Since Visio for Mac by Microsoft does not exist, we’ve taken a look at the best free Visio viewers for Mac which allow you to open Visio files on Mac for free. Currently, Microsoft Visio Viewer is also only available on Windows computers using Internet Explorer (Chrome, Firefox and Safari are not supported). However, you can open Visio files on Mac for free online such as by using SmartDraw or Lucidchart. There is also some excellent desktop Mac Visio viewer software out there which allow you to open, annotate and even edit Visio files on OS X. All of the Visio readers featured here allow you to open VSDX and VSD files on Mac and some of them even allow you to edit them too. Here we review the best Visio viewers for Mac and show you how you can easily open Microsoft Visio files on Mac for free.
- 1 How To View Visio Files For Free On Mac
- 2 Best Visio Viewer For Mac Comparison Table
- 3 Other Visio Viewers For Mac
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 Further Reading
How To View Visio Files For Free On Mac
Firstly, it’s important to be aware that Visio viewers on Mac are divided into two types:
- Online Visio Viewers: Visio viwers such as SmartDraw, Lucidchart and Microsoft Visio Online work in your browser and are therefore compatible with any version of OS X. However, it’s important to be aware that both of them upload the Visio files to their own servers in order to display them in your browser. Although these services guarantee confidentiality, you should be aware of this fact if you’re dealing with sensitive corporate Visio files or diagrams. Note that you can’t use Microsoft Visio Online for free unless you’re an Office 365 Business, Enterprise or Government subscriber.
- Desktop Visio Viewers: OmniGraffle and Nektony VSDX Annotator are desktop applications which require El Capitan OS X 10.11 or above and Nektony VSD Viewer requires OS X 10.8 or above. The advantage of these is that all data stays on your desktop and isn’t uploaded anywhere but the disadvantage is that you’ll have to pay for major upgrades and there’s more likelihood of compatibility or technical issues with future releases of OS X.
The best Visio viewers for Mac we’ve used are easily SmartDraw and LucidChart Visio Viewer. Both of them are well established Visio for Mac alternatives and have free trials that allow you to open Visio files instantly in a browser and even edit Visio files on Mac if you need to. For those looking for a desktop solution however, we take a look at the free version of the excellent OmniGraffle diagramming software made specifically for Mac. Although OmniGraffle retails at $99, you don’t have to upgrade and the basic version allows you to open Visio files on your Mac. We also take a look at Nektony VSDX Annotator for Mac which is another desktop app designed specifically for viewing VSDX files on OS X and has a free trial that allows some basic annotation of Visio files such as comments along with the more basic Nektony VSD Viewer for Mac. Finally, we take a look at Microsoft Visio Online which despite the name, only allows you to view Visio files in a browser but is only available on specific Office 365 subscriptions. Whether you choose an online or native Mac desktop Visio viewer, all these methods of opening VSDX and VSD files on Mac work with Visio 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 files and all have a free trial.
Finally a word of warning. There are some bogus OS X Visio viewers out there that are aggressively marketed but which simply can’t open VSD files on Mac as they claim to. It pays to be a bit careful when choosing which Visio viewer for Mac to choose as there are some “VSD viewer” apps out there that simply don’t read Visio files on OS X like they claim to. Typical examples include CISDEM DocumentReader and Lawbox VSD Viewer Pro for Mac. CISDEM DocumentReader in particular is featured prominently in Google searches for Mac Visio viewer software but sets alarm bells ringing straight away as claims to open “WPD, WPS, XPS and PDF files” – none of which are even Visio formats! In our experience, it simply doesn’t open Visio files on Mac as it claims. The same goes for Lawbox VSD Viewer Pro which also cannot open Visio files with the correct formatting or display objects as it claims and hasn’t been updated since 2014.
If you stick to the Visio viewers for Mac reviewed here you can’t go wrong however so here we take a closer look at the best Visio viewer for Mac alternatives.
SmartDraw is probably the best online alternative to Visio for Mac and allows you to open Visio files for free on Mac. SmartDraw opens VSD, VDX and VSDX Visio file formats and even allows you to edit them on OS X. To view a Visio file on your Mac with SmartDraw, simply sign-up for a free trial, go to File in the Menu Bar and select Import. SmartDraw then gives you the option to import one or a batch of Visio files from a folder in one go.
SmartDraw will then allow you to browse to and open the files on your Mac as if you were using Visio, even if the files have been sent to you by a PC user. Once imported, you can ungroup, change fill color, resize shapes and edit Visio diagrams using SmartDraw.
Any Visio files imported into SmartDraw will be converted to SmartDraw’s own .SDR file format but once you’ve finished editing them, the latest version of SmartDraw 2017 allows you to export them into Visio format after editing. You can also share diagrams with others via a simple web link, Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive and it exports to PNG, PDF and SVG format. Note that if you’re dealing with sensitive or confidential data, any VSD or VSDX files you open in SmartDraw (or any other Cloud software for that matter) will also be uploaded to SmartDraw’s servers although the software complies with strict SOC 2 privacy protocols.
SmartDraw isn’t designed just for simply opening and viewing Visio files – it’s aimed more at those looking for a complete alternative to Visio on Mac. SmartDraw also does not have any browser extensions that allow you to open Visio attachments from directly within emails like Lucidchart does (see below) although in our experience, such plugins can frequently be broken anyway by browser updates. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to open VSD files in OS X and also want the possibility of editing them, SmartDraw is a very fast, slick and efficient solution. If you want to learn more about SmartDraw for Mac, you can check out our in-depth SmartDraw review.
You can judge for yourself by signing-up for a free trial of SmartDraw and start viewing Visio files for free now. You can also watch how to open a Visio file with SmartDraw below:
Like SmartDraw, Lucidchart is an online Visio viewer which allows you to view and even edit Visio files for free. Since it’s cloud based, it also works just as well on PC too. There are two ways to open Visio files on Mac using Lucidchart – either by using the free online Lucidchart Visio viewer in your browser, using the free Visio viewer Chrome extension if you’re a Google Chrome browser user, or by using the Visio viewer Firefox add-on if you’re using Firefox. In our experience, the Chrome plugin seems to be better maintained than the Firefox plugin so you may be better opening Visio files in Chrome with it rather than Firefox.
If you receive Visio files by email regularly, the Firefox and Chrome plugins are probably the most convenient as they automatically detect any attached Visio files and open them directly on your Mac. If you receive a file in your Gmail account for example, the Lucidchart Visio Viewer plugin will conveniently prompt you to open it in Lucidchart.
Or, if you want to open a Visio file stored online on a website, you can simply right click on the file and you’ll see an option to “Open in Lucidchart”. After you’ve opened the file, you can also share the Visio files online or export them to PDF.
The slight downside of the Lucidchart browser plugin is that it only works for Visio files that are stored online though i.e. either sent to you by email or stored on the web. Technically, it does not work for Visio files that are saved locally on your Mac’s hard drive although you can easily get round this by uploading the file to your Gmail account and then sending it to yourself. However, if this is not an option because the file is too big and you need to open a Visio file saved on your Mac hard drive, you can simply register for a free Lucidchart account and then upload the file and open it using Lucidchart online instead.
The other slight drawback of the browser plugin is that it can sometimes be broken by updates to Chrome and Firefox in which case, you may have to wait until Lucidchart issue a fix before it works again. At the time of writing, Lucidchart has updated it to fix problems users were having and it definitely works with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. If you find it doesn’t work with Chrome though for example, try it in Firefox instead.
Lucidchart supports opening of VSD, VDX and VSDX formats including Visio 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 files. It also allows you to add comments, add embedded documents and see the revision history. Note that whichever method you choose, your Visio files will be uploaded to Lucidchart’s servers in order to open the files on your Mac so be aware of this if you are opening sensitive information.
Lucidchart Visio Viewer is an excellent solution if you need to edit Visio files as well. While it can be used for free just as a viewer, like SmartDraw it’s also a doorway to upgrading to the full version Lucidchart for Mac which is a complete professional alternative to Visio. To import, export and edit Visio files you’ll need to upgrade to a paid Lucidchart plan. The Basic plan only costs $4.95 per month but it can’t import or export Visio files but all of the other plans can. The Pro Plan costs $8.95 per month but if you’re in a team of 3 or more people, the Team Version works out cheaper at $6.95 per user per month. There are also Enterprise Plans for large companies and organizations on request. Whichever plan you choose, you can save 17% by purchasing annually rather than monthly.
If you’re interested in using Lucidchart as a complete alternative to Visio, you can also check our full in-depth review of Lucidchart for Mac. You can also sign-up for a free trial of Lucidchart and start viewing Visio files in your browser immediately.
You can watch how to open Visio files on Mac with Lucidchart Visio viewer in Chrome here:
OmniGraffle is the best alternative to Visio for Mac that’s designed specifically for OS X. Until recently however, you had to buy the Pro version for $199.98 to import and export Visio files. However, with the release of OmniGraffle 7, the company has changed that policy so that you can now download OmniGraffle for free from the Mac App Store. This makes it ideal to use as a Visio file viewer and also allows you to get a feel for OmniGraffle if you ever decide you want to upgrade to the full version at some stage. You can simply dismiss the licensing upgrade prompt if you want to continue using OmniGraffle to open and view Visio files on your Mac.
VSDX Annotator is a desktop Visio viewer for Mac by Nektony which allows you to open, preview and convert Visio files on Mac as well as do some basic annotation of Visio documents on Mac. VSDX Annotator supports VSD, VDX and VSDX flowcharts, diagrams, schemes and drawings and there are 12 annotation tools which allow you to add notes, callouts, comments, blocks and graphics files. Among other features of VSDX Annotator are the ability to hide or show layers, shape data and hyperlinks, convert VSD, VDX, and VSDX documents to PDF for sending via email or printing.
VSDX Annotator renders Visio diagrams very well and files are reproduced exactly as you would see them in Microsoft Visio. There are several useful viewing options such as tools to view documents with embedded OLE-objects, EMF- and WMF-metafiles and objects that are outside page boundaries or gradient-filled objects. You can also see the original dimension units if you need to.
The developer of VSDX Annotator Nektony also make VSD Viewer for Mac (see below) the difference being that VSDX Annotator is newer and allows basic annotation of Visio files on a Mac. If you’re torn between the two, you might as well go for VSDX Annotator as although it costs $10 more, the annotation tools can be useful and the interface is newer than VSD Viewer. Overall, if you regularly just need to open Visio files on your Mac and send a few comments or observations to colleagues or clients, VSDX Annotator is ideal. If you need to edit the Visio files however, you’re better going for SmartDraw or Lucidchart. Although VSDX Annotator costs $24.99 from the Mac App Store, there’s a free trial so you can judge for yourself.
You can also watch VSDX Annotator in action below.
Best Visio Viewer For Mac Comparison Table
SmartDraw, Lucidchart, OmniGraffle and VSDX Annotator are the best Visio Viewers for Mac we’ve tried and at this stage, it’s useful to have a side-by-side comparison of each before looking more closely at VSD Viewer for Mac and Microsoft Online.
Open Visio Files (VSD/VSDX/VDX)
Add Comments To Visio Files (VSD/VSDX/VDX)
Edit Visio Files (VSD/VSDX/VDX)
Export To Visio (VSD/VDX/VSDX)
Support For Visio Templates (VSS/VST/VTX)
Integration With Google Apps
Microsoft OneDrive Support
Google Docs/Drive Support
Symbols & Clipart
Work Offline On Mac
Windows Desktop App
Sharing/Real Time Collaboration
5 Team license
10 Team license
3 Team license
10 Team license
Other Visio Viewers For Mac
There is other software to view and open Visio files on Mac although none come close to these 4 in terms of features and usability. However, it’s worth being aware of them so here’s the best of the rest Visio readers for Mac, including a few that you should definitely avoid.
VSD Viewer is a more basic version of VSDX Animator from the same developer Nektony. The main difference between them is that VSDX Annotator allows you to annotate and comment on Visio files while VSD Viewer is purely for opening Visio diagrams on Max. The full version of Nektony VSD Viewer for Mac is not free, but it does offer a free trial and at $14.99, if you need to view Visio files regularly on a Mac, is well worth it as it’s a very powerful tool. With it you can open VSD, VDX and VSDX files on Mac – basically anything created in MS Visio 2000 onwards.
To open a Visio file using VSD Viewer for Mac, you simply double click on the .VSD file to open it. You can switch layers using VSD Viewer, preview Shape Data, zoom in and out, export to PDF (very useful for sharing Visio diagrams with others), view documents with OLE objects, EMF and WMF embedded meta files and much more.
For those that need to share Visio data in meetings without always having to ask CAD designers for different layers or files, VSD Viewer is extremely useful. The good thing as well is that VSD Viewer doesn’t store your Visio files online anywhere – everything is stored on your Mac for better security if you’re dealing with confidential designs and data. You may occasionally experience formatting issues when you open Visio files which you can fix by going to Preferences and selecting “Render Metafiles with Transparent Backgrounds”.
You can watch how to preview Visio files in VSD Viewer here:
You can watch how to reveal hidden layers in Visio diagrams using VSD Viewer on Mac here:
And see how to view Visio shape data using VSD Viewer here:
The slightly frustrating this is there’s no way to search Visio files using VSD Viewer but otherwise, if you don’t need to annotate or comment on drawings, it’s an excellent way to read Visio files on Mac.
To upgrade the trial to the full version of VSD Viewer costs $14.99 from the Mac App Store and the free trial of VSD Viewer for Mac is here. There’s also Nektony VSD Viewer for iPhone/iPad and Android which offers almost all of the functionality of the Mac version but because of processing power limitations, can be considerably slower.
Although Microsoft Visio 2016 Viewer is still only available on Windows PCS, in August 2016 Microsoft announced the launch of Visio for iPad along with Visio Online Public Preview which allows you to view, search and share Visio files on iPad or in any web browser. Visio for iPad and Visio Online are very limited in what they can do compared to the Visio viewer for Mac software featured here but is Microsoft’s official solution to sharing Visio files on other platforms and doesn’t require the end user to have any other software installed.
To use Visio online, you simply upload a .vsdx file to your OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online account. You can then send a link to Mac users that don’t have Visio to view Visio diagrams and it will open in another tab in their browser.
You can perform some basic functions such as Pan around Visio diagrams and Zoom in and out with the slider:
You can also view metadata of shapes by clicking on the shape and selecting Shape Info:
You can also click on links within Visio diagrams. If you want to find a specific object or item in a diagram, you click on Find to search shape text, shape data and user defined cells:
If you want to share the Visio drawing with other users, just click on the Share symbol in the menu bar and you can send a link that anyone with or without Visio installed can view Visio files on their Mac:
You can’t edit or leave comments on the diagrams using Visio Online but if you’re a PC users, you can choose to open the diagram in Visio if you have it installed:
Note that Visio Online supports all browsers but Microsoft says it works best in Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Internet Explorer of which only Chrome is available to Mac users. Firefox and Safari are supported but you may find it doesn’t work quite as well in them. You can see the Visio Online compatibility table below:Visio Online was initially released exclusively to Office 365 First Release customers but it is now available to all paying customers on Business, Enterprise or Government Office 365 subscriptions. You can check here which Office 365 subscription you have so see if you or your company can use Visio Online on Mac.
You can also watch a clip of Visio online in action below:
In summary, even though Microsoft Visio Viewer isn’t available for Mac, there’s some very competent Visio viewer Mac software out there for OS X users. Which one you choose depends on whether you want an online Visio reader with editing options or a desktop Visio reader for OS X. As regards online Visio viewers, SmartDraw is the quickest and slickest way to open, view and edit Visio files on Mac. Lucidchart’s online Visio editor and browser plugin however also make it easy to view Visio files on Mac but if you want to have the option of editing Visio files as well, SmartDraw is definitely the more refined and smarter diagramming software of the two. If you just need a really basic online Visio viewer for Mac, Microsoft’s new Visio Online tool makes it very easy to share and read Visio files on Mac with a simple web link although you’ll need a specific Office 365 subscription in order to access it.
If you want an offline Visio file reader, OmniGroup’s decision to make OmniGraffle free to view Visio files on Mac makes it an excellent choice. If you need something a little more advanced than a desktop read-only Visio viewer for Mac, Nektony’s VSD Annotator and VSD Viewer both offer a more purpose built Mac desktop Visio viewing solution. However, neither allow you to edit Visio files but they do support limited annotation of VSD and VSDX files with some useful powerful viewing options such as switching layers and WMF embedded data.
We hope you’ve found this guide to how to open and view Visio files on Mac useful. If you found this article interesting, you may also be interested in our articles on the best alternatives to Visio for Mac which looks at professional solutions to Visio on Mac. If you’re on a budget, check-out our look at free Visio for Mac alternatives. Finally, did you know you can run also run Visio on Mac using a virtual environment such as Parallels?
If you have any other problems, questions or suggestions about Visio viewers for Mac, let us know in the comments below.