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10 Best Desktop Publishing Software For Mac of 2024 (Free & Paid)

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If you want to make a magazine, flyer, poster, book or any other publication then you need the best desktop publishing software to do the job properly.

Word processing software is designed more for typing documents than creating publications and lack the layout tools you need to move around graphics, text and other elements on a page.

Graphic design software is based more on editing and managing images, desktop publishing apps are focused more on how both text and images fit together.

Meanwhile on Windows, many people use Microsoft Publisher to do basic DTP work but Publisher for Mac isn’t available.

The good news is there’s a wide range of both paid and free desktop publishing software available for macOS and here we’ve looked at the best ones of 2024.

We took a long hard look at all the options out there and narrowed it down to these killer DTP apps which are suitable for a range of budgets.

1. Adobe InDesign

adobe indesign for mac desktop publishing

Adobe InDesign is by far the best professional desktop publishing software for Mac and the industry standard for DTP on both Mac and Windows PCs.

It’s used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books.

Adobe has made a real effort to simplify InDesign over the years streamlining the interface and giving it a more familiar Microsoft Office style ribbon and toolbox.

In recent releases, it’s also added the ability to preview documents in macOS Finder without having to even open InDesign. You can also now copy and paste assets from Adobe’s graphic design suite Illustrator to InDesign to add killer graphics to your documents.

There are other touches like Auto Styling which automatically suggests layouts and InDesign is also integrated with Adobe’s AI image generator Firefly.

InDesign is also the best program for professional printing on Mac as it uses a smart “PreFlight” system to check documents for issues to make sure they meet the requirements of commercial printing.

You can also check our full review of Adobe InDesign for a more in-depth look.

Pricing: $22.99/m or 60% off with Creative Cloud Educational Discount. Free Trial.

Pros:

  • Industry standard app for desktop publishing
  • Incredibly powerful at creating layouts
  • Thousands of professional templates
  • Creates amazing offline and interactive online publications
  • Mac desktop app and can be used offline and online
  • Uses Adobe Firefly AI art generator
  • Works natively on Apple Silicon Macs
  • PreFlight system for professional printing

Cons:

  • Limited PDF editing options
  • Subscription pricing

2. Swift Publisher

swift publisher for mac desktop publishing

If you want something a bit simpler (and cheaper) than professional software for desktop publishing then Swift Publisher is a user-friendly option that’s suitable for beginners to DTP.

Swift Publisher feels a bit like Microsoft Publisher (which isn’t available for Mac) and has an Office style interface that will be familiar to most.

It also includes many professional features you get in pricier alternatives such as Master pages, guide lines, grid layers and tables that you’d normally only expect in more professional options.

There are even advanced touches like the possibility to define bleeds and configure the correct DPI for print publishing.

There are around 500 templates for producing booklets, bulletins, flyers or brochures and you can easily rearrange elements within them such as images, tables and text.

Swift Publisher also features over 40,000 clip art images and 100 fonts although these require purchasing additionally.

If you want an easy to use one-time purchase DTP software without a steep learning curve, Swift Publisher is excellent value.

You can read our full Swift Publisher review for more.

Pricing: Starting from $19.99.

Pros:

  • One time purchase
  • Easy to learn for beginners
  • Similar Office style interface to Microsoft Publisher
  • Impressive professional level DTP layout tools
  • Over 500 templates
  • Native Intel and Apple Silicon Mac desktop app

Cons:

  • Lacks professional image editing tools
  • No stock photography or video integration

3. Pages

pages for mac desktop publishing

Apple Pages is a word processing and page layout software that’s included for free in macOS and the closest thing you’ll find to an Apple desktop publishing app.

Pages is included for free with any new Mac (just search for “Pages” in spotlight) and is also available for free from the Mac App Store. Even Windows PC users can use Pages for free with an iCloud account.

Although Pages is more commonly used for word processing, it is also capable of desktop publishing with lots of templates for magazines, posters, flyers and other publications.

It’s particularly popular with amateur authors and self publishers as you can publish directly from Pages into Apple Books.

There are lots of professional looking templates and layouts and you can create some really professional results using Pages.

You can also import Microsoft Word documents in .docx format into Apple Pages for inserting into any template.

Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page is not very intuitive if you’re used to MS Publisher but only until you’re familiar with the Apple way of doing things.

You can read our full review of Apple Pages for more.

Pricing: Free

Pros:

  • Made by Apple and free to use
  • Suitable for both word processing and layout design
  • Easy to use (when you get used to it)
  • Lots of templates

Cons:

  • Not suitable for professional desktop publishing
  • Focused more on word processing than DTP
  • No MS Publisher import support

4. Affinity Publisher

affinity publisher for mac desktop publishing

Affinity Publisher is an incredibly good desktop publishing application for making magazines, promotional material, flyers, brochures, newsletters, social media templates and more.

It’s also available as a one-off purchase so there are no subscriptions involved like some of its competitors.

The company also offers its own suite of graphic design software which includes sister apps Affinity Designer for graphic design and Affinity Photo for image editing.

Affinity Publisher features professional tools like Pantone support, end-to-end CMYK and ICC Color management making it suitable for professional desktop publishing and printing.

Along with the rest of the Affinity Suite you can also use Affinity Publisher on iPad to refine layouts although the iOS app costs extra.

You can also work with other users on Windows PCs as Affinity Publisher works on both Mac and Windows PCs making it easy to collaborate across platforms.

There’s no free trial of Affinity Publisher but it is available as a one-off purchase for $69.99.

Pricing: $69.99

Pros:

  • One time purchase
  • Professional level DTP tool
  • Pantone, CMYK and ICC support
  • Excellent iPad app
  • Works on both macOS and Windows
  • Works natively on Apple Silicon Macs

Cons:

  • Does not support importing major formats like .docx, .txt or .rtf
  • Interface can be quite overwhelming for beginners
  • No free trial

5. iStudio Publisher

istudio publisher for mac desktop publishing

If you’re looking for a middle ground between a professional and intermediate level desktop publisher, then iStudio Publisher may be for you.

iStudio Publisher is designed specifically for Macs and works exclusively on Mac desktops without any Cloud integration or web apps.

There are plenty of easy to follow video tutorials to get going and a Quick Start Guide to get you up and running within minutes.

Especially for creating brochures and flyers, iStudio Publisher makes it easy to drag and drop images and text boxes which you can then export to PDF or ePUB formats.

You can’t however import and export Microsoft Word DOC files into iStudio Publisher but you can insert text from Word files in RTF, TXT and PDF formats.

iStudio Publisher also surprises with professional features like the ability to work in different color spaces such as RGB and CMYK. This is essential if you want to get your documents professionally printed.

If you want a value for money user-friendly desktop publisher with a few pro features, iStudio Publisher is a good one-off purchase options.

Pricing: $17.99

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Supports RGB and CMYK color spaces
  • One-off purchase

Cons:

  • No third party app integration
  • Doesn’t import Word DOCX files

6. QuarkXPress

quarkxpress for mac 2024

Despite not being as widely used as it once was, QuarkXPress is still one of the most powerful desktop publishers available to Mac users.

20 years ago, QuarkXPress was the industry standard for DTP but has since suffered from a lack of development and competition from Adobe’s InDesign.

The latest version of QuarkXPress 2024 has come a long way though and if you’re looking for a professional alternative to InDesign without a monthly subscription, it might be for you.

QuarkXPress can even do a few things that InDesign can’t too such as convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment.

You can even import InDesign files into QuarkExpress as the company attempt to lure users back from its big competitor.

Another big selling point is that Quark 2024 doesn’t require a subscription although its a hefty $699 one-off payment for a perpetual license

If that’s too much to pay up-front, its also available on subscription for $28.99 per month or $299 per year.

Pricing: Starts at $699 perpetual license or $28.99/month

Pros:

  • One of the most established DTP programs for Mac
  • Powerful industry standard tools
  • Suitable for professional publishing
  • Subscription or one time purchase options
  • Imports Adobe InDesign files

Cons:

  • Price
  • Steep learning curve

7. VivaDesigner

VivaDesigner for Mac

Looking for a free alternative to InDesign for Mac? VivaDesigner is a professional level desktop publishing and typesetting software that often goes under the radar in desktop publishing.

Remarkably, VivaDesigner is available in Free, Personal ($139) and Commercial ($399) editions and can be used in both a Mac desktop app and web app.

The free version is very limited in features but can be used for basic desktop publishing both on your desktop and online. The app has been also available in other languages including German, French, Italian and Spanish.

One of the biggest appeals of the app is that VivaDesigner can convert and open Adobe InDesign files so that you can edit them in it for free.

The software is a good option for those working in teams as it allows several users to work on one document simultaneously but features Distributed Publishing controls to restrict privileges.

VivaDesigner offers a whole host of other professional features inlcuding Glyph palette, multilingual text editing and translation, style sheet visualization and optional Publishing Servers.

Most recently it has added AI features for auto formatting, cropping and translations of images.

Pricing: Free/Paid version starts at $139

Pros:

  • Free version available
  • Imports Adobe InDesign files
  • Impressive range of tools
  • Works online and as a desktop app for Macs
  • Team collaboration tools

Cons:

  • Difficult to learn
  • Not much support or tutorials

8. Marq

 

marq on mac

If you want something Cloud based and easy to use then Marq (formerly known as Lucidpress), is a “brand templating platform” which allows you to design layouts without downloading anything on your Mac.

Marq is about as easy as it gets in DTP and features templates for digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.

Marq drag and drop elements, import text from various sources, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos.

There’s a generous range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards. The Professional version of Marq optimizes these for high quality 300dpi printing too.

Marq can even import Adobe InDesign files although you may find the formatting isn’t very well preserved in complex layouts.

The basic single user version of Marq is completely free to use but is limited to 3 documents and 3 pages so it’s not suitable for serious desktop publishing.

To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, the Professional Plans starts at $10 per month.

You can check out out full Marq Review for more.

Pricing: Free for 3 documents/Plans start at $10 per month

Pros:

  • Works on all platforms including Mac online
  • Very easy to use
  • Lots of templates
  • Excellent for brand building
  • Free version available

Cons:

  • Basic for complex layouts
  • No Mac desktop app
  • InDesign import tool doesn’t work well

9. Canva

canva for mac

If you want a desktop publishing platforms that supports multiple users and lots of multimedia, then Canva may be your best option.

Canva is designed for brand building via newsletters, print and digital publications among many other channels.

It has an entire ecosystem of assets including access to over 100 million stock photo, video, audio and graphic resources to enrich your publications.

This includes access to Canva AI which can produce pretty much any image or idea that you throw at it in seconds. It can even write text for you by using the Canva Magic Write tool.

Canva features Branding Kits which make sure that anyone that uses Canva in your team applies the same uniform branding across anything they design or publish in Canva.

The entire publishing process is also controlled with Approval Workflows so that nothing gets published until its been given the go-ahead by Editors first.

There’s also a free version of Canva with limited access to templates and editing tools

Pricing: Free /Plans start at $12.95 per month

10. Scribus

scribus desktop publishing software

Finally, if you want a completely free and open source desktop publisher on your Mac then the closest thing you’ll find is Scribus.

Scribus is more of a free word processor than a DTP tool, but it can be used for very basic layouts including books, magazines, brochures, newsletters and posters.

Under the hood, there’s a surprising amount of power in Scribus too with support for color separations, CMYK and spot colors and ICC color management.

You can’t import or export many file formats from Scribus and since its open source, there’s very little support or tutorials to help you with it. You can however export layouts in PDF format.

The latest development version of Scribus works on 64 bit versions of macOS including Sonoma but it can be unstable and crash randomly.

There’s also no native Apple Silicon Mac version either although it works on M-chip Macs thanks to Rosetta in macOS.

You can check out our full review of Scribus for more.

Pricing: Free

Pros:

  • Free open source desktop publisher
  • Surprisingly powerful layout tools
  • Great for free book publishing on a Mac

Cons:

  • Not suitable for professional publishing
  • No native Apple Silicon version (but still works on M-chip Macs)
  • Only development version works on latest versions of macOS


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