Visio For Mac: 10 Diagramming Alternatives For All Budgets
Microsoft has never released Visio for Mac but we’ve looked at the very best Visio alternatives for Mac in 2018 for Project Managers, Engineers and other professionals. Nowadays there are literally hundreds of diagramming apps out there and narrowing them down into tools that can genuinely compete with Visio is no easy task. The fact is, there best diagramming apps nowadays are mainly Cloud based and work on all platforms although we have also included some tools designed specifically for Mac.
To make things easier, we selected these apps based on the following three criteria:
- They can all produce diagrams that are as good as, if not better than those done on Microsoft Visio.
- With the exception of Ardoq, they’re all more cost-effective than Visio Pro which currently costs $589.99
- They can all import and export Visio files (although it should be noted that only SmartDraw can export to the latest Visio 2016 VSDX format).
- They have project management features built-in or can be synced with other project management software.
With these preconditions in mind, whether you’re a Project Manager that needs to visualize processes better or you just want to create flowcharts or diagrams, here are the best replacements for Visio on Mac in order of ranking.
SmartDraw is a powerful alternative for anyone looking for Visio on a Mac. SmartDraw does everything that Visio can but makes it far easier and faster. What makes SmartDraw stand out from the crowd, is that it’s clearly been built specifically as an alternative to Visio but with a more user-friendly, slicker macOS aesthetic. These are the reasons that make SmartDraw makes such a great alternative to Visio for Mac users.
- It’s the only professional diagramming software on Mac that can import and export to the latest VSDX format used in Visio 2013 and 2016. This is crucial when you need to send diagrams to Windows-based Visio users.
- It can instantly turn flowcharts into Gantt Charts, Project Charts and Mind Maps in one click which is great for Project Managers. From there you can assign tasks, due dates, manage dependencies and even send tasks to Trello where they are dynamically updated.
- The toolset has more than 34,000 symbols compared to around 4,800 in Visio 2016 – and they look better because they’re in high quality SVG vector format.
- There are more than 4,500 diagram templates in SmartDraw compared to around 100 in Visio. These cover almost every conceivable need from flowcharts, org-charts and floorplans to topics as diverse as crime scene reconstructions.
- It automates diagramming so when you change connectors and move things around, it re-balances flowcharts, process flows and other elements.
- It can export to Microsoft Office. So if you need to insert a SmartDraw diagram into Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel, it’s easy to do.
- It’s easy to share diagrams with none SmartDraw users. You simply generate a URL that allows anyone to view a diagram in SmartDraw and customize what kind of restrictions you want to put on it.
- You can use SmartDraw within Trello, Jira and Confluence thanks to plugins.
Overall, SmartDraw does a brilliant job of making diagramming easier while not sacrificing the tools that make Visio so powerful. You can check out our full review of SmartDraw for a more in-depth look.
You can also try a free trial of SmartDraw to judge for yourself.
You can watch us using SmartDraw below.
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You can also watch an overview of how SmartDraw compares to Microsoft Visio.
If online apps are not your thing, OmniGraffle is the closest thing to a native Mac desktop alternative to MS Visio. OmniGraffle is designed specifically for Mac and although it’s not as easy to use at SmartDraw, it produces attractive, professional diagrams. It’s also excellent to model user interfaces and actions too. It’s important to note from the start that although OmniGraffle can import Visio files, it can’t export files to the latest Visio VSDX format like SmartDraw can.
Here’s what we really like about OmniGraffle:
- OmniGraffle Pro can import all Visio formats (VSDX, VSD, VDX) fand Visio stencil files (VST, VTX, VSX and VSS). Note that Visio import support is not available in the Standard Version of OmniGraffle ($99).
- Diagrams created in OmniGraffle look better than those in Visio because it uses high quality vector graphics.
- OmniGraffle is fully integrated with project management tool OmniPlan from the same developer.
- Although there’s aren’t so many stencils and templates included in OmniGraffle compared to SmartDraw, it has a dedicated following of users that have created repositories of free OmniGraffle Stencils.
- OmniGraffle is the only diagramming software on Mac that allows you to use the Touch Bar on new MacBook Pros.
- It also has a very good native iPad app OmniGraffle for iOS ($49) that supports the Apple Pencil and syncs with Mac via iCloud.
OmniGraffle is a slick, powerful and more artistic desktop replacement for Visio on macOS. If you’re working in Mac only environment and want something desktop rather than Cloud based, OmniGraffle is an excellent replacement.
You can try OmniGraffle free for 7 days by downloading it from the Mac App Store. If you decide not to upgrade to the Pro version, you can still use OmniGraffle as a free desktop Visio viewer on your Mac.
**Pricing: **OmniGraffle Standard (199.99 – includes Visio import support)
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Lucidchart is a powerful online diagramming software with strong team collaboration features and excellent integration with Microsoft Office. While it’s not as slick as similar Cloud based solutions like SmartDraw and doesn’t come close to it in terms of templates, objects or graphics quality, it’s still one of the leading diagramming tools out there.
Here are some of the things we like about Lucidchart.
- It can import Visio files (although it can’t export to the latest Visio VSDX format).
- You can import Visio stencils in VSS or VSX format (although Visio templates in VST or VTX format are not supported).
- Lucidchart tailors the interface and toolset according to your industry and needs such as engineering, flowcharting, UML diagramming etc.
- It really excels at multi user collaboration and allows you to chat with others inside the app, see revision changes, leave comments etc.
- There are free plugins for JIRA, Confluence and Jive integration.
- Lucidchart is very well-integrated with Microsoft Office 2016 so you can draw diagrams directly in Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
- There’s a handy Chrome plugin that allows you to draw diagrams offline.
Overall Lucidchart is an easy to use online diagramming tool ideal for team colloboration and those that need good integration with Microsoft Office. For a more in-depth look at Lucidchart, check-out our full Lucidchart review.
You can also try a free trial of Lucidchart.
Pricing: $8.95+/month per user
You can watch what we thought of using Lucidchart below.
ConceptDraw Pro is the only professional diagramming cross platform desktop alternative to Visio that works on both Mac and Windows PCs. ConceptDraw Pro can even export to Visio VSDX format although we found the results are not as accurate as with SmartDraw.
Here’s some highlights of ConceptDraw Pro for Mac:
- It can import Visio files including VSD and VDX (Visio 2007-2010 format) and Microsoft’s newer open XML file format VSDX used in Visio 2013 and above.
- It can export diagrams to Microsoft Office and Evernote among other formats.
- There are hundreds of templates to get you going divided into different areas such as landscaping, engineering, management, science, flowcharts etc.
- ConceptDraw Pro allows you to create presentations and slideshows of your diagrams.
- There’s a rich collection of high quality vector objects, audiovisual clips, additional templates and tutorials in ConceptDraw Solution Park.
- For Project Managers, it can be used alongside ConceptDraw Project.
ConceptDraw Pro is a solid choice if you want a desktop alternative to Visio that works on both Mac and PC.
You can try a free trial by signing up for a ConceptDraw account.
Pricing: $199. Minor updates are free but not major updates.
Gliffy is an extremely easy to use team focused Cloud diagramming software that’s ideal for collaborating on UML, network diagrams and org charts. Gliffy can import Visio files although it can’t export them although it does export to SVG format which can be opened in Visio (although you’ll have to do a lot of manual adjustment)
Here’s what makes Gliffy a great team diagramming solution.
- Gliffy has a Chrome extension so although it’s Cloud based, you can create diagrams offline.
- It syncs with online storage solutions such as Google Drive and Dropbox directly from your desktop.
- Gliffy’s WYSIWYG interface is based on HTML5 which means it’s fast and responsive.
- It uses a drag-and-drop interface which makes it easy to add objects and connectors to your diagrams.
- Gliffy is an excellent choice for teams as it has full revision histories for diagrams, private sharing and all users can leave comments on diagrams.
- Sharing diagrams is easy. If you want to share diagrams with a non Gliffy user, it generates a simple URL which can be shared on social media and other channels so anyone can view the diagram.
- There are Gliffy plugins for Confluence and Jira.
- Gliffy also allows you to export diagrams to Google Docs, presentations, web pages and most major image formats including JPG, PNG, PNG with transparent background and SVG.
- There’s a good choice of real objects to illustrate diagrams with although there aren’t many templates to choose from.
If you just want an ultra easy online diagramming solution that imports Visio files, allows you to diagram offline and is suitable for teams, Gliffy is definitely worth checking out.
You can try Gliffy for free and test drive it for yourself.
Pricing: Starts at $7.99/user per month
Creately is a lightweight, fast and cost-effective alternative to Visio. Creately is a lot simpler than Visio but you can create some pretty impressive diagrams, Venn diagrams, flowcharts and process flows with it.
Here’s a few things that stand out.
- Creately can import Visio files (although it can’t export to Visio).
- There are some neat touches like shared project libraries, a useful Google Image search tool and auto snapping of objects connectors.
- Creately also integrates with Confluence, Jira and the G Suite Marketplace.
- Creately has a Mac desktop client which allows you to draw offline and sync any changes when you go online again.
- There are thousands of templates to choose from to get things done quickly.
You can also create up to 5 diagrams for free before deciding whether it’s for you.
Pricing: 49 per year for individual users.
If you mainly use Visio for creating flowcharts then Textografo is a data input based alternative with a clean, minimalist interface. Textografo claims that by automating diagrams, it’s the fastest diagramming software on the market although it takes some getting used to first. Textografo doesn’t cater for all diagram formats but consists of a Flowchart Maker, Mindmap Maker, Decision Tree Maker, Organizational Chart Maker and a Sitemap Maker.
Here’s what we like about Textografo compared to Visio:
- Textografo takes a data input approach to diagramming by automating diagrams based on the data you feed it. Instead of drawing diagrams, you describe it using hashtags and instructions in the left hand margin and Textografo draws it. So for example, if you type “#decision” a decision box will appear in the diagram. This removes the need to constantly align, resize and connect elements and objects in flowcharts by automating much of the process for you via syntax.
- You can also drag and drop elements although Textografo is not really designed for that. Textografo is designed particularly with business processes in mind especially those in Process Analysis, Business Operations, Software Development, Sales & Marketing and Customer Service roles.In terms of pricing plans, Textografo Essentials is the basic version of Textografo and costs $4 per month but is limited to 5 private diagrams and 50 shapes per diagram.
You can use Textografo free for 7 days before you have to purchase a plan.
Pricing: Textografo Premium costs $8 per month.
MyDraw (formerly known as Nevron Draw) is a budget desktop alternative to Visio on Mac. If the interface of MyDraw looks familiar, that’s because it’s heavily inspired by Microsoft Office’s Ribbon UI used in all MS Office products.
Some of the reasons MyDraw makes a good replacement for MS Visio on macOS include:
- Visio file format support is excellent in MyDraw including support for importing older VDX format and VSSX stencils too.
- MyDraw can also import, edit and export Visio VSDX files (although the results aren’t always great).
- MyDraw can also import family tree diagrams in GEDCOM format used in genealogy software on Mac. Other export formats supported include PDF, AutoCAD’s DXF format and as high-resolution images.
- MyDraw has a very large number of shapes and objects to choose from and uses a powerful formula based engine similar to Visio.
- It also has automatic layout algorithms to speed things up when creating diagrams.
- There are plenty of free templates for simple mind maps, network diagrams, floor plans, fish bone diagrams, work flows, UML diagrams and electrical diagrams.
If you like to draw diagrams on your iPad, MyDraw also supports the Apple Pencil and other graphics tablets that work with Macs.
MyDraw isn’t quite on the same level as Visio but if you’re on a really tight budget and want a Mac desktop solution, it’s definitely worth downloading the free trial.
Edraw Max is a cheaper desktop alternative to Visio but with a strikingly similar interface. There are a lot of similarities between Edraw and MyDraw, most notably that they’re both desktop apps plus they can both import and export Visio files.
Here’s what we like about Edraw Max:
- Edraw supports high quality vector graphics allowing you to create eye-catching diagrams.
- Edraw supports VDX as well as VSDX files although the exported results aren’t always great and may involve some manual adjustment depending on the complexity of the diagram.
- The Edraw Max UI is very closely modeled on Microsoft Visio’s ribbon interface – so close in fact that it’s actually hard to distinguish the difference at first glance.
- Although there are only around 200 templates in Edraw Max, there’s enough there for basic flowcharts, org charts and brainstorming.
- You can snap and connect shapes or objects easily and there’s enough to create basic Visio diagrams.
Overall, Edraw Max is an interesting option if you want something that looks like Visio, works on your Mac desktop but is considerably cheaper.
There’s a fully functional free trial of Edraw Max
Pricing: Perpetual License costs 245 with no upgrade costs. Subscription costs $99 per year.
Ardoq is an Enterprise level, data input driven replacement for Visio which like Textografo, takes information you throw at it and then automatically generates Visio like flowcharts and diagrams. It’s aimed particularly at Product or Project Managers as it calculates dependencies and can provide estimates of project timelines and completion dates.
Here are some of the benefits of Ardoq:
- It gives a good overview of complex workflows and systems so that they can get a better overview of knock-on effects and the interconnections between process flows.
- It automatically translates complex data that you give it into useful flowcharts and diagrams. This means less time sketching flowcharts and process flows manually.
- Diagrams dynamically update and change as you update the data that powers them such as via an Excel sheet or any other tool that has an API.
- Although Ardoq doesn’t allow much manual adjustment of diagrams, there are templates that you can customize manually and a plugin editor to configure how Ardoq visualizes data.
The main drawback to Ardoq is the price. At $999 per month, it’s not exactly cheap but if you’re a Project Manager in a large enterprise, Ardoq is a powerful data driven, project management focused Visio like tool.
You can request a free demo of Ardoq to see if it’s right for your organization.