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10 Best Free Open Source Alternatives To Visio of 2024

Microsoft Visio is the most widely used flowchart and diagramming tool out there but if you’re on a budget, it’s simply not an option.

Visio requires not just a Microsoft 365 subscription but also a subscription to Visio Plan 1 ($5 per month) or Visio Plan 2 ($15 per month).

Unsurprisingly, all of the best replacements for Visio are subscription based Cloud apps or standalone paid desktop apps.

Although there are some excellent free alternatives to Visio, most of them have strict limitations in order to encourage users to subscribe to the full version.

That’s why we’ve looked at the best open source alternatives to Visio for Mac that are 100% free for unlimited use on all platforms including for Mac and Windows.

Although you’re simply not going to find anything that can compare with Microsoft Visio for free, we found a number of free open source diagramming apps that allow you to draw flowcharts, network diagrams, process flows and more with no restrictions.

Here then are the best free and open source replacements for MS Visio of 2024.

1. Draw.io

draw.io flowchart

Although Draw.io (also known as “Diagrams.net”) can’t compare to Visio in terms of features and power, it’s probably the closest thing we’ve used to a free version of Visio.

Draw.io isn’t technically open-source but it is 100% free to use without limitations for as long as you want.

Draw.io imports and exports Visio files and allows you to work offline via desktop app for Windows and macOS. There’s also an extension for Google Chrome which makes it possible to diagram offline in Chrome too.

You can save and upload files from your desktop with Draw.io or you can work directly from Cloud services such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive.

Draw.io does support exporting to VSDX format although this feature is in beta and doesn’t always work well.

There aren’t many templates either but considering Draw.io is completely free to use for personal use, you really can’t complain.

You can start using Draw.io for free.

You can also check out our full Draw.io review for more.


  • Completely free to use for individuals with no limits
  • Cross platform desktop app
  • Visio file import support (although not very accurate)
  • Integration with lots of online services
  • Quick to start and easy to get going
  • Chrome extension allows you to work offline too


  • Very limited objects and templates
  • VSDX export not always accurate (still in beta)
  • Quite basic compared to Visio
  • Teams must pay for connections to Confluence
  • No Cloud integration with Chrome desktop extension

2. LibreOffice Draw

visio mac free alternative - libreoffice draw flowchart

LibreOffice is an open source substitute for Microsoft Office and an adaption of OpenOffice which is a free alternative to Microsoft Office.

LibreOffice Draw is the suite’s equivalent of Microsoft Visio and is completely free to use without limitations.

You can’t import Visio files into LibreOffice draw but you can import and export XML and SWF files.

You can create flowcharts and diagrams with LibreOffice draw and there are some useful touches such as a grouping tool which allows you to group several objects at once and move them together.

LibreOffice Draw isn’t as diagram focused as the other software featured here as its more of a drawing tool so it does take longer to create even the simplest diagrams.

However, if you want both an alternative to Microsoft Office and an open source alternative to Visio, LibreOffice Draw is worth persevering with.

You can start using LibreOffice Draw for free.


  • No free use limitations
  • Integrated into the LibreOffice suite
  • Lots of other Office suite tools included
  • Supports multiple languages
  • Exports to Office formats


  • No custom tools for diagrams
  • No Visio import or export support
  • No collaboration tools

3. OpenOffice Draw

openoffice draw

Like LibreOffice Draw, OpenOffice Draw is the diagramming component of the open source Office suite Apache OpenOffice.

In fact, LibreOffice Draw is based on OpenOffice Draw and the reason it ranks higher than OpenOffice Draw is because its updated more often.

However, OpenOffice Draw does have some advantages such as more multi-language support whereas LibreOffice can only be used in the language you install it in.

As you might expect, OpenOffice Draw is very similar to LibreOffice Draw including the styling of the interface.

However, whereas LibreOffice can import and export to Microsoft Office files in DOCX and XLSX format , OpenOffice Draw can only import them.

If you’re looking for a multilingual open source alternative to Visio then OpenOffice Draw may be a better option but overall, you’re better off going with LibreOffice.

You can start using OpenOffice Draw for free.


  • Multilingual support
  • Lots of other Office suite tools


  • Doesn’t support exporting to Office formats
  • Not updated as much as LibreOffice

4. Dia

visio free - dia

Dia was one of the first free desktop diagramming tools and although nowadays its pretty dated, it allows you to use it for free offline.

Dia only works via a desktop app and is heavily inspired by Visio with a similar retro-style MS Office interface.

Dia can even import Visio files in XML and VDX format although it doesn’t support the newer VSDX format and it can’t export to Visio format.

You can however export Dia diagrams to EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG format.

Although Dia is completely free with no limitations, it is donation-ware which means the developer encourages donations in order to cover the costs of membership to the Mac Developer Program.

This is necessary in order to meet Apple’s security requirements for small projects such as Dia.

You can start using Dia for free.


  • No free use limitations
  • Desktop app
  • Visio import support


  • Dated interface
  • Doesn’t support VSDX files
  • No Visio export support

5. yEd

visio free mac alternative - yed flowchart

yEd is probably the most powerful free alternative to Visio although it does take some getting used to.

yEd works both online and offline and is designed for those who are experienced with diagramming tools.

You can use yEd on both Mac and Windows desktops in a Java app or you can use the online version of yEd Live which doesn’t require downloading anything.

yEd uses a clever automatic layout algorithm that means any changes you make to structures or layouts are automatically calculated and re-balanced.

yEd even supports Virtual Reality for the exploration of graph visualizations.

At the moment, yEd is completely free to use and although a commercial version is in the works, the developer assures it will continue to remain free for personal use.

You can start using yEd now for free.


  • Very powerful for a free Visio alternative
  • No free use limitations
  • Virtual reality support


  • Desktop app is based on Java
  • Not easy to learn

6. Pencil Project

free visio mac - pencil project shapes

Pencil Project (also simply known as “Pencil”) is an open source cross platform interface design tool that’s ideal as a free alternative to Visio for drawing Graphical User Interface (GUI) prototypes.

Pencil is not cloud based and only works offline in a desktop app for Mac, Windows and Linux.

The app doesn’t support Visio import or export, but can export to PNG, Web Page, PDF, SVG and OpenOffice format.

There’s a built-in shape library for designing app interfaces and also gives you access to an extensive library of clipart thanks to integration with the free open source OpenClipArt resource.

You can start using Pencil Project for free.


  • Mac Desktop client
  • Ideal for designing GUIs
  • Integrated with OpenClipArt


  • No Visio import or export support
  • Not great for other types of diagramming other than GUIs

7. Google Drawings

google drawings

Google Drawings is the closest thing to a free Google alternative to Visio.

If you just want to sketch out some simple process flows, mindmaps or flowcharts, Google Drawings is an easy to use Cloud based solution.

You only need a Google Account to use Google Drawings although if you want to use it offline, you can via a Chrome extension.

Google Drawings is integrated into Google Docs so you can draw flowcharts and other diagrams within your documents with it.

You can also add it to other Google Documents via a link which will dynamically update the diagram when you modify it.

The number of shapes, connectors and other objects are limited in Google Drawings but if you want a really basic free alternative to MS Visio, it’s a quick and easy way to draw diagrams.

You can start using Google Drawings for free.


  • Very easy to get started
  • No limitations on free use


  • Very basic
  • No Visio import or export support

8. GraphViz


GraphViz is a free open source replacement for Visio that’s focused on visually representing network diagrams, databases, bioinformatics, software engineering, machine learning and more.

GraphViz has been around for over 30 years although its only suitable for those that know how to script in DOT language as it creates diagrams based on the scripts you give it.

It does however provide libraries for software applications to use the tools.

If you know how to script with DOT then GraphViz can create complex network diagrams, database layouts for free.


  • Suitable for complex network diagrams
  • Automatically creates diagrams based on scripts


  • Requires scripting in DOT
  • No graphical user interface

9. Excalidraw


If you want a freehand browser based alternative to Visio then check out Excalidraw.

Excalidraw only works in a browser but you can save everything locally so that you can open it later.

Excalidraw is extremely easy to use via tool picker across the top of the screen and a color pallete on the left.

You simply select the shape you want to create, such as a square, and then drag your mouse or trackpad to create it on the canvas.

You can then connect them all together with arrows easily and double click on them to add text.

Excalidraw can also export files in SVG and PNG format if you want to share them with others.

You can start using Excalidraw for free now.


  • Works instantly in any browser
  • Easy and fun to use
  • Allows you to save files on your hard drive
  • Exports to SVG and PNG format


  • Only works in a browser
  • No file import support

10. PlantUML


If its UML diagrams that you need to draw, then PlantUML may be the best free open source replacement for Visio for creating UML maps.

PlantUML does support other software development related formats other than UML including visualisation of JSON and YAML files.

PlantUML requires knowledge of various languages such as DOT, AcsciiMath and Creole as its script based like GraphViz.

There’s a wide range of extensions for PlantUML too including Atom, Confluence and Eclipse so that you can integrate it with other applications.

You can start using PlantUML for free now.


  • Creates highly complex UML diagrams and more
  • Lots of plugins for third party apps


  • Requires scripting knowledge
  • Not easy to use for beginners

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