24 Free Mac Design Programs

Last year the most successful post on this blog was 45 Best Freeware Design Programs on PC – a hand-picked list of free design programs for the PC. Now the time has come for MAC fans. The funny thing is, before starting, I thought “Well, maybe the options won’t be as prolific, since Mac has a smaller piece of the market share cake.” But I was pleasantly surprised–the scene for free design applications for Macs is as interesting as the PCs. Maybe not as big, but just as varied and of good quality.

Indeed, you will find at least one excellent option for many designs fields. There’s Maya for 3D animation, Archicad for Building modeling, or GIMP and Inkspace for bitmap and vector editing. Definitely worth checking out. Sure, it’s not going to be the Adobe Creative Suite Killer but I am quite sure you will find some pearls out there.


Lego Digital Designer

Lego Digital Designer

With this free Digital Designer software you can build absolutely anything using virtual Lego bricks right on your computer. Then you can buy the real bricks to build your creation online in Lego Factory, or you can print out an inventory of bricks and take it to any Legoland theme park or Lego Store. The latest version of LDD is 1.5 This version has increased stability and fixes a number of small bugs from version 1.4.

New in Version 2: Improved building experience, quicker brick selection, easier to connect bricks when building, new brick palette tool, more bricks, partly built models for easy start, new backgrounds, new UI, and more.

Overview | Download

Autodesk Maya Personal Learning Edition (OS X) 8.5

Autodesk Maya Personal Learning Edition

Maya Personal Learning Edition (PLE) is a special version of Autodesk® Maya® software, which provides free access to Maya for non-commercial use. It gives 3D graphics and animation students, industry professionals, and those interested in breaking into the world of computer graphics an opportunity to explore most aspects of the award-winning Autodesk® Maya® Complete software in a non-commercial capacity. The Maya Personal Learning Edition software is available for 32-bit Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional and Apple® Mac OS® X (for Macintosh Power PC or Intel-based Macintosh computers) operating systems.

Autodesk Maya PLE is based on Autodesk Maya 8.5.

Overview | Download

Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11

Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11

The ArchiCAD educational version is a fully-functional copy of the commercial version, with the only exception being that it prints a watermark-style logo onto all ArchiCAD project files created or opened with the ArchiCAD student version. You, as a student, will have at your fingertips the very same modeling solution – ArchiCAD – that you will encounter after graduation, used on the job, out there in the real, competitive market by great architects who have built their reputations with it. So, take a moment to read detailed description of ArchiCAD 11, to be clear just how this design tool can transform your approach to building modeling for a fun, satisfying and successful architectural career.

Overview | Download

Authoring Tools

Simple CSS 2

Simple CSS 2

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a way to specify the styles of fonts and other page elements on your site. It makes it easier for you to update styles too, because when done right, you only need to make a change to one file, the CSS file, to update the styles on multiple pages and elements. Another bonus is that your visitor’s browser needs to load less data per page, helping you reduce your data transfer usage while serving the same information. That means you’ll be able to accommodate more site visitors without having to spend more on data transfer. Your pages will also load faster. To help you work with CSS, we’ve found a tool called Simple CSS, which runs on Macs, Windows and Linux. Simple CSS allows you to create cascading style sheets from scratch, and/or modify existing ones, using a familiar point-and-click interface.

Version 2.0 includes faster WYSIWYG previews. Version 2.0 includes faster WYSIWYG preview

Overview | Download

Blender (PowerPC) 2.46

Blender (PowerPC) 2.46

Blender is the open-source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback. It is available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Version 2.44 offers numerous bug fixes. Version 2.46 includes cloth and fur simulation, physics caching and baking, shading, glossy reflection and refraction, raytraced soft shadows, improved rendering features, and more.

Overview | Download

Scribus v1.3.3.11

Scribus v1.3.3.11

Scribus is an open-source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.

Overview | Download

Colorate 1.1

Colorate 1.1

Colorate is a utility for creation of harmonized color palettes and color schemes, aimed at everyone from hobbyists to professional designers.

Colorate fully automatizes the palette generation from a particular color swatch, selected from the standard Color Panel, dragged from other applications, or obtained from an image through the integrated Image Analyze feature.

Overview | Download

Front End Digital Media WorkShop 2.0

Front End Digital Media WorkShop 2.0

Front End Digital Media Workshop harnesses the power of QuickTime to bring you powerful batch-based conversion of sound, video, and image files. Resize, resample, join, split, trim, basic edits, and selective conversions via marked I/O points are some of the tools. All in an environment that provides powerful play back features including variable speed, slow motion, full screen playback and video to image frame capture. Batch lists can be saved and also used as playlists. Some of the dozens of supported formats include: MP4, MOV, AIFF, 3GP, 3GP2, WAV, AU, AVI (basic codecs), JPEG, PICT, PNG, PSD, BMP, and TIFF. QuickTime video filters and effects are also available.

Overview | Download

HyperEngine-AV 1.5

HyperEngine-AV 1.5

Multimedia authoring software for capturing, editing, organizing, processing, and exporting video, audio, and text to create DVD quality movies and slide shows. Features a groundbreaking “trackless” workspace that allows the free manipulation of an unlimited number of video, audio, stills, and text tracks. Editable transitions are created automatically when video clips are dragged on top of each other. The full palette of QuickTime effects is available. HyperEngine-AV comes with twelve studio-quality effects from Arboretum’s Hyperprism suite of audio processors. More can be added by purchasing a license, including Ray Gun for cleaning up scratchy vinyl, tape hiss, and hum.

HyperEngine-AV also offers text features to display credits, section titles, or karaoke lyrics with fully editable font, size, type, color, style, alignment, and scroll direction. HyperEngine-AV is for both novice digital moviemakers and professionals alike.

Overview & Download


DAZ Studio

DAZ Studio

DAZ Studio is a feature rich 3D figure posing and animation tool that enables users of any skill level to easily create stunning digital imagery. Whether you’re a 3D newbie or an avid 3D artist, you’ll find DAZ Studio is the perfect tool for designing unique digital art and animation with virtual people, animals, props, vehicles, backgrounds and more. Experience total creative freedom with DAZ Studio and express yourself in 3D like never before.

Overview | Download

Bryce 5.5

Bryce 5.5

Create breathtaking realistic 3D landscapes and animations with DAZ 3D Bryce 5.5. The easy user interface simplifies the design process for a novice or the seasoned professional. Start out building or importing a landscape as impressive as the Grand Canyon. Populate it with buildings, people or any other object you create or from the extensive DAZ 3D library. The Light Lab provides you robust control over your sunsets, moonlight nights or high-noon ambiance. Tree Lab allows you to plant your landscape like the gardens of Versailles. You’ll have to register your copy of Bryce 5.5 on the publishers web-site to gain access to your free Bryce serial number.

Overview & Download

Google SketchUp 6

Google SketchUp 6

Google SketchUp is software that you can use to create, export and present 3D models. Whether you want to design a new deck for your house, build models for Google Earth, or teach geometry to your fifth-graders, you can use SketchUp to see your ideas in 3D. And when you’re done, you can export an image, make a movie or print out a view of what you made.

Overview | Download



POV-Ray is a three-dimensional ray tracing engine. It takes information you supply and simulates the way light interacts with the objects you’ve defined, creating stunning 3D pictures.
Overview | Download

Gnuplot 4

Gnuplot 4

Gnuplot is a portable command-line driven interactive data and function plotting utility for UNIX, IBM OS/2, MS Windows, DOS, Macintosh, VMS, Atari and many other platforms. It was originally intended as to allow scientists and students to visualize mathematical functions and data. It does this job pretty well, but has grown to support many non-interactive uses, including web scripting and integration as a plotting engine for third-party applications like Octave. Gnuplot supports many different types of terminals: interactive screen terminals (with mouse and hotkey functionality), pen plotters (like hpgl), printers (including postscript and many color devices), and printings to output file as vectorial pseudo-devices like LaTeX, metafont, pdf, svg, or bitmap png. Gnuplot is easily extensible to include new devices.

Overview | Download

Comipro Plus 4.0.2

Comipro Plus 4.0.2

Comipro Plus is a cartoon production software. You can produce the cartoon work with the kind of feeling which compiles the document with the word processor as the material using the picture and the photograph. Version 4.0.20 may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.

Overview & Download



Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

Overview | Download

iPhoto 4.0.3

iPhoto 4.0.3

Whether you have twenty or twenty thousand digital photos, iPhoto 4 keeps track of them all, automatically organizing them so you can find them fast. Lightning fast. Easy to use, iPhoto puts you in charge of your photographs–helping you import them, organize them into albums, enhance their appearance, as well as, share them in print, via email, over the web and in stunning coffee-table books.

This update addresses several issues with using multiple text rules in Smart Albums and it also eliminates some problems with creating iPhoto books in the German and Dutch languages. Additionally, 4.0.3 keeps users informed about new version of iPhoto that have become available.

Overview & Download

NIH Image 1.62

iPhoto 4.0.3

NIH Image can acquire, display, edit, enhance, analyze, and animate images. It reads and writes TIFF, PICT, PICS, and MacPaint files, providing compatibility with many applications, including programs for scanning, processing, editing, publishing, and analyzing images. NIH Image supports many standard image-processing functions, such as contrast enhancement, density profiling, smoothing, sharpening, edge detection, median filtering, and spatial convolution with user-defined kernels. NIH Image can be used to measure area, mean, centroid, and perimeter. It also performs automated particle analysis and provides tools for measuring path lengths and angles. Spatial calibration is supported to provide real-world area and length measurements. Version 1.62 fixes bugs and improves compatibility with PowerPC machines.

Overview | Download

Goldberg 2.3.2

Goldberg 2.3.2

Goldberg is a freeware image and movie viewer with image-editing capabilities and support for applying QuickTime and other effects. It offers rotation capabilities, free zooming, and undo support. Version 2.3.2 fixes a problem with reading multilayer image files as Photoshop documents. It also fixes a problem with corrupted Preferences files, and the PDF item in the pop-up format in the export dialog box has been removed.

Overview & Download

Image Tricks 2.3.3

Image Tricks 2.3.3

Image Tricks is an image editing application that allows you to easily edit and apply various effects and filters to your photos and images. This program allows modification of around 50 core image effects and filters, import over 20 image formats (TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PDF, EPS among them), export to TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and GIF formats, resize images, and iPhoto integration.

Overview | Download

Inkscape 0.45

Image Tricks 2.3.3

Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats. Inkscape’s main goal is to create a powerful and convenient drawing tool fully compliant with XML, SVG, and CSS standards. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development process, and by making sure Inkcape is easy to learn, to use, and to extend.

Overview | Download

GIMP 2.4


GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

GIMP is written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms. But basically the same code also runs on MS Windows and Mac OS X.



There are various ways to obtain and install GIMP for your Macintosh. In addition to the source code distribution here on www.gimp.org, there are various alternative sources for packaged and even commercially distributed CDs, which aim to make installation and setup an easier task. These include:



iFastViewer is an easy and fast viewer for your pictures with optimized interface. It allows to select photos “on-the-fly” and locate them in the Finder (with move, copy, and delete options). The program code is also available under General Public Licence.

Overview & Download

Media Management

JAlbum 8.0

JAlbum 8.0

JAlbum allows you to create nice-looking photo galleries for the Web. You simply select or drag and drop folders containing images or movie files onto JAlbum, and it creates thumbnails and HTML pages to publish your images as a gallery or as a picture slide show. The galleries are based on various templates, and their appearance can be further customized by advanced users. The application’s additional features include support for IPTC/EXIF data, style sheets, lossless image manipulation, pluggable image filters, and a built-in FTP/SFTP client.

Version 8 adds full drag and drop support, image-editing tools, faster image scaling, and many other new features and fixes.

Overview | Download


61 Responses to 24 Free Mac Design Programs

  1. stelt June 17, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    I see “SVG” mentioned with only 2 programs, but i know more of them have (some) support. More SVG via the SVG link resource: http://svg.startpagina.nl

  2. Kevin Design June 19, 2008 at 1:01 am #

    Thanks for the list, there are one or two that may come in useful. Im pretty new to the mac after always being a pc user (i was the devil i know) – thanks again =)

  3. Marketing Nick June 20, 2008 at 12:43 am #

    Daz looks pretty quality, is it possible to import the 3D objects into flash, meaning what is Daz’s export capabilities?

    Cheers for the list.

  4. Firebubble Web Design June 20, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    Hey cool blog, apple have the best design platform.
    I’ve only used blender before and that is an amazing piece of kit considering its free, highly recommended.

  5. Green desinging June 23, 2008 at 12:54 am #

    This list is excelent, i had no idea there where so many free programmes out there.

  6. Stew July 3, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for the shortcuts for this fine programs I am using at school

  7. Internet Marketing Man July 12, 2008 at 2:23 am #

    JAlbum is just what i have been looking for, creating a web gallery at the moment using flickr, but is restricted to sets etc. Im going to gove Jalbum a go.

  8. Internet Marketing Man July 12, 2008 at 2:28 am #

    Also i have come across GIMP a lot lately, comparing the program with adobe flash for illustrations. digitalpoint forum a good place to discuss such things.

  9. Paul Baines July 18, 2008 at 7:34 am #

    Excellent selection – I am downloading half of these now!

  10. Compromise Gloucester July 24, 2008 at 7:18 am #

    legend, mao a man of his word.

  11. paulodiniz August 3, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    thanks for list, im enjoy now!!!!!!

  12. docae August 3, 2008 at 8:38 pm #


  13. Free Tutorials August 21, 2008 at 8:26 pm #

    Thanks for this big list. It seems mac users have advantage over windows users…. thanks for the list..

  14. Acoustic Music Leicester August 22, 2008 at 5:26 am #

    Thanks for the list of free programs, great article.

  15. Toni October 9, 2008 at 4:19 am #

    The info you posted about iPhoto is a bit imperfect. The program is supplied with every new mac (I believe), and I’m afraid it’s not available as a full download, but as an update of a previous version. Current version is 7.1.4 (maybe not supported in older macs).
    It should be listed under “Media management”; however it does allow some limited but powerful image editing!

  16. quality bathrooms designer October 13, 2008 at 5:02 am #

    Really cool list of programs, Cheers!

  17. ongrel_13 November 13, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    This is great! Thanks for thinking of us MAC users.

  18. marcos paez January 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    esta muy bueno el articulo y muy bien elavorado

  19. Juddh April 25, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Just what I was looking for. Thanks

    btw “limited but powerful” ???????

  20. Max June 8, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    A great free photo viewer for the Mac is Just Looking http://chipmunkninja.com/tag/justlooking

    If you open the thumbnail viewer alongside the main image it will show all images in the selected folder. Very fast and stable.

    For the record even at the date of posting your iPhoto version must have been way out of date. Its now in v8 (09).

  21. tony August 20, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    I have just changed from PC to Mac.
    Can anyone tell me where I can get a free WYSIWYG web design

    thank you


  22. mao August 20, 2009 at 7:13 am #

    @Tony I made a research for some free WYSIWYG editors there are quite a few. Hope you find something useful


  23. Steve November 28, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    Awesome list man thanks!! :D

  24. Liminal Graphic Design Cornwall July 5, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Great selection, Gimp is a great image editor that I recommend to clients who don’t have Photoshop.

    Great selection of programs here though, especially the 3D ones! Thanks for the post.

  25. Bid 2 Improve July 9, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    These all look really good, thanks for sharing them.

  26. Denver Website Designs July 17, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    This is really a good list for the MAC users. There are lesser number of graphic softwares for use in MAC as compared to Windoes where we have so many good tools..I think I can use Scribus & Colorate to design my website with ease now…thanks a lot really…

  27. Liverpool Builders July 23, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    thanks for this great list of free software, these programs will help graphic designers

  28. download icons August 1, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    Good graphics and animation is what makes people come for more.

  29. mohammadreza moshksar August 2, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    very very gooooooooooooood web site

  30. rajesh Kuumar Gupta September 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    pls. send these program free

  31. Student Brands September 16, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Thanks for the great programs and the links will come in handy, Thanks again

  32. mike September 18, 2010 at 11:34 pm #


  33. James SEO July 18, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Brilliant list I have heard of a few of these already but there is some little gems in there. For a freelancer software like this is vital for us as some of the premium versions are stupid money.

  34. Ajmer Sandhu August 5, 2011 at 1:41 am #


  35. VoxStudio August 28, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Great article! thanks for sharing

  36. al September 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    do you have any interior design apps?

  37. mao September 26, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    @al sorry I dont have any

  38. Dan October 25, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I tried to download Graphisoft ArchiCAD 11, looks like they’re are up to version 15-
    do your recommendations hold up with these versions? is there are comparable free version?

    thank you!

  39. Sonia November 11, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Hey, guys,
    These programs are fantastic! I love using them, especially when you know that anything here that is designed for PCs was also made for a Macintosh!
    By The Way, I am Sonia from soniaandnastya.weebly.com
    Check it out!

  40. Jupiter May 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Nice article, Google SketchUp is a great program. You might mention Sweet Home 3D next time.


  41. Bmccall May 26, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Inkscape is a very promising vector drawing program similar to Illustrator. It has many excellent qualities but it’s lack of support for overprinting, spot color, and a few other things, means it’s not ready for prime time in the printing world.

  42. Bmccall May 26, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Inkscape is a very promising vector drawing program similar to Illustrator. It has many excellent qualities but it’s lack of support for overprinting, spot color, and a few other things, means it’s not ready for prime time in the printing world.

  43. Bmccall May 26, 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Inkscape is a very promising vector drawing program similar to Illustrator. It has many excellent qualities but it’s lack of support for overprinting, spot color, and a few other things, means it’s not ready for prime time in the printing world.

  44. Leticia Costa June 3, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    How about iStudio?

  45. Apps_iphone July 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Interesting list. But i don’t see Pixelmator. A nice tool to use :


  46. John Applesead August 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm #



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