How to Create a Flow Chart on a Mac

By David Weedmark

Using Pages, the desktop publishing app that comes with every Mac computer, you can create and customize a flow chart for any project. Pages 5.2 includes shapes to represent different steps in a process, as well as lines and arrows to illustrate the flow between the steps. As soon as you add a new shape or line, the editing options appear under tabs in the Format panel that opens on the right of your document. If you don't see that drawer, just click the brush-shaped "Format" icon.

Adding Shapes

The shapes available in Pages include ovals, rectangles, triangles and pentagons. To add one to your flow chart, click the "Shape" icon in the toolbar or select "Shape" from the Insert menu. After the shape is on the page, drag it to where you want it to appear or resize it by dragging any corner. Hold down the "Shift" key while resizing to constrain the proportions. Change a shape's color and border by clicking any style under the Style tab in the Format panel or specify its fill and border colors by clicking the appropriate option. You can also add a reflection, a shadow or change a shape's opacity. To duplicate a shape, right-click it to copy and then paste it. As you move a shape, guidelines appear to help you align it with other shapes.

Adding Text

After creating a shape, add text to it by clicking the "Text" tab at the top of the Format panel. The current text style is listed at the top of the menu. Click the arrow beside the style name to choose a different font. Customize the size, color and alignment by clicking the relevant menus. After adding text to a shape, you may not be able to move the shape or change its size even after clicking on the shape repeatedly. If this happens, just click any blank space on the document and click the shape again.

Adding Flow Arrows

Most flow charts are meaningless without arrows indicating the flow of information from one object to another. Select an arrow line from the Shape icon in the toolbar or by clicking "Insert," followed by "Line" and "Line With Arrowhead." Drag the arrow to where you want it. To rotate or change the length, drag the anchor point on either end of the line. Under the Style tab of the Format panel, you can change the endpoint style on either end of the line. By default, the arrowheads are small, but you can make them larger by increasing the line thickness.

Using Connection Lines

Using connection lines rather than arrows makes it easy to reorganize a flow chart as you're drawing it because the lines move with the shapes to which they are attached. Connection lines are one of the least intuitive features of Pages 5.2. To attach connection lines to objects, first select two objects while holding down the "Command" key and clicking each of them. Then, make sure the shapes are using the "Stay With Page" option under the Format panel's Arrange tab. When that's done, insert a connection line by clicking the curved line in the Shape button on the toolbar or select one of the three connection lines in the Line section of the Insert menu. There are no arrowheads on connection lines at first, but you can add them by clicking the "Endpoints" menus under the Format panel's Style tab.