Toggle navigation

Introduction to Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop

What is Balsamiq Wireframes?

Balsamiq Wireframes is a user interface design tool for creating wireframes (sometimes called mockups or low-fidelity prototypes).

You can use it to generate digital sketches of your idea or concept for an application or website, to facilitate discussion and understanding before any code is written. The completed wireframes can be used for user testing, clarifying your vision, getting feedback from stakeholders, or getting approval to start development.

Here's a quick demonstration of how it works.

What's New in Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop?

This is a loaded question because, technically, everything is new. We have rebuilt the entire application, from the ground up, to run completely native. That means no more Adobe Flash/Air, and a bunch more native frameworks. The app should run faster and smoother than it ever has, all while working exactly how you remember.

So, to answer your question, everything is new, but it's going to be very familiar.

Let's talk about some of the new features.

Editing Balsamiq Cloud Projects

This is something people have asked for for years, and it's finally here. With Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop, you can log into Balsamiq Cloud, and access all your Cloud-based projects.

Learn all about it in this article.

A New Full Screen Mode

We spent a lot of time modernizing the Full Screen Presentation Mode based on what we learned from the last version. The new version is more customizable, better for user testing, and just feels better to use.

You can read more about the new Full Screen Presentation mode here.

A Robust Review and Comment System

One of the biggest requests for our web apps finally makes it back to the desktop. Now, you can add comments and callouts to projects, and then have your collaborators respond directly to them.

Read more about comments and sharing here.

Integration with Wireframes to Go

Wireframes to Go is our community-driven, custom control site. If you ever find yourself in need of controls beyond what we include, there is a good chance you'll find it there!

With Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop, you can access and import those controls directly from the editor.

And More...

Listing out every difference would take a while. Things like a larger canvas or high-resolution SVG PDF exports were highly requested features, but they don't make for a great sizzle reel. There's a bunch of new in Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop, but you should feel right at home.

Installing Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop (Mac/Win)

Let's get you set up on Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop.

Installing on macOS

Point your browser to the download page and download the latest version of the app to your hard drive. This will save a .dmg file to your computer. Find where the .dmg file is saved, double click it, and then drag the smiley face into the Application folder.

It's that easy. Find the app in your Application Folder and launch it.

Installing on Windows

Again, you only need to point your browser to our download page and download the latest version of the app. Find the .exe installer on your computer, and run it. From there, everything should be like any other app installer you may have run. Once the installer finishes, you'll find a Balsamiq Wireframes shortcut on your Desktop. Double-click that and you're off to the races!

Updating to a New Version of Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop

Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop allows you to enable an automatic check for updates.

You can manually check for an update any time via the menu:


If there is an update available, you'll see a screen letting you know the new version number, along with a summary of the changes included in that version.

To update to the new version, just click the "Install" button.


If you're already using the latest version, you'll see a confirmation that you're up to date:


In both cases, you can check "Automatically Check for Updates" and we'll alert you automatically in future that an update is available.

To see a full list of all changes, take a look at our Wireframes for Desktop Release Notes.

Registering Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop

After you download and install Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop, it will run in trial mode until you register a valid license key.


This will bring up the registration dialog shown below where you can enter your License Information.


You can copy and paste this information from the receipt email you received when you purchased the product. If you no longer have this email, don't fret, you can request a copy of your receipt here.

Unable to Verify or Register

If the Register button remains disabled when you enter the License Key, you will see a message indicating the reason why. Please make sure that you copy and paste directly from your email receipt instead of typing your License Information manually.

If the app is unable to talk to our servers after pasting a valid key, it is likely caused by a failed internet connection, or a firewall blocking the connection. To fix this, you may need to get your IT team involved and ask them to allow the following domain: *

If you’re still having trouble, please email our sales support team a screenshot of your registration dialog and include your License Information in the body of your email, so we can diagnose the issue and get you back to work.

Unregister From This Computer

If you ever need to transfer your license to someone else, you can simply unregister your computer and pass on the license information to the new user. You should also unregister if you will no longer be using that particular computer to avoid misuse of your license.

Once unregistered, you can still use the app to view local BMPR files but you won't be able to edit them or create new ones.

Transitioning from a Previous Version

Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop is compatible with all versions of our .bmpr project files. That means that it doesn't matter if you're coming from Mockups 3 for Desktop, Balsamiq Cloud, or one of our modern integrations - those projects will open in Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop.

What About BMML Files?

Unfortunately, Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop is not compatible with our legacy .bmml file format. If you have .bmml files that you would like to use, send us an email with the files, and we will convert them to a .bmpr project for you.

However, if you have a copy of Mockups 3 for Desktop (our legacy Desktop tool) on your machine, you can also do this conversion yourself. More details on this page.

Next Steps

The rest of our documentation contains a top-to-bottom description of the features and use of Balsamiq Wireframes. A good starting point would be the Editor Overview, to learn about the user interface for navigating and creating your wireframes.

For troubleshooting, frequently-asked questions, and tutorials, head over to our support page. There, you can learn about pricing and payment information, contact us, watch tutorials, and connect with the user community.

Happy Wireframing from the Balsamiq team. :)

A Couple of Little Treats for You!

Built-in Background Music

For years we've been suggesting people use headphones when working on wireframes, to help get in the creative zone. So we asked ourselves: why not give our awesome users a built-in, get-in-the-zone-inducing track to listen to? And so we did!

Just go to the View menu, click "Play Background Music", and get to work!

The track is called Ascension, by Dr. Christopher Lloyd Clarke B.Sc, Msc.D. Meditation music composer and founder of Royalty Free Meditation

We cut the track down to 25 minutes, added a Zen bell, then added 5 minutes of nature sounds recorded by our own Michael Angeles in his hikes around Marin County, CA. We then made the resulting 30-minute track loop 4 times.

Why the (25 + 5)*4, you ask? Because this way you can use the music to time your Pomodoros, of course!

What Should I Make for Dinner?

We know how it is. It's 5pm, and you've just had a glorious day of work, creating awesome wireframes for your next project.

And then it hits you: what should I make for dinner tonight?

That's where we come in.

Go to the Help menu and select "What Should I Make for Dinner?". You'll be taken to this page.

Lots and lots of easy, every-day recipes straight from the Balsamiq team's kitchens, in super-quick video format you can watch while you put your jacket on to leave the office.

Just browse through the list of videos, pick one that looks good, jot down the ingredients and run out the door.

Nothing fancy here, this is what we cook for ourselves when we don't know what to make.

Buon appetito! 🙂