Microsoft Project isn’t available for Mac so we’ve looked at the best free project planning tools out there for Mac users.
If you need something that can genuinely compare with a professional tool like MS Project, then first we strongly recommend checking out our look at the best alternatives to Microsoft Project on Mac.
Many of them like the excellent Teamwork Projects have free versions for those on a budget, and pretty much all of them allow you to at least try a free trial.
If you’re on a really tight budget though and want something 100% free to create Gantt charts and Kanban boards on your Mac, read on.
Free Microsoft Project Alternatives For Mac Tips
- It’s important to be aware that the majority of the top project management software nowadays is Cloud based. There are very few desktop options for Mac users and those that do exist require Java. We don’t recommend installing Java on Mac for a number of reasons, mainly due to poor performance and security but if this doesn’t worry you, you’ll find a selection of the best free project management downloads for Mac here too.
- Beware of project planning software in the Mac App Store that claims to be “free” but in actual fact require subscriptions to use them. Examples include Merlin Project Express and Project Plan 365 which allow you to download them for free but then require you to purchase a subscription to do any actual project planning.
With this in mind, whether you’re a freelancer, NGO or small business looking for something free or open source, here are the best free alternatives to Microsoft Project for Mac in order of ranking.
Although Teamwork Projects is a professional project management tool, it also allows you to use a version of it for free. Teamwork Projects is an incredibly powerful alternative to Microsoft Project and yet the Free Forever plan allows you to manage a maximum of 2 projects with 100MB of free storage.
If you just need to manage a few projects at a time, or can delete projects once they are complete, you can easily keep using Teamwork Projects for free for as long as you want.
Teamwork is tastefully designed with a clear, color coordinated dashboard that allows you to instantly switch between Gantt Charts and Kanban boards. You can import and export Microsoft Project MPP files and you can even sync it with the Windows version of Microsoft Project (although this isn’t available in the free version).
Other great features include automatic Triggers and Webhooks to alert other stakeholders and team members when work is complete, useful mobile apps to track projects on the move and contact management.
You can even try the paid plans for free and after 30 days, it will automatically revert to the Free Forever Plan if you don’t want to subscribe.
You can start using Teamwork Projects for free now.
If you already have an eligible Office 365 subscription, then did you know that you can use Microsoft Planner for free on Mac?
In June 2016, Microsoft launched Microsoft Planner (sometimes referred to as Office 365 Planner) – a free online basic project management tool for Office 365 users that works on both Mac and PC.
The slight catch is that Microsoft Planner is only available to Office 365 users on specific plans such as Enterprise E1–E5, Business Essentials, Premium and Education. The standard 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.
Planner isn’t exactly a replacement for Microsoft Project but it is similar to web-based, easy to use Kanban oriented 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.
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.
ProjectLibre (formerly OpenProj) is a free open source desktop project management tool that you can download on Mac and other platforms. ProjectLibre can import 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 Project and it uses the same Gantt chart view to display your projects. The reporting features are basic but reports are easy to generate and you can export all of them to PDF format.
The downside is that ProjectLibre uses Java which is notoriously buggy, slow and insecure on Mac. This means the the interface can be slow and unresponsive at times even when performing the most basic of functions.
If you just need something that can handle WBS, resource association and exporting to PDF, ProjectLibre does the job.
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 (although there’s a very active online community).
Like ProjectLibre, Gantt Project is another Java based desktop free projects management app for Mac which can also import and export Microsoft Project files.
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.
Gantt Project does all the basics like creating tasks and milestones, breaking down tasks and it draws dependency constraints.
It has better reporting features than ProjectLibre although there are virtually no costing tools or ability to add holiday or level resources.
Gantt Project is however completely free to use for as long as you want including for commercial use with no license fees.
2-Plan Project Management Software is a cross-platform Java based desktop alternative to Project for Mac 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. 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, it’s a pretty powerful Project planning solution.
The big downside is that it’s another Java based application and you will find it slow, unresponsive and awkward to use at times.
We hope this article has helped you find a free equivalent to MS Project on your Mac that’s right for your needs.
If you have any comments, suggestions or experiences with the software featured here, feel free to share them in the comments below.
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