConceptDraw Pro is a good option if you want a desktop alternative to Visio that works on both Mac and PC. It has to be said that the interface feels a bit too Windowsy for our liking but it’s still an incredibly capable tool.
ConceptDraw Pro costs $199 which allows you to use one license on both Mac and PC. Minor updates are free although you usually have to pay an upgrade fee for major version updates.
You can also try a free trial by signing up for a ConceptDraw account.
Imports Visio files
Exports to Visio 2016 VSDX format
Desktop app for both Mac & PC
Expensive desktop upgrades
Windows inspired interface
Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS
Ardoq is a slightly different alternative to Visio which 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. Ardoq allows you to visualize complex workflows and systems so that they can get a better overview of knock-on effects and the interconnections between process flows.
You can’t actually create designs manually in Ardoq as it automatically translates complex data into useful flowcharts and diagrams.
The main advantage of Ardoq over Visio is that it means less time sketching flowcharts and process flows as it generates them for you. 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 and a plugin editor to customize how Ardoq visualizes data.
The main drawback to Arqoq is the price. At $999 per month, it’s not exactly cheap and by far the most expensive alternative software featured here. But if you’re a Project Manager in a large enterprise, Ardoq is a powerful project management focused Visio alternative.
Automates diagramming based on data – no manual drawing required
Dynamically updates based on data in Excel and other APIs to create diagrams
Excellent for Project Managers
Not much manual control
Very expensive enterprise only solution
Platforms: Mac and PC
Gliffy is another incredibly easy to use team focused Cloud diagramming software that’s ideal for collaborating on UML, network diagrams, org charts.
Gliffy can import Visio files although it can’t export them but it does export to SVG format which can be opened in Visio (although it’s no substitute for the native VSD or VSDX Visio format).
Gliffy does however have a Chrome extension which allows you to create diagrams offline too and it also 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 feels extremely fast and responsive even though it’s all hosted online. It uses a drag-and-drop interface which makes it easy to add objects and connectors to your diagrams.
If you’re looking for an online diagramming tool built with the demands of teams in mind, Gliffy is an excellent choice. It has full revision histories for diagrams, private sharing and all users can leave comments on diagrams.
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 also 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 quick and easy online diagramming software that imports Visio files, allows you to diagram offline and is suitable for teams, Gliffy is definitely worth checking out.
Imports Visio files
Excellent for team colloboration
Lots of real objects to choose from
Fast, responsive interface
Works offline with Chrome extension
No Visio export support
Embedding requires Team subscription or above
Not many templates
Pricing: $7.99/month for individuals. Teams start at $4.99 per user/month. Free for students and 50% off for academic institutions.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, Mobile
MyDraw (formerly known as Nevron Draw) is a desktop budget alternative to Visio on Mac for $69.
If the interface to MyDraw looks familiar, that’s because it’s heavily inspired by Microsoft Office’s Ribbon UI used in all MS Office products. Since it looks a lot like an Office product, it’s easy to navigate and find things if your’re familiar with Microsoft Office.
Visio file format support is excellent in MyDraw including support for importing older VDX format and VSSX stencils too. Most importantly for Visio users, MyDraw can import, edit and export Visio VSDX files. VSDX export is rare in a product this cheap although it’s not perfect and the formatting often gets changed when you export VSDX files from MyDraw.
MyDraw can also import family tree diagrams in GEDCOM format used in genealogy software on Mac. Other export formats supported include PDF, DXF used in the AutoCAD CAD software for Mac 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.
MyDraw is generally very easy to use for a diagramming software with plenty of free templates and is ideal for Visio designers that want to create 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 Wacom tablets.
However for anything more complex such as industrial design, MyDraw may fall a bit short as a replacement for Visio. GUI support is also considerably more limited and there are very few templates for software, hardware or UX designers.
Imports, edits and exports VSDX files
Imports Visio VSSX stencils
Microsoft Office style Ribbon interface
Lots of shapes and templates
Desktop client for Mac and Windows
Bit limited for professional Visio designers
Interface feels more Windows inspired
Platforms: Desktop – Mac, Windows
Creately is a lightweight, fast and cost effective alternative to Visio. Creately is a lot simpler than Visio and may feel a bit basic compared to it but you can create some pretty impressive diagrams, Venn diagrams, flowcharts and process flows with it.
Creately can import Visio files, although note that it can’t export to Visio.
There are thousands of templates to choose from, shared project libraries and neat touches like a useful Google Image search tool and auto snapping of objects connectors.
For team collaboration in enterprise environments, Creately also integrates with Confluence, Jira and the G Suite Marketplace.
Something we particularly like is that Creately has a Mac desktop client. The desktop app allows you to draw offline and sync any changes when you go online again.
Apart from the ease of use compared to Visio, the other big advantage is the price. At just $5 a month or $49 per year for individual users, Creately is a very low cost diagramming solution.
The best thing to do is sign-up for Creately and you can create up to 5 diagrams for free before deciding whether it’s for you.
Very easy to use
Imports Visio files
Automated snapping of objects and connectors
Mac desktop app
No Visio export
Customer support is only online
Price: Free for up to 5 diagrams then starts at $5/month or $25/month for teams.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android.
Textografo claims that by automating diagrams, it’s the fastest diagramming software on the market.
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.
It feels a bit more like programming a flowchart than traditional dragging and dropping (although you can do that too) but once you get used to it, it’s a surprisingly easy and effective way to draw flowcharts.
Textografo is designed particularly with business processes in mind especially those in Process Analysis, Business Operations, Software Development, Sales & Marketing and Customer Service roles.
Textografo doesn’t cater for all diagram formats but consists of a Flowchart Maker, Mindmap Maker, Decision Tree Maker, Organizational Chart Maker (more here on org chart software for mac) and a Sitemap Maker.
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. Textografo Premium costs $8 per month and allows unlimited diagrams and shapes plus exporting to PDF, revision history, customer support and removes Textografo branding from diagrams.
You can use Textografo free for 7 days before you have to purchase a plan.
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.
Edraw however also supports high quality vector graphics allowing you to create some truly eye catching diagrams.
The Edraw Max UI is very closely modeled on Microsoft Visio’s interface – so close in fact that it’s actually hard to distinguish the difference at first glance.
Like MyDraw, the ribbon interface at the top for example is almost identical to that used in Microsoft Office.
There are only around 200 templates in Edraw Max but 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.
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.
In general, Edraw Max seems better suited to mind maps, flowcharts and infographics than the technical demands of very complex Visio diagrams.
Licensing for Edraw Max is divided into three types. A Perpetual License costs $179 with no upgrade costs for 3 years. A Lifetime License costs $245 with no upgrade costs and a Subscription costs $99 per year.
There’s a fully functional free trial and there is also a 30% discount for educators and students.
Easy to use
Visio Export tool (including VSDX)
Familiar Microsoft Office inspired interface
Visio exports may have formatting problems
Not suitable for very complex Visio projects
Windows style interface
Pricing: Starts at $179 for 3 year license or $99/year
Platforms: Desktop – Mac, Windows
Best Mac Visio Alternatives Conclusion
SmartDraw is hard to beat as a powerful but far easier to use alternative to Visio. SmartDraw has 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 look no further.
However, if Microsoft Office or Google product integration is a priority, although Lucidchart is better integrated into Microsoft Office and Google Sheets. If you want something that allows you to dynamically edit diagrams in Office document or extract data from Google sheets, Lucidchart does this better than any other product.
If you’d rather go for a one off purchase and a native Mac desktop solution then we’d say it’s a close run thing between OmniGraffle Pro and ConceptDraw Pro. If it’s VSDX export support you need, then it has to be ConceptDraw Pro but if you want something that’s just as good at wireframing or UX design as it is at creating flowcharts, you can’t do better than OmniGraffle Pro.
If you’re a project manager that needs a really powerful data driven alternative to Visio for product roadmaps and process mapping, Ardoq is an amazingly powerful solution.
Is Visio Part Of Office 365 For Mac?
Neither Microsoft Visio Standard 2016 or Visio Professional 2016 are included in the basic version of Microsoft Office 365. However, Windows users can add the Standard or Professional online versions of Visio 2016 to their Office 365 subscriptions but it is not available to Mac users. However, Microsoft Visio Online Viewer is available in Office 265 to both Mac and PC users but it only allows viewing of Visio files.
Microsoft’s pricing policy for Visio has become increasingly confusing but here’s an attempt to simplify what is currently available:
- Microsoft Visio Standard 2016: Basic desktop version of Visio – Windows only. $250.
- Microsoft Visio Professional 2016: Professional desktop version of Visio – Windows only. $480.
- Microsoft Visio Online Plan 1: Basically the online version of Visio Standard 2016. It does not allow you to install the desktop version of Visio Standard but includes 2GB of OneDrive storage to create and save work – Windows only. $5 per month.
- Microsoft Visio Online Plan 2: Basically the online version of Visio Professional 2016. A subscription also allows users to install Visio Professional 2016 on up to five PCs running Windows 10, Windows 8 or Windows 7 – Windows only. $15 per month.
- Microsoft Visio Online Viewer: Included in commercial versions of Office 365 (i.e. Business, Enterprise or Government subscriptions) but only allows viewing of Visio files – it does not support creating or editing of Visio files – Windows and Mac.
You can see a breakdown of the differences between Visio Online Plan 1 and Plan 2 below:
Visio For Mac: Will It Ever Be Released?
Microsoft released Visio 2010, Visio 2013 and Visio 2016 for PC only and it has never been available for Mac. There were hopes that Visio would finally be made available to Mac users in the release of Office 2016 for Mac but it wasn’t and there don’t seem to be any plans for a Visio 2017 or Visio 2018 for Mac either.
However, as outlined above, Visio Standard 2016 and Visio Professional 2016 are now available to Windows users online. More significantly, in March 2017 Microsoft made Visio Online Viewer for viewing Visio files available to both Mac and PC users. Before that in December 2016 Microsoft Visio also embraced iOS for the first time with the release of Visio Viewer for iPad.
Initially Visio Online was designed as a replacement for Visio Services (also known as Visio Web Access) as a way for non Visio Windows users to view Visio files. Now however, if you have a commercial Office 365 subscription which means a Business, Enterprise or Government subscription, Visio Online allows you to both view and do basic editing of Visio files in any browser. Be aware though that it’s nowhere near as powerful as the desktop version of Visio.
Microsoft Visio online enables commercial Office 365 users on both Mac and PC to view VSD, VSDX and VSDM files that they receive in their Outlook.com, Exchange.com or Hotmail account. For the first time, it means that Mac users can instantly view Visio files online without the need for a third party app.
Microsoft has clearly taken inspiration from easy to use online diagramming tools such as SmartDraw and Lucidchart and applied it to Visio Online as it’s much easier to use than the desktop version of Visio.
The complexity of diagrams possible depends on what kind of Office 365 subscription you have but all versions of Visio Online include standard Visio templates and symbols.
There are multiple shape palettes, you can drag and drop shapes, use smart guides to help you connect shapes, pick colors etc.
Anything created within Visio Online can be instantly shared with others and allows you to grant editing access to recipients.
Users can also 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.
However Visio Online lacks things such as shape data, you can’t edit hyperlinks in diagrams and there are annoying glitches like session timeouts if if you leave the browser tab idle for more than a few minutes.
It’s possible that at some stage, Microsoft may make Visio Online a fully fledged version of Visio that all Mac users can use in a browser. Currently though, it is intrinsically linked with the desktop version of Visio for advanced editing and therefore not a serious option for Mac users.
Is There A Google Visio Alternative For Mac?
Google doesn’t make any software that can compare with Microsoft Visio. However, there 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 designed for doing CAD on Mac.
If you’re on a really tight budget but are willing to settle for something less powerful than Visio, you may find our look at the best free Visio alternatives for Mac more useful.
If you decide that you simply can’t live without the real thing, then your last resort is to run Visio on Mac.
If you have any questions about using any of the software covered in this article or have any suggestions about other Visio like software worth trying on Mac, let us know in the comments below.
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