Post 6: How to run FrameMaker on Mac?


Hello Framers,

Hope you are well. We are back after a break! This is the next post in the series, we are doing to provide accurate and complete information to our user base. Today, we will be discussing a very important topic, one which has been discussed several times in the FrameMaker user community. The topic is how do you run FrameMaker on Macintosh platform?

Today, we will be going over ways in which you can run FrameMaker on a Mac machine. Although the support of FrameMaker on Mac was discontinued some time back, we do realize that many of our users continue to use Mac and would like to run the latest version of FrameMaker on their Mac computers. So, let’s see what options there are to run FrameMaker on Mac..

Options for running FrameMaker on Mac

From our conversation with users, we have found the following ways in which they are running FrameMaker on Mac.

  • Parallels for MacParallels Desktop for Mac, is a software providing hardware virtualization for Macintosh computers with Intel processors. Each virtual machine operates identically to a standalone computer, with virtually all the resources of a physical computer.
  • VMWare FusionVMware Fusion is a virtual machine software developed by VMware for Macintosh computers with Intel processors. Fusion allows Intel-based Macs to run x86 and x86-64 Microsoft Windows operating systems.
  • Boot Camp for AppleBoot Camp allows owners of Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers to install Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 on their Macs. It lets you install Windows on a Mac computer in its own partition, so you can use either Windows or Mac OS X on your Mac computer.
  • CrossOverCrossOver, is an emulator that allows you to install many popular Windows applications on your Mac computer. CrossOver includes an easy to use, single click interface, which makes installing Windows software simple and fast.


So, how good is the experience really of running FrameMaker on Mac?

We wanted to try it ourselves and so, we decided to run FrameMaker through one of these options. We chose Parallels because it is a popular choice among our users. Since, we also wanted to compare the experience of running FrameMaker in a virtual environment to that of running it natively on Windows, we decided to set up 2 environments on 2 separate machines. The first machine was a Windows Desktop and the other was a Mac Desktop running Parallels. The hardware configurations of these 2 machines was similar and as follows.

  iMac Details Dell Optiplex 780 PC
Processor 3.06 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo 3.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Memory 4GB 1067 DDR3 4GB
OS Mac OS X 10.6.8 Win7 Enterprise 64 bit OS


In particular, we wanted to closely look at performance differences (if any) between the two. This is because performance could be an area of concern or a question mark for some of our users. So, as part of this test, we executed some common workflows in FrameMaker on the two setups and compared the performance for each. We also ran the steps multiple times and the times mentioned below are averages across these multiple runs.

So, here are the results:

Test file details Operation Time (on PC) Time (on Mac) Slowdown in performance
Brittanica Encyclopedia ditamap with about ~450 topics DITAMap Save as Composite document 6 mins 6 mins 0 %
Brittanica Encyclopedia ditamap with about ~450 topics DITAMap Save as Book with FM documents 14 mins 14.2 mins 1.4 %
DITA XML having more than 50 Cross-References to other DITA topics and concept XMLs. The XML also had more than ten 3D objects. File Open time for an XML heavily loaded with external links and objects. 22 secs 23 secs 4.5 %
A .fm document loaded with embedded images, text insets and text content spanning 50 pages, roughly 20 MB in size. FM file open time 1 sec 1 sec 0 %
A 1,000 page FM book (created in Item 2) with 450 chapters components Save book as PDF 2 mins 2.1 mins 5 %


Based on these test results, we observe that there exists no significant difference in performance between running FrameMaker on a Windows and in a virtual environment on a Mac.  In many cases, there was no performance degradation at all and in others, there was minimal performance hit. The worst degradation we saw was with a large ditamap and saving it as a FrameMaker book (This operation took 12 secs more than it did on Windows, a degradation of 1.4%)

In summary, we did not see any significant performance issues while performing various operations on different kind of files in the two environments.

But, we would like to learn about your experience.

Although we feel pretty satisfied with our experience of running FrameMaker virtually on a Mac, we are closely watching the need for providing native Mac support for Framemaker. We are continuously monitoring the adoption of Mac in the community and talking to users who have this requirement.

On these lines, we would like to understand your requirements on this particular topic and your experience, if you currently run FrameMaker in a similar virtual environment on Mac. To gather these inputs, we have created a short survey. We would really appreciate if you can take this survey, as this information would help us with our product strategy decisions. Click here to take the survey. Thank you in advance for your time and look forward to your inputs.

Link to a helpful Webinar by Tom Aldous (Director – Global TechComm Business Development) on a similar topic:

Until the next blog post.


Nakshatra Bhardwaj – Lead Software Engineer, FrameMaker Team

Kapil Verma – Sr. Product Manager, FrameMaker and FrameMaker Server

FrameMaker, Products

Posted on 02-13-2012


  • […] you for your feedback on the survey shared along with the last post that we made around “How to run FrameMaker on Mac“. We have got ample responses that would help us take the decision going […]

  • By Gzirfas - 12:04 AM on February 21, 2018   Reply

    Since you charge a monthly fee to “RENT” all your software why should I run ANOTHER operating system to use my rented software? Using my other resources like, oh maybe another hard drive, to keep another less secure OS on and to purchase VM software, making this a loosing deal to the end user. If you can’t see your way to support only TWO platforms I guess I can just keep my very OLD version and rock on.

  • By stephan frühauf - 12:30 AM on December 7, 2017   Reply

    I’d like frame back on my mac.
    Thats where it came from and where it belongs
    been working with frame since the 80th on Sun Next and Mac
    now on windows on VMware/OSX
    but that never really counts

  • By Chris Windridge - 7:08 PM on June 29, 2016   Reply

    I’m in the novice class here. Used to run Framemaker back in Sun days on a Mac and PC. Kept the Mac’s and now I have a report breaking MS Word….yes I know that is a different planet. Anyway, I tried to download Framemaker 2015 on a Mac and despite some great help it does not reach an executable state. Pity.

  • By multimediaguy - 1:45 PM on October 22, 2013   Reply

    Let’s face it, a Mac version is what Mac users want. Unfortunately, it will never happen. I still miss using FM every time I have to do any word processing.

  • By David Crowe - 12:40 AM on October 8, 2013   Reply

    Everyone who is interested is invited to join our Yahoo group on this discussion topic: (including Adobe reps!)

  • By David Crowe - 12:37 AM on October 8, 2013   Reply

    Maybe no difference in performance, but a difference in experience. No AppleScript for example (for workflow issues, productivity hotkeys etc)! Fewer hot keys in the user interface.

  • By Mike Krass - 10:41 PM on October 7, 2013   Reply

    Would love to keep using FrameMaker using a solution like Parallels Desktop or Fusion to run Windows-based FrameMaker on my Mac. Additionally, Parallels Desktop 9 is rumored to be OS Mavericks 10.1 compatible.

    Check it out:

  • By Rainer101 - 1:12 PM on May 28, 2013   Reply

    A first step for a Version of FrameMaker for OSX on Mac would be to take the existing code for FrameMaker on NeXTSTep, that was killed by Adobe after buying FrameMaker. The Code is already written in Objective C, same code as in the NeXTStep successor OSX, only with some Objective C evolutions till today. So some kind of recompiling, adding support for unicode, adding some import and export filters for .doc, .pages, .rtf – files etc. and you will receive the best word processor and DTP program available on OSX for the Mac. FrameMaker on NeXTStep was already running on machines with Intel processors too. So I can’t see bigger problems for a new start directly on the Mac on OSX. A Windows version under Parallels Desktop etc. is no alternative.

  • By David Crowe - 4:08 PM on December 8, 2012   Reply

    I ran FrameMaker on my Mac until I got a new laptop that didn’t support Classic. I tried Sheepshaver and it just crashed when I ran FrameMaker. So now I run FrameMaker for Windows under XP (couldn’t get it to install in Windows 7!).

  • By Yermudder - 5:15 PM on September 29, 2012   Reply

    I run Frame 7 on one of the last PPC G5s. My coworker has an Intel Mac and runs the newer version with Parallels and Windows 7. I’m going to hold onto mine as long as humanly possible. Hers is buggy, crashes a lot, can’t seem to communicate with printers properly, and has lots of font problems when printing to PostScript. I would kill for a native Intel Mac version.

  • By Ed - 11:39 AM on August 24, 2012   Reply

    Running FrameMaker in a VM seems to be a good choice. However, I miss any details on how well FrameMaker runs under Crossover? Is Crossover a viable choice for FrameMaker or would you discourage users to do this?

  • By Uwe Zimmer - 6:24 AM on April 6, 2012   Reply

    Regardless how often it is repeated – moving to Windows is not an option for many established tech writers due to many smaller and bigger issues (font migration, the lack of support for ligatures on the Win-FM version, etc. pp.). I took me some time to establish a new workflow which I am reasonably happy with by now. Yet I would still consider moving back to FrameMaker natively on Mac, if the new version is anywhere as good as the classical versions so many of use used successfully over decades. The last FrameMaker versions which I still followed did not actually add anything substantial any longer, but only made some core components (like output management) less stable. Hence I would quite carefully test any new version of FrameMaker before changing ships again.

    Running FM on a virtual Windows box is about as smooth as suggesting: “We won’t need Photoshop any longer: we can always run Gimp on a virtual Ubuntu machine” .. 🙂

  • By Darrel - 11:10 PM on April 3, 2012   Reply

    I have filled out the survey and am following the threads in the Yahoo group. I’m glad to see that Mr. Verma and Mr. Bhardwaj are continuing to communicate with us on this subject.
    I have just come across an issue that I can’t add to the survey’s comments since I filled it out already. This is an ongoing issue that I haven’t found a solution for.

    I have a book with black and one Pantone color. Because FM uses Windows GDI, all document colors, even those defined as CMYK in FM, are converted to RGB. The result for offset ink printing is that my printer cannot isolate the single non-black color to set its ink for the press. This worked fine in FM 7.1 in Mac. CMYK was maintained. Now I’m under deadline to get my new edition to press. I’ve converted all of my files to FM9 running in Windows 7 within VMWare fusion. I don’t have an OS9 machine anymore. I’m at a loss how to resolve this. If anyone has any ideas I’d greatly appreciate it.

    • By Paolo - 4:43 PM on November 30, 2012   Reply

      Same issue here. I seem to remember this is a well known issue for color management under any version of Windows.

  • By Graeme Forbes - 11:07 PM on April 3, 2012   Reply

    I switched to InDesign when Adobe abandoned Mac FM and I’m not sure I’d go back, given the investment I’ve since made in ID. Running Windows FM virtually was a non-starter fro me — the math fonts I’ve used since 1993 have cross-platform compatibility issues serious enough to prevent docs made on the Mac from being usable in Windows FM. I just keep my fingers crossed that none of my three PPC machines dies before I do.

  • By Sandy Ressler - 4:45 PM on March 15, 2012   Reply

    When Frame was dropped as a Mac product electronic publishing and sales of electronic books were a niche market. Today electronic books are rapidly becoming the dominant method for book distribution and authors of large documents need the type of tools that can support those projects. Frame always was a leader in large document production, and I’d wager that the market for Frame on a Mac, given Apple’s vastly increased sales would be significantly larger then it was. In addition just look at comparative products, Apple’s own iBook Author, while very easy to use is frankly a joke for large projects. Adobe, the time is perfect to bring Frame back on the Mac!

  • By Don Libes - 4:34 AM on March 15, 2012   Reply

    Your survey misses a significant issue.  Adobe’s behavior was a clear signal that FM had no future and that we should find a solution sooner rather than later or suffer years of annoyance and pain from aging hardware and emulation.  Indeed, part of the reason we use Macs is to get away from Windows and all of its problems.  So we switched to Office, OpenOffice, and LaTeX.  Not as good as FM but at least they run natively and we don’t feel like Adobe is treating us like dirt. If you are going to change your tune, so would we.  A native FM is the only way we’ll use it.  And more and more of our colleagues are switching from Windows to Mac so now would be a great time to roll out a native FM and try and capture a growing market.  But no one is going to switch from Windows to Mac only to run FM in virtual Windows or some other 3rd class solution.

    • By Paolo - 4:47 PM on November 30, 2012   Reply

      After the FrameMaker dismissal, I tried to run away from Adobe completely, but preparing a technical manual with OpenOffice was a disaster. I’m now slowly switching to InDesign from FrameMaker, but I am keeping my fingers crossed every day, because I experienced too many bad jokes from Adobe. Have you seen the latest Acrobat (X and XI)? Are we supposed to work with a convoluted Windows GUI even when choosing a Mac?

  • By Darrel Tenter - 3:51 PM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    Nakshatra. You might also be aware of the FrameMaker for OSX petition?
    Over 4400 signatures. 

    • By Nakshatra Bhardwaj - 6:16 PM on March 30, 2012   Reply

      Thanks for the pointer Darrel. We will take a note of it.

  • By David Crowe - 3:21 PM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    I tried to install Frame in Parallels with Windows 7 and it simply wouldn’t work. I managed to install it under Windows XP (“Forwards to the past!”) but now when I try to install it on a new (Lion) computer the package won’t expand. Even when I get it installed it still doesn’t support AppleScript. My wife is using it for a book and every time Windows reboots (often) she has to go back into the preferences so that key sequences like CMD-X works. And the Mac’s consistent key sequences for special characters (which she needs for her music book) don’t work, so what she does in every other program doesn’t work here. There’s only one solution and that’s Frame on OSX. I am forced to use Word for many major (several hundred page) technical documents and Frame, despite its creaky UI, blows the doors off Word in so many ways.

  • By Larry Kollar - 1:16 PM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    For me, that train left the station long ago. When Adobe dropped Mac support, I dropped Frame. “Just switch to Windows” wasn’t an acceptable workaround then, and it isn’t now, whether native or in emulation.

    The company I work for has since decided to standardize on a collaboration tool, and we’re moving other departments off Frame one by one regardless of which OS they’re using.

    Too bad… Adobe had a great product and let it slip into an ever-declining niche.

  • By Paul Berry - 4:59 AM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    I used FrameMaker on various generations of Macs for many years. FrameMaker is _way_ better than any similar software I’ve ever experienced. I was profoundly disappointed when Adobe ceased to develop the Mac version. For a while I kept a Mac running OS 9 solely to support my old version of FrameMaker. But that choice gets more and more messy.

    I use lots of Adobe software on my Mac– it’s only FrameMaker that is missing.  

    I tried installing VMware Parallels– but found that when I tried to run FrameMaker under Parallels, it choked for lack of sufficient memory. (At least, I think that was the problem… it just ground to a halt without a specific error message.)

    Last year I bought a PC solely to be able to run a current version of FrameMaker under Windows 7. That PC sits beside my Mac. But having to keep switching or transferring files is a pain. (Not to mention having to clutter up my desk with that otherwise-useless PC.)

    As soon as Adobe comes out with a version of FrameMaker that runs under a current Mac OS, I’ll be right up there near the head of the queue to purchase it.

    • By Nakshatra Bhardwaj - 6:08 PM on March 30, 2012   Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Paul.
      Our experiments with Parallels for Mac returned good results. You tried out VMware Fusion or Parallels for Mac?
      Also could you please confirm how much RAM was allocated to the Windows VM when you tried out running FM in such an environment. That might hold the key for the insufficient memory problem that you faced.
      Look forward to hear more from you.


  • By Stan Warford - 4:54 AM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    Running Windows on Mac to use FM is not an option for me. I kept my old PPC Mac when my company upgraded my office computer just so I could access my book-length technical documents with FM on native Mac OS. I would pay any price for a current FM native Mac version. After years of trying InDesign I am abandoning it, as it will probably never have the FM features I need.

    • By Nakshatra Bhardwaj - 5:32 PM on March 30, 2012   Reply

      Thanks for your feedback Stan. Can you try out or share some info about your experience of using any of the options described in the blog post.


  • By Paul S. - 1:11 AM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    I misspoke.  I would like to run FM on an Intel Mac.  Windows avoidance is more important than up-to-date software, so I’m okay with using FM 7.1 or 7.0 and using a Mac OS 9 PPC simulator running under OSX.  But I would gladly upgrade tonight if FM ran natively on OSX.

  • By Former FrameMaker User - 1:04 AM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    I’m settling for Apple Pages. Let Adobe express all the petulance it likes.

  • By Darrel Tenter - 12:11 AM on March 14, 2012   Reply

    Paul. Are you having a problem running the Mac version of FM on a PPC Mac? That shouldn’t be an issue. The last native Mac version was 7.1.
    The problem with windows emulation on a PPC Mac is the processor. On those machines the emulator must emulate the processor as well as the hard drive. This severely affect performance of the virtual machine. On Intel Macs that isn’t necessary and the virtual machine runs better. Not native fast but acceptable for the most part. The problem for me is the “hooks” between files and applications between the two environments. For example, double-click on an image imported into FM and open it in Photoshop.

    • By Paolo - 4:59 PM on November 30, 2012   Reply

      In my view, FrameMaker 7.1 Mac was a better program than FrameMaker 9 Windows (that I’m using now). Shortcuts were easier and more complete, special characters (even very common ones) very easy to type, stability much better. To say it all: I have experienced a couple crashes in ten year of use under Mac, very frequent crashes (especially caused by opening the “pods”) under Windows. Shame there are no decent PowerPC emulators under Mac (Sheepshaver works very bad on my system).

  • By Paul S. - 10:40 PM on March 13, 2012   Reply

    I would like to have seen comments on how to run the Mac version of FM on PPC Mac.  Running a Windows environment is not an option for me, and I’ve been preparing to abandon FM altogether as my last PPC Macs wear out without replacement options.

  • By Darrel Tenter - 10:31 PM on March 13, 2012   Reply

    Are you aware of the FMforOSX group? It’s been up since Dec 2004 and over 1700 posts have been made, though the frequency has dropped off over the last couple of years as hope for a native version has dwindled. I think some have resigned themselves to a windows box or some other authoring environment. But I also think there are still a large base of Mac users (like my company) that author in FrameMaker using virtual machines. Maybe you or someone can join the group and provide some feedback there?

    • By Nakshatra Bhardwaj - 5:13 PM on March 30, 2012   Reply

      Thanks Darrel for pointing us to this group. I’ll join it to know more about the FM users on Mac. It’ll help us make a strong case.
      PS: Sorry for the delay in response, the new theme seems to have messed up the notifications.

  • By Darrel Tenter - 10:16 PM on March 13, 2012   Reply

    I am VERY glad to read this post and to hear that native Mac support is considered. We’ve been using FM since 2000 and are still a Mac production environment.

  • By Peter Gold - 12:44 PM on February 14, 2012   Reply

    Scott Prentice beat me to the punch on the issue of RAM allocation with virtual machines. I have an early 2008 MacBook Pro with a Core2 Duo, and the maximum 6GB RAM. Later models can take 8GB RAM. I moved from VMware Fusion to Parallels, partly because Fusion didn’t seem to be without problems, and partly because of a special free (IIRC) cross-grade offer. Currently using Parallels 7, which seems more trouble-free than Fusion was.

    The FrameMaker task performance comparison doesn’t state what other Mac and PC applications are running simultaneously, and it doesn’t report data for switching between applications, between PC applications, or between Mac and PC applications. For example, compare switching from FM to edit a graphic in Mac Photoshop or Illustrator, then switching to virtual FM to import or annotate the graphic, vs. working completely in Windows, switching among FM, Photoshop, and/or Illustrator.

    Can anyone who works in these situations, comment?

  • By Scott Prentice - 5:49 PM on February 13, 2012   Reply

    For the past 2+ years I’ve been doing all of my work on a MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and run Windows (XP and 7) in VMWare Fusion VMs. I no longer have a native Windows system to compare to, but all in all running Windows on a Mac is much more efficient and easier than ever before.

    Note that your comparison testing doesn’t really provide all of the information. If the Mac itself has 4GB RAM, then the VM has less .. possibly 3GB, but maybe only 2GB. It would be interesting to know how much RAM has been allocated to the Windows VM.

    With 8GB RAM, I allocate 3GB to each Windows VM so I can run 2 Windows instances and still have 2 left for the Mac. This is great for testing and development, and in general, everything works quite well.

    That said .. I think it would be fantastic if you had a native OS X version of Frame. Over half of the TCS products are already on the Mac .. just FM and RH are left out in the cold. Definitely something you should focus on.



    • By Nakshatra Bhardwaj - 7:49 AM on February 16, 2012   Reply

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks for bringing up this point.
      On our setup the Windows VM had 1GB RAM for itself leaving the remaining 3 GB for the Mac. No other applications were running on both the setups when we executed these tests.
      We observed the FrameMaker memory requirements for the stated operations and it easily fit in the allocated RAM available to the VM. That being said, we did repeat the same tests again with increased RAM allocated to the Windows VM with just some marginal improvements against our earlier results on the Parallels environment on Mac.


  • By Mark Southee - 3:11 PM on February 13, 2012   Reply

    Hi Kapil,
    This was using TCS 2.5 (FM 9). I only had this when using Parallels on the Mac. Never had the issues I saw when on a native Windows machine. For example, if I wanted to add a new Book level chapter in RoboHelp, it could take up to 20 minutes to appear in the TOC.

  • By Mark Southee - 10:05 AM on February 13, 2012   Reply

    I’ve had no issues with FrameMaker running on my MacBook Pro (2010 i7 with 4Gb RAM) via Parallels with Win 7. However as a Technical Communication Suite user, linking a FrameMaker Book (unstructured) to a RoboHelp project caused no end of performance issues on the RoboHelp side.

    • By kverma - 12:00 PM on February 13, 2012   Reply


      good to know that you did not face any issues with FrameMaker and Parallels. Just curious, which version of FrameMaker are you running?

      Also, as far as the performance issue with linking of book is concerned, did you face it on Windows as well or only on parallels and Mac? is it constantly reproducible over multiple attempts?

      Kapil Verma

  • […] Feb 13, 2012: Post #6: How to run FrameMaker on Mac? Read the blog post here […]

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