29 Best Graphic Design Software for Mac — Free & Paid [2024]

Graphic Design


Marcelo Beilin  (Updated Apr 6, 2024 )

In this article, we’ll go over the best graphic design software for Mac laptops and desktops on the market today (the preferred computer choice for the vast majority or professional designers), ranked by popularity and grouped by type.

But first, here are our editor's top 10 graphic design software tools:

Top 10 Graphic Design Software for Mac

In the world of graphic design, your choice of software tools can be a make-or-break deal for your work.

And as a designer, you have to be choosy about what graphic design software you use because it'll have a big impact on how your work looks and feels.

Disclosure: Although I receive affiliate compensation at no additional cost to you to support this site that compensation in no way influences my recommendations, which are strictly informed by my 10+ years of online business experience consulting for clients large and small. My aim is to always recommend tools that offer the best return for your investment (for more details, read my Affiliate Disclosure). 

What is the Best Graphic Design Software?

Best Overall:


Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editing program that allows you to create and edit professional-grade graphics. It has been the de-facto industry standard for graphic designers over several decades.

It comes with a wide range of tools and object libraries to help you create anything from flyers, signs, posters and even billboards, to more complex digital projects such as websites, games and apps.

This advanced graphic-design tool gives you the power to be creative on every level — from basic techniques like drawing freehand with pencils & paint brushes all the way up to highly specialized skills such as creating 3D objects — in order to produce stunning visuals for all kinds of uses and applications.

Key Features:

  • You can use pre-made brushes, customize your own or purchase third-party brushes
  • Ability to export your work in a large variety of formats
  • Can handle very large designs with a high degree of complexity that would make some competitors' software crash
  • Wide range of image customizations and options
  • Most advanced vector graphics engine in the industry
  • Seamless editing across other Adobe programs, like Photoshop and InDesign
  • Frequent over-the-air updates with new features and tweaks to existing ones

2. InDesign

Best Graphic Design Software for Layout Design

Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing software application for creating, designing and delivering printed materials such as brochures, flyers, posters as well as books, magazines, booklets (e.g. annual reports) and all forms of printed and digital marketing collateral

You can use the built-in layout editor to enter new text or modify existing content, rearrange paragraphs and chapters, delete words or sentences, insert headings and subheadings, adjust line spacing, margins, gutters, white space, images, etc.

InDesign is the tool of choice among magazine and book publishers, marketing departments and graphic design businesses that need to produce top-quality layouts on a regular basis.

Key Features:

  • Full control over white space, kerning, justification, leading and all other aspects of typesetting
  • Powerful Prepress controls for pre-flighting, handling overprints and trapping
  • Ultra precise object placement and control
  • Powerful PDF generation
  • Ability to create templates for a large variety of elements such as page layouts, text styles, and spacing preferences
  • Full integration with Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Ability to create color themes
  • Great control of text composition and flow, including spacing, kerning, leading, text grouping, hyphenation control, and so on

3. Photoshop

Best Graphic Design Software for Photo Manipulation

Adobe Photoshop is the market-leading software application for editing digital images and photographs. It offers a wide variety of features for correcting, enhancing, and manipulating images.

It can be used to adjust colors, remove blemishes or wrinkles, change the shape of objects, add, remove or clone visual content, get rid of red eye, and a lot more.

In fact, Photoshop is the most widely used image editor in the world today, equally adopted by professional photographers, graphic designers, artists and hobbyists alike.

Key Features:

  • Advanced brush customization
  • Integration with other Adobe products
  • Advanced raw photo and image editing and manipulation
  • Advanced image layer management
  • Advanced color correction and color grading
  • AI editing with object removal
  • Multiple file format support
  • Layer based image manipulation and editing
  • Skin corrections - blurring, sharpening, contouring
  • Impressive library of presets and plugins, including brushes, masks, shapes, color palettes, effects and productivity plugins.

4. Creative Cloud Express

Best Graphic Design Software for Speed of Design

Adobe Creative Cloud Express allows you to quickly and easily create standout content from a library of thousands of gorgeous templates without needing to have any prior graphic design experience.

In addition, you get access to a large selection of assets for social media content, logos, the entire Adobe stock royalty-free photo collection and the massive library of Adobe fonts, all available at your fingertips.

Key Features:

  • Choose from over 20,000 licensed fonts from the Adobe Fonts library
  • Animate text and photos
  • Built-in remote collaboration feature
  • Trim, crop, resize, and convert videos
  • Upload a logo, fonts and colors and apply them to any design with one click
  • 1,000s of templates for social media graphics, stories, and thumbnails, as well as posters, flyers, business cards and logos
  • Availability of royalty-free Adobe Stock photos, images, icons, backgrounds and design assets
  • Availability of community designs
  • Intuitive interface

5. CorelDraw

Best Graphic Design Software for Vector Graphics

CorelDraw is a vector image software program along the lines of Adobe Illustrator. It lets you create graphics, logos and other visuals with varying degrees of complexity for print or digital applications.

One of the things that makes CorelDraw popular is its versatility. You can use it to create simple designs quickly but also complex large-scale projects that would make a lot of its lesser competitors' crash during execution. 

While many graphic design professionals use CorelDraw for day to day work, it has a very intuitive interface that it's easy to learn, so you don't need any prior experience to start taking advantage of it right away.

Additionally, this software has been around for a long time and there are loads of tutorials and other resources available online if you want to drill into very specific use cases.

Key Features:

  • Easy to learn
  • Multi page layout functions
  • Seamless integration with CorelPhoto
  • High quality bitmap image editing
  • High quality Vector Graphics creation, management, and editing
  • Automatic tracing of bitmaps
  • Drag and drop importing of PDF as vector objects
  • Infinitely scalable Vector-based graphics
  • Export formats include PDFx-1a and multiple levels of EPS and AI compatibility and raster-based formats with full color and antialiasing control

6. Corel Painter

Best Graphic Design Software for Digital Art

Are you looking for a great digital painting tool for your graphic design portfolio? Painter is one of the world’s most powerful digital art programs.

From its inception in 2007 it's revolutionized the way you create art by allowing you to work in any medium simulating the best of traditional media.

Painter has tons of online tutorials to teach you everything you need to know at your own pace, from basic skills like drawing shapes to more complex techniques like using textures with brushes.

Key Features:

  • Brush accelerator
  • Brush library with 35 categories
  • 100s of realistic brushes, superior blending, and versatile art tools
  • AI-driven image transformations
  • Complete brush, canvas and color control
  • Symmetry and composition tools
  • Customize brushes, textures and palettes to specific needs

7. Fresco

Best Graphic Design Software for Realistic Digital Painting

If your favorite medium is the canvas, you'll be able to produce professional quality artwork with Adobe Fresco.

With the world’s largest collection of vector and raster brushes, plus revolutionary live brushes that deliver a completely natural painting and drawings experience, this software is ideal for artists, illustrators, animators, sketchers and anyone else who enjoys drawing and painting.

Key Features:

  • Comes with over 140 customizable brushes
  • Can import line art with transparent background
  • Supports unlimited layers with blending modes and layer grouping
  • Create simple animations with up to 4 layers

8. Affinity Designer

Best Photo Editing Software for Ease of Use

Affinity Designer is one of the top photo editors for Mac & Windows, combining high performance with an intuitive interface.

It has all the features you need to do highly detailed professional work, like vector drawing tools, advanced text handling, advanced layer and masks, undo/redo with over 8,000 back steps, and the ability to zoom in at 1 billion percent (yes, that 1,000,000,000%)!

Key Features:

  • Intuitive and easy to use, great for beginners
  • Great layer management
  • Can backup automatically to Creative Cloud account
  • Large number of brush types
  • Great color picker tool

9. Krita

Best Graphic Design Software for Sketching

Sketching is at the heart of any graphic design process, but it's often a struggle to find the right tools for the job. There are plenty of great sketching apps out there, but they're usually designed for one specific purpose. As soon as you need something else — like color or vector artwork — you have to start over from scratch.

Autodesk SketchBook combines all your sketching needs into a single app that works on both mobile and desktop platforms. Whether you're working in pencil and paper or using digital media, its powerful suite of drawing tools will help you create amazing sketches quickly and easily.

SketchBook is perfect for doodling ideas, brainstorming concepts and creating finished artwork. You can also use it to create comics, storyboards, animations and more. It’s fast, powerful and yet easy to use. You can sketch with pencils, pens, markers and brushes.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive layout and vast array of brushes
  • Animation capabilities
  • Free open-source product
  • Light on memory and CPU utilization
  • Powerful alternative to Photoshop

10. GIMP

Best Free Graphic Design Software

GIMP is a free and open-source image editing software for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Described by many as the free alternative to Photoshop, it has a very intuitive interface and offers all the basic tools you would need in order to make common adjustments such as brightness/contrast or remove red-eye from an image.

One of Gimp's best features is its wide and ever expanding range of plugins which extend its capabilities far beyond what most people would ever need for basic photo manipulation. In fact, it can even run some popular Photoshop plugins directly without porting.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive and customizable interface
  • Advanced transformation, shear and alpha channel
  • Gradient editing
  • Image exporting in multiple formats
  • Free of charge and open-source
  • Light and multi-platform
  • Great user community

11. Inkspace

Best Graphic Design Software for Handdrawn Images and Notes

Paper is a unique medium. It's great for getting ideas out of your head and onto something you can easily share with others, but this doesn't always work as well when you need to transfer paper to digital devices.

You'll need to photograph, scan, OCR or otherwise digitize what you've drawn or written before you can edit it electronically and the results are often less than optimal.

Inkspace solves all these problems by letting you capture hand-written notes and instantly transforming them into text or turn sketches into vector graphics that you can edit with your favorite creative tools.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Support a large number of formats
  • Uses SVG format as native tool format
  • Free open source software
  • Multi-platform (Mac, Windows, Linux)
  • Great tutorials on website

12. Pixelmator Pro

Best Graphic Design Software for Image Enhancement

Pixelmator Pro is a powerful, full-featured image editor for the Mac.

It offers everything you need to create beautiful images, including a wide range of tools and features that make it easy to edit and enhance your images, including layer masks, adjustment layers, filters, and more.

While it's easy to use and learn, making it ideal for beginners, it's also packed with advanced features for pros.

Key Features:

  • Advanced photo editing for a fraction of the cost
  • Super user friendly
  • Advanced photo editing capabilities
  • Easy to use interface
  • Lightweight software

13. InkScape

Best Graphic Design Software for 2D Designs

InkScape is a professional quality vector graphics software program that runs on MacOS, Windows and Linux computers. You can use it for all your creative needs from designing web pages or logos to creating complex illustrations, icons, charts or maps.

With Inkscape you can easily create stunning 2D designs with text, shapes, images and patterns with an intuitive user interface that mimics a paper-based drawing tool.

The program also offers powerful editing tools such as node sculpting and interactive path finding along with many other features that make the creation of intricate drawings easy.

Key Features:

  • Free and Open-source (donations accepted)
  • Large number of input and output formats
  • Easy setup guide for onboarding
  • Smooth conversion from bitmap to vector space

14. Vectr

Best Free Vector Graphics Editor

Vectr is a free vector graphic design software that lets you create and edit vector graphics easily from start to finish.

It's a simple yet powerful web and desktop cross-platform tool that comes with a ton of features that make it perfect for creating professional-looking graphics.

You can use Vectr to create everything from simple logos and designs to complex illustrations and animations. Plus, there are loads of templates and preset designs available so you can get started right away.

Key Features:

  • Elegant and simple design, fast learning curve
  • Multiple export options
  • Free to use
  • Great built-in video tutorials

15. Gravit Designer

Best Graphic Design Software for Logo Design and Typography

Gravit Designer is a free full-featured vector graphic design tool with a simple and easy to use interface. It's perfect for creating drawings, logos, icons, typography, and illustrations across all platforms.

It also includes a huge library of shapes, symbols, and fonts that you can use to create professional looking designs in no time.

Key Features:

  • Free and paid versions
  • Multiple size templates
  • Wide selection of shapes, illustrations, icons, emojis, stickers, frames and lines
  • Wide selection of effects
  • Can save files on the desktop or cloud storage
  • Supports multiple file formats for import and export

3-D Graphic Design Tools:

16. ZBrush

Best Graphic Design Software for High-Quality 3D Modelling

ZBrush is a market-leading, powerful and intuitive software program to help you create high-quality digital sculpts, paintings, textures and 3D models for video games, film, TV, animation or any other digital project.

It's so advanced compared its competitors that many die-hard users claim that it must be made with alien tech.

In fact, ZBrush played a key role in the development of popular characters for such blokbuster movies as Avatar, Pacific Rim, the Avangers series and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Key Features:

  • Industry standard in 3D sculpting
  • Custom-made brushes and multimesh brushes
  • Noise sculpting
  • Automatic retopology

17. Autodesk Maya

Best Graphic Design Software for Complex Animations

If you're into 3D animation, Maya is an industry leading tool that makes it simple to create and edit complex animations with great effects.

This software is well known in the gaming and film industries and can easily handle modeling, shading and rendering for static images and animation.

Key Features:

  • Supports scripts and plugins
  • Powerful sculpting tool
  • Full-featured 3D package
  • Mash tool for rendering complex scenes
  • Geometry conversion option

18. Cinema 4D

Best Graphic Design Software for Life-Like 3D Graphics

Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation software that offers users powerful, intuitive tools to create amazing life-like 3D graphics.

It has been used to create everything from architectural renderings to character designs for movies and video games.

Cinema 4D's popularity is largely due to its user-friendly interface and wide range of features. In addition to standard 3D rendering capabilities, Cinema 4D also includes lots of useful tools for modeling, animating, texturing, and more.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive and easy to use interface
  • Clear and powerful manipulation tools
  • Effective use of hotkeys for 3D space navigation
  • Compatibility with plugins and render engines

19. Blender

Best Free Graphic Design Software for 3D Rendering

Blender 3D is a free and open source 3D modeling and rendering suite that supports modeling, sculpting, rigging, 3D and 2D animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, motion tracking and video editing.

It's great for creating models to be used in video games or other interactive applications. You can also use it as a tool to create concept art images, life-like 3D characters and can even help you process 3D objects for 3D printers.

Key Features:

  • Great for 3D modelling or sculpting
  • Free and open source platform
  • Easy to use interface
  • Supports simple animations
  • Accepts TGA, JPG, IRIS, HDRI and TIFF formats
  • Supports exports to multiple formats

20. SketchUp

Best Graphic Design Software for Architects and Product Designers

Sketchup enables users to create or model three-dimensional physical spaces and objects. It has a user-friendly interface and allows for quick and easy creation of complex three-dimensional structures.

The basic web version of the software is free for personal use, while more advanced features are available with the paid version.

In fact, over the years Sketchup has become a very popular tool with architects, builders, and other professionals in the building design industry.

It can be used to create models of buildings, furniture, landscapes, vehicles and other objects. The software can also be used to generate photo-realistic images of 3D models.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive infrastructure
  • Lightweight, fast and reliable
  • 3D visualization
  • Extensive 3D warehouse of free components
  • Large community that shares component models

21. DAZ 3D

Best Graphic Design Software for Game Design and Film

DAZ3D is a 3D rendering software that you can use to create life-like models and scenes. It's popular among digital artists because it has a wide range of features, it's easy to use and it generates high-quality outputs.

You can use DAZ3D to create characters, props, scenes and animations. The software comes with a variety of built-in tools for modeling, texturing, lighting and animating your creations.

DAZ3D is free to use, but you can purchase 3D models, assets, add-ons and plugins for more advanced features.

Key Features:

  • Realistic human figures with facial expression interface
  • Built-in flexing of major muscle groups
  • GPU accelerated real-time rendering and photo-realistic results
  • Can transfer Daz3D figures or props to Maya

Browser-Based Graphic Design Tools:

22. Canva

Best Free Graphic Design Software for Simple Images

Canva is a free online design platform that makes it easy for anyone to create professional-looking visuals. You can use Canva to create anything from social media posts and flyers to invitations and web banners.

Canva offers a wide range of templates and tools that you can use for your visuals, including a library of free photos, fonts, and illustrations, as well as options for adding your own images and customizing text and backgrounds.

You can also collaborate with other users on team projects, and share your designs with the global Canva community of over 55 million users.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive and user friendly interface
  • Tons of templates for flyers, posters and banners
  • Perfect for social media post designing
  • Simple organization via folders for multiple projects
  • Supports collaborative design approach

23. Visme

Best Graphic Design Software for Simple Animations

Visme is a user-friendly online platform that enables anyone to create professional visual content with no design experience necessary.

It offers a wide range of templates, graphics and icons for you to choose from, and you can also upload your own images or videos.

With Visme you'll be able to create interactive presentations, infographics and animations with minimal effort. Plus, all content created with Visme can be easily embedded on any website or blog.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use and cost effective
  • Great for infographic creation
  • Supports animations, audio and video

24. Vista Create

Best Free Graphic Design Software for Social Media Post Creation

Vista Create (formerly known as Crello) is a free and easy to use online graphic design tool with a library of over 10,000 templates and graphics.

You can create great looking designs in minutes without any graphic design experience by using pre-made templates or you can build your own visuals from scratch if you prefer.

You can also add text, photos, shapes, and effects to your designs and change the color and style of any element.

Vista Create is free to use and you can create unlimited designs, save your work, and share it with others with no restrictions or limitations.

Key Features:

  • Large selection of templates for posts, videos and animations
  • Large selection of icons and premium stock photos
  • Large selection of HD videos and vector images
  • Background remover
  • Can export to most output formats

25. Genially

Best Graphic Design Software for Interactive Content Creation

Genially is a media creation platform that enables users to put together interactive content by combining images, videos, and text.

It's perfect for creating educational materials, marketing content or sharing your ideas with others, including videos, infographics, interactive images, quizzes, and much more.

Genially offers a wide variety of templates to choose from or you can create your own templates if you're looking for creative independence.

Plus, you can share your creations with others online or embed them in your website or blog.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive, easy to use interface
  • Lots of templates to choose from
  • Can add animations and visual effects to presentations
  • Can monitor performance of publicly shared presentations

26. SculptGL

Best Online Graphic Design Software for 3D Sculpting

SculptGL is a simple yet powerful free 3D Sculpting online program developed with beginners in mind which doesn't require software downloads or even registering an account.

You can use it to sculpt 3D designs, apply symmetry, and import or export these files in 3D printable formats for further processing (for instance, to create 3D printing files.)

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Intuitive and responsive sculpting interface
  • Import/export in 3D printable formats (including .OBJ, .STL, and .PLY)

27. Infogram

Best Graphic Design Software for Infographic Creation

Infogram is a data visualization and presentation software that allows you to create impressive-looking infographics, reports and maps for websites, blogs and countless other uses.

If comes with a number of templates and designs to help you get started quickly, as well as a library of images and icons. Users can share their creations online or embed them on web pages.

Key Features:

  • Intuitive, beginner-friendly interface
  • Wide selection of infographic design templates
  • Large variety of visualizations, charts, and graphic elements
  • Integrates easily with webpages and social media posts
  • Mobile-responsive output

28. Pixteller

Best Graphic Design Software for Short Animated Videos

Pixteller is an image editing app and animation maker. You can use it to create posters, animated gifs, logos, photo collages, quote pictures, banners, invitations, flyers, video thumbnails and much more.

You can choose from over 100k templates, 100k shapes, 1.5m photos and 5k animations and then apply different filters, frames, and effects to create and share your work on social media or your blog.

Key Features:

  • Quick learning curve for beginners
  • Online editor
  • Preset sizes for all major channels
  • Wide selection of banners and videos and animated posts
  • Download files as MP4 or GIF

29. SUMO Paint

Best Browser-Based Drawing Software

SUMO Paint is a simple to use yet comprehensive browser-based graphic design tool that allows you to draw pictures from scratch or combine images with filters, text elements or symbols.

You can use over 300 different brushes as well as many unique tools and effects to create your masterpiece, whether it's a painting, a doctored photograph, a poster or a logo.

Key Features:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Free and paid versions
  • Wide selection of color correction tools
  • Large variety of effects, such as translucency, shadow casting and gradient
  • Supports PSD, PNG, JPEG, JPG and GIF formats

What are the different types of graphic design software?

There are a few different types of software that graphic designers typically use:

  • Vector drawing software (such as Adobe Illustrator)
  • Raster image editing software (such as Photoshop)
  • Layout and publishing software (such as InDesign)
  • 3D rendering software (such as Cinema 4D)

What Are the Benefits of Using Graphic Design Software?

Graphic design software can help you create professional looking designs for your business or personal projects.

With tools for vector illustrations, photo editing, page layout, and typography, you can produce a wide range of visual communications that look polished and professional.

Plus, often programs offer templates and presets to get you started quickly, and many include collaboration tools so you can work with others on your designs.

When choosing graphic design software, it's important to consider your skill level, the types of projects you'll be working on, and your budget.

If you're a beginner, look for software with plenty of tutorials and templates to get you started.

And if you're working on complex projects that require precise control over colors, gradients and other details, make sure the software you choose has all the advanced features that are necessary for the job.

What is the difference between vector and raster graphics?

A vector graphic is defined by mathematical points, whereas a raster graphic is composed of a grid of picture elements, or pixels.

When you enlarge a vector graphic, the image does not become blurry because each point is calculated based on the original points that were set.

When you enlarge a raster graphic, however, the individual pixels become visible and the image can become blurry as a result.

Vector graphics are often used for illustrations and logos because they can be easily resized without losing quality. Raster graphics are better for photos and images with lots of detail since they can retain more original information when enlarged.

What should you look for when choosing a new program to use?

Here are some things to consider when choosing graphic design software:

  • Level of difficulty: Is the software intuitive and easy to pick up with minimal training, or is it more complex and requires a long learning curve watching videos and reading tutorials before it becomes usable?
  • Types of designs it can create: Is the software limited to basic designs that may limit your options, or do you need more advanced features in order to meet your job specifications?
  • How much control you have over the design: Does the software allow for complete customization, or do you have to live with preset options that cannot be altered?
  • The file types it can export to: Is the software able to produce a graphic output with the specific file extensions that your job requires?

How to choose the right graphic design software for your needs

There are many graphic design programs out there, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Some programs are better suited for creating logos, icons and simple graphics, some are better for creating flyers and brochures, some are designed to output large projects, like posters and hanging banners, and others are better suited to web design and digital graphics.

How much should I spend on a good graphic design software

It really depends on your specific needs. If you're looking for some simple graphics for your site, there are low-cost and even free alternatives like Canva that probably has everything you'll need.

But if you're tasked to produce detailed, professional-grade graphics, then you'll need to use a feature-rich tool like Illustrator or Photoshop, which come on the higher end of the cost scale.

Whatever software you choose, be sure to do your research first to make sure it's the right fit for you.

If what you need is simplicity, then you'll find that full-featured packages are overwhelming to learn and time-consuming to use, even for basic designs.

On the other hand,  if you require a lot of detail in your work you'll quickly find that the free or low-cost alternatives are rather lacking in features.

In short, you need to budget based on your requirements. Having said that, if you have a one-time project that requires a lot of complexity and you don’t have the funds required for the job, you can always take advantage of available free trials to get the job done, provided you can work fast!

Wrapping Things Up

As you can see, there are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing graphic design software tools. Your choice of program will depend on your needs and the type of work you need to get done.

The best way to figure out which tool is right for you is by considering how much time you'll need to spend on them (single gig or long term?), what type of project they'll be used for (logos or large posters?) and your budget.

I hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the lay of the land for Mac-based graphic design software and answer some basic questions so that you're better prepared to make an informed decision.

And remember that most tools offer either free trials or a money-back guarantee so you can take them out for a spin before you fully commit.

Good luck!

Marcelo Headshot

About the author

Marcelo Beilin is a Digital Marketing Consultant and blogger who helps clients take their traffic and online revenue to the next level.

He also helps readers find the perfect tools to earn online income at BestTech2EarnOnline.com.

Related articles from the Best Tech blog:

Related articles:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}