The 8 Best Desktop Publishing Software for Mac (Including M1/M2/M3)

Desktop publishing applications, often known as DTP, are specialized tools dedicated to the creation of visual layouts. These applications excel in crafting various materials like posters, layouts for eBooks and traditional books, brochures, printed stationery, and cover art for both digital and printed formats. While they can be used for digital design, their primary strength lies in print-oriented design.

These software tools are distinct from word processors, though they share a common category. Word processors focus on generating textual documents, whereas DTP applications enhance the visual appeal of the information, ensuring that its presentation aligns with its purpose.

Choosing the right desktop publishing software from the plethora of options can be daunting. Fortunately, we are here to assist you in navigating through the popular choices to find the best desktop publishing software for Mac, including Intel and Apple Silicon M1/M2/M3 Mac.

1. Scribus

Scribus

Scribus earns its reputation as the premier free desktop publishing (DTP) software, presenting a compelling, budget-friendly alternative to high-end solutions like InDesign for cost-conscious creatives.

As an open-source platform, Scribus stands out as the undisputed champion in the realm of free DTP software. It’s a cost-free solution, requiring no license fees, making it equally accessible to individual users and businesses. But its appeal extends far beyond its zero cost. Despite an interface that may appear somewhat outdated at first glance, Scribus packs a surprisingly powerful punch in terms of capabilities.

This software is versatile, compatible with multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac, Linux, and FreeBSD. It’s packed with professional features crucial for desktop publishing. These include CMYK and spot color support, ICC color management, the ability to directly edit vector drawings, and comprehensive PDF support. This makes it an ideal tool for creating a wide range of publications such as magazines, brochures, flyers, newspapers, and books.

However, it’s important to note that mastering Scribus requires a commitment to learning. Its extensive and professional-grade toolset comes with a significant learning curve. While there is a wealth of documentation and developer support available, newcomers to Scribus will need to invest time to fully leverage its potential. This learning investment is the trade-off for accessing a top-tier free DTP tool brimming with advanced features.

2. Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign on Mac is a powerful tool for visual and layout design, widely recognized for its robust feature set and seamless integration with other Adobe Creative Suite applications. Its user interface is highly intuitive, which is particularly beneficial for designers accustomed to other Adobe products. With its extensive typography options, grid systems, and support for high-quality vector graphics, InDesign is the go-to software for creating complex, multi-page documents like brochures, magazines, and eBooks. The capability to handle large documents with ease and efficiency is a standout feature, making it a favorite among professional designers.

One of the significant advantages of using InDesign on a Mac is its stability and performance. Mac’s graphic capabilities complement InDesign’s demanding processing needs. Furthermore, InDesign’s integration with macOS features like trackpad gestures and retina display optimization enhances the overall user experience. However, users should be aware that this performance comes at the cost of relatively high system requirements, which might be a consideration for those on older or less powerful machines.

InDesign’s collaborative features, like sharing for review and integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, make it an excellent tool for team projects. The ability to track changes and leave comments within the document simplifies the revision process significantly.

However, its subscription-based pricing model, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, can be a downside for individuals or small businesses on a tight budget. Despite this, for professionals seeking advanced features and seamless workflow integration in visual and layout design, Adobe InDesign on Mac remains a top-tier choice.

3. QuarkXPress

QuarkXPress

QuarkXPress on Mac is a veteran in the realm of visual and layout design, known for its powerful capabilities in page layout and typography. It has long been favored by professionals for creating high-quality print and digital publications, such as magazines, newspapers, and marketing materials.

QuarkXPress is popular because of its robust set of features, including extensive typography controls, professional print output, and flexibility in layout design. It supports a wide range of file formats, offering high-quality image handling and vector graphic integration. The software’s ability to handle complex, multi-page documents efficiently makes it a reliable choice for seasoned designers who require advanced layout capabilities.

However, despite its professional-grade features, QuarkXPress faces stiff competition from more modern software like Adobe InDesign and Affinity Publisher, particularly in terms of user interface and ease of learning. New users might find its interface less intuitive compared to its contemporaries.

4. Affinity Publisher 2

Affinity Publisher 2

Affinity Publisher 2 on Mac is a highly regarded application for visual and layout design, often praised for its affordability and robust feature set. As a strong competitor to Adobe InDesign, it offers a wide array of tools that cater to both novice and professional designers, including advanced typography, grid systems, and master pages. Its intuitive user interface, combined with comprehensive support for vector and raster graphics, makes it a versatile choice for creating detailed, visually appealing documents like brochures, magazines, and digital publications. Users especially appreciate its one-time purchase model, which stands out in a market dominated by subscription-based software.

One of the standout features of Affinity Publisher is its seamless integration with other Affinity Suite products, like Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. This integration allows for a smooth workflow, particularly beneficial for users who work across different aspects of design. While it offers a high level of performance and stability on Mac, some users note that it lacks certain advanced features found in InDesign, such as extensive third-party plugin support.

Nonetheless, for Mac users looking for a cost-effective, powerful layout design tool, Affinity Publisher presents a compelling choice, balancing functionality, ease of use, and affordability.

5. Prezi

Prezi

Prezi stands out as a notable online presentation tool and also carves a niche in the desktop publishing landscape. Unlike traditional DTP software, which primarily caters to print media, encompassing book layouts, brochures, and extensive print designs, Prezi shifts the focus to a purely digital domain. It specializes in crafting striking online presentations and materials tailored for business use.

With Prezi, creating multi-page layouts is effortless, whether you opt for one of its ready-to-use templates or start from the ground up to bring your unique ideas to life. It simplifies the creation of infographics, presentations, and videos, making it a versatile tool for various digital content needs.

Prezi is accessible through a free basic account, offering an affordable entry point. For those seeking more advanced features, subscriptions start at $7 per month for a standard account. Additionally, Prezi provides a 15-day free trial, allowing users to explore its capabilities before committing to a subscription.

6. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite for Mac is a comprehensive graphics and layout design software that caters well to both professional designers and hobbyists. This suite, known for its versatility, includes tools for vector illustration, layout, photo editing, and typography, making it a one-stop-shop for various design needs. It stands out for its user-friendly interface, which is particularly appealing to those who might find other professional design software overwhelming. The suite’s robust toolset supports a wide range of design tasks, from creating intricate vector illustrations to laying out multi-page documents. CorelDRAW’s ability to handle large-scale design projects while maintaining high-quality output is especially appreciated by users.

On the Mac platform, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite benefits from smooth performance and stability, leveraging the graphical strengths of macOS. The software integrates well with Mac-specific features, enhancing the overall user experience.

However, it’s worth noting that while CorelDRAW offers a rich set of features, it may not be as widely adopted in professional settings as Adobe’s products, which could be a consideration for those who need to collaborate frequently with other designers. Additionally, the pricing model, which includes both subscription and perpetual license options, offers flexibility but can be on the higher side compared to some competitors.

Overall, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a strong option for Mac users seeking a comprehensive and accessible design tool, though its market penetration and cost may influence the decision for some users.

7. VistaCreate

VistaCreate

VistaCreate presents both a complimentary version and a Pro variant, each equipped with an array of features to jumpstart your desktop publishing projects. It provides access to an extensive range of templates suitable for various layout designs, including social media, digital platforms, and a selection of templates for printed materials.

In addition to its layout creation capabilities, VistaCreate enhances the desktop publishing experience with image editing tools. This feature-rich platform offers a vast collection of photos, videos, vectors, and ready-to-use templates. Moreover, after finalizing your layout design, you have the convenience of printing directly through VistaPrint.

You can start with VistaCreate’s free version, which comes with a set of basic features. For those seeking more advanced functionalities, the Pro subscription is available at $10 per month.

8. Design Huddle

Design Huddle

Design Huddle positions itself as a comprehensive, premium desktop publishing solution, adept at handling a wide array of design needs encompassing digital, print, video, and slide presentations.

A standout feature of Design Huddle is its integration of generative AI technology, which significantly enhances the creative process by introducing new imagery options into layout designs. Alongside this innovative feature, it maintains a strong foundation in standard layout design functionalities. This includes a robust typography toolset, extensive image and video libraries, the capability to convert PDFs into fully editable templates, and the addition of password protection with embed support for enhanced security and flexibility in sharing.

Additionally, Design Huddle is equipped with a developer toolkit and advanced creative automation tools, offering substantial benefits for those looking to streamline their design workflows.

Priced at $500 per month, Design Huddle is specifically tailored for industry professionals, reflecting its high-end features and professional-grade capabilities.

Conclusion

In short, each program in our list boasts its own set of distinct features, advantages, and limitations. When it comes to selecting a desktop publishing software for Mac (Apple Silicon M1/M2/M3 Mac), several factors play a crucial role: your budget, your level of expertise, and the specific functionalities you require for your projects. Regardless of your choice, the primary benefit of DTP software is its ability to facilitate the creation of professional-grade documents applicable across various business sectors.

The market for Mac desktop publishing software is broad and diverse, catering to a wide range of financial constraints, objectives, and user backgrounds. However, navigating this plethora of options can often be a daunting and time-intensive task, particularly when trying to pinpoint the most suitable software for your specific needs.