There is no Visio for Mac, as most users know, even with the launch of the Microsoft’s Office for Mac 2016. The reason for this probably stems from some opaque matters of internal politics. Yet, there are several alternatives Mac users can explore in order to craft and interpret those pesky diagrams.
This post will examine these alternatives to Visio for Mac, firstly in a section dedicated to free products aimed at the not very sophisticated, finishing with the presentation of software dedicated to trained professionals that come in a variety of price ranges.
Free Alternatives to Visio for Mac
To begin with an important observation, if your only requirement is accessing files produced (or meant for) by Microsoft Visio, then there is a very useful Google Chrome add-on (designed by Lucidhart) that supports .vsd, .vdx and .vsdx files developed with the Microsoft Visio 2007, 2010 and 2013 versions. This add-on makes it easy for you as it web-based and allows you access to those types of file from your hard drive, from the browser or from your Gmail account. It is the most accessible Visio viewer for Mac users.
That being said, here are some free examples of Visio for Mac surrogates:
- draw.io – is a web-based alternative for Visio, with an interface that appeals to the greenest of newbies, saves your work in a .xml file that you may tweak later by visiting the site and uploading your locally-saved project. The pre-determined tools can be found on the left-hand side while on your right you may access the drawing instruments.
- Dia – a product of the developer’s community for rather simple diagram operations. It has a GIMP-y interface that resembles the Microsoft Visio. Like draw.io, it saves files with the .xml extension, but can export the diagrams to various other formats, including JPEG, PNG, and the standard Visio .vdx. Works great for sketching network processes and flowcharts.
- Pencil Project – is another open-source program targeted chiefly at newbies, yet perfectly suitable for experienced individuals. It may also be installed as an add-on for Firefox, in order to make it easy to use while surfing the Web. It also has an experimental mobile version.
- OpenOffice Draw – may well be Visio’s main competitor from the realm of open-source software. With its main feature of grouping different objects together and performing similar actions on them, adding to its versatility regarding file formats.
- LucidChart – is seemingly the best web-based Visio-like program. Different users are able to manipulate the same diagram, making it perfect for some limited teamwork. With no need for registration, it works with .vdx files, being able to import and export them.
Paid Alternatives to Visio
- Nevron Draw ($39) – or available for $49 as part of the Nevron Office Suite (along with Nevron Writer), this one is for those on a budget. Though not as high-performing as Visio, the Nevron Draw does have automated algorithms for certain layouts or a wide array of shapes. It stresses usability, by having numerous free templates or tutorials on how the user may customize the working space according to his/her preferences. The downside of the Nevron is it doesn’t support .vsd files. Nevertheless, it is the best in the tight-budgeted category.
- OmniGraffle ($99.99) – designed with Macs in mind, OmniGraffle is easy to use, pretty affordable, practically a synonym to Visio. It can import Visio files, and there is also a version for the iPad pro that can open them. As a downside, it can be mentioned that it lends itself to crashing when performing sophisticated operations.
- Sketch for Mac ($99.99) – is a bit of a different species than the others on the list. It blends graphic design with the power of vector graphics, creating an animal that is specifically targeted to Mac users. Largely, Sketch represents the middle-ground between Illustrator and Visio. The developers at Bohemian Coding come to the user’s aid with lots of tutorials available on their website, and special prices for students, who get it half off, or large organizations. Free trial period!
- Axure RP (anywhere from $99 to $895) – incorporates Visio-similar features, yet is aimed squarely at web designers. It has easy to comprehend widgets that allow the integration of table or contact forms and other webpage elements. It is as useful as Visio at sketching prototypes and wireframes. Also with a free trial period!
These are the main alternatives to Visio for Mac users. I wanted to paint as diverse a landscape as possible, because not all consumers are interested in complicated processes, emphasizing ease of access and usability.