Create Killer Gantt Charts on a Mac - No MS Project Required

Smartsheet Contributor Diana Ramos

April 16, 2019

If you’re looking for a way to run Microsoft Project on a Mac, unfortunately, you’re going to find that this isn’t possible. MS Project wasn’t built for Mac operating systems, meaning it won’t work on any Mac computer you’re using.

However, there is an easy way to solve this problem so you can continue to create powerful project management tools - like Gantt charts, which can help you track project tasks against a predetermined timeline - without having to give up your Mac computer.

The solve is easier than trying to run MS Project on your Mac, and it requires little effort to get started. Smartsheet enables you to import all MSP documents into its familiar, easy-to-use interface so you can keep working on your projects in a collaborative, Mac-friendly tool. It’s free to try, so you can test out how easy it is to track and manage your projects using your Mac computer.

How to Use MS Project on a Mac

If you’re interested in using MS Project, but are also working on a Mac computer, the most efficient, user-friendly solution to this common problem is Smartsheet.

Smartsheet integrates seamlessly on both Mac and PC operating systems, so you can manage, track, and report on your projects from anywhere, on any device. Smartsheet enables you to import all MS Project files directly, so you won’t miss a beat.

You can also choose from a variety of pre-built templates to help manage additional project details, like budgets, resources, inventory, and tasks. To get started, follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Sign Up for Your Free Trial

To get started on editing and managing your MS Project files using your Mac computer, sign up for your free Smartsheet trial to discover a collaborative, real-time way to manage your projects, from ideation to completion.

It’s free for 30 days, so you can try out the tool, import your existing MS Project files, and test out the many project management capabilities, like Gantt charts, Kanban boards, calendar view, and more.

Step 2: Import Your Microsoft Project Files

Once you’ve signed up for your free trial, log in to your new Smartsheet account and follow the below steps to import your existing MPP files into Smartsheet.

1. First, navigate to the ‘+’ icon on the left hand navigation bar. From there, select the Import button.


Import MS Project Files

2. You will be brought to a screen that allows you to select what type of file you want to import. Select Microsoft Project.


Select MS Project

3. A pop-up window will appear, prompting you with a tip box that details helpful tricks to remember as you import your file, and tips to help you get started.


Tips to Import MS Project Files

4. Then, in the Import window, select which MPP file you would like to import from your computer, name it, and click Continue.


Select Files to Import

5. The MPP file will appear as a new sheet on the Home tab in the left panel.

Step 3: Start Planning, Tracking, and Managing Projects in Smartsheet

Edit, customize, and continue to manage and track your projects using Smartsheet, which offers greater functionality, including easier user adoption, flexible views, like Gantt, grid, Kanban card, and calendar, interactive Gantt capabilities, mobile accessibility, and more.

For more information on additional MS Project alternatives, visit this article, which details what to look for in your alternative tool, and how using a Mac doesn’t need to inhibit your ability to create effective PM solutions.


How to Create a Gantt Chart on a Mac

Gantt charts are one of the most popular project management tools to use when looking to effectively plan, organize, and track a project, and all of its components. If you’re looking to create a Gantt chart on your Mac OS, visit this article for step-by-step instructions and a quick tutorial video.

10 Essential Features You Need in a Gantt Chart Software for a Mac

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1.    Create Timelines:

This sounds like a basic feature, but timelines are at the heart of a Gantt chart and should work the way you do. When creating timelines, they should handle dependencies, which let you identify when one task needs to be completed before another one can start. It should also handle predecessor tasks - a feature that lets you create dependencies between tasks. Look for an option that automatically updates timelines as events change in the project.




Gantt Timeline Smartsheet



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2.     Import/Export Multiple File Formats:

Not everyone you work with is using the same program as you, so be sure the Gantt chart software for Mac you select can support multiple file formats. Since Microsoft Project is such a widely adopted program, Gantt chart software for Macs should import and export Microsoft Project files. It should also import and export other popular file formats such as Adobe PDF and PNG image files. This allows you to both print and share the Gantt chart to others that may not have the same software.




How to import file to Smartsheet



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3.    Sync With Cloud Services:

With so much work done in the cloud today, select a Gantt chart program that syncs with popular cloud services such as iCloud, Google Drive, and Dropbox. One of the benefits of saving and accessing a Gantt chart from the cloud is that you’ll be able to access it on web-enabled devices, so you don’t need to be at the office to check on the status of a project. If you use a different cloud service, the program you pick should sync with it as well.






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4.    Create Calendars:

A Gantt chart offers a great high-level overview of a project, but some project managers prefer to track deadlines using a calendar view. Many programs provide the option of viewing the Gantt chart as a calendar, but it would be more useful if it could integrate with the calendar app you already use. Whether you use Google Calendar or Apple’s iCal to manage your schedule, the Gantt chart software should support calendar overlays (appointments in Google Calendar or iCal can be added to the Gantt chart) and the ability to update tasks from those calendar apps.



Smartsheet Calendar



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5.    Customize Views:

One way to make Gantt charts really work for you is to customize them to suit your needs. Perhaps you want to select or change the colors of the bars or add new shades to represent different parts of the project. Can you set-up automatic alerts when a deadline for a task is approaching or has passed? You should also be able to annotate tasks by adding text to the chart. Not everyone working on a project needs to see the big picture; the Gantt chart program you select should allow you to create custom views for different team members.



Smartsheet Publish Calendar



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6.     Share and Collaborate with Team Members:

A Gantt chart isn’t just for project managers, it should be a useful tool for all of the team members working on a project. That’s why sharing features are an essential requirement. Be wary of programs that require you to buy a license for others to view or use the Gantt chart. This feature needs to be built-in. Team members should have the ability to leave comments and chat with others looking at the chart. With that in mind, in addition to working on a Mac, the program should support multiple platforms such as Linux and Windows. This will give people access to the Gantt chart regardless of the type of computer they use.



Share Smartsheet



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7.    Integrate with iPhone and iPad:

If you’re a Mac user, chances are you have either an iPad or iPhone that you’d like to use to track a project. Make sure the option you choose allows you to view Gantt charts on your mobile devices. If you rely heavily on your iPhone or iPad, then look for a solution that also allows you to edit the chart on those products. Make sure to ask which versions of the OS are supported. 







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8.     Drag and Drop for Schedules:

This comes down to how you enter information on your Gantt chart and general ease of use. Once your tasks are created, see if you can drag a specific task on the chart to change the duration or the due date. How easy is it to create dependencies between tasks? Can you just drag a line between them or do you need to enter more information?







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9.    Create and Modify Milestones:

A milestone is a marker denoting a major part of any project. That can be an event or a task completion. Either way, it’s essential that you have the capability to easily add milestones in order to visually track major moments of the project cycle. Adding a milestone shouldn’t affect the other events in the chart, however, you should be able to associate tasks with it.







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10.   Generate Detailed Reports:

Reporting is key to any project. Gantt charts contain a ton of information that you’ll want to export in a form that allow you to easily track the status of a project, see which teams are (and aren't) on track, and make adjustments as needed. Look for a solution where you can create project status reports. Better yet, it should let you automatically generate reports that are then sent to you on a regular basis. If other people on the team need to see the report but don’t have the same software, make sure you can export the report in a format that works for them, such as PDF or Excel.

Most Gantt software programs include dozens of other helpful features. Look for a program with an intuitive search tool, so you can quickly find additional useful features that will help you work more efficiently.



Generate Smartsheet Report

Use this quick checklist to see whether or not the Gantt chart software you're considering has the best features you'll need to effectively manage your projects.


10 Essential Features You Need in a Gantt Chart Software

Download the Checklist


Key Considerations When Choosing a Gantt Chart Software and the Benefits of Using One

Gantt chart software has historically been relegated to MS Project, but this is no longer the case. In fact, people tend to run into some general, widespread challenges with MS Project, specifically regarding cost, version control, and security and accessibility features — on top of it being incompatible with the Mac OS.

There are many Gantt chart software options on the market today, but choosing the one that integrates into your existing processes and provides the levels of support and detail that you need is critical to the success of your projects — and to your ROI.

Learn more about top features to consider as you search for a Gantt chart software.
Visit Our Gantt Chart Software Page

Additional Project Management Resources for Mac

Now that you have a way to manage projects and create Gantt charts on your Mac device, we've got additional resources, including guides and templates, to help you better track, manage, and report on your projects from start and finish. 

Discover a Better, More Collaborative Way to Manage, Track, and Report on Projects

In order to run the most effective projects and deliver them on time and on budget, you need a collaborative, real-time way to track all project details, from beginning to end. To do so, you need a project management solution that provides an easy way to update project details, manage resources, track budget, and keep all stakeholders in the loop.

One such solution is Smartsheet, a work execution platform that enables enterprises and teams to get from idea to impact — fast. Top project management leaders rely on Smartsheet to help align the right people, resources, and schedules to get work done.

Use Smartsheet to create consistent project elements, increase speed, and improve collaboration with scalable options that fit individual work preferences. Hold yourself and your team accountable, improve visibility into team priorities, and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

Try Smartsheet to discover a collaborative, real-time way to manage your projects, from ideation to completion.


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