Free Mind Mapping Tools Windows

Free Mind Mapping Tools Windows

If you are looking for free mind mapping tools, then you have come to the right place. We have listed a few of the best free mind mapping tools that we could find.

Mind Mapper is a simple and easy to use mind mapping tool that has been designed for users who want to create their own mind maps without having to pay for any software. It can be used on both PCs and Macs, so it should work well with most people’s needs.

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This mind mapping tool allows users to create beautiful looking diagrams that can be used for personal or business purposes. It comes with many different features such as support for multiple languages, printable output support, custom color schemes and much more!

The main purpose of this application is to help users create flowcharts easily without having to pay for any expensive software programs like Visio or OmniGraffle. It contains many different features such as support for multiple languages and printable output support which makes it ideal for people who want something simple but effective!

Best free Mind Mapping software for Windows 11/10

Free Mind Mapping Tools Windows

How many times in life have you brainstormed ideas to derive solutions for specific problems or to expand your thoughts? At some point in life, we all have indulged in this rigorous activity. When we brainstorm, a stream of free-flowing ideas form a cluster in our mind. An interesting fact here is that, in the mind, ideas often flow in a random and a non-sequential manner. It is how our thought process works. So, if you want logical conclusions, then it is essential to organize and chart this nonlinear flow of ideas. There are various techniques to do this, but one of the most popular and standard techniques of brainstorming is mind mapping. Mind mapping is the technique to chart the stream of free-flowing ideas in an organized and logical way. It is a technique of clustering ideas around the main topic and relating it with other associated ideas and connections.

In the third century, Porphyry of Tyros did the first recorded use of mind maps. Even Leonardo-Da-Vinci used them for note-making. Later, in the 1970s, when Tony Buzan, the famous British psychologist, and an educational consultant, elaborated the concept of mind mapping in his seminal text- The Mind Map Book and his TV show- Use your Head broadcasted on BBC, mind maps became a popular way of brainstorming. Since then, businesses have been using mind mapping activities to come up with great ideas and frameworks. In the corporate world, individuals and teams use mind mapping to derive solutions, plan agendas, create models, generate new marketing ideas, improve concepts, identify and categorize customer groups, and many more.

Though you can draw a mind map on a plain paper also, a more efficient way to do this would be using a mind mapping software that assists in creating structured mind maps. With the support of mind mapping software tools, businesses can assimilate more ideas compared to paper-based mind mapping.

What is Mind Mapping Software?
Mind mapping software is an application that provides individuals and teams with tools to brainstorm their ideas and create mind maps. It comes with features such as concept mapping, team collaboration, storyboards, presentation tools, publishing tools, create loops and branches, flowcharting, floating images, and many more. A mind mapping software is a visual information tool that lets users create incredible insights in a specialized way.

What are the steps involved in Mind Mapping using a Mind Map Software?
While brainstorming is a completely random and non-sequential process, mind mapping is a thoroughly structured process. To create great mind maps using a mind mapping software one must follow the below four steps:

Begin with the central idea:
The nature of a mind map is to start from within and expand towards the outer area. The central idea is the core axis around which everything else will revolve. Once you have written your main topic, problem, or idea statement in the center, then you can go to the next step. Mind map software has many in-built templates that you can choose from, to begin the process.


Add branches to the main topic:
Think about the various broader subcategories and sub-topics that can be associated with your central statement and then add branches to the main idea to elaborate the subtopics in them. Your ideas need not always be in words. You can use diagrams, symbols, signs, sketches, etc. to expand your main idea into branches. Mind mapping software comes with an in-built clip art library and pre-uploaded images that you can insert in your mind map to make it look appealing.

mind mapping example

Analyze branches to add more sub-branches
Think of related ideas, capture more ideas, create a thought structure, and add more branches to the broader branches. Follow your initial ideas as far as you can go with it. You can ask questions such as why, when, how, where, whom, what, etc. to come up with more information, and then you can add it to your core idea. Mind mapping software allows you to add more branches or nodes to expand your ideas.

examples of mind mapping software

Add images and colors
Maps that reach a certain density level appear attractive and rich. You can add images and different colors to make the map easy to understand. You can add similar colors for similar types of points. In the mind-mapping process, if you run out of ideas, then you need to come back to the center for more ideas. It will complete the mind mapping process.

When is a mind map used?

When is a mind mapping software used

Why do businesses need mind mapping software?

For Effective Project management:
With the help of mind mapping software, project managers can make a visual picture of priorities, tasks in hand, resources available, and steps involved in the project.

For making the right decisions:
Businesses can brainstorm the available options, advantages, and disadvantages of the decision and list down risks involved with a mind map.

For strategic planning:
With mind mapping software, companies can draw a visionary strategic plan that includes vision-mission statements, SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, etc. Activities such as strategic planning require a lot of brainstorming by the stakeholders. With a mind mapping software, businesses can consolidate and summarize essential details and create a better road map to the strategic plan.

For managing time
Busy business professionals can make a visual chart of their weekly, monthly, or quarterly schedule in a hierarchical and radial structure. They can chart priority tasks, secondary works, work in progress, deadlines, etc. to make a viable structure that will assist them in understanding their time-management needs.

For making client presentations in a short time
With the help of a mind mapping software, businesses can make effective presentations in a short duration of time. By putting the monotonous information in a colorful and organized pattern, mind mapping software can help design better presentations in minimal time.

For saving costs involved in Paper-based mind mapping
While paper-based mind mapping might appear an easy escape, it is not feasible for organized businesses. Today, even small scale and medium scale businesses create bulk amounts of data. Mind mapping with paper will not only take more time, but it is also not easy to preserve the paper for the long term. Paper can get misplaced and destroyed easily. Moreover, purchase and storage of paper will cost you more than deploying a mind mapping software. Paper-based mind maps are not that engaging as those created by using interactive platforms of mind mapping software.

Benefits of Using Mind Maps:
Benefits of mind mapping software

What are the features of Mind Mapping Software?
Chart mode
A mind mapping software provides you with multiple formats and templates to make mind maps. Users get options to build various charts used in business such as fishbone chart, matrix chart, log-chart, tree chart, flowchart, timeline chart, org chart, etc.

Presentation mode
This feature allows mind mappers to visualize their ideas in the presentation form. With customized backgrounds and themes, users can make their ideas more appealing and clear.

Export mind map in various formats
This feature allows users to export and download their mind maps in various formats ranging from text files such as PDF, Word, PPT, Excel, HTML to image files such as JPEG, PNG, SVG, etc.

In-built templates
Mind mapping software also comes with in-built templates in various formats so that you can directly work on it. It saves your time as you don’t have to build your mind map from scratch.

Tool library
Most of the mind mapping software has inbuilt libraries with clip art, images, designs, etc. to decorate your mind map. Some software also lets you import clip art from external sources.

User Interface
The mind mapping software comes with an interactive, beautiful, and user-friendly interface with a maximum possible distraction-free work screen. Users can choose from multiple themes, fonts, and backgrounds to make their mind maps.

Multiple center points
Mind mapping software allows you to work on multiple center points in a single workspace.

Real-time collaboration with teams
The mind mapping software page can open simultaneously on multiple desktops. You can invite your team members to collaborate on the idea chart at the same time.

Mind Map training
Mind mapping software also comes with training modules to provide you complete tricks and strategies to make the best mind maps by utilizing the features optimally.

Map history and revert
The mind mapping software allows users to see the complete history of the mind mapping process and also lets the users revert to a previous change or position.

Other Tools
The mind mapping software comes with tools such as relationship lines (a line showing the relation of one topic with another), label ( a piece of annotation attached to a topic), loop (create a loop and join branches), and many more.

The list of 7 best free and open-source mind mapping software:
Comparison Chart of 7 Best Free and Open Source Mind Mapping Software
Chart of comparison of the mind mapping software

Compendium is a free and open source mind mapping software that CogNexus developed for making large scale mind map structures. This software supports both individual and group workspace. The latest version of Compendium is 1.7.1. Right from launching Compendium to completing a mind map, the user interface of this software is easy and interactive. It is available for free under GNU lesser general public license (LGPL).

Compendium mind mapping sofwtare



Create mind maps in collaboration with team members with the option to editing each other’s input
Drag and drop documents and websites into a map
Users can label the connections between concepts to illustrate links
Display links between everyone’s ideas in group projects through dialogue maps
Establish a link between idea and information
Create different types of nodes (topic box) by dragging the icon from the toolbar
Overlay a map on top of the image and add graphics and notes
Scribble pad to scribble on the workspace
Add comments, notes, annotations to the nodes
Freeplane is a free and open source mind mapping software application that creates and analyzes mind maps. Freeplane runs on any operating system having the current version of Java. Freeplane as an open source mind mapping software can be downloaded locally on your desktop computers, or if you don’t want to download it, then you can run it through a USB device. The main topic is called the root node, sub-topics are called the child nodes, and the broader topics are known as the free nodes.

Free plane mind mapping software



Ordering ideas into a hierarchy by connecting them with lines
Classifying idea boxes with metadata (attributes)
Grouping similar nodes with color containers
Automatically styling nodes with color, bubble, etc.
Structuring nodes in terms of the content type such as text, icon, formula, calculation etc
Presentation area (core, details, attributes, notes, images, and tooltip)
Option to fold branches, scrolling and navigating, filtering, and searching content
Connecting nodes with dynamic links, free lines, and labels
Password protecting the whole map with DES encryption
Multi-language support with an inbuilt spell checker,
Drag and drop functionality for icons, text, images, etc.
Extensive support through Forum, tutorial, and documentation
Wisemapping is a free and open source mind mapping software that can be used by individuals, professionals, businesses, and educators to make embeddable mind maps. It can be installed on your local servers, and its license is completely free. It is a Java-based software that provides both private and public workspace. Users can have their own mind maps and the shared maps with teams separately. It supports Windows, Linux, Mac (Open source version) and can also be accessed online ( in its cloud version).

Wise mapping software



Topic creator and editor
Team collaboration on mind maps is allowed. Simultaneously you and your team can work on a single workspace.
Export in PDF, SVG, and other image formats
Drag and drop functionality for inserting images, icons, etc. to your map from the desktop
Recover map history to see all previous changes
Customize text size, formats and background style
Add and expand branches radially in various formats
Add color to the topic boxes
Add borders and color borders
Add icons, emojis to the map to make it more engaging
Semantik is a free and open source mind mapping software application designed to help individuals and teams create effective mind maps. It was first developed in 2005 and was named Kdissert. Later the name was changed to Semantik. This further assists in making reports and presentations. Semantik is free under the GPL V3 license. It is an ideal mind mapping software tool for businesses, teachers, students, creative users, and project managers.

Semantik mind mapping software



Create mind maps using linear views
Simply and interactive UI
Covert mind maps into documents and presentations
Insert image, picture, table, and diagrams
Create UML diagrams and flowcharts
Supports HTML, LaTex, Openoffice document formats
Export the document in PNG or PDF format
Command-line tools for document export
In Semantik mind maps can be edited in 2D format or flat tree format
Add texts and attachments to the maps
Xmind is an open source mind mapping software application that is designed to generate ideas. Xmind features a center with branches radiating from it. It has an interactive and elegant user interface. This software is used by millions of users worldwide for its deep analysis capabilities. It works easily with Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS platforms.

xmind mind mapping software



Comes with in-built templates for mind map designing
Slide base presentation of the mind map
Various map structures such as Org-chart, Tree-chart, and Logic-chart can be drawn
Classify ideas based on their connections
With Xmind you can convert your mind map into Gantt Chart which is a very useful feature for project management
Beautiful workspace user interface
Integrates with Office and export in PDF is enabled
Extensive clip art library
Toolbox with marker, label, notes, information card, and many more.
Coggle is a free mind mapping software tool for creating mind maps and flowchart. In its free plan, it lets you create unlimited public diagrams and has over 1600 free icons. Users can upload unlimited images and can also create three private diagrams. If you want more features, then you can opt for Coggle’s paid plans- Awesome and Organization Plans.

Coggle mind mapping sofware



Allows real-time collaboration with other members of the team
Save changes and also revert to a previous position if required
Unlimited image uploads allowed from your PC to the map workspace
Add floating text and images to annotate parts of your map
Create loops and join branches
Multiple center points allowed
Auto arrange branches
See complete map history
Download the mind map in PDF and image formats
Import and export as .mm, and text format
Create flowcharts; process maps other charts and diagrams
Mindmeister is a free mind mapping software that comes with an advanced mind mapping editor. It is a web-based online mapping tool that can be used for brainstorming, project planning, and note-taking. It works with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Its free version has limited features with a maximum of 3 free mind maps allowed. For more features, one has to switch to its personal, pro, or business plan.

mindmeister mind mapping software



Create a structure for idea with notes and attachments
All maps safely get stored in the cloud
Choose map mode and chart layout from pre-built templates, and charts
Customize chart with beautiful themes, fonts, icons, background images, and format
Share and collaborate with other team members
Assign tasks on the workspace to collaborators and set deadlines
Convert map into a stunning presentation in one click
Add notes, links, icons, images, and videos to map
See map building history and revert changes if required
Import and export text and images in various formats
Upload attachment from Google Drive and Dropbox platforms
You can choose from the above list of 7 best free and open source mind mapping software for your brainstorming sessions and save your time. If you still need more robust software with better features to unleash your creativity, then you can add MindMup to your list. MindMup is one of the most popular and collaborative mind mapping software solutions available in the market. Let us see its features in detail:

MindMup is a free mind mapping software that is used to create, share, and publish mind maps online. It lets users create unlimited mind maps for free. This software is used to brainstorm ideas, and one can directly publish the mind maps to social media using this software. It has some powerful set of keyword shortcuts and frictionless interface.

Mind muo software



Create a structure for idea with notes and attachments
Capture and organize thoughts and put them on a storyboard
Adds contextual information and images to mind maps automatically before publishing on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Plan and manage projects
Concurrent editing by other team members is allowed for maps saved in the cloud.
Add spreadsheet, text, and videos to your mind
Add and images and icons to your maps for illustrations and context
Allows integration with Office365 and Google authentication
With the advent of computer-aided and software-based mind mapping, the speed, accuracy, and utility of mind maps increased considerably. Today, businesses are busier than ever before with multiple tasks in hands and multiple departments to manage. Mind mapping software can help them in saving their valuable time. Mind map software also helps them to visualize complicated business situations in a simplified way. Investing in technologies such as mind mapping applications will surely add greater value to their business.

Businesses can choose from any of the free and open source mind mapping software discussed in this article. Apart from the discussed free mind mapping software MindManager, Lucidchart, iMindQ, idea flip,Novamind, Simplemind, and MindGenius are some other mind mapping software that you may choose for your mind mapping activities. We will be glad to get your views about the article in the comments section below. If you have utilized any of the free and open source mind mapping software mentioned above, then do share your feedback with us.

best mind mapping software

Mind mapping is a creative exercise for brainstorming and finding connections. Used right, it can be a super powerful way to generate new ideas, or connect related ones.

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To make a mind map, you start by writing a central idea or theme in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Then you draw lines branching out into new “nodes,” each with its own related idea or theme. From those nodes, you draw yet more lines branching deeper into the different concepts, and you keep going, branching out more and diving deeper, until you’re out of ideas—and the relationships between things appear.

Of course, mind mapping on a piece of paper has its downsides. You’re limited by the size of the sheet you start with, there’s no easy way to digitize it and make it searchable, you can’t undo any mistakes or easily make edits, and if you lose your mind map, you don’t have a backup. That’s why, if you do a lot of mind mapping, you should consider going digital and using an app.

We reviewed close to 40 different mind mapping tools, and after thoroughly testing them, here are the nine best. One of them is sure to be the right way to map your mind.

The 9 best mind mapping tools in 2021
Coggle for mind map beginners

Mindly for mobile mind mapping

MindMup for creating public mind maps

MindMeister for collaborating on a mind map with a team

Scapple for fluid, non-traditional mind mapping

Stormboard for in-person mind mapping sessions

Ayoa for a modern approach to mind mapping

MindNode for Apple users

SimpleMind for not having to subscribe to anything

What makes for great mind mapping software?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

Mind mapping with a sheet of paper and a pen is an incredibly intuitive and natural way to work. Yes, it has some downsides, but for a mind mapping app to really be better, it has to bring quite a lot to the table. While every one of the mind mapping tools on this list has its own unique benefits, they all meet at least the following criteria:

It’s actually a mind mapping app. A lot of drawing, diagramming, and charting apps are marketed as mind mapping apps—but they aren’t. While it’s true you can make a mind map in them, you could theoretically also use PowerPoint, Photoshop, or MS Paint. These kinds of apps generally lack features that make mind mapping easy, like automatically linking nodes, brainstorming modes that let you get a lot of concepts down quickly, and search. For an app to make this list, we dug past the marketing and made sure it was designed from the ground up for brainstorming, not drawing.

It gets out of the way. Mind mapping with a pen and paper is ridiculously easy. No app is ever going to be quite as simple, but they should come as close as possible. After a short learning period to get up to speed, you shouldn’t have to stop and think to create a node, or dig through menus to connect two ideas. The app should just fade into the background—the same way your web browser does.

It offers an unlimited canvas. One of the main downsides to using paper is, well, the paper. A digital app should have a practically unlimited canvas size so you can make a mind map as big as you want. Using an app is all about overcoming the analog downsides, not reinforcing them.

It allows you to attach files. Sometimes you need more than a few words to fully illustrate a concept—and doodling is a big part of analog mind mapping. For an app to make this list, you need to be able to attach images, videos, documents, web pages, and other assorted extras to your mind maps.

It allows you to save and export. You can’t easily edit, save, or share your paper mind maps, so one of the big reasons to go digital is that you can. All these apps let you come back to a mind map later and change it up, save it, and export it in different formats, so you can send it to your colleagues, classmates, or anyone else you like.

Looking to further improve your team’s online collaboration? Try one of these workflows that add automation, so you can streamline the process.

Best mind mapping software for beginners
Coggle (Web)

Coggle interface
The moment you start a diagram in Coggle, you’ll see the central node of a new mind map, along with an enticing plus sign to get started adding new nodes and ideas. Each time you click on the plus sign to create a new child node, Coggle will automatically choose the direction, placement, and color of the new node. But you can always drag the nodes around to rearrange things into a format that fits your layout a little better. Or you can right-click on them and select Choose Style to change the color, or if you’re on the Awesome plan, the line style and thickness of the connections.

If you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts during your mind mapping process, there’s a cheat sheet of keyboard shortcuts in the bottom-right corner of the canvas. Click the green X icon to hide it and the green question mark icon to bring it back.

One of our favorite features is that Coggle lets you format your mind map items and messages with Markdown, so you can get as fancy as you need to while adding your text, images, and links to the canvas.

If you want to bounce some ideas off a colleague, you can go ahead and add them to your mind map, carry on a conversation in the messages sidebar, or go into full-screen presentation mode to take a step back and do more high-level ideation.

Coggle Pricing: Free for up to three private diagrams; $5/month for unlimited private diagrams and extra mind mapping tools (like additional shapes and color control).

Best mind mapping software for mobile
Mindly (macOS, iOS, Android)

Mindly mobile app interface
Mind mapping on a mobile device comes with a lot of special challenges, thanks to small screen sizes, the inconvenience of scrolling and zooming, and the readability issues that accompany all that. But Mindly’s outside-the-box thinking makes mind mapping on a smartphone possible—and, honestly, pretty fun.

Like most mind maps, you’ll start with your central node, add text and icons, and change the color if you want. Then, it’s time to start adding any associative ideas in the surrounding circle. To do this, tap on the + icon on the outer circle: Mindly will automatically create a new node and zoom in to let you focus on the matter at hand. As you go deeper into sub-ideas (and sub-sub-ideas!), you’ll always be able to find your way back to the original center node by tapping on the circle in the top-left corner of the screen.

Mindly keeps things organized by folding away any sub-ideas as you work your way back toward your main node. You can drill back down into any node by tapping on it, or tap the arrow icon in the bottom-right and then Mindmap to see a mind map overview of everything. From the same menu, you can also print or share your mind map.

Of course, you can also sync your mobile mind maps with the desktop version of Mindly, so you can switch from on-the-go ideation to formal mind mapping sessions at your desk.

Mindly Pricing: Free mobile version includes 3 mind maps each with up to 100 elements; $6.99 on iOS and $5.49 on Android for additional features, including unlimited elements, passcode, and search; $29.99 on macOS.

Best mind mapping software for creating public mind maps
MindMup (Web)

MindMup Interface.
MindMup is an easy-to-use mind mapping app—and you don’t even need an account to get started.

The toolbar at the top provides quick links to all the basic needs of mind mapping, from changing the color of each node to adding detailed text and file attachments. But it’s the ability to publish and share your mind maps that sets MindMup apart.

While many mind mapping tools require at least an email address, MindMup allows anyone to create and post public mind maps. Free mind maps are automatically deleted after six months, but if you’re using it for a quick brainstorming session, that does the trick. If you want to sign up or save private maps, you have to pay $2.99/month for MindMup Personal Gold.

MindMup Pricing: Free for public maps up to 100 KB; from $2.99/month for MindMup Personal Gold that includes larger, private maps and collaboration.

Best mind mapping software for collaborating with a team
MindMeister (Web, iOS, Android)

MindMeister Interface.
MindMeister is a robust tool that includes everything from quick keyboard shortcuts to the ability to embed live videos inside your nodes. And its collaboration features are extensive: you can add team members to your mind map, upvote and downvote ideas, and leave comments.

MindMeister is owned by the same people that make MeisterTask, a web-based, kanban-style project management app. The two tools are integrated so you can turn your brainstorm session into an actionable project, assigning individual items on a mind map to members of your team, tracking task progress, and syncing it all with your other project boards inside MeisterTask—which even integrates with Zapier.

As of this writing, MindMeister is in the process of beta testing a new editor. You can try it out yourself by clicking Open with New Editor in any mind map. It’s got a cleaner, more minimalist user interface that, if anything, is even easier to use. Not all the features of the old MindMeister editor have been ported yet, like inserting live videos, so we’re flagging this more as a point of interest. MindMeister still makes this list on the strength of its existing app, not the promise of the beta.

For an in-depth look at what a sample MindMeister/MeisterTask project might look like, take time to read through our article about how to jumpstart new projects with mind maps.

MindMeister Pricing: Free for the Basic plan that includes up to three mind maps and real-time collaboration. From $4.99/month for the Personal plan that includes unlimited mind maps, file attachments, and PDF exports.

Best mind mapping software for fluid, non-traditional mind mapping
Scapple (macOS, Windows)

Scapple interface.
Most mind maps require you to begin with a central node, branching outward from that single point as your mind comes up with new ideas and associations. But if you’re using Scapple, you have more flexibility in terms of where your visual mind map leads.

For example, you’re not limited to starting your mind map with a central theme. Instead, you might start with a tiny idea, then work “backward” to find the main idea. And Scapple lets it all happen organically, since individual nodes will only connect when you tell them to by dragging and dropping one on top of the other. In this way, complex relationships can be sketched out quickly, without losing the flow of rapid ideation. One handy trick is to use background shapes (right-click then New > Background Shape to add one) to create buckets for different groups of ideas. You can then move things about and link them as needed.

When compared with some of the other mind mapping apps on this list, Scapple’s interface is relatively simple. You can’t even style a note unless you activate the inspector by going to View > Show Inspector. But that simplicity also gives you the ultimate flexibility in terms of what goes where and how things should look.

One great touch is that the 30-day free trial is for 30 days of use, not 30 consecutive days. Use Scapple a couple of times a month and it’s free for almost a year.

Scapple Pricing: 30-day free trial; $18 for the Mac or Windows app.

Best mind mapping software for in-person mind mapping sessions
Stormboard (Web)

Stormboard interface
Stormboard puts a twist on traditional mind mapping by using sticky notes and index cards, rather than nodes and branches, to record your ideas. You’ll group your notes on different parts of the screen to represent connections during the initial mind map creation, then add the visual correlations with lines afterward.

There’s even a “rapid-fire” mode that will pop up a new sticky note the minute you post the one prior, so you can literally type out your ideas one after another with no extra effort—and save the organization for later.

Stormboard also makes it easy to get your entire team involved in the process, since collaborators can record comments, create tasks, and add their votes to each idea. Plus, you can automate the process with Stormboard’s Zapier integrations, creating ideas and storms automatically whenever trigger events happen in the other apps you use most. For example, new Trello cards or GitHub issues can automatically pop up on a dedicated board.

Create Stormboard ideas for new Trello cards
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Stormboard, Trello
Stormboard + Trello
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Create Stormboard ideas from new GitHub issues
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GitHub, Stormboard
GitHub + Stormboard
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Stormboard Pricing: Free for the Personal Plan that includes a maximum of 5 stormboards; from $5/month for the Startup Plan that offers access to additional features like advanced recording, live editing on Microsoft Office Online, template section labels, and additional export options.

If you’re gravitating toward creating your mind maps with sticky notes, you might also consider Padlet or MURAL.

Best mind mapping software for a modern mind mapping approach
Ayoa (Web, iOS, Android, macOS, Windows)

Ayoa interface
Ayoa is the follow-up to one of our previous mind mapping picks, iMindMap. It was created by Chris Griffiths, a mind mapping expert and author who has collaborated with Tony Buzan, the man responsible for popularizing mind mapping in the 1970s. Put simply, it’s got a serious mind mapping pedigree—and it shows.

Open Ayoa, and you have a choice of making an Organic Map, a Speed Map, or a Radial Map. You can also make a Whiteboard if you’re doing some more corporate-style brainstorming.

The Organic Map is the most traditional, and mimics the kind of thing you’d draw with a pen and paper. You aren’t confined to just putting words in boxes. Instead, you’re encouraged to label the swooshing, Sharpie-like branches that connect different ideas. It’s a much more natural process than a lot of the other apps.

A Speed Map is similar, but with a stripped-down setup designed for rapid brainstorming. You’re almost forced to use keyboard shortcuts, like Tab for a new child branch and Enter for a new sibling branch, as the buttons to do the same are hidden away unless you deliberately click on a node. It’s great when you want to ideate quickly.

A Radial Map is a totally modern approach to mind mapping. Instead of nodes and lines, every idea becomes part of a series of concentric circles. A peripheral segment of your central idea becomes the center of its own circle of ideas as you move outward. It’s mind mapping that’s moving beyond the limits of what can even be imagined with paper.

And Ayoa isn’t just limited to basic (and not-so-basic) mind mapping. The chat, real-time collaboration, whiteboard, and task management features make it ideal if you’re part of a small team looking to realize your ideas. Ayoa is also under rapid development so it’s worth keeping an eye on their roadmap to see what features are coming down the line. When we reviewed this app last year, the whiteboard features didn’t exist.

Ayoa Pricing: Free Basic plan with up to 5 boards, 50 branches per board, and real-time collaboration; $13/month Pro plan with unlimited boards, file attachments, and the ability to export your mind maps.

Best mind mapping software for Apple users
MindNode (iOS, macOS)

MindNode interface
Most mind mapping apps are web apps and, if there’s a native app available, it’s really just a shell for the web app. It’s fine if you want the collaboration, sharing, and other features you get with an online service, but what if you just want a simple way to brainstorm by yourself?

MindNode, a native Mac, iPhone, and iPad app, is perfect for Apple users. Start a new map on one device and it instantly syncs to your other devices using iCloud. The app is just as easy to use (and as powerful) whether you prefer to tap the plus icon to add a new node on your iPhone or click it on your Mac. And since it’s a fully native app, no internet connection? No problem.

MindNode also has a load of other features that will keep you happy if you’re deep in Apple’s ecosystem, like a Watch app, Apple Pencil support, and integration with popular to-do apps Apple Reminders, Things, and OmniFocus. Select any node, and click Add Task to turn it into a to-do item. Or click the share menu and Export to Things (or OmniFocus), and your mind map will get converted into a project in your chosen app with all your to-dos ready to be checked off. It’s a great way to turn a brainstorming session into something actionable.

MindNode Pricing: Free limited Mac and iOS app; $2.49/month for MindNode Plus with image support, tasks, themes, and styling options.

Best mind mapping software without a subscription
SimpleMind (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)

SimpleMind interface
If you just make mind maps for yourself and have no need to collaborate with other people, it can be painful to have to pay up every month for a subscription service or deal with the hard limits of a free one. What we love most about SimpleMind is that it’s an affordable cross-platform app without a subscription fee that does basic mind mapping really well. It’s far from the flashiest app on offer, but for many mind mappers, it might be the best.

Open SimpleMind, and you’ve got a blank canvas with a Central Theme bubble to work with. Tap or click on it to change it to whatever idea you’re mind mapping, then tap or click on the small plus icons to create new branches and nodes. It’s simple and intuitive, and there are keyboard shortcuts aplenty on the desktop platforms. As we said, not flashy—but done right.

And SimpleMind also has a few extra features that make mind mapping even easier. There’s an outline view that converts your mind map to a bulleted list, there’s a brainstorm mode for throwing ideas out there fast, and you can even sync your mind maps across all your devices using whatever cloud platform you like.

SimpleMind Pricing: Free limited mobile apps; from €24.99 for Windows or macOS (€44.99 for both), $9.99 for iOS, and $8.49 for Android.

Do you need a mind mapping app?
Mind mapping can be a great way to generate and connect ideas, but unless you do it all the time, you probably don’t need a dedicated app—or at least not a paid one. If none of the apps above seems like the perfect fit, you do have other options.

First, reconsider the pen-and-paper method. It’s really hard to beat, and you can always take a photo of it to save it or share it. It’s not as tech-y as an app, but it works.

Also, check out It doesn’t have the mind map-specific features required to make this list, but it’s a free diagramming app that’s great for making the occasional mind map. It doesn’t have any limits on the number of connections or nodes you can place or on how you share your mind map, unlike a lot of the free plans in more feature-filled mind mapping apps.


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