Although the best alternatives to Microsoft Project for Mac are all Cloud based nowadays, there are still some desktop project management software options out there on macOS.
It’s important to be aware that none of the apps featured here can complete with online project management tools like the excellent free version of TeamWork which even integrates with Microsoft Project in real-time.
However, such SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions do require monthly subscriptions which may not suite your budget if you’re a freelancer or small business.
Most Mac desktop project management apps do not require subscriptions and also keep all of your data stored on your Mac instead of the Cloud.
They are however less suited for working in a team because everyone needs to be on the same platform and they require updating far more frequently (with all the associated costs that involves).
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Here then are the best desktop alternatives to Microsoft Project for Mac that have clients you can download on macOS.
Hive is a fresh, modern, easy to use project management tool which works on Mac desktops, in the Cloud and iOS or Android devices.
Hive is already used by some pretty big names including IBM, Starbucks and Uber because it’s so effective at bringing things together when it comes to project management.
If you work in a team, Hive is one of the best tools we’ve seen when it comes to making sure everyone is on the right page when it comes to getting a Project completed.
One thing we really like about Hive is that you can switch instantly between Gantt, Kanban, Calendar and Table views depending on which you prefer to manage projects.
Hive is also one of the most well-integrated project management apps on Mac or PC with over 1000 third-party services. Hive integrates with everything from Microsoft Outlook, Google Drive and Gmail to Microsoft OneDrive, Box and DropBox.
Other things that make Hive standout are:
- Analytics – Predictive analytics powered by machine learning give greater project insights
- Messaging – It’s easy to send messages and communicate within teams
- Files – Attach and upload files to tasks, project and messages
- Forms – Instead of sending out emails, you can create forms to collect necessary information
- External User Invites – You can easily invite freelancers and collaborators into your projects for free
Hive can also import data from Asana, Trello and Basecamp although it does not import Microsoft Project files yet.
There are some big advantages to Hive compared to Microsoft Project too as you can see below.
Hive has two pricing plans. The Professional Plan costs $12/user per month and an Enterprise plan, pricing for which is on request as it depends on your needs and size.
You can also try Hive for free with no credit card required.
RationalPlan is one of the few project managements apps that includes Fixed Duration, Fixed Work and Fixed Units including Dependency Driven Durations for complex projects.
RationalPlan can import files from Microsoft Project and displays projects using Gantt charts.
RationalPlan also has a Mac desktop client but you can collaborate with other users in real-time using the web app too.
RationalPlan comes in two versions: RationalPlan Single Project is suitable for those that just need to manage one project and RationalPlan Multi Project allows you to manage several projects at once.
The trial versions of both can be used for an unlimited period of time although there is a limitation of 20 tasks (apart from on Linux where the Single version is completely free). After that, it’s $57 for the Single version or $98 for the multi version.
You can find start a free trial of RationalPlan and judge for yourself.
Pricing: 20 Tasks Free then Single version $87 or Multi version $149
NobPlan (formerly known as xPlan and Projector) is a good looking budget project management app that’s very slick for planning and tracking projects.
NobPlan features very smooth looking Gantt charts, integration with DropBox and iCloud and a companion iPad and iPhone app.
The main strength of NobPlan is the ability to cost projects in a simple manner and it can export data into several different formats easily.
It also allows you to import and export Microsoft Project files although only in the XML format that is open to developers – MPX format is not supported unfortunately.
If you’ve never used Gantt charts before and just need something fairly simple which looks good on Mac and doesn’t break the bank, NobPlan is a great start.
OmniPlan is easily one the most popular native Mac desktop project management apps for macOS.
OmniPlan is from Omni Group, the same team that created the excellent diagramming software OmniGraffle.
OmniPlan is easier to use than Microsoft Project, imports MS Project files (although only up to MS Project 2016) and looks great on a Mac because it’s designed specifically for macOS.
OmniPlan uses a clear Gantt chart layout which gives you a very clear overview of what needs to be done.
The smart thing is OmniPlan adjusts itself automatically according to the resources you drag and drop into the project bars.
You can read our full review of OmniPlan for a more in-depth look.
You can also download and try a fully featured free 14 day trial of OmniPlan for Mac.
Pricing: $149.99 Mac App Store
Merlin Project is definitely one of the best looking desktop project management tools for Mac users and uses an innovative “hybrid” approach to project planning.
Merlin Project does both traditional and agile project management (Gantt meets Kanban) and has a slick interface that looks great on macOS.
You can use Merlin Project with a Gantt Chart layout which is excellent at showing the dependencies between multiple projects and potential problems.
You can also use Kanban Boards as used by popular web-based collaboration tools like Trello. Just move work from your backlog to in progress, verifying and completed when done.
Other useful tools include resource pools, groupings and a mind mapping tool to help you brainstorm ideas which it can then automatically breakdown into a project Gantt chart.
There’s plenty of third-party integration with other apps including Excel, Dropbox and it can import Microsoft Project files.
There’s also a lighter version Merlin Project Express which is cheaper than the full app but only allows Gantt chart views.
There’s also a standalone Merlin iPad and iPhone app (formerly known as Merlin Project Go) that syncs with the desktop app via Merlin Server. It can also be used on its own without purchasing Merlin Project if you just want a project management app for your iPad instead and costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.
If you’re new to project management, Merlin Project is attractive, innovative and user-friendly. If you’re looking for a more modern Mac alternative to MS Project, Merlin Project is a great project management tool.
You can find full details of Merlin Project Pricing here.
You can start a free trial of Merlin Project to see for yourself.
SG Project Pro is a very powerful software for PMs designed specifically for Mac desktops.
Although SG Project Pro is not as well-known as its closest rival OmniPlan, it has a similar Gantt chart layout and offers almost all of the same features.
The one major drawback is that there’s no support for importing or exporting MS Project files but if you don’t need that, then it’s as good as OmniPlan if not better in certain areas.
Managing multiple projects that are ongoing at the same time is particularly well implemented giving you a clear overview of how resources have been deployed and any potential conflicts.
SG Project Pro also has a companion iPad app which allows you to manage projects on the go although it’s limited in functionality and costs an extra $49.99 on top of the $99.99 for the Mac desktop app.
There is also a lite version of SG Project which includes the basic features of SG Project Pro and costs $34.99 from the Mac App Store.
SG Project Pro is packed with essential project management features but doesn’t overwhelm you with hundreds of functions and tools that you’ll never use like Microsoft Project.
Pricing: $99.99 Mac App Store
ConceptDraw Project is a professional project management tool that has particularly strong reporting features.
It allows you to add hyperlinks and files to projects and displays the current status of your projects via Gantt charts.
Everything is updated in real-time so project managers and participants are always up to date on what’s happening.
One of ConceptDraw’s strongest points is how powerful it is when it comes to importing files.
It can import and export files not only from Microsoft Project but also from Microsoft Word and Excel so you don’t have to tediously manually input lines of text or data.
ConceptDraw products are quite rich in features and take some getting used to but you also get a free personalized 30 minute one-one-one webinar with each purchase to help you get to grips with them.
You can get a free trial of ConceptDraw Project Pro project by signing-up for an account.
iTaskX is a well designed PM tool made specifically for Mac desktops.
It’s surprisingly powerful when you dig around and it imports Microsoft Project MPP files.
iTaskX supports over 60 different detailed task fields such as calculations for slack time, overtime, WBS codes and much more.
Some of the features unique to iTaskX include cost rate tables for work and material resources, usage views which work similar to MS Project, support for all resource types (work, material, cost) and task types (fixed units, fixed duration, fixed work).
iTaskX is highly customizable allowing you to customize fonts, bar labels and inserting graphics and images in schedules.
iTaskX also supports importing of MPP, MS Project XML and MS Project MPX files. Importing doesn’t always turn out perfectly – some formatting may be lost but this is the same for most replacements for Project and you can fix this manually.
You can also export iTaskX files to XML, OPML, iCal and PDF format plus edit headers, footers and legends before printing.
You buy iTaskX direct from the developer for $140 for one user, $650 for 5 users, $1,200 for 10 users and $2,750 for up to 25 users.
By default, the iTaskX works as an unregistered demo for 14 days but you can also request to extend the trial if you need more time.
Pricing: Starts at $140.00 for one user
Project Plan 365 is a no fuss, powerful project planning app that has both a Mac desktop client and a Cloud version.
Project Plan 365 can open MS Project files instantly in your browser with no downloads or plugins required.
It opens MPP 2003-2016 files and you can edit, save and share files up to 2MB absolutely free but for a one-off purchase of $99, you can open and edit files of any size.
Project Plan 365 doesn’t have the flashiest or slickest of interfaces but it’s incredibly good at working with MS Project files.
You can maintain Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) and project schedules, easily assign resources (including people and material) and calculate project costs just as you would in Microsoft Project.
Project Plan 365 supports duration, work and unit driven scheduling and you can save projects to the cloud for access anywhere.
You can work on the same projects with clients or colleagues in other locations. You can choose from a range of views including Gantt, Calendar, Task Sheet and Network Diagram views and you can color coordinate them.
You can also open projects in Resource Sheet, Resource Usage, Task Sheet and Task Usage views.
Project Plan 365 is a straightforward and versatile alternative to Project.
You can try Project Plan 365 for Mac free for 30 days to find out for yourself.
Pricing: 2MB Free/$129.99 per user/year
FastTrack Schedule is a slick project management tool that has lots of project templates, useful reports and even works on older PPC Macs.
FastTrack Schedule has been around a long time on Mac and over the years more and more features have been added to make it a durable and effective PM tool.
There are so many different tools and reports that it can be intimidating at first but from the minute you open it, there lots of video tutorials to help you get to grips with all of FastTrack Schedule’s features.
If you need something really high-end, we recommend trying the 21 day FastTrack Schedule free trial because at $349, it’s one of the most expensive project management apps for macOS available.
If you’re a real Excel Junkie, then Gantt Chart Excel Template might be of interest as it has a Mac desktop client.
As the name suggests, Gantt Chart Excel Template isn’t actually an application – it’s a modified template for Excel that allows you to create Project Management Gantt charts very quickly.
The good thing about Gantt Chart Excel Junkie is that if you’re already a Whizz with Excel, then you’ll be up and running with it very quickly.
Gantt Chart Excel Template is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Excel including 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2013.
When you open Gantt Chart Excel Template it looks like a version of Excel on steroids.
The Excel ribbon has been customized to include a Gantt chart tab which includes tools to add Charts, Tasks, Milestones etc.
You can easily create cascading dependencies and easily see what impact new tasks will have on the final completion date.
You can create detailed project timelines with information such as task names, resources, task percentage completed, costs and other important elements.
There are even project completion dashboards to clearly show you the status if your projects. And there is a cost module to help you get an overview of how your budget is doing.There are several other useful things you can do with Gantt Chart Excel Template too such as color customize projects, add holidays calendars, group tasks, filter tasks and more.
The best thing is Gantt Chart is free to use although the free version isn’t practical for regular use as it does not allow unlimited Gantt charts and tasks.
However, for a very modest one-off payment of $59.95, you can download the Mac Ultimate version which offers full functionality and unlimited Gantt charts.
There are also slightly cheaper Pro and Ultimate version but these do not work with Excel on Mac.
Although it’s not exactly a sophisticated alternative to Microsoft Project, Gantt Chart Excel Template is ideal for anyone that loves Excel and wants a cheap, effective solution on macOS.
So if you’re looking for project management software that you can download on your Mac, these are the best alternatives to MS Project that you can download.
As stated in the introduction, the best project management software nowadays has all moved online and we strongly recommend checking our guide to the best MS Project alternatives for Mac for reviews of the best ones.
If you have any questions, problems or suggestions regarding the apps featured here, let us know in the comments below.