15 Great Mindmapping Tools and Apps




Mindmapping is the process of drawing up diagrams that show relations between various ideas, tasks or information. For many of us this shows to actually be a way of taking notes that can be more useful than just writing down keywords or sentences like we do on a to-do list.

By drawing mind maps you actually visualize your tasks and how each task can influence each other in a better way, making your brain remember more easily and/or come up with new ideas.

The Tools

There are various tools for mindmapping out there, both free and paid versions. In this article I will focus solely the free options. The apps are not in any particular order. I will simply mention 15 apps I’ve tried and found interesting, then you can see which one(s) could be most interesting for you.

The ones that require any installation, can be run on all platforms that support Java unless something else is specified. Most of these apps are web applications, making it even easier to use them anywhere from any web browser.

Freemind ↓

Freemind

I found the application quick to install and very easy to understand, – which is probably why it is one of the more popular.

You can download Freemind here.

Xmind ↓

Xmind

Xmind has a more professional business-like look compared to FreeMind. Also available in a “pro” version with several customizable features, like brainstorming mode.

You can download Xmind here.

Bubbl.US ↓

Bubbl.US

Web application. Without an account you begin brainstorming right away and are able to print or save your mind map as a jpeg or png. Sign up (free) to be able to save the mind map for later use.

MindMeister ↓

MindMeister

A web application with several options; there’s a free account and several commercial options. Very simple to understand and use, also comes as an iPhone application.

Freeplane ↓

Freeplane
This is a fork/redesign of earlier mentioned FreeMind with many extra features.

You can download Freeplane here.

Mind42.com ↓

Mind42
Browser based mindmapping tool. Colorful and intuitive with great possibilities to sharing with others. Requires free registration.

Bookvar ↓

Bookvar
This one is Windows only. Easy to use and collaborate, you can insert many different file types to your projects/maps as well.

You can download Bookvar here.

Thinkature ↓

Thinkature
Web application with instant messaging/voice chat. Extremely versatile. (unfortunately the Thinkature site seems to be down at the moment)

Map Myself (aka Mapul) ↓

Map Myself
This web application creates completely organic looking mind maps. Many ways to customize, including adding images.

Dabbleboard ↓

Dabbleboard
This is an online whiteboard that makes collaborations easy and fun. Great for making easy mind maps, organization charts and other diagrams. Draw freehand, add pictures or let the application recognize shapes you draw.

Wisemapping ↓

Wisemapping
Powerful yet simple web application with easy sharing and embedding to your own website.

Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) ↓

Visual Understanding Environment
Flexible and simple. Definitely one of the applications I found the easiest to start creating in.

Download VUE here.

Ekspenso ↓

Ekspenso
Web based application that can also be used offline via Gears or Adobe Air. Very easy to use without any bells and whistles.

Edraw MindMap / Free Mind Map ↓

Edraw MindMap
A windows only vector based favorite with some really good templates and examples to work from.

Edraw can be downloaded here.

ThinkGraph ↓

ThinkGraph
2d drawings specialized for mindmapping and related tasks. Hasn’t been updated for some time but very easy and intuitive to use. (parts of the site are in French)

ThinkGraph can be downloaded here.

Conclusion


There is a jungle of mindmapping tools out there. I have tested dozens of different ones over the past few weeks. It’s hard to call any of the tools good or bad as I believe it is a lot about personal preferences.

My tip to you is to try out a couple of different ones to see which one feels best to use for your purpose. Even though some of these tools may look very similar, the user experience is quite different from one tool to the other.

Hopefully one of these 15 tools mentioned here could be the one tool you’ve been looking for ;)


Hilde Torbjornsen

About the author:

Hilde Torbjornsen is a Norwegian graphic designer/freelancer with a passion for everything Adobe, photography and freelancing. Her website is Designer77 and you can follow her daily updates on twitter here: @Hildy77

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