Mind mapping is a great way to visualize ideas and put them in a more realistic form. It is a great way to make a plan, brainstorm and turn those ideas into the steps needed to make them real.
If you often get lost in the thicket of ideas or are tired of chasing after those creative words that arise from your brainstorming sessions only to disappear later, then you should consider using a mind mapping software.
Thankfully, there is a universe of tools out there that can help you build and organize mind maps. Mind mapping tools can help you explore new concepts, map out new ideas in a more detailed manner than you have done before, and help you figure out and fix holes in the plans.
Anyone can use the mind mapping tools to fine-tune their plans and ideas. Students can use them to organize their work, like map out how to split an essay into headings, paragraphs etc.
If you are planning a party, you can draw the nodes with all the aspects to be covered from guests to snacks, location etc. At a corporate level, a mind mapped SWOT analysis can help you spot a strategy’s strength and weaknesses.
In this article, we will introduce you to the best mind mapping tools so you can plan and organize your work effectively.
12+ best mind mapping tools to organize your thoughts and ideas
1. MindMaster (editor’s choice)
Organizing your ideas and thoughts can be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you consider how many of them you can have at a certain point in time.
Since there isn’t always time for you to just sit back and organize yourself the old fashion way, getting a more hands-on approach to how you plan and link your ides one to another can be extremely helpful.
That is where MindMaster comes into play, as it is a versatile, user-friendly, and professional mind mapping tool. It is available on multiple platforms, including PC, tablet, mobile, and web, you can create mind maps and access them from each platform.
Additionally, its toolset includes elements that allow the sharing of your ideas, basically turning this mind mapping tool into a collaborative tool as well.
If you love organizing things in a certain way, then you will love the customization options and templates that you can apply to your train of thought.
Choose between 12 different structures, 33 different themes, and over 700 cliparts to create an idea path that is as unique and memorable as it needs to be.
Hailed as one of the best and most popular mind mapping tools, MindMeister is an online mind mapping tool that boast of over 4 million registered users. This award-winning mind mapping tool allows you to brainstorm, take notes, make detailed project plans, and perform other creative tasks. So whether you use Windows, Linux or Mac OS, you can use MindMeister to easily access your mind maps.
Team collaboration is what it does best. Whether you are thousands of miles away or in a face to face meeting, MindMeister allows you to collaborate with your colleagues in real time and discuss changes in an integrated chat platform. And when your mind maps are complete, you can present them in form of slide shows using the integrated presentation mode, broadcast it live to your collaborators or even export the slides as PNG. Pricing varies starting from $6 per month per user for personal use to $15 per user per month for businesses.
3. Mind Maps Pro
Mind Maps Pro allows you to easily take notes and to change their position, interline, color and order. It is the perfect app for note takers that are used to create mind maps at a big speed because the app is user-friendly and designed to quickly add on the drawboard whatever you want.
If you are using other apps in order to take notes, Mind Maps Pro fits perfectly in your inventory. We have to mention that you can save your maps as text, image, OPML, PDF or Visio. You can import notes from other apps as well so you can arrange all of your observations/thoughts/plans/notes in a single document.
Available as a Chrome extension, Coggle mind mapping software is well known for its sheer simplicity. Coggle comes in three packages: free, awesome, and organizational. Though the commercial versions come with premium features such as presentation modes, the free version packs all you need to create unlimited maps and do more. You can use it to create detailed maps with colored nodes and branches as well as add detailed notes to the branches.
And if you want to embellish your maps with images, Coggle allows you to drag and drop images from your desktop. And since Coggle maps are collaborative as well, you can invite members, see who and what was edited in real time as well as message the team members. The software also allows you to download the created mind maps as text, PNG, or PDF.
If you want to pay for mind mapping software, and office productivity is one of your concerns, then you should go for Mindjet. Mindjet is more than mind mapping software, it is designed to help you and your colleagues collaborate, brainstorm, and stay organized at all times. If you have a project, you can use Mindjet to assign different tasks to all individuals, flesh out all the job requirements, and organize every arm of the project.
Whether you are organizing your own to-dos, working with a dozen, or even over hundred members, Mindset has all you need to create and organize the mind maps. In addition to mind mapping, it integrates well with the common tools and web services such as Box, Microsoft Office and more. The individual plan costs $15 per month per user while the enterprise plan cost $30 per month per user.
Bubbl.us is available as a web app, so you don’t have to download anything in order to use it. Simplicity is one of its key selling points. All you have to do is launch it in your preferred browser, click the ‘start brainstorming’ button and off you go. And if you get stuck, you can use the help page or go through the provided tutorial. The free version allows you to create up to 3 mind maps. You can create the mind maps, save them in your free user account, export them, and even share with colleagues. However, if you need more mind maps, you can sign up for the premium version at $6 per month that allows you to create unlimited mind maps, insert images and get priority support.
Available for Windows, Mac, and iOS, MindMaple is an amazing mind mapping tool that has a free and a paid version on offer. It comes loaded with various templates and themes that make mind mapping easy and enjoyable. It comes with a clip art library that you can use to add appropriate graphics to your mind map. In addition, you can add files, hyperlinks, relationships, and boundaries to your mind map. If you upgrade to the pro version, you get advanced features such as Microsoft Office exporting, password security and PDF exporting. You can export your mind map as HTML, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Image files, or XMind files.
XMind is another powerful mind mapping tool that has been around for a long time. However, despite the fact that it was built for older operating systems, XMind still perfectly works in Windows 10.
The biggest power of XMind is its flexibility, and a high variety of graphical options for creating diagrams, and other graphical designs. You can choose various styles for putting your ideas on the screen. Whether it’s a simple mind mapping style, or a ‘fishbone’ flowcharts style.
As the tool allows you to customize your maps and diagrams, you can add images and icons to different parts of the project, hyperlinks, and more.
Unlike Mindjet, XMind is completely free and open source, which makes this tool one of the most popular mind mapping software on the list. However, if you’d like to spend some money on XMind, you can purchase Plus or Pro versions for $79 and $99, respectively. Find out more on XMind’s official website.
WiseMapping is another online-based mind mapping tool that doesn’t even require you to log in to start using it. It’s extremely easy to understand, as you’ll need just a few minutes to get around. It works on all modern browsers, across all platforms, and uses vector graphics and HTML5 to make your mind maps possible.
However, if you’re planning to use WiseMapping more frequently, it is advisable to open a free account, because you can save your mind maps if you’re not logged in.
It uses the drag and drop principle, so all you need to do is to write down your ideas, and arrange them by your desire, with a few mouse moves. WiseMapping allows you to save your projects as images, PDF document, or FreeMind files, and you can also embed them into any website. The collaboration feature allows you to share and work on your mind maps with your friends and colleagues.
If you want to try WiseMapping, visit its official website.
Freemind is another extremely flexible, free mind mapping software for basically any platform. As it is GNU General Public Licensed, it works on any platform you’re using, including Linux, and Windows 10. Freemind owes its popularity to a big number of features, flexibility, and consistent performance.
With Freemind, you can create any mind map you want, be it a simple to-do list, or a complex diagram with tons of ideas. When creating complex diagrams, you can add branches, graphics, and icons to differentiate notes and properly connect them. Of course, you can add hyperlinks to any part of your project.
Freemind can export your mind maps into various types of files, including HTML/XHTML, PDF, OpenDocument, SVG, or PNG. However, if we take a general look at its design, it looks a little bit dusty, because the tool is pretty old, but it still does a marvelous job, regardless of platform.
Freemind is completely free, and you can grab it from this link.
NovaMind is a multiplatform brainstorming software. It is available across a high variety of platforms, including Windows, iPad, Mac OS X, or Android, so if you own more devices, you can sync your ideas between them. It has a free basic version, which is very limited, so if you’re more serious about using this tool, a commercial version is advisable.
NovaMind is fairly easy to use and understand, especially because it starts with a tutorial, and a demo mind map, to show you all of its features and concepts. It has a unique user interface in form of a dial, that holds all needed features. NovaMind offers integration with its own cloud storage, NovaMind Cloud, where you can save up to 10 documents.
As we said, all of its main features are available in the commercial version. The free version actually serves as a demo for trying out the tool, as it doesn’t even allow you to save your projects.
You can find more details about the tool on its official website.
BluMind is a free, portable brainstorming software for Windows. The most users will love it because it’s portable before all, but it also offers some powerful features, along with a satisfying design.
When you open this tool, its interface will remind you of a browser. In that manner, BluMind also supports tabs, which allow you to work on multiple documents at once. Besides regular mind maps, you can also create org charts, logic charts, and tree diagrams.
What’s also great about this tool is that it contains a built-in timer, which is good for stimulating you to think faster, and be more productive, just like other timers for Windows 10 do. It also supports mind maps created with other tools, like Freemind, so you can import these, as well.
If you’re looking for a simple, portable tool for capturing your ideas, you can’t go wrong with BluMind.
As we said, the program is available for free, and you can grab it from this link.
Scapple is not just a regular brainstorming tool. Actually, it’s main purpose is not to be a mind mapping tool, but you can use it as one. In fact, Scapple doesn’t call itself a mind mapping tool in its documentation, but a note-taking app instead. However, this is just a ‘marketing trick’, because more people are familiar with the term ‘note-taking app’, than with ‘mind mapping tool’.
This program allows you to create mind maps by typing anywhere on the screen. When you type your ideas, you simply connect them with branches, and you got yourself a simple, yet very understandable mind map. It also supports images, and even allows you to make your full diagram out of images. Importing images into Scapple is easy, you simply drag and drop them.
Scapple comes with the price of $14.99, but you can try the trial version for free. If you want to try Scapple, you can do so by downloading the tool from its official website.
Text2Mindmap is another web-based mind mapping tool, a lot of users like because of its speed and simplicity. It allows you to create mind maps simply by creating text lists. Once you complete your text list, each text line will be converted into a single node in the minimap. A similar technique is present in Microsoft Powerpoint’s tool for creating diagrams.
Additional features of Text2Mindmap are the ability to save your projects as PDF, use keyboard shortcuts, and access maps via a unique URL. Text2Mind map is available for free, but the free version only offers the most basic features. If you want some more options, you’ll have to purchase Mini ($5/Month), Standard ($9/Month), and Pro ($11/Month) subscriptions.
If you want to try Text2Mindmap, you can do so from its official website.
There you got it, the best mind mapping tools. So how should you go about choosing the right tool? Some of the factors to consider include price (free or paid), ease of use, collaboration, looks, import and export options. If you intend to use the software in an office setting or with team members, then you should go for a tool that has collaboration and presentation features. Export options like PDF are important for printing and presentation purposes. But if you are new to mind mapping, then you should probably start with a mind mapping tool that is available free of charge. Hope you find this article useful. Feel free to comment and share.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in November 2016 and was revamped and updated in May 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.