A Product Guide Created By People Who Run Projects
 

7 Excellent Project Management Software Tools For The Mac (September 2020)

Are you using Macbooks as standard machines at your company?

Then you don’t have to resort to spreadsheets and plugins for creating Gannt charts and dependency tracking. These can be cumbersome, clunky and inefficient to use.

There are a number of proven, easy-to-use PM tools available built specifically for the Mac.

Here’s a list of popular project management software for the Mac:

(Products listed in alphabetical order. No rating implied.)

2-plan Desktop

We only learned about 2-plan Desktop in a discussion thread, otherwise we wouldn’t have known about the tool. 2-plan is a standalone PM tool for project managers that runs on OS X (Windows and Linux versions are available too).

2-plan positions itself as a free MS Project alternative, and the feature description indeed suggests the tool lives up to its claim. The German-made project management software covers all tools a project manager needs for project management: scheduling, scope definition, deliverables and milestone planning and project monitoring are included by default. On top of that, you can define your team resources and conduct scenario planning.

2 plan for Mac
2 plan is an interesting, free project management tool that is also available for macOS

At the time this article was written, there was no version for macOS 10.15 available, so it doesn’t run on Apples latest OS X (Catalina). The app runs well on older OS X version though.

2-plan Desktop highlights:

  • Simple, well-designed user interface
  • Import and export of MS Project files
  • Free for commercial use
  • Large selection of add-ons available (free and paid)

GanttProject (free)

GanttProject is another free project management tool made to run on a Mac desktop. The tool was first launched in 2003 and has been continuously improved and extended. GanttProject is widely used and has been adapted for many languages.

GanttProject has a similar feature stack as MS Project and includes all essential steps a project manager needs. You start by drawing up a task schedule and adding milestones on the screen. Tasks may be assigned different priorities and cost. Similar to MS Project, you can create a typical tree-like work breakdown structure with summary tasks. A nice feature is the possibility to use different colors for each task. Even dependencies can be set up between tasks. So, you can make one task start only after another task has been completed.

Overall, GanttProject seems to be a very mature and user-friendly project management tool for the Mac which is definitely worth a try.

GanttProject Gannt chart view
GanttProject is a free project management software for the Mac

GanttProject highlights:

  • Stable solution with long track record
  • Export and Import MS Project files
  • Multi-language support
  • Free for commercial use

iTaskX

iTaskX is another famous solution in the project management app market for the Mac. Unlike other Mac alternatives, iTaskX has been designed specifically for the Mac ecosystem. Therefore it’s much more well integrated and doesn’t require any Java libraries and is very easy to use.

The iTaskX app, which has been on the market for 15 years, has a strong feature set comparable to MS Project. This explains why it is widely used in a number of industries. According to the iTaskX website, the software is used in construction and architecture, advertising, IT and other fields.

What features does iTaskX come with? The software is offered in a standard and pro version. The standard version gives you the basic functionality you need for planning your projects with respect to time and cost. It also has progress tracking capability and allows you to analyze the impact of delays. The pro version offers advanced features like network diagrams, task sheets and resource planning. For a comparison of the standard vs. pro version check out the iTaskX website.

iTaskX
iTaskX is a professional project planning software for Mac

iTaskX highlights:

  • Stable solution with long track record
  • Well-integrated into the Mac ecosystem
  • Rich set of features
  • Standard and pro version available
  • Export and Import MS Project files
  • Reasonable pricing

Merlin Project

Merlin Project is widely used in the creative industry and in science and has been gaining traction in other industries as well. The solution has been on the market for over 15 years, which means we are looking at a pretty evolved and well-supported product. This is a must if you intend to use the project management software for business purposes.

In terms of its functional scope, Merlin Project has all the tools you need to manage projects of any size. Task planning with dependencies, setting milestones and calculating your schedule (and critical path) are the steps you usually start with. On an advanced level, Merlin also allows you to conduct resource planning or to perform an Earned Value Analysis to assess the actual status of your project.

Merlin Project
Merlin Project for Mac combines advanced features under an easy-to-use user interface

A nice extension that I haven’t seen in other PM apps for the Mac is the mind map feature. It can be useful for brainstorming necessary tasks and deliverables, risks or potential stakeholders in a project stakeholder analysis, just to give you a few ideas.

Another interesting thing about Merlin is that it supports hybrid project management. Apart from the waterfall-style Gantt view planning, you can also create Kanban boards for your agile projects.

Merlin Project highlights:

  • Stable solution with long track record
  • iOS app available
  • Fully compatible with MS Project
  • Mind map feature
  • Supports Kanban boards for agile projects

OmniPlan – nice design with advanced features

If you’re a Mac veteran, you’ve probably  heard of Omni Group — the company behind OmniPlan. Omni Group has a strong position in the Apple world, and their graphics tool OmniGraffle is considered one of the best charting tools on the Mac. What about OmniPlan, their project management solution?

OmniPlan is a professional-grade project management software that comes with a beautiful user interface (great UX is one of the trademarks of Omni Group products). The functional scope of OmniPlan includes project planning and creating Gantt charts, progress and cost tracking as well as resource allocation.

OmniPlan
OmniPlan is a well-designed project management software for the Mac

The software makes resource planning for your team really easy, because you can show people’s calendars in OmniPlan to see with one glance when people are available.

OmniPlan highlights:

  • Mature project management application for the Mac
  • Great user interface
  • Compatible with MS Project
  • Advanced features like Earned Value Analysis or Monte Carlo simulations
  • iOS app available
  • Supports many languages

Project Planning Pro

Project Planning Pro is a project, task and resource management app for Mac OS X. The app’s focus is to provide an easy-to-use visualization, planning and management environment for project managers. That being said, the software offers the most needed functionality for planning and coordinating projects.

Projects can be scheduled and monitored using three different views, including a calendar, Gantt and critical path view. Dependencies can be entered using the typical constraints like finish-to-start, start-to-start, finish-to-finish and start-to-finish.

Project Planning Pro
Project Planning Pro Gantt chart screen on the Mac

Project Planning Pro highlights:

  • MS Project compatible
  • Send email notification to resources for status updates
  • Import plans from Microsoft Project via Dropbox, Box, Email and iTunes
  • iOS and Android app available

ProjectLibre

ProjectLibre claims to be the leading open source alternative to Microsoft Project. While we can’t verify their market share numbers, we know that many renowned organizations — particularly in the government and nonprofit sector — successfully manage their projects with ProjectLibre.

The open source tool resembles Microsoft Project in a lot of ways. This is a big advantage because any user transitioning over from the Windows and MS Project world will quickly become familiar with the processes in ProjectLibre.

ProjectLibre for Mac
ProjectLibre’s user interface is very similar to MS Project

In terms of functionality, ProjectLibre provides a solid Gantt planning interface which allows you to quickly draw up project schedules, even for large projects. Once you have your schedule and dependencies set up, you can assign resources, plan your budget and make your plan look nicer using color coded task bars. Besides Gantt charts, you can also work with network diagrams or WBS and RBS charts to structure and detail project work.

Being an open source tool, OpenLibre is developed and supported by a large user community. If you are fine going without a software vendor who can offer you premium support at defined service levels, then ProjectLibre is definitely an excellent solution for planning and tracking your project portfolio.

ProjectLibre highlights:

  • Stable and widely-used tool with a large support community
  • Compatible with Microsoft Project
  • Nominated as “Best of Open Source” by InfoWorld Magazine
  • Clean and easy-to-use interface
  • Advanced tools like Earned Value Costing and resource histograms
  • Free for commercial use

Conclusion

There are many good project management solutions available for the Mac, but most tools are aimed at individual users or smaller teams. Sharing is not so easy because the tools require a desktop installation. Some of the options like Merlin are suitable for larger organizations, though. Also, if you want to use MS Project in your loved Apple environment, you can still run MS Project on your Mac using a virtual Windows machine.

If you are looking for a project management app specifically for your iPhone or iPad, check out the numerous project management apps on the App Store.

Whatever direction you want to go, we recommend you take some time for trying out the different alternatives. Then you can choose a solution that works well for your team.

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