Mind mapping is a great way to organize your thoughts. It’s also a great way to help you understand your thoughts as well as the thoughts of others. That’s why we wanted to make sure that our readers had access to some of the best online mind mapping tools out there.
Mind mapping tools are tools that allow you to create mind maps on your computer. They’re usually free, and they can be used for just about anything: planning a vacation, organizing your thoughts for an essay or presentation, or even helping someone else organize their thoughts on a topic.
The three platforms we reviewed below are some of the most popular mind mapping platforms out there right now. If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with mind mapping, this article is definitely worth checking out!
Free Online Mind Mapping Tools Review
Mind maps are one of the best-known logical organization tools. It’s a graphic representation of connections between concepts and ideas. The idea starts from a central topic, and we gradually connect them with different branches and label them with notes, symbols, pictures, links, and more.
When you create a map, you elaborate on existing knowledge structure and their relationship to new concepts. Gradually, you’ll start learning new things and recall information quickly. Let’s look at some free or inexpensive mind map tools that give you great value.
How to Pick a Mind Map Tool
There are different ways to use mind mapping to unlock your productivity potential. However, when it comes to deciding on an app, it’s not easy and depends on many factors.
pick a mind map tool
Coggle is an online tool for creating mind maps. The app lets you and your team collaborate on notes, brainstorm ideas, and create project plans. Every mind map starts with a single central topic. Click the Plus (+) button to add a branch and enter your text in the box.
You can format text, insert links, add images, and icons to elaborate on the key points. From here onwards, continue adding branches. You can even create a cross-link to other items in a mindmap. Open the context menu, and press the Shift key to bring the cross-link icon. Then, drag the cross-link line.
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The app supports keyboard shortcuts and has a vast collection of templates in Coggle Gallery to quickly start your projects. The export options include .MM, TXT, Microsoft Visio, PDF, and JPEG.
Add multiple central nodes in a single workspace. Then, create loops and branches to connect other mind maps and see relationships.
View the version history of the mind map. Check who last edited (with date and time) the map and make a duplicate copy.
Gradually reveal the mind map to not overwhelm the audience. Click the presentation mode button and click (+) or (-) icons as you hover over the branches.
Message team members, leave notes, and chat in real-time to brainstorm ideas. You can auto-arrange branches to associate the content of each branch with the things around it.
Download: Coogle for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)
gitmind mind map tool
Gitmind is an online mind map tool to visualize complicated concepts, generate new ideas, and make lists with task priorities. Type in the topic name, and click Insert Node.
Choose Insert subnode to create sub-branches. And click the Relation line to show any relationship between ideas. You can assign a task priority, progress meter, flag, and more with the built-in symbols. To add a symbol, select the target node and click Icon from the toolbar.
At each node, click the Attachment button to insert links, images, and comments. There are many export options available, including TXT, PNG, JPG, PDF, and DOCX.
Variety of classic, colorful, and business templates. For each theme, you can beautify the branches with different colors and change the background.
Customize the node shape, spacing, background color, line thickness, and border shape. Click Node > Style to get started.
Arrange the mind map in different layouts like logic chart, vertical/horizontal timeline, tree chart, and fishbone.
View, edit, and export the mind map in outline mode. And share the mind map you created with a link or collaborate in real-time.
Download: GitMind for Android | iOS (Free, subscriptions available)
editing mind map with canva
Canva is a web-based graphic design app that makes it easy to create mind maps. Equipped with ready-to-use templates and toolset, you can use this app for educational presentations, business pitches, corporate proposals, and project planning.
Enter the term ‘mind map’ in the search field, and within a few seconds, you’ll see a variety of templates. The built-in tools let you insert elements like shapes, frames, arrows, gradients, and more. You can even modify the text, photos, and background. The export options include PNG, JPEG, GIF, and PDF.
Once you’re done with the mind map, you can share the design with specific people (via email, teams, or groups) and set view or edit permissions. The free account gives you 5GB of free storage space, access to 2,50,000 templates, image uploads, and collaboration with team members in real-time.
Embed your mind map in presentations and reports. Then, share it on social media or email right from the app.
Insert pictures, embed videos, links from the web or Twitter, and GIFs to make the mind map more instructive. Use symbols, color codes, speech bubbles, and icons for informative presentations.
Manage your design pages from inside the editor. You can add pages, rearrange them, and add notes for the presentation.
Present your reports, discuss brainstorm sessions, pitch decks, and more. Click the Present button to get started.
Download: Canva for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)
- InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder
Traditional mind mapping tools are hierarchical. When you start creating complex linkages, they quickly get confusing and unusable. With this app, you can join multiple ideas, and yet it adjusts your map dynamically to an elegant layout. You click on a topic, and everything rearranges around it automatically.
You can build a mind map from scratch, import notes, links, images, and attach them to any item or a relation. There is also an option to integrate it with a data source to create a mind map from text files, Wikipedia articles, and tweets.
To get started, type in the topic name and click New Item. For each topic, type a name and add a description. You can add descriptive linking phrases on relationship lines and select colors, dotted or solid lines. Or even customize the style of the ends, with or without arrows.
Insert multiple items, edit or delete them, and use drag-and-drop for moving relations.
Toggle between a 2D and 3D displaying mode and show or hide cross-connections. You can export 3D mind maps with hyperlinks and embed them on your website.
Build a map from MediaWiki, including all the sister Wikipedia sites. And import outlines from CSV, RDF, XSD, and more.
Generate flashcards to memorize items and practice the quiz sessions.
Download: KnowledgeBase Builder for Windows ($10) | Mac ($9) | iOS ($9) | Android ($11)
When you draft an outline, you can work out if the ideas connect, what order works best, identify gaps in your thinking, and confirm your thoughts with proven facts. Scapple is an intuitive app for jotting your ideas down by developing connections between them. It’s the software equivalent of pen and paper.
Unlike a typical mind-mapping software, Scapple doesn’t force you to make connections, nor do you have to begin with a central idea. It’s a freeform writing app with an expandable canvas to fit all your notes. You can move notes around to make room for new connections, edit and resize them, and export them to PNG or PDF.
Stack notes on top of one another to create lists or columns of text. They’re useful for maintaining a list of related ideas that don’t belong in a single note.
Add links to the text within notes or even files. You can even draw a background shape around a group of links and concepts.
Incrementally search through the document and replace text. It is useful for quickly jumping from one cluster to the next on a large canvas.
Freely connect your ideas through dotted lines, lines with arrows at one or both ends. You can even label a connection line to explain further explain the connection.
Download: Scapple ($18)
- Wondershare EdrawMind
EdrawMind is a cross-platform mind mapping software. The user interface matches the familiar Office UI. To begin, use the commands on the Home tab and insert different topics under the central idea. While working on the topic, you can insert relationship lines, callout, picture, link, attachment, note, and tags.
The left panel is your canvas. You’ll find options to adjust the content in the right sidebar, change the appearance of your diagrams, add a background, view, and export outlines. There’s a handy color strip below the canvas to set the line and fill color.
Twelve different mind map layouts along with dozens of ready-made templates to infuse creativity.
Automatically create slides by disassembling your mind map into separate branches. Add notes, background, design to the slides, and export them as PPT or PDF.
Store files in Edraw cloud storage for access and collaboration in real-time. You can run group brainstorming sessions and collect ideas.
Handy Gantt Chart mode to visualize and track progress on any project.
Download: Wondershare EdrawMind MindMap for Desktop | Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)
Make a Mind Map in Microsoft Word
Picking the right mind map tool for your workflow is not easy. The apps discussed above cover a wide range of features, needs, and budgets. If you’re just getting started with a mind map, try out these free or inexpensive tools and see if it fits your needs.
Do you know that you can use Microsoft Word to draw quick mind maps? There are some simple rules to follow to make a basic mind map. Read our guide on building a mind map with Microsoft Word.
best free mind mapping software for students
A mind map, as AYOA defines it, is a ‘visual thinking tool used to capture information and ideas’. It is a mental heuristic that helps us capture and organize our ideas and thoughts in a more structured and organized forms. Brevity, clarity, and conciseness are mind mapping hallmarks.
When you create a mind map you only focus on what is important cutting through the clutter and making space for more ideas to germinate out of the captured connections and interrelations. Hence the reputation of mind maps as thinking tools that boost memory, creativity, and productivity.
For us in education, mind maps are key learning tools which can be used in a wide variety of ways. For instance, students can create mind maps to help with their thinking processes (as is the case when writing to think). By connecting ideas via different structures and branches, students uncover new connections and discover new ideas and lines of reasoning, a process known as ideation. Mind maps can also help students learn visually and creatively by visualizing information in formats that are compatible with their favourite learning styles.
Mind maps are inclusive tools and tend to students divergent learning styles. Students can use them to collaboratively or individually brainstorm ideas, plan for projects, document outlines, create presentations, write short summaries, and many more. The collection below features some of the best web-based mind mapping tools for you and your students. For mind mapping apps, check out the best Android and iPad mind mapping apps for students and teachers.
Some of the interesting features these mind mapping tools offer include: the ability to add various types of multimedia materials to your mind maps (e.g, images, web links, icons, stickers, etc), collaborative brainstorming in real time, pre-made editable mind mapping templates, multiple third party integrations, and various export formats (e.g., PDF, plain text, image, rtf, and more.
Popplet is a great tool for creating and sharing mind maps. The way it works is simple and easy: simply drag and drop then add images, videos, drawings, and text and when you are done share your mind maps with others. There is also Popplet for Education which offers a wide variety of student-friendly features including real time collaboration. Popplet for Education also offers a special discount for the educational community.
Pricing: the free version offers limited features and allows for the creation of only one popplet. The Solo version comes at $2.99 per month or 29.99 per year and offers way more features. There is also the Groups and Schools version which offers custom pricing.
AYOA is another great tool for creating and sharing mind maps. AYOA offers numerous features ideal for us in education. These include real time collaboration, commenting, and branch voting. Using Team view, users can get a quick overview of collaborators availability and view what everyone is working on.
Mind maps created by AYOA can include attachments, imagery, text, videos and many more. Besides mind maps, AYOA can be used to create radial map which is a pie-chat style map ideal for setting goals and visualizing steps in a project. The Whiteboards feature further allows users to capture and organize ideas using sticky notes, annotations and more.
Pricing: Mind Map ($5.75 per user/month when billed annually), Pro ($10 per user/month/ when billed annually), and Ultimate ($13 per user/month/when billed annually).
Simple enables you to create beautiful mind maps using free-form layout and auto-layouts. There are also over 15 style sheets to choose from or you can create your own style sheets. Other interesting features provided by SimpleMind include the ability to add multimedia materials to your mind maps such as images, icons, labels, checkboxes, links to documents or webpages; customize your templates the way you want; share mind maps in different formats including as PDF, seamless integration with cloud-based tools such as Dropbox, iCloudDrive, and Google Drive, among others.
Pricing: Free version with limited functionality (no ads, no registration and works only on iPad, iPhone, and Android)
MindMup is another mind mapping creation tool that lets you create unlimited mind maps. Everything you create on MindMup is stored online for you to access anytime, anywhere and across different devices. More importantly, ‘Maps saved to MindMup Cloud support concurrent editing for teams and classrooms, enabling you to instantly see updates made to your map by other users’.
Mind maps created in MindMup can be easily converted to PDF, PowerPoint, and outlines. Other interesting features provided by this tool include: the ability to attach various elements to your maps including longer text, videos, spreadsheets, images, icons; link to other project documents on Google Drive; integration with Office 365 and Google Drive, among others.
Pricing: Free version offers: unlimited number of maps, no account/login required, community, publish maps for up to six months. More advanced features are embedded in the premium plans: Personal Gold plan costs $2.99 and Organizational Gold costs $100.
MindNode offers a number of powerful mind mapping features that enable you to brainstorm your ideas anywhere and anytime. You can start your mind app in your iOS device and finish it in your Mac. The syncing capabilities are awesome. For a more structured and organized brainstorming you use the Outline feature, or better yet, user mind map and Outline side by side.
Other useful features provided by MindNode include the ability to add more context to maps using visual tags, focus mode to highlight key data, over 250 stickers to illustrate maps, pre-made themes that are fully customizable, the ability to share mind maps in various formats including PDF, rtf, docx, plain text, image, markdown, among others.
Pricing: MindNode free edition offers basic features that include creating new nodes, adding titles, reordering nodes, importing and exporting supported file format, folding child nodes, among others. MindNode Plus offers more features such as editable outline, visual tags, focus mode, notes, stickers, connections, layout options, and more. The introductory prices for MindNode Plus are $2.49 per month and 19.99 per year. A free 14 day trial is offered.
Cacoo is a diagramming tool that provides you with a virtual space where you can visualize your ideas and collaborate with your team. You can create, edit, share comment and chat with your collaborators in real-time. You can use the presentation mode to share your screen with others and engage with them in video chats right from within the editor. You can free-draw on a blank canvas or start with a pre-made template.
Also, you can create your data or import it from a spreadsheet and edit it in Cacoo. Similarly you can import your Visio files and edit them in Cacoo. Revision history allow you to track edits applied to a diagram over time. Your final diagrams can be exported as SVG, PDF, PowerPoint, and PostScript. Additionally, Cacoo supports numerous integrations including Google Drive, Google Docs, Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Slack, Box, Visio, Microsoft Teams, and more.
Pricing: Cacoo free version offers the following features: 6 sheets, templates and shapes, PNG exports, real-time editing, in-app video chat, comment and chat. For more features such as revision history, 1 on 1 training, multiple export options, unlimited sheets, etc., you need a premium version. There is a Pro plan that comes at $45 per month and a Team plan for $5 per month per user.
After it was an exclusive app for iOS and Android, Mindly is now available for MacOS X. Mindly helps you capture and organize your thoughts and ideas into mind maps. Features supported by Mindly include: the ability to add unlimited number of elements, attach multimedia materials (e.g., notes, images, icons, and web links), copy and paste nodes, multiple export formats (e.g., PDF, text, image or OPML), passcode your mind maps, and more.
Pricing: Free version offers very limited features. Pro version offers full functionality: $29.99 for MacOS, $6.99 on iOS devices, and $5.49 on Android.
Looking for a powerful whiteboard tool where you can collaborate with your team in real time (or asynchronously)? Miro has you covered. Miro is especially ideal for use in remote teaching. You and your students can use the digital whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming and ideas generation.
Some of its helpful features include video conferencing, screen sharing, presentation mode, note taking, pre-made templates, the ability to add different resources to your board including documents, spreadsheets and PDFs. Another cool feature in Miro is Stickies Capture which enables you to easily digitize your hand written notes and turn them into editable sticky notes.
Pricing: Miro’s free version offers the following features: 3 editable boards, pre-made templates, core integrations, and basic attention management. Pro plans offer way more functionalites including custom templates, private boards, unlimited visitors, unlimited editable boards, and many more. the Team plan comes at $8 per member per month billed annually, the Business plan comes at $16 per member per month billed annually, and the Enterprise plan uses custom pricing.
XMind is another good mind mapping tool to consider. XMind lets you design visually appealing mind maps with multiple structures. You can visually record your brainstorming into timelines, free tables, org charts, diagrams, fishbone, among others. What I personally like the most about XMind is the Hand-drawn style which allows you to convert your digital mind map into a hand-drawn look with a single click. Other interesting features provided by XMind include stickers and illustrations, Pitch mode to present your mind maps in slideshows, Math Equation to create mind maps for scientific calculations and symbols, smart color themes and more.
Pricing: For students and educators, the Academia plan costs $34.99/annually or $22.49/6 months. For the rest, XMind costs $59.99/annually. There is also a Team plan, and NGOs plan, and an Enterprise plan, each has different pricing.
Visio by Microsoft is another good tool to help you capture your ideas into beautiful visual configurations. Visio offers a wide variety of ready-made templates and a huge number of editable shapes that you can use on your visuals. Visio also supports real time collaboration allowing you to co-design diagrams, flowcharts, and org charts with anyone anywhere they are. The tool also supports accessibility features that include Narrator, Accessibility Checker, high contrast support, and more.
Pricing: Visio is not included in Microsoft 365 plan and you need to buy it separately. Visio offers two types of subscriptions Visio Plan 1 ($5.00 user/month) and Visio Plan 2 ($15.00 user/month).
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