If you’re using and more importantly sharing MS Project files, there are going to be problems. But those hurdles can be easily cleared if you have a Microsoft Project Viewer.
What Is a Microsoft Project Viewer?
A Microsoft Project viewer is a piece of software that gives users the ability to open, export and print MS Project files without a Microsoft Project license. It’s a life-saver for anyone using or receiving Microsoft Project files because of the many obstacles MS Project presents when it comes to sharing MPP files.
An MS Project Viewer allows users to view tasks and task details, as well as resources that are associated with the tasks. You can use the viewer to export to an Excel spreadsheet and print, too.
If you don’t have a Microsoft Project viewer, you can’t open an MPP file unless you have one of the following tools instead:
- A Microsoft Project alternative
- A dedicated Microsoft Project license
- Microsoft Project Server
- Email capable of receiving very large files
And while viewers are helpful for, well, viewing the files, what you really need is way to integrate Microsoft Project (MPP) files into your project management solution so you can also update and collaborate on project data seamlessly from one person to another.
Why else are you sharing the files?
Why You Need a Microsoft Project Viewer
Microsoft Project is expensive, and it doesn’t share well with others who don’t have a copy of the software, which is generally clunky. Therefore, a Microsoft Project Viewer can save a lot of time, money and effort.
MS Project Is Expensive
The price point is one of the difficulties that one encounters immediately with MS Project. While the new MS Project 2019 has a $10/month/user plan, you don’t get a lot of bells and whistles with it. The more advanced cloud-based subscription will set you back $55 month/user. The on-premise solution is even pricier: the price range is $629 to over $1,000. and there’s no price listed for the project server.
Why MS Project Is Difficult
The new version of the online MS Project does add more flexibility to the product and is certainly an improvement over the desktop version, the learning curve is still steep. It’s not a user-friendly interface and, again, sharing files is not easy. Microsoft offers its Sharepoint as a means to share files, but even their solution is expensive and not easy to use. Add to that the lack of a real-time dashboard and you can see why people complain.
For those projects that are being managed on a Mac, the problems are much worse. Microsoft Project doesn’t support Apple products. That ignores huge industries, such as publishing and design.
Many Versions of MSP
There are two main versions of Microsoft Project, standard and professional. These are available as 32 or 64 bit options. There is also the aforementioned cloud and desktop version. There is a new 2019 version of Microsoft Project, as well as ones from 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007. Which is the right one for you can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Thankfully, ProjectManager.com can be used as a Microsoft Project Viewer that is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Project.
How to View & Edit MPP Files Without MS Project
How do you use a Microsoft Project Viewer to seamlessly import and export MPP files so you can actually edit the files, and support data updates when you share & view files online?
With ProjectManager.com, you can import and export Microsoft Project files without losing any data. Plus, you can view and edit MPP files before exporting your changes and sharing with your colleagues. Best of all, our software works on both Windows and Mac computers, without requiring any downloads.
Start a Free 30-Day Trial
In order to view and edit MS Project files on your computer (Windows or Mac), you must first sign up for a free trial. Choose any plan you like, as they are all compatible with Microsoft Project, and each plan lets you seamlessly import, export, view and edit MPP files. Once you’ve selected a plan, ProjectManager.com is free for 30 days and can be cancelled at any time—no strings attached!
Follow the walkthrough below to view and edit your MPP files in ProjectManager.com.
Use the Gantt Chart to Import Your MPP File
Launch the Gantt chart tool and click on the import button. You can find it on the top right of your screen. It’s the one with the symbol that looks like a box with an arrow piercing it on top. Once you import your file, you can use ProjectManager.com as an MPP editor.
Get Your MPP File
Find the MPP file you want to work on. A popup window will ask which project you wish to import. Once you’ve selected it, hit next.
Pick Your Options
Follow the choices listed on the new popup menu. You can now add the imported file to an existing project or open it as a new one, as well as replacing the data or keeping it.
Import What You Want
Choose how you want to import the Microsoft Project file. You can get all the data from it or just the task list. It’s up to you. Choose whichever option gives you more options when it comes to efficiently viewing and editing your MPP file.
Get Started Viewing & Editing Your MPP File!
See that window that says success? That means you’ve imported the file and now you can share it, edit it and, if you want, export it back to MS Project, without any hassles. Your project will appear on the Gantt chart at first, but you can manage it in any of our project views.
3 Ways to Use ProjectManager.com as Your MS Project Viewer
When you have imported your MS Project File into an online Microsoft Project viewer that has the capacity to edit files, like ProjectManager.com, you’re given free rein to work. The files are fully imported into your online project viewer.
Now that you’re in the MPP file, there are different view options available to you when you work. Let’s take a short look at some innovative ways to use an MS Project Viewer with roundtripping, like ProjectManager.com, and see how this tool can help you work more efficiently.
1. Online Gantt Planning
When you import an MPP file to ProjectManager.com, the project plan and Gantt chart is immediately populated online, preserving all your custom columns and settings, like color-coding, WBS and task dependencies, as well as importing resources and assignments. You can then immediately view your project plans online and manage them easily with your team once invited to the online project.
This includes collaborating with your team on tasks directly on the Gantt, which enables you to also receive alerts when your team has updated their tasks with comments or file attachments. And you can also manage projects in a portfolio, creating project groups and manage task dependencies across projects.
2. Online Timesheets & Resource Management
When you import MPP plans online to ProjectManager.com, you get more than a project viewer. You can manage your projects online, including managing resource time, costs and updates.
Since your resource data is imported, you can share the online plans with your team and invite them to update timesheets. This is perfect for teams in the field. They can update tasks and timesheets anytime, anywhere, and you get email alerts when their timesheets are ready for your approval. All this by importing one project plan!
3. Populate Real-time Dashboards
When you import a MPP file into ProjectManager.com, for example, your real-time dashboard is instantly populated, showing you instant views of your project data. You might wonder, if you’ve never seen a real-time view of your project data, why you would need a project dashboard? Well the benefits are clear upon import. You can see at-a-glance:
- Project Health
- Task Status
- Team Workload Status
- Track Costs
- Risks, Issues & Changes
- And more…
With ProjectManager.com, your MPP files are super-powered. Now they can reflect real-time changes in your project. You can easily share documents that were too big to email. Import and export is a breeze, the viewer can do all the formatting for you, and best of all, your project data instantly populates your dashboard with colorful charts and graphs.
Project Viewers with MS Project Roundtripping
ProjectManager.com has MS Project roundtripping. What is roundtripping? Think of it as the difference between a read-only file and one that gives you complete editorial control. When you import and export MS Project plans, you want to have ability to work on them, too.
With data roundtripping, your imported data columns don’t have to be “mapped,” like in other project viewers. The data immediately and seamlessly is imported in the right places, so you can continue your project planning and scheduling right there online!
With MS Project Roundtripping, you can:
- Manage files online
- View planned, baselines and WBS
- See & update task dependencies
- Merge resources & their rates
- Merge assignments
- Collaborate with your team online
- View real-time dashboard data
- Export updated data as XML into MS Project
Once your files are seamlessly imported online, you can manage and share your projects 100% online, safely and securely, so you can collaborate with your team. Basically, everything from MS Project transfers over, including formatting such as color-coding.
Team members can update tasks on the Gantt, add attachments and comments. So you can continue planning in just a few clicks. Plus, if you need to export the data back to MS Project, you can simply click “export,” and it will open in MS Project with all the data updates intact.
Related: What Is Microsoft Teams?
Benefits of Using a Microsoft Project Viewer
Most MS Project viewers allow you to view and share MPP files online, which, as we’ve established, is pretty hard to do in a Microsoft eco-system. Even with the new Microsoft Project Online versions, sharing files requires the recipient party to have MS Project desktop installed, and it costs extra money, to boot!
A Microsoft Project Viewer, however, lets you:
- View MS Project files online
- Share MS Project files with non-MS Project license holders
- Instantly populate a real-time dashboard with your project data
- Create and share reports
- Collaborate with your team on the project plan
But not all Project Viewers let you do all that. It’s important to consider all the potential benefits of certain viewers, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
How to Open MS Project Files with a Viewer
There are many options for online project viewers, as I mentioned, but they all share basically the same three steps to open files in the system, once you’ve chosen a viewer that has the features you need:
- Log in to your viewer
- Import the MS Project file
- Map the data columns
And it’s open. It’s that easy. Now you can view the MPP file online and share it with someone who doesn’t currently have MS Project.
But what if you want to do more? There’s a difference between simply importing and exporting files and roundtripping data so you can work online, too.
(This post was updated September 16, 2020)
If you’re using Microsoft Project, then look for alternatives to help you share your work with your team and stakeholders. With an online Project viewer and cloud-based project management software tool like ProjectManager.com, you can do more than just view your files. You can seamlessly manage your MPP files online, update and collaborate on plans online, manage timesheets with your team, view real-time project data, and so much more. See for yourself with this free 30-day trial!