Since Microsoft Visio has never been released for Mac, here we show you how to run Visio on a Mac in 2023 including on the latest Apple Silicon M1 & M2 Macs.
Although there are far better alternatives to using Visio on a Mac such as the excellent SmartDraw, there are also ways to run Visio on a Mac.
Many Mac users aren’t aware that they can now run Windows on a Mac and by using a virtual machine such as Parallels, you can have macOS and Windows running alongside each other.
Installing Windows on your Mac not only allows you to install Visio on Mac but also play Windows only games on a Mac or use Windows only software such as Microsoft Project, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Publisher.
Alternatives To Running Visio On Mac
Before you begin, be aware that this setup process takes time and we strongly recommend using one of these excellent alternatives to Visio on Mac especially if you’ve got an Apple Silicon M1 or M2 Mac.
Using Windows on a Mac also has all the associated problems and issues that it does on Windows such as the risk of viruses, frequent system updates and slow downs over time.
We strongly recommend using our our top alternative to Visio on a Mac SmartDraw which is the only genuine equivalent to Visio on Mac that can import, edit and export Visio files in VSDX format.
SmartDraw is much easier to use than Visio too and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and hassle than trying to run Windows and macOS simultaneously.
SmartDraw also works on the latest Apple Silicon M1 and M2 Macs too and the latest version of macOS Ventura and Monterey.
Can You Run Visio On M1 & M2 Macs?
You can also run Windows on Apple Silicon M1 & M2 Macs such as the M2 MacBook Pro and M2 Mac Mini – but there is a catch when trying to run Visio on them.
You can only run the ARM version of Windows on M1 & M2 Macs and it’s important to be aware that at the moment, there is no version of Visio for Windows ARM yet.
However, Visio does still run in Windows ARM on a Mac thanks to something called x86 emulation where Windows ARM “translates” software to work in it.
The problem with this is that because of the added processing power it requires, running Visio on M1 and M2 Macs can be very slow, unstable and prone to crashes.
Of course, this only affects the desktop version of Visio – Visio Online can be used on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs without installing Windows but it’s very limited and not a replacement for Visio.
How To Install Visio On Mac
If only the real thing will do then the best way to run Visio on macOS is by using a virtual machine.
A virtual machine allows you to run another operating system simultaneously inside macOS so that you can switch between the two easily.
You can also read more about the best virtual machines for Mac here.
Although there are a few virtual machines available, by far the easiest to setup Windows on Mac is Parallels.
The latest version of Parallels 18 now automates the entire process so that it installs Windows 11 on a Mac automatically for you – you don’t even need to download Windows from Microsoft yourself.
To install Parallels on Mac, first of all you’ll need to make sure you have at least an Intel Mac that’s built within the past 3-4 years with at least 4GB of RAM.
However, for running big apps like Visio we recommend at least 8GB of RAM to prevent any lag or performance issues on your Mac although 4GB will just about work.
Older Macs with less RAM won’t be able to run Windows and macOS 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.
Parallels will also work on Apple Silicon M1 and M2 Macs but for the reasons outlined above, we recommend using an Intel Mac to run Visio as there is no native Windows ARM version of Visio and M1/M2 Macs can only run Windows ARM.
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”.
In addition to this you must be running macOS Mojave or higher including Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey and Ventura.
Parallels 18 will not work on High Sierra or lower.
Finally, you need a minimum of 16GB hard drive space to install Windows on your Mac using Parallels.
However, we recommend having much more than this 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.
The system requirements for Visio Professional are 4GB of hard drive space so you must also account for this when you choose how much space to allocate to Parallels although you can also change this after you’ve installed it too.
You can check storage space on your Mac by clicking on the “Storage” tab on the About This Mac screen above.
If you’ve checked all this, you’re ready to start.
To install Visio on Mac, just follow the instructions below.
If you have any problems or issues with this tutorial, please check our guide on how to install Windows 11 on Mac for free where you’ll find more detailed instructions on how to install Windows.
- Download Parallels for Mac
You can try a 14 day free trial of Parallels.
You can also choose to subscribe to Parallels for $99.99 per year. The annual subscription option is better because instead of having to pay for a new desktop version of Parallels with every new release of macOS, you can upgrade for a discounted price.
You also get Parallels Access for free which is a remote desktop software that 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.
Note that you only need the Home & Student Version of Parallels to run Visio on Mac, not the Pro or Business versions.
- Setup Parallels on your Mac
After you have purchased Parallels or downloaded the free trial, double click on it to start the Parallels setup wizard. If you’ve never installed Parallels for it should automatically download and install Windows 10.
Remember that Windows 11 is completely free to use nowadays – you don’t need a product key to activate it unless you want to customize it so it won’t cost you anything.
Click Install Windows to launch the installer and Windows will download.
Once downloaded, you may be prompted to sign-up for a Parallels account before Windows installs.
When the Windows installer starts, it will install Windows on your Mac just as if you were installing it on a PC.
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.
Also make sure that the “This version requires a product key” is unchecked as you don’t need one to run Windows 11 on Mac anymore.
You may be prompted to 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 as it will optimize Parallels for productivity and office type applications.
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 also 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.
- Get Visio For Windows
Finally, you need to purchase Microsoft Visio and install it in Windows. It’s important you purchase and download the desktop version of Visio Professional 2021 or Visio Standard 2021.
You can also open a browser and sign into your Microsoft 365 account and purchase it from there if you have one.
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.
Watch Visio Running On A Mac (Video)
You can watch how to run Visio on a 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 macOS 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 to run Visio natively on a Mac.
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 these Visio alternatives.
This doesn’t work anymore as Microsoft discontinues RemoteApp.
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”.
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.
Hi Catalina, Thanks for letting us know. Microsoft has announced that RemoteApp will be discontinued from August 2017 as we stated at the beginning of the tutorial. However, it seems they have already removed the option to try it. We have now made this clear at the beginning of the tutorial.