SmartDraw review

A slick way to create advanced diagrams

SmartDraw 1
(Image: © SmartDraw)

TechRadar Verdict

SmartDraw is a great tool to help you organize concepts and represent them visually. It sets itself apart from similar programs with a vast number of high-quality industry-specific templates.


  • +

    Interface is intuitive and familiar to Microsoft Office users

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    Powerful CAD capabilities

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    7-day free trial

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    Syncs with Google


  • -

    Some features not available with online version

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    High price point will put off personal users

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SmartDraw is an online and downloadable diagramming software with a range of features including flow charts, and mind mapping. This software also works with geographic maps, health diagrams, and floor plan creation. In this SmartDraw review, you’ll find out how SmartDraw’s many capabilities stack up against the competition.


SmartDraw stands out because of the wide variety of capabilities it offers for a large number of fields. This program hasn’t narrowed itself down to a particular niche but instead works for academic, business, and personal users.

Like the competitor MindManager and MindView software packages, SmartDraw can help you build organizational trees, mind maps and many different types of charts. SmartDraw’s mapping interface might not be as advanced as, say, MindView’s, but it will cost you significantly less.

SmartDraw 3

(Image credit: SmartDraw)

SmartDraw is pretty advanced in the architectural design realm and even stacks up well against specialized software like AutoCAD. While SmartDraw doesn’t have 3D modeling capabilities, it can import CAD files and provides you with numerous ready-to-go floor plans.

Not only that, but for quick and simple designs, you can use SmartDraw to throw together ready-made building blocks like office spaces, bedrooms, and dining rooms. This makes it a great tool for interior designers or novices who want to give their architect an idea of what they are looking for.

SmartDraw 4

(Image credit: SmartDraw)

SmartDraw sets itself apart by the huge volume of templates it has to offer. These include diagrams for the health sector like family history genograms, personal charting, electrical diagrams, body charts, and nutrition graphics. Engineers will also get a lot to work with such as vehicle designs, electrical wiring diagrams, and software project plans. If you run an interdisciplinary team, this software could be for you.

Interface and In Use

To get started with SmartDraw, you can either download the Windows desktop version by entering your email or create an account for SmartDraw online. Both will prompt you to purchase during your seven-day free trial.

SmartDraw 5

(Image credit: SmartDraw)

Once you are signed up, you can begin designing diagrams and checking out the SmartDraw templates. When you first open SmartDraw, you’ll see a long list of them on the left side of the page. After you choose one, an editing screen that looks a little bit like Microsoft Word will pop up.

The way the toolbox on the left-hand of the screen appears will be different based on what you are designing. For example, in an architecture template, you’ll see rooms and walls, whereas, in a genogram, it’ll show individual family members. The toolbar at the top of the screen stays pretty much the same and is fairly basic compared to programs that are more task or industry-specific like Mindmanager or AutoCAD.

SmartDraw 6

(Image credit: SmartDraw)


For assistance using SmartDraw, you can click the “Help” link in your downloaded program. Alternatively, you can call the SmartDraw technical support team over the phone during standard working hours or email them.

Plans and Pricing

SmartDraw has both a downloadable and online version. When you first check out the SmartDraw site, it can be unclear what you’ll actually pay before entering your email and creating an account. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the SmartDraw pricing so you know exactly what you’re going to get.


Online Edition

For a single user, a cloud-based SmartDraw account is $9.95 per month, and for five or more users the price is $5.95 per user per month. All accounts are billed annually, so you’ll actually be paying around $120 when you check out for a single account. SmartDraw does offer a seven-day free trial which is worth checking out to ensure the software works for you.

Specific to the online edition of SmartDraw is the ability to sync with Google Drive and other Google products. What may surprise you is that the online edition has everything the PC edition does with just a handful of exceptions. This even includes architecture and genealogy tools that are hard to find on this kind of cloud-based software.

SmartDraw 2

(Image credit: SmartDraw)

PC Edition

The downloadable PC version of SmartDraw is a one-time $297 purchase. There are no extra fees and you’ll be able to use SmartDraw without any mandatory updates that competing products like MindManager require.

After purchasing a license, you will receive free updates and premium support for one year. Following that, the maintenance and upgrade service costs $69.95 per year. However, upgrading is not required to run the program. It is also worth mentioning that for more than five users you can get a yearly subscription for $595, which could be a good deal for businesses.

As far as use goes, the main difference you’ll notice between the PC version and the online version of SmartDraw is that there are more templates in the Windows variant. In addition, there are schedule and calendar creators, presentation capabilities, and process documentation. Choosing the right edition will be about what you need the program for and for how long you’ll need it.

The Competition

The offline version of SmartDraw stacks up pretty well against other downloadable software (like MindManager or MindView) with its low price-point and broad feature set. If you’re interested in a subscription-based mapping tool, you’ll find that Lucidchart, which has a similar feature set, is slightly cheaper than SmartDraw.

Final Verdict

If you are looking for software that can do it all, SmartDraw is the tool for you. For advanced industry-specific capabilities, you may want to explore other options, but in all likelihood, SmartDraw will be the right way to produce any type of diagram or chart you need without blowing your budget.