Although there are some excellent Visio for Mac alternatives such as SmartDraw on Mac there are a few ways to run Visio on Mac. Here we look at two of the easiest and most effective ways – by using Parallels or Microsoft Azure RemoteApp. Parallels installs a virtual environment on your Mac so that you can run Windows alongside OS X at the same time. Microsoft Azure meanwhile runs Visio in a remote location which you can then connect to and use on your Mac as it if it was installed on OS X. Both methods allow Mac users to run Microsoft Windows only apps such as Visio, Publisher, Access and Project in OS X fairly easily although Parallels is easier to setup than Azure RemoteApp. The great thing about both methods is that you can try Parallels for free and Microsoft Azure for free so you can install Visio on Mac for free until you decide whether its worth paying for. Both Parallels and Azure allow you to open, edit, create and save Visio documents just as if you were using it on a PC and it also works for other Windows only apps so that you can also have Publisher for Mac, Access for Mac and Project for Mac.

How To Run Visio On Mac

Important Azure Remote App News: Since this tutorial was written, on August 12th 2016 Microsoft announced that Azure Remote App will be discontinued in August 2017 and transitioned to a new platform. Sales of Azure RemoteApp will end on 1 October 2016 and some users are reporting that Microsoft has already removed RemoteApp from Azure. With this news in mind, it’s better to run Visio using Parallels for now until Microsoft has transitioned RemoteApp. Even better, we strongly recommend trying one of these alternatives to Visio on Mac such as SmartDraw or Lucidchart which can open and edit Visio files on Mac and don’t require either Parallels or AzureRemote App.

How To Run Visio On Mac Using Parallels

To install Parallels on Mac, first of all you’ll need to make sure you have an Intel Mac that’s built within the past 3-4 years with at least 4GB of RAM. For running big apps like Visio we recommend at least 8GB of RAM to prevent any lag or performance issues on your Mac but 4GB will still work. Older Macs with less RAM won’t be able to run Windows and OS X at the same time. Specifically, it needs to be a Mac with an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Intel Core M or Xeon processor. Core Solo and Core Duo processors are no longer supported by Parallels. To check the exact specifications of your Mac, go to the Apple logo in the top left of your Mac desktop and select “About this Mac”.

netflix for mac - about this mac

In addition to this you must be running OS X Yosemite 10.10 or higher including El Capitan and macOS Sierra.

Finally, you need a minimum of 16GB to install Windows on your Mac. We recommend having at least 20-30GB to ensure that Windows works smoothly and so you have plenty of space to install Windows games or apps other than Visio at a later date. You can check how much storage space you’ve got on your Mac by clicking on the “Storage” tab on the About This Mac screen above.

If you’ve got all of this, you’re ready to start. To install Visio on Mac using Parallels, follow these instructions.

  1. First you need Parallels for Mac. You can try a 14 day free trial of Parallels first or buy the full version for $79.99. You can choose to either pay a one-off payment of $79.99 or pay $79.99 per month. The monthly subscription option provides free annual upgrades (Parallels is updated every year to keep up with new versions of OS X and Windows) and you also get Parallels Access for free which allows you to access your Mac from anywhere with an iOS or Android device. If you’re a student, you can also get 50% off Parallels (you must scroll down the purchase page to find the offer). Note that you only need the Home & Student Version of Parallels to run Visio on Mac, not the Pro or Business versions.
  2. After you have purchased Parallels or downloaded the free trial, double click on it to start the Parallels setup wizard. Parallels gives you the choice to purchase Windows 10 directly from Microsoft, install it from a DVD or USB drive or connect your Mac to a PC and import Windows from it.


If you already have have a copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8 in ISO format, you can choose the option “Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file” but you’ll need to turn it into ISO format and put it on a USB drive first. You can read here to download an ISO Windows for Mac.


Whichever you choose, Parallels will then automatically install Windows. If you’re intending to use Parallels for also playing games as well as using Visio, make sure you select the checkbox “Express Installation” as this also installs Parallels Tools which you need in order to use Parallels for gaming. If you don’t, you’ll have to install Parallels Tools separately later by going to Actions > Install Parallels Tools within Parallels. You also need your Windows product key which you would have got when you bought Windows originally and enter it to complete the installation:


You must then select how you want to use Windows in Parallels. You can choose either Productivity or Games Only. Make sure you select Productivity if you just intend to use it for Visio. If you intend to use it for gaming too, you can select Games Only as it will optimize it for handling gaming but it will also be able to handle business applications such as Visio too.

If you want, you can specify a location to install Parallels on your Mac. The default location for Parallels is /Users/username/Documents/Parallels but you can customize this if you want:


If you have more than one login account on your Mac, select “Share with other users of this Mac” if you want other users of the Mac to be able to use Parallels to run Visio. If you really know what you’re doing, select Customize settings before installation for more advanced options although you can change these after installation.

Parallels will then complete the installation of Windows on your Mac.

best way to run windows on mac parallels

Finally, you need to purchase Microsoft Visio and install it in Windows. You can do this either by buying Visio direct from Microsoft or from Amazon. You then simply install Visio on your Mac just as if you were using a PC.

And that’s it you’re done. You can then run Visio on your Mac desktop.

run visio on mac cover


You can watch us running Visio on Mac in the screencast below. As you can see, the responsiveness is surprisingly good – there’s very little lag and it feels pretty much like running Visio on Windows. However, you’ll also see that there are some features missing when you run Visio on OS X this way, particularly the lack of integration with other products in the Microsoft Office suite such as Word, PowerPoint etc. But generally, this is a small price to pay in order ti run Visio natively on a Mac.

How To Run Visio On Mac Using Azure RemoteApp

As stated at the beginning of this tutorial, Azure Remote App is to be discontinued in August 2017. We therefore strongly recommend either following the instructions above to install Windows on Mac using Parallels or using an alternative to Visio for Mac which can edit Visio files.

Important Installation Note: Before you can start installing Visio on your Mac using Azure RemoteApp, you need to sign-up for and use the Azure portal. To do this, you must ensure that your browser is not blocking Flash and other elements such as cookies. It’s advisable to switch-off any ad blockers and cookie restrictions or use a different browser than your usual one without any blocking plugins or add-ons in order for it to work correctly.

Here’s how to install and run Visio on Mac.

  1. Make sure you have a Microsoft account. If you already have a Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook or MSN Messenger login for example, that will do fine and you can skip to the next step. Otherwise, sign-up for a free Microsoft account. To sign-up, all you need is a valid email address for Microsoft to send the account activation email to run visio on mac - microsoft account sign-up

2. When your Microsoft account is set up, sign-up for a free 30 day trial of Azure RemoteApp. You’ll first need to sign-in with your Microsoft account details. run visio on mac - microsoft azure sign-up3. You’ll then have to sign-up for a Microsoft Azure account. Note that this requires both a mobile phone number to send a verification code to and a credit card to verify your identity. Your credit card will not be charged during the 30 day free trial and you can cancel your account after 30 days if you don’t want to pay for a subscription.

run visio on mac - microsoft azure verification

4. Install Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Mac App Store. Note that you’ll need to be using OS X 10.9 Mountain Lion or above. If you’re not, you’ll have to update OS X by opening the App Store, going to Updates and installing OS X 10.11 El Capitan which is the latest version of OS X.

install visio on mac - microsoft remote desktop

5. Now you need to set up Visio in Azure to allow Microsoft Remote Desktop to access it and launch it on your Mac. Login to your Azure account and you’ll see the main Azure Portal.

run visio on mac - azure portal

6. Click on “New” in the top left corner menu and search for “remoteapp” and select RemoteApp.

run visio on mac free - remoteapp search

7. Select “RemoteApp” which is at the top of the list.install visio on mac - remoteapp

8. Go to the bottom and click on “Create”.

run visio on mac - remoteapp create

9. Azure will then launch a different portal which at the time of writing, is actually the old Azure portal but will eventually be integrated into the one you’ve just been using. On the left menu, select App Services then RemoteApp and then Quick Create. Give your RemoteApp collection a name (such as “officetrial”), select the region closest to you, leave the plan on Basic and then make sure that the template image is Office Professional Plus 2013. Note that Office 2016 and Visio 2016 is not available to access via RemoteApp in Azure yet. Then click “Create RemoteApp Collection” at the bottom.

run microsoft visio on mac - create remoteapp

Azure will then start “provisioning” Microsoft Office Professional 2013 so that you can access it via Remote Desktop on your Mac. Be patient as this can take quite a few minutes. When ready, the status will change to Active.

run microsoft visio on mac - remoteapp status

10. You’re almost there now. Click on the name of your remote collection (in this case “officetrial” and you’ll see the screen below. install microsoft visio on mac - publish remoteapp programs

11. Click on Publish Remote Access Programs and select Visio 2013 from the list and then click on the tick to complete in the bottom right corner. Visio 2016 is not available as in this free trial of Microsoft Azure, Office 2016 is not available. However, if you have a paid subscription to Office 365 2016, you would be able to add Visio 2016 as well. As stated in the introduction, you can also select other Windows only applications such as Microsoft Publisher, Project and Access if you want to use them on your Mac too.install visio on mac - microsoft azure

12. Finally, click on Configure User Access to add yourself as a user. This will enable RemoteApp to access Visio from your Mac. run visio on mac - azure add user

13. You’re now done setting up Azure to deliver Visio to RemoteApp on your Mac. You can now close your browser and go back to Remote Desktop that you downloaded earlier on your desktop. Click on the AzureRemote tab in the top right corner.

run visio on mac - azure remoteapp


You’ll then be asked to enter your Microsoft login details. When you enter them, you’ll see an option for “Work Resources” – make sure you select it. Ignore the Internet Explorer option in this example as it relates to a previous tutorial about how to run Internet Explorer on Mac.


install microsoft visio on mac - azure remoteapp work resources14. Go back to the main Remote Desktop app interface and voila, you’ll see Microsoft Visio 2013, along with several other Office 2013 apps available to you.

run visio on mac - visio 2013 azure remoteapp

15. Simply select Visio 2013 and off you go! Visio will launch in a separate window on your Mac and you can use Visio on your Mac.

run visio on mac - visio running on mac

Visio runs remarkably well in Azure RemoteApp. There’s very little lag and it gives you all the functionality of the Windows version. We had problems working out how to upload files from our Mac to Visio but in the end, the easiest thing to do is use Microsoft OneDrive which is integrated into Visio.

visio running on mac - onedrive

You can edit and save Visio diagrams on your Mac just as you would on Windows.

visio on mac - editing visio file

It’s important to note that when your Azure trial is over in 30 days, you’ll need a subscription to both Microsoft Office Professional and Microsoft Azure in order to continue using it. As always, Microsoft’s pricing policy with Office products and what you actually get in them is confusing but you can currently subscribe to Visio Pro For Office 365 for $13.00 per month with an annual subscription. You’ll then have to pay for a Standard Subscription to Azure RemoteApp which costs either 0.20 cents an hour or $23 per month for unlimited usage. visio on mac - microsoft azure pricing

But a reminder once again that since Azure RemoteApp is to be discontinued from August 2017 and with no clear idea of what Microsoft will replace it with, you’re probably better to use Parallels to install Visio on Mac for now.

These are the two easiest and most efficient ways we’ve tried to run Visio on Mac and it’s great you can try both Parallels and Azure RemoteApp for free before you decide which is the right solution for you.

If you have any problems, questions or issues with this tutorial, let us know in the comments below. If you’ve decided not to run Visio on Mac and prefer a native solution that can edit Visio files, don’t forget to check-out our look at the best alternatives to Visio for Mac such as the excellent SmartDraw and Lucidchart.

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4 Responses

    • MacHow2

      Thanks for the update. According to Microsoft, RemoteApp will still work until August 31st 2017 so this way of running Visio on Mac will still work until then. However it will no longer be possible to purchase RemoteApp after October 1st 2016. Microsoft states that it is “committed to ensuring our existing Azure RemoteApp customers have a smooth transition” so presumably it will still be possible to run Visio on a Mac this way but it will be transferred to Microsoft’s new XenApp “express”.

      • Catalina Gil

        I’ve been trying to create the RemoteApp, but it doesn’t work. The problem occurs in the step 9 of your procedure, there is not longer the option of RemoteApp in the App Services menu.

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