Macbeth was born in the Bolton suburb of Halliwell, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1902, she participated in the 'Scottish Section' of the First International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin where she won a silver medal for the design of the Glasgow Coat of Arms on one side of the banner presented to Professor Rucker of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1909 she became Head of the Needlework and Embroidery section at the Glasgow School of Art, and in 1912 Director of Studies in the Needlework-Decorative Arts Studio. She succeeded Jessie Newbery as head of the embroidery department Newbery had established, following Newbery's retirement due to illness in 1908.
She published six books on embroidery, including Educational Needlecraft (published in 1911, with Margaret Swanson), The Playwork Book (1918), Needleweaving (1922), Embroidered Lace and Leatherwork (1924), and Countrywoman's Rug Book (1926). She also produced several designs for jewellery some of which appear as illustrations in books by Peter Wylie Davidson.
- "Two Women of Distinction". The Glasgow Herald. 2 April 1948. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- "How Scotland forged itself a bold and beautiful future". The Herald. 21 June 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- "Mackintosh Architecture: The Catalogue - browse - display". www.mackintosh-architecture.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
- Arthur, Liz (1990). Ann Macbeth (1875-1948), pp 153-155, Glasgow Girls. Women in Art and Design, 1880-1920. (Ed. Jude Burkhauser). Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 153. ISBN 1-84195-151-X.
- "Macbeth, Ann (1875-1948) | GSA Archives". www.gsaarchives.net. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
- Arthur, Liz (1990). Jessie Newbery (1864-1948), pp 147-151, Glasgow Girls. Women in Art and Design, 1880-1920. (Ed. Jude Burkhauser). Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 151. ISBN 1-84195-151-X.
- "Educational Needlecraft | by Margaret Swanson and Ann MacBeth". chestofbooks.com. Retrieved 2016-05-25.
- Davidson, Peter Wylie (1926). "Applied Design in the Precious Metals". farling.com/books - illustration on p64. Longmans. Retrieved 2016.