A Microsoft Project plan file, or an MPP file, is a file format that’s exclusive to Microsoft Project. This means users need to purchase Microsoft Project to open them. Otherwise, using and more importantly, sharing MS Project files, will cause problems. However, you can avoid those hurdles if you have a Microsoft Project viewer to view and edit MPP files.
What Is a Microsoft Project Viewer?
A Microsoft Project viewer, also known as an MPP viewer, is software that allows you to open MPP files without having to purchase a Microsoft Project license. MPP viewers were created as a workaround for users that need to open MPP files but don’t have Microsoft Project due to drawbacks such as a high price, steep learning curve or lack of compatibility with Mac.
However, it’s important to note that while Microsoft Project viewers let you open MPP files, they don’t offer the same project planning, scheduling or tracking tools as Microsoft Project. An MPP viewer is not equivalent to project management software, but a much simpler tool that can only be used to visualize data from your MPP files.
If you’re looking for an MPP viewer with similar features to Microsoft Project, you should try ProjectManager. ProjectManager is more than just a Microsoft Project viewer, it’s online project management software that allows you to open, print, share and edit MPP files online. More importantly, ProjectManager allows you to use all the project management features you expect from Microsoft Project such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project calendars and more. Get started today for free.
Why Should You Use a Microsoft Project Viewer?
There are several reasons why Microsoft Project might not be the best project management tool for some organizations, which causes project managers to look for Microsoft Project alternatives, such as MPP viewers. Here are some of them.
Microsoft Project Is Expensive
The price point is one of the difficulties that one encounters immediately with MS Project. Microsoft Project requires a monthly subscription that starts at $10/month/user, but you don’t get a lot of features with it. The more advanced cloud-based subscription will set you back $55 per month/user. The on-premise Microsoft Project solution is even pricier: the price range is $679.99 for Project Standard 2021 to over $1,129.99 for the Project Professional 2021 edition.
Microsoft Project Is Hard to Use
While the new Microsoft Project Online adds 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 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 are motivated to find an alternative.
Microsoft Project Is Not Available for Mac Users
For those projects that are being managed on a Mac OS device, the problems are much worse. Microsoft Project doesn’t support Apple products. That ignores huge industries, such as publishing and design.
You can avoid these drawbacks by using a Microsoft Project viewer. Microsoft Project viewers are a good substitute for all versions of MS Project, including Microsoft Project Online, as most of them let you open MPP files online.
Key Features of a Microsoft Project Viewer
While each Microsoft Project viewer has different features and unique functionality, most Microsoft Project viewers allow you and your team to:
- Open MPP files: View Microsoft Project files online.
- Share Microsoft Project files: MPP viewers let you export MPP files as Excel or CSV files which lets you share them with non-MS Project license holders.
- Print MPP files: Most MPP viewers allow you to print the content of your Microsoft Project files.
However, while they’re helpful, it’s important to understand that Microsoft Project viewers aren’t project management software like Microsoft Project and therefore might lack important project management tools. If you want the closest experience to Microsoft Project, you can try ProjectManager, online project management software that lets you use advanced project management features to:
- Manage MPP files online using project management tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project dashboards and timesheets.
- Create project schedules and use project tracking tools.
- Find the critical path of your projects.
- Collaborate with your team online.
- View real-time project dashboard data.
- Export updated data as XML back into MS Project.
Let’s go over the process of using ProjectManager as an advanced Microsoft Project viewer and editor.
How to Use ProjectManager as a Microsoft Project Viewer
With ProjectManager, you can import and export Microsoft Project files without losing any data thanks to its online storage. Plus, you can view and edit MPP files before exporting your changes and sharing them with your team members. Best of all, our MPP viewer works on both Windows and Mac computers without requiring any downloads.
1. Start a Free 30-Day Trial
To view and edit MS Project files on your computer (Windows or Mac), you must first start your free 30-day trial. Choose any plan you like, as they’re 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 is free for 30 days and can be canceled at any time—no strings attached!
Follow the walkthrough below to view and edit your MPP files in ProjectManager.
2. 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 as an online MPP file viewer and editor and use all its project management features to edit your Microsoft Project plan.
3. Get Your MPP File
Find the MPP file you want to work on. A popup window will ask which project file you wish to import. Once you’ve selected it, hit next. Make sure your file has the right MPP file extension.
4. Pick Your Options
Follow the choices listed on the new popup menu. You can now add the imported MS project file to an existing project or open it as a new one, as well as replace the data or keep it.
5. Import the MPP File into Our Microsoft Project Viewer
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.
6. 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 the project views available on our online platform. It’s Microsoft Project integration done right.
What MPP File Versions Does ProjectManager Open?
Microsoft Project is a software that has existed for decades, so there are various types of MPP files that have been developed over the years. ProjectManager will allow you to open any 2021, 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2007 .MPP file formats.
This means you can use ProjectManager as an MS Project Viewer for the following versions of Micorosoft Project:
- Microsoft Project 2021
- Microsoft Project 2019
- Microsoft Project 2016 (with Office 365 subscription)
- Microsoft Project 2013
- Microsoft Project 2010
- Microsoft Project 2007
Benefits of Using ProjectManager as a Microsoft Project Viewer
We’ve already learned that ProjectManager has all the Microsoft Project features you’re familiar with, at a much lower cost and a more friendly user interface than Microsoft Project. Here are even more benefits from using ProjectManager as your Microsoft Project viewer.
- Open MPP files Online: View Microsoft Project files online, even if you used desktop versions of Microsoft Project to create them.
- Edit MPP files Online: Use any of ProjectManager’s project management tools to make changes to your MPP files.
- Print MPP files: Print the content of your Microsoft Project files in various formats such as Gantt charts, task lists, or project calendars.
- Import and Export Files from Microsoft Project: 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. ProjectManager is also compatible with OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Outlook and more than 1,000 business apps.
- Share Microsoft Project files in multiple formats: ProjectManager is an online MPP viewer that lets you export MPP files as Excel or CSV files so you can share them with non-MS Project license holders. Export updated data as XML back into MS Project.
- Cut Down Costs: ProjectManager is a cost-effective solution when compared to Microsoft Project and most Microsoft Project viewers. It allows you to use the same features as Microsoft Project at a fraction of the cost.
- Manage Your Projects Online: Once your Microsoft Project files are seamlessly imported online, you can manage and share your projects 100% online, safely and securely, so you can collaborate with your team. Everything from MS Project transfers over, including formatting such as color coding.
- Supports All Microsoft Project Views: Edit MPP files online using project management tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project dashboards and timesheets, unlike other MPP viewers which don’t only support a few Microsoft Project views.
5 Microsoft Project Viewers With Free & Paid Plans (Online & Desktop Solutions)
If you’re just looking for a Microsoft Project viewer and nothing else, there are some lightweight options that might interest you. All work as a free Microsoft Project viewer, even on Mac, and some can be found in the Microsoft Store.
These tools might not have the features that project managers need, such as Gantt charts, cloud storage, etc., but they’ll act as an online MPP viewer and make those stubborn MPP files workable for iOS, Android and Windows users alike.
1. Project Plan 365
Project Plan 365 is a Microsoft Project viewer that can open and save Microsoft Project files. It imports and exports seamlessly to collaborate with MS Project. It works with Mac and has a cloud interface to work online or a downloadable version for your macOS devices. A benefit for Microsoft Project users is that this free MPP viewer has a familiar feel to that tool.
Users have complained that the software crashes, especially if charts are more complicated. Another issue is that customers have complained of bugs, such as the tool doesn’t sync with Dropbox. While it promises a lot, such as Gantt charts, it doesn’t always deliver. When it does, the subscription price for the paid version is high.
2. Project Viewer 365
Project Viewer 365 is another lightweight Microsoft Project viewer. It allows users to view, read, share and print MPP files. It has cloud-based integration with Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox and SharePoint. Pricing starts at $29.99 for one license, though there’s a free MPP viewer, and it works with PCs, Macs, and any web browser.
While this is a decent online MPP viewer, it’s nothing else. If you’re only using Microsoft Project, then this might be a fine workaround to view files with teams and vendors that would otherwise require the purchase of more MS Project licenses. However it’s so barebones and even with a free version, it’s not worth the money to have another app that does only one thing.
3. Seavus Project Viewer
There’s also Seavus Project Viewer, another MS Project viewer that supports all the views available on Microsoft Project and MS Project Professional, including graphical reports. Like the others on this list, the user interface mimics that of MS Project for ease of use. It even has Skype for Business integration and a task update collaboration add-in.
The trouble is, this is another expensive MPP viewer at $39 for a one-time user. There’s a free trial but that’s not going to help customers who need a long-term solution. As an MS Project viewer, you could do worse, but again, there are no other project management features. The idea of spending money on a product that does only one thing means you’ll eventually have a handful of expensive apps that can do but one thing when there are affordable alternatives that can view MPP files and much more.
4. Steelray MPP Viewer
Steelray is an MPP viewer that allows you to read data from MPP files in all of the same views that Microsoft Project has, including Gantt chart, timeline, network diagram and calendars. Besides opening all Microsoft Project file formats, it can open Primavera Primavera P6 .XER files too. Probably the main advantage of Steelray is that it is an inexpensive Microsoft Project viewer for $35 per user per year.
Unfortunately, Steelray is an on-premises solution that needs to be downloaded and installed in your computer, which means you won’t be able to open MPP files online, from any device like you would with an online MPP viewer. Its features are also very limited and are designed for users that just need to have access to MPP files in a read-only view.
5. Project Reader
Project Reader is a lightweight MS Project viewer that focuses on resource management. Its main advantage is that it can open a wide variety of Microsoft Project file formats such as MPP files, MPT files and XML files. It can open Microsoft Project files from 1998 to 2019.
However, it only offers some of the project management views from Microsoft Project such as Gantt charts, resource sheet, resource usage and task usage. Another big disadvantage is that it’s an on-premises solution and its user interface looks and feels very outdated compared to most Microsoft Project viewers. A Project Reader license costs $29 per user per year, the price can go down to $23 per user per year if you purchase more than 20 licenses, which makes it a cost-effective alternative for larger organizations.
If you’re looking for a powerful tool that has a free version and different subscription tiers to match your needs and not break your wallet, you’ll want an MS Project viewer such as ProjectManager. It not only views but edits and shares your MMP files. In fact, you might just give up Microsoft Project altogether.
Why ProjectManager Is the Best Online Microsoft Project Viewer
When you’ve imported your MS Project File into an online Microsoft Project viewer with the capacity to edit MPP files, like ProjectManager, you’re given free rein to work, whether you’re using Windows, Mac, iOS or Android devices. The Microsoft Project files are fully imported into your online MS Project viewer.
Now that you’re in the MPP file, there are different project views available to you when you work. Let’s take a look at some innovative ways to use an MS Project viewer with project management features, like ProjectManager, and see how this tool can help you work more efficiently.
1. Online Gantt Charts
When you import an MPP file to ProjectManager, the project plan and Gantt chart immediately populate online, preserving 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 with your team once invited to the online project.
This includes collaborating with your team on tasks directly on the Gantt chart, which enables you to receive alerts when your team members have updated their tasks with comments or file attachments. You can also manage projects in a portfolio, create project groups and manage task dependencies across projects.
2. Online Timesheets & Resource Management
When you import Microsoft Project plans online to ProjectManager, you get more than an MS 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 project 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 approval.
3. Populate Real-Time Dashboards
When you import an MPP file into ProjectManager, 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? The benefits are clear upon import. You can see at-a-glance:
- Project health
- Task status
- Team workload status
- And more
With ProjectManager, 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 are a breeze, the viewer can do all the formatting for you, and best of all, your project data instantly populate your dashboard with colorful charts and graphs. Ready to try it? Sign up for a 30-day free trial now.
ProjectManager Is More Than a Microsoft Project Viewer: It’s an MPP File Editor
ProjectManager isn’t just a free MS project viewer. It’s a Microsoft Project alternative that can be used as an MPP file editor or a fully-featured project management software that gives you complete control over your projects. When you import and export MS Project plans, you want to have the ability to work on them and access project management features.
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 into the right places, so you can continue your project planning and scheduling right there online!
With an advanced MPP editor, you can:
- Open MPP files
- Manage MPP 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 Microsoft Project files are seamlessly imported online, you can manage and share your projects 100% online, safely and securely, so you can collaborate with your team. Everything from MS Project transfers over, including formatting such as color coding.
Team members can update tasks on the Gantt and 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. ProjectManager is also compatible with OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Outlook and more than 1,000 business apps.
Microsoft Project Viewers FAQ
Microsoft Project is a very commonly used project management software but is not the best tool. That’s why there are many Microsoft Project viewer tools that have been developed for those who don’t want to use MS Project but still need to open and share MPP files. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions online about Microsoft Project viewers.
What is the best Microsoft Project viewer?
ProjectManager is the best Microsoft Project viewer. It’s an online project management software that lets you flawlessly import and edit MPP files.
Is there any Free Microsoft Project viewer?
Yes, there are several free MPP viewers available online, such as in the Microsoft Store, Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
Can you view MS Project files without MS Project?
Yes, you can use a Microsoft Project viewer, MPP file editor or better yet, project management software.
Can I edit MPP files with a Microsoft Project viewer?
No, Microsoft Project viewers don’t allow you to edit MPP files. With an MPP viewer, you can only read, share and print MPP files.
- Best Microsoft Project Alternatives
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- What Is Microsoft Project? Uses, Features and Pricing
- Microsoft Project Online: Pros, Cons and Free Alternatives
- MPP File Extension: What Is It & How to Open It
- Microsoft Project for Mac: How to Run MS Project Files on Your Mac
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 online project management software tool like ProjectManager, 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!