Use this guide to make your workday even more productive.
Mindmaps are probably one of the best known and most popular ways to organize thoughts, structure projects and relate ideas to each other in a meaningful way. The problem with classical mind maps: The paper, on which you make the thought networks, is finite. Also, you need to think very carefully before writing anything down – after all, once recorded, you usually can’t erase it. A much more flexible solution offers Mindmap software. Here you will get to know the eleven best tools.
How to create a good mind map
Mindmaps are used to visualize problems, ideas or projects. You start by writing down the topic of your mind map. All around you note thoughts and ideas related to this topic. You can in turn assign new ideas to these subtopics. Use lines to connect points that are related to each other. This is how the mindmap gradually branches out more and more like a tree.
As a result, you can get a better overview of structures, divide large projects such as content marketing campaigns into easily manageable small tasks, or even gain completely new ideas through the associative character of mind maps.
With a mindmap software you are even more flexible, you can create your mindmap as big as you want, add, delete or move points at any time and involve your whole team in this process.
This is what you should look for when choosing your mind mapping tool
There are many mind mapping tools. To find the one that suits you, pay attention to these points:
Easy to use: Mindmaps are characterized by their simplicity. This should also be reflected in the software. If it is not as natural to use as paper and pen, you run the risk of wasting time and nerves.
AestheticsA good mindmap software lets you work with different colors to organize your thoughts even better. This is how z. B. clearly depict various aspects of a marketing project: Ideation, content creation to content seeding. Some tools even offer the possibility to integrate symbols and images into the mindmap.
Team functionsUse mindmaps not only for yourself, but also in a team? Then make sure that the software of your choice allows for a sufficient number of people.
Export optionsYou may want to be able to use your mindmaps outside of your chosen software. In this case you should make sure that there is an export function available.
CostSome mindmap tools are available free of charge, for others you have to pay. Consider in advance which features you need and then decide how much they are worth to you.
1) Bubble.us: Easy to use directly in the browser
Bubble.us is an English-language tool with a clear user interface. You can work with different colors and save the mindmaps as image or text file. Since you don’t need to install a program, but can work directly in your browser, Bubble.us is quite flexible in its use. It can be used from a computer as well as from a cell phone.
You can create up to three mindmaps with this tool for free. If you need more mindmaps or want to involve team members, prices start at around $5 per month.
2) Coggle: Aesthetic mind maps in a few minutes
With Coggle you can create visually appealing, multicolored mindmaps in a very short time. It is very intuitive to use via drag and drop. If needed, you can embed your mindmap on your website or share it on Facebook and Twitter.
Disadvantage: To use Coggle you need a Google or Microsoft account. In addition, you are also limited to three free mind maps with this tool. Even to get team members on board, you have to pay $5 per month.
3) FreeMind: Functional instead of pretty
FreeMind is an open source software and completely free of charge. The presentation is reduced to the most necessary, but you can add icons, links and multimedia files to the individual points. Working in a team is only possible to a very limited extent. The finished mindmap can be exported as a PDF or HTML file.
4) mapul: For beautiful, colorful mindmaps
If the aesthetics of your mindmaps are important to you, mapul is worth considering. This software lets you create colorful thought nets that visually resemble trees more than other tools do. It is also possible to use symbols.
On the other hand mapul is not suitable to work in a team. In addition, only one mindmap is available to you free of charge. For all others you have to pay.
5) mind42: Free team work
With Mind42 you can also work in teams for free. Simply send your team members an invitation link and you’re ready to go. However, you have to accept advertising on the platform for this. You can export finished mindmaps as JPEG, PNG, PDF or RTF files.
6) Mindjet MindManager: professional tool for companies
MindManager is one of the most popular mind mapping tools and, according to the official website, is also used by large companies such as Acer. At the beginning of a project, you can choose from different templates, which you and your team then only need to fill in.
You can try MindManager free for 30 days. Afterwards you have to purchase a license once.
7) MindMeister: A wide range of functions for teams
MindMeister is a German-developed tool that specializes in the needs of businesses. Team members can work together on the mindmap in real time, leave comments and share the result via a direct link or export it in various formats.
As with most other tools, MindMeister offers only basic features for free. The paid packages start at around five euros per month.
MindMup: Handy for planning projects
With MindMup, you can start designing right in your browser. When you plan a project, you can add a progress bar to the individual tasks. However, the size of the mindmaps in the free version is limited to 100 KB. If you want to create larger files or collaborate with others, you have to choose a paid package.
9) Mindomo: Tailored for students and pupils
Mindomo focuses on academic users and teamwork. The software integrates with various other tools – including Google Drive, Dropbox and learning platforms like Moodle. Students and their instructors can embed videos and audios into the mindmaps and later present everything via a presentation mode.
Three simple mind maps you can create for free. For most functions prices start at six Euro per month.
10) WiseMapping: Free open source tool
WiseMapping is another open source solution and completely free to use. Similar to FreeMind, it is not the most beautiful of all tools, but it has all the important features. Basic team features are also included. In addition, you can host the software on your own server if required.
11) XMind: Extensive customization options
XMind is a very versatile software. Besides mindmaps, you can also create timelines and fishbone diagrams. The tool offers many ways to customize the design. Icons and images can also be added. In the paid version, you can also create presentations around your mindmaps.
Conclusion: Many tools lead to the goal
Any of the featured mind mapping software can help you organize your thoughts, gather new ideas and organize your projects. Which tool is the best for you depends on how much you value the look of your mind maps, whether you want to work alone or in a team and which additional functions you need. Take the time to test different applications. Here’s what you can do for free with all options.
Cover image: Rawpixel / getty images
Originally published on 17. June 2020, updated October 27 2021