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Visio is the most conspicuous example of a program that I found useful on Windows for which I have not identified a Mac-compatible replacement.

Visio's primary function is as a flowchart diagramming tool. It allows the user to construct complex information flows with smart objects and interconnect graphics that snap and bend as the user moves things around on the page. It's morphed over the years to support other diagram and information flow views like IT diagrams and UI mockups.

What's out there that can replace Visio on the Mac?

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Can you explain what Visio does, and what a program would need to do for you to consider it a replacement? –  Daniel Apr 11 '13 at 12:09
Why do you feel the need to clarify a 2.5-year-old question with an accepted answer? –  anon Apr 11 '13 at 12:33
Because it's at the top of the feed because someone just submitted an answer. If a question is buried in the archive, absolutely, leave it alone. But this was the top question on the page when I logged in this morning, and as such, I'm trying to improve its quality. –  Daniel Apr 11 '13 at 12:43
Visio is / was a very commonly-used tool on Windows and in the relevant industry. I don't believe that anyone who didn't already know what it was would be able to offer an answer. Anyhow, isn't this now a 'shopping' question that should be closed? –  anon Apr 11 '13 at 21:10
@bmargulies this isn't a shopping question. This is a functional equivalence question. We're not talking prices and software tends to outlast hardware so there's less temporal relevancy to the answers. –  Ian C. May 27 '13 at 3:44

16 Answers 16

up vote 38 down vote accepted

OmniGraffle or OmniGraffle Pro: http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnigraffle/feature_comparison/

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

OmniGraffle Pro reads Visio's binary files, not just their XML ones. That was worth it by itself for me. Also, FWIW, I much prefer OmniGraffle to Visio in terms of ease of use. My coworkers often comment about how nice the diagrams are. –  khedron Oct 4 '10 at 13:39
I have had similar experience with my coworkers. Omnigraffle is what Visio would like to be. –  Kevin Feb 17 '11 at 15:36
OmniGraffle isn't equivalent to Visio. It's a much higher quality software for its UI quality and for the quality of graphics produced. Pages may also be used to make high quality graphics and with much more graphical objects than OmniGraffle. –  daniel Azuelos Jan 18 '13 at 22:53
As much as i like OG, it still lacks the ability of fine tuning shapes in a more accessible manner like the fine tuning abilities present in visio and concept draw when it comes to mechanical processing diagrams. It still is a fine replacement for the purpose of drawing UI mockups. –  ismail Jan 19 '13 at 4:27

Dia, it's not a native app, it uses x11 but it works ok. There is also ConceptDraw PRO but this is another of those cross-plantform apps and doesn't work as well as OmniGraffle.

I would probably still recommend OmniGraffle for Mac.

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As others have mentioned OmniGraffle is a great Visio replacement. But if you want something free, I'd also recommend yED:


I use it on my linux-based systems, but since its java-based, it works well on Mac OSX, as well as Windows.

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OmniGraffle is awesome, but quite pricy. If you're looking for Visio replacement for specifically UI mockups or really simple diagrams, you can use Balsamiq Mockups

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Check out VSD Viewer for Mac. It enables viewing Visio Drawings of .vsd extension on Mac.

It supports basic features of Visio documents and is able to switch layers and display EMF / WMF images. This is crucial for those who use MS Visio for network diagrams and other professional issues.

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Check out GenMyModel, a new browser-hosted UML modeler, cross-platform and free. It works on Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari (Mac OS) and provides UML-compliant modeling with code generation (java, SQL). It presently supports class diagrams and use case diagrams. You can also export images and PDF reports.

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Surprised to see that Lucidchart isn't on here.

  • HTML5 based
  • Supports all the IT libraries I want
  • Import and export any Visio files

  • It has a visio viewer that allows you to edit and view visio files. This is because its integrated with your google drive so it is easy for Lucidchart to allow you to work on those files and export it.

  • Lucid chart has a collaborative interface that allows to easily work with small teams editing rather than having to send a diagram back and forth.

  • Its free for a single user. (there are other options which do have prices attached which isn't too bad)

  • It has a drag and drop feature which makes it easy to use and is very intuitive.

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I'm not surprised at Lucidchart's obscurity on the Mac platform. It's not native and for a software rental, the cost is high compared to options for iOS and Mac like OmniGraffle with a rich set of support in the Mac ecosystem. –  bmike Apr 29 '13 at 22:15

We produce draw.io, it's not as complex as the likes of Visio, but it does the majority of basics tasks in this field.

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I have just come across another nice (open source) application for creating Diagrams and Mockups - http://pencil.evolus.vn/. It is not as professional and powerful as Omnigraffle, but for many situations it probably is enough, namely simple diagrams and mockups (which can be exported as HTML).

I also use some other solutions for diagrams (including UML diagrams), these are not for mockups:

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An alternative viewer to the one mentioned in Donald B's answer is:

Enolsoft Visio Viewer for Mac

A smart file viewing tool to support the use of Visio files by Mac OS users, enabling them to view, save and print Microsoft Visio drawings and diagrams on Mac OS X 10.7 and higher.

  • View Microsoft Visio Drawings in VSD format easily on Mac.
  • Convert Visio to PDF with original elements retained.
  • Support multi-tab viewing to switch between multiple Visio files easily.

It is a "Paid-For" product however it is available as a "Free Trial", to allow you to try before you buy (if so desired).

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While I love Omnigraffle, it isn't cost effective for most. A cheaper alternative for me was Diagrammix, especially since it allows me to use Omnigraffle stencils to create network diagrams, E-R diagrams, and flowcharts, for example.

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The Opensource Apache OpenOffice offering includes a visio-like tool which is appropriate for drawing shapes. It supports windows, linux and Mac.

You may give it a try: https://www.openoffice.org/download/index.html

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I personally like MaSSHandra. The approach of it is a bit different to what MS Visio has as it is a 3D tool and provides other tools like autodiscovery of networks. And it's cross-platform.

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The approach of it is a bit different to what MS Visio has as it is a 3D tool and provides other tools like autodiscovery of networks. And it's cross-platform

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Check out Napkin. It's $39.99 on Mac App Store.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

OK so I am late to this party -- If like me, you use Visio's shapes and shape library to generate simple building plans to give to an architect to draw-up in CAD; of for schematics that can be built in minutes not hours - then OmniGraffle Pro is not an effective replacement for Visio.

For those who wonder what Visio is for -- Visio for me has been a stalwart companion since it was first released by Shapeware in 1992. I use it for real estate (conceptual site & building plans), financial and project advisory work and as a tool to communicate with draftsmen, architects and engineers -- with Visio I do not need autocad or equivalent, my professionals have this and use it well; but I needed a tool that helped me get my ideas neatly down on paper. My colleagues use Visio extensively for process mapping, org charts and other consulting uses - they also agree that there is no substitute for Visio.

As it stands today (15 May 2014) there is no product available on the mac that is equivalent to Visio for my type of use - I have tried and rejected 15 od called Visio replacement packages. None, including OmniGraffle Pro are as easy to use, as intuitive or as capable as visio. BUT, I am told not all is lost - you can run Visio on Parallels, together with the rest of MS's apps that MS will not make Mac compatible - this is what I will be doing shortly. My challenge to the app developers (including MS) is to strive harder. Given the penetration of MS Office for Mac, I am bemused why MS cannot be bothered to release a visio version for mac.... endless rumours, but no delivery.

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