Mind mapping is an excellent way to organize your ideas in a more visual manner. The programs that facilitate this have proven to be fantastic tools for collaborating on projects with other people. With no shortage of excellent mind mapping software on the market, figuring out which one to use can be difficult. Here we explain what a mind map is and list some of the best mind mapping apps you can use.
What Is a Mind Map?
A mind map is a sort of diagram or space where you can add in your thoughts, ideas, or tasks and organize them in an easy to interpret manner. They usually revolve around a central topic and show the relationships of other information toward that topic. Some of the benefits of mind mapping include:
- It is easier to digest and recall ideas
- Helps simplify more complex concepts
- Allows you to work seamlessly with other people on a specific idea
- Lets you present ideas more clearly to a group of people
Available on: Windows and macOS
Scapple is one of the more straightforward mind-mapping offerings for Windows and macOS that sports a minimalist aesthetic and an exceedingly simple user interface. It isn’t all that much to look at, but you’ll be treated to an intuitive system that’s easy to jump into even for newbies.
Getting started with Scapple couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is download the trial version from the official website, then launch the app and you’ll immediately have a fresh mind-mapping board to work with.
Scapple has flexibility in handling content that wasn’t created within the scope of the program. Want to add a picture, PDF, or even a text document? Just drag and drop your document of choice onto your mind map, and it’ll instantly appear, along with the ability to resize it and connect it to your other notes and items.
Sharing your mind map with your colleagues is a piece of cake as well, as the program allows you to effortlessly export it as a PDF or various image formats. If your teammates also have Scapple, you can simply save the project in the app’s proprietary “.scap” format.
Scapple offers a flexible 30-day trial with all the full version features. After the trial, you can purchase a Scapple license for a one-time payment of $18. Students and academics can take advantage of a discounted rate of $14.40.
Available on: Web
Coggle skips the hassle of having to download and install a program, as it’s purely a browser-based online tool. It’s a stylish mind mapping solution, offering a host of striking colors and a healthy variety of well-designed shapes to work with. It’s also incredibly easy to use, thanks to a little cheat sheet that appears on the bottom-right corner of the screen, showing you the different controls and hotkeys you can make use of.
Getting started with Coggle is a breeze. Navigate to the website, sign in via a Google, Microsoft, or Apple account, and you’re all set.
A favorite Coggle feature is that it can be constantly updated in real time. It’s also effortless to share your work with colleagues and other users. You can do so by just sending an invite email to any address. Coggle was built to be a collaborative tool and succeeds at making it easy to work with various people on a single project.
Furthermore, it’s a big plus that there’s no installation required, allowing everyone to get on board regardless of what kind of computer they’re using. Plus, you can browse through all the updates on a mind map and branch off from any specific change.
Coggle offers a decent free version, though it does limit your selection of shapes and colors to just a handful of choices and only allows you to create a maximum of three diagrams, which is very restrictive. If you want more bells and whistles, subscribe to the “Awesome” tier for $5 per month or $50 a year for a limitless number of diagrams and have access to all the colors and shapes, as well as the ability to upload high-resolution images and look through the full chat history. The “Organization” tier is $8/mo and offers SAML Single Sign-On, consolidated billing, specialized diagrams, and more.
Available on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, and Web
MindManager is a more advanced mind-mapping tool and is much more professional-looking than the other apps on this list. It may be a bit tougher to jump into compared to some of its rivals because of the daunting number of templates and the more technical layout and style.
Connect different mind maps and export them to be accessed on other software. Make all kinds of charts, diagrams, maps, schedules, and more. You can even link MindManager to certain communication apps, like Slack or Outlook, allowing it to track team progress and other vital information.
“Smart rules” is used the same way as conditional formatting. It lets you create specialized maps that adapt to whatever data they’re meant to display, eliminating the need to set up similar maps time and time again.
The “Essentials” basic package only features the web version of the app and costs $99. You get most of its core capabilities, minus the ability to publish, co-edit and share published maps. The “Professional” tier at $169/yearly nets you the publishing features, along with personal and team content. capturing and sharing, and access to the Windows, macOS, Chromebook, and mobile versions. The “Enterprise” edition offers SSO activation, license discounts, an IT admin portal, training and consulting services, and more. You will have to inquire about a quote.
Available on: Web
Similar to Coggle, Bubbl.us is a browser-only mind mapping solution that’s intended for smaller teams or individual use. It boasts an inviting user interface with a mix of fun colors and bubbly shapes and is intuitively designed.
To use the tool, you just need to register an account on the website using your Google or Facebook account or a different email address altogether.
The greatest feature of Bubbl.us is presentation. It allows you to personalize your maps using a wide range of colors, down to the backgrounds, texts, bubbles, and lines. There’s also a presentation mode that allows you to make use of the program to get your point across in meetings or classes.
If you want to export the file, Bubbl.us allows you to do so in JPG, PNG, HTML, or plain text outputs of your maps, and you have the option to simply share your work on social media or via a link.
The free version of Bubbl.us allows for up to three mind maps, image exporting capabilities, and the ability to share your work. The “Premium” tier comes with image and file adding, real-time collaboration, 5GB storage capacity, access to revision history, guest-editing, and more, and costs $4.91 a month or $59 per year. There’s also a “Team” version that gets you all of the “Premium” features, in addition to multiple licenses, a personalized sign-in domain, advanced user management, and other useful work features.
Available on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Web
Stormboard offers a bit of a different take on mind mapping compared to the other offerings on the list. Instead of a blank canvas, this app utilizes a board-like design called “Storms” that is similar to Trello.
Create an account with an email or log in with your existing Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, or Facebook accounts. Start mind mapping by either launching Stormboard in a web browser or downloading the app.
One of Stormboard’s greatest advantages is its wealth of integration options. It’s capable of seamlessly syncing with Google Workspace and Microsoft 3 as well as other popular apps like Slack, Zapier, Jira, Azure Dev Ops, and more.
Stormboard’s sticky notes-based design is also easy on the eyes and simple to organize. You can add tasks to them, make comments, or even have your workmates vote on a particular idea.
While the voting idea certainly is handy, it’s not without its flaws, as you cannot dictate which notes can be voted on and which can’t. Furthermore, there’s no way to set a limiter on the number of votes cast by each participant per note. The voting system definitely could use work, but it’s still quite useful nonetheless.
Stormboard’s free “Personal” plan only allows for a maximum of five open Storms and five users per Storm. You’ll have access to pre-made templates, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and view-only Google Drive integration. You can also integrate with other programs, like Slack and Flow. The “Business” edition costs $10/pp/monthly, and you’ll get the ability to customize pre-made templates, co-edit on Microsoft 365 and Google Drive, unlimited open Storms, data importing, ten users who can view your Storms, and more. The “Enterprise” version is $16.67/pp/monthly and allows unlimited Storm viewers, Single Sign On (SSO), VIP support, Agile Integrations for Jira, Azure DevOps, Rally, and other useful features.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I come up with an effective mind map?
When you understand how to take notes in the Mind Map format, there are many ways for developing your own conventions. The following suggestions can help get the most from them:
- Use single words or uncomplicated phrases. It’s important that your words are short and meaningful to convey the same meaning with more power.
- Use color to separate different ideas. Using color in your mind map can help you organize and visualize the different sections of it for future recall.
- Use pictures to remember information. Using a picture that means something special or meaningful for you will make it easier to remember.
- Use cross-links. Use cross-links to relationships between the different ideas.
2. What’s the difference between a mind-mapping software and a whiteboard app?
Whiteboard apps feature many functions needed for brainstorming ideas. However, a whiteboard app will just give you a bird’s eye view of your brainstormed ideas. Mind mapping software will allow you to creatively engage in generating ideas by association. If you feel like mind-mapping software is not what you need for your team, consider one of these whiteboard apps, with our top choice being Miro.
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