Mind mapping has become one of the most popular techniques for organizing and developing new ideas. They make explaining the relationships between ideas and concepts easy with graphics, charts and diagrams. Mind mapping tools let you and your team visualize your thoughts with real-time collaboration.
Many businesses around the world already use mind mapping techniques for brainstorming, planning projects and making decisions. The technique actually existed long before technology enabled the creation of mind mapping software. Now developers have designed all sorts of mind mapping tools with a variety of functions and applications.
Exactly which mind mapper suits your needs will depend on exactly what kind of functions each tool prioritizes. Have a browse through these highlights of each set of features and check their prices and device compatibility.
Mind Map Tools
Here are the top mind mapping software options for your small business:
The collaborative MindMeister mind mapping tool visualizes and shares your thoughts and ideas with others. Attractive graphics present multiple tools for taking notes and brainstorming, as well as time-lining projects and other online tasks. MindMeister’s real-time collaboration lets you share your ideas with a group to work together in real-time. You can also create impressive slideshows in the presentation mode and map out group projects with the project management function.
It is available for Windows, Mac OS or Linux, plus iOS and Android. The Business package costs under $15 a month, plus there are cheaper packages and a basic one for free.
Mindly is one of the best mind map examples. It is a unique mind mapping software for organizing your ideas into a hierarchical structure which is then easy to navigate through. Capture your thoughts and create quick summaries, plan your projects and use associations to keep your mapping mind organized. The designers of the Mindly app intentionally created a tool that does not require lots of typing, formatting or adjusting details. Just drag and drop your creations.
This mind mapping software is available on iOS, Android and Mac and has a free plan that has plenty of the basic features. The paid plan for iOS and Android costs $6.99, with the paid plan for Mac costing $29.99.
Ayoa is one of the best mind mapping apps for generating ideas and sharing a mind map with others. As well as the classic mind mapping tools, Ayoa includes a task management tool and chat application. The collaborative elements help make teams get started and quickly create a mind map together. You can customize the look of the branches and connectors and add files and images directly onto them. Also add emojis to branches and organize maps with branch categories.
Use with Windows, Mac, iOS or Android with the free package or paid tiers of between $10 and $15 monthly. A premium Enterprise package is also available that offers a professional, tailored on-premise work management solution for your business.
The online collaborative software Mindomo lets you map concepts and share ideas with its mind mapping and project outlining tools. Use the app to plan your journey towards your goals with impressive visual maps. Connect dots to map concepts and make a blueprint of your ideas and plans. Unregistered users are also able to view the created maps shared by the registered users. Mindomo also provides collaborative online Gantt charts for scheduling project timelines.
Collaborate with and create a mind map with Mindomo via Windows, Mac or Linux, as well as iOS and Android. There is a free basic plan, with access for a single user plus guests is around $15 per month. The team plan provides full access for five people and costs around $26 per month. More expensive plans are available for larger teams.
5. Mindjet MindManager
Organize your day, run your project and manage your team with Mindjet MindManager software. This mind mapping software features a unified dashboard, big data analytics and game mechanics. This combination helps you come up with the best ideas and apply them to your business. The mapping software allows you to quickly drag and drop information and expand ideas. The mind mapping abilities let you manage everything from brainstorming to project planning. You can also use Mindjet MindManager to track multiple items such as resources and due dates.
It is compatible with Mac and WIndows. For less than $500 you can buy a perpetual license, with upgrades available for under half that. While that may sound expensive, you can trial the full version of the software for 30 days free of charge.
The Xmind mind mapping software has multiple integrated tools to help you brainstorm, be more creative and map your mind. The Xmind software supports tree and fishbone diagrams, Logic and Org charts, as well as Matrix and Timeline. You can create any kind of graphic you like to present your mind and project maps. Another useful feature is the ability to export your creations to Word, PDF, Excel, PPT and more.
It is available for Mac, Linux and Windows as well as iOS and Android. It is free to download, but the plan costs either $39.99 for six months or $59.99 for a year. Each of these prices lets you use the plan on five desktops and five mobile devices.
Mindmup is a web-based mind mapping tool that lets you create concepts and argument maps. You can make unlimited amounts of mind maps and store them on the Mindmup Cloud or Google Drive. An interesting feature is Mindmup’s ability to automatically add contextual information and images to your creations. You can add whatever icons or images you want to the mindmap. The interface is easy to navigate with a simple drag and drop action.
Creately is another browser-based online mind mapping software. It has one of the most extensive mind mapping design libraries with thousands of templates. Users of diagrams will be pleased to note there are over 50 examples to choose from. Creately has been designed to help teams collaborate not only on capturing and organizing ideas, but to develop them too. It is especially useful in meetings, with a built-in video conferencing tool. It also features real-time mouse tracking and diagram export options such as PNG, JPEG, PDF and SVG. This mindmap maker can be integrated with Slack and Confluence.
There is a basic plan for free which allows you to create five mind mapping documents. The personal plan costs $4.95 per month and the business plan $18 per month. There are also custom enterprise plans with custom pricing and premium account support.
TheBrain features a superb graphical interface that lets you instantly share images, documents and web pages. You can not only map the progression of ideas but also map your network relationships. The intelligent note-taking and non-linear file management help you fully realize concepts. TheBrain mind map promises to help you come up with better ideas and make better decisions. The map developers recently added a built-in video and audio player and native PDF rendering as well.
It is available for iOS and Android and can sync with your desktop and web browser. Payment options include a $15 per month subscription or a $219 one-off fee with no recurring payments. There is also a Combo plan with exclusive features for $299 for the first year, and $159 per year thereafter.
The browser-based Coggle is a mind mapping software for creating documents with a difference. With the Coggle mind map you can create hierarchical structures instead of the usual spreadsheets or standard text documents. It has a quick note-taking function for brainstorming sessions and you can add images, text and annotate to your creations. The real-time collaboration feature lets the group share the software for creative meetings. Another bonus is that group members don’t need to be registered to make drag and drop edits to the diagrams.
There is a free version that you can use to try this mind mapping software. The two paid tiers cost $5 and $8 per month, with the latter recommended for teams working together.
Create impressive and clear mind maps as well as flowcharts and checklists with the online diagram software DrakonHub. This software has been specifically designed for businesses and is useful for managers and project leaders. It lets you design a clear plan of action with real-time editing. The visual clarity of this software is a big advantage it has over other similar diagramming tools. The visual structure will help the viewer see how each item relates to its parent, siblings, and children.
It runs in your browser so there is no need to download any apps. It is compatible with iOS and Windows. Costs start at $6 per month, though there is a free trial you can test the waters with.
Venngage features color-coded mind mapping for a clear visual infographic designing experience. This browser-based mind map software makes even complex concepts and processes seem simple and easy to understand. There is a good variety of fonts to get started and you can add unlimited amounts of ideas and points. You can also download all the mind maps and infographics you create as PNG or PDF files. Alternatively, you can share them directly to your social media platforms.
There is a free version available for students to share their mind maps with each other. The premium personal plan costs $19 per month. The business plan costs $49 per month and includes many additional features as well as support.
Padlet is a familiar and fun productivity software that lets you create mind maps and graphics. Invited users can collaborate in brainstorming sessions, share information and develop ideas. Create impressive easy-to-read mind mapping boards and documents, with users able to add content and comments in real-time. Content that can be added includes photos, documents, video and audio. You can start from scratch or take one of the mapping templates provided.
Your own Padlet mind map will exist on its own domain and accessed only by your organization. The business plan starts at $12 per month and there is a free 30-day trial.
Create and organize mind maps, diagrams and charts useful for business purposes with SmartDraw. It can document and describe business processes as well as plan out and manage projects. With four thousand templates and icons to design your maps and charts with, you can create 70 different types of mind mapping diagrams and charts.
You can log into the online mind mapping version on any computer or tablet. You can also download a desktop mind map version for Mac or Windows. The price for a single user is $297 for a one-time purchase. For five or more users it costs $595 per year.
The web-based Bubbl.us software is a brainstorming tool that is great for planning projects and collaboration between multiple users. Its Macromedia Flash is accessed online so you don’t need to download any software. You create mind maps and then save them as an image file, with plenty of engaging and colorful design options. Take notes, develop new concepts, collaborate and present your ideas effectively.
The free version lets you create three mind maps, with the premium version costing $4.91 per month. There is also the team version for up to three users which costs $59 per year and per user.
The collaborative and browser-based Miro allows multi-functional groups to centralize their individual contributions to the team effort. It is very easy to operate and lets teams capture ideas and manage projects in real-time together. Miro includes an infinite virtual whiteboard for visual tasks and to design a mind map on. It is good for processes like agile planning and design iteration. Video and chat are also included, with the addition of @ mentions for faster communication. Integrated tools include InVision, Slack Confluence and Jira.
The free version gives you three editable whiteboards that can be used as a mind map, with paid tiers costing $8 and $16 per month. There is also a custom-priced enterprise version with extra features and support.
17. Microsoft Visio
Visio by Microsoft is powerful diagramming tool for creating simple or complex diagrams, mind maps and charts. You can easily and intuitively design flowcharts, org charts, floor plans and even engineering designs. The tool includes many modern shapes and templates familiar to Office users. You can also work on these different mind map diagrams and charts at the same time.
It is available for Windows and web browsers and the simple plan costs under $5 per month. For more professional purposes, an advanced version is available for around $15 per month.
The Cacoo online mind mapping functions create dynamic mind maps and diagrams. Collaborate with your team and make and share flowcharts, wireframes and sitemaps. Team members can add their thoughts and ideas and upload images, notes and other relevant data. There is a blank canvas for creating new diagrams, or plenty of templates to take for inspiration. Cacoo integrates with Google Docs, Google Drive and Visio, as well as with Slack, Dropbox and Typetalk.
There is a free trial and a choice of payment options for this mind map. It costs $6 to pay monthly, or $5 if you pay annually. The annual payment option amounts to two months free per year.
Stormboard differs from other mind mapping tools in that it uses sticky notes instead of branches. It lets you record your thoughts and ideas by grouping the sticky notes together and connecting them. As you start generating more and more ideas, you can prioritize, organize and refine them. This process helps make your meetings and brainstorming sessions much more productive. It is available for iOS and Android, as well as for Windows and on the web.
Individuals have a limited free plan for this unique mind map, with a more advanced version costing $10 per month. An even more advanced edition costs $16.67 per month. Both paid plans come with free trials.
The superb mind mapping software iMindQ incorporates multiple mind map styles for business, educational and personal reasons. Create and share WBS charts, flowcharts, Gantt charts and many others with over 50 free mind mapping templates. Uniquely, iMindQ can open and read many of the mind maps created in different mind mapping tools. Creations made in the iMindQ software can be shared, plus it is integrated with MS Office.
This mind map is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, and there is a mind mapping online version too. Pricing for the Windows version is $49 per year or $119 for a lifetime subscription. Prices for the Mac are $39 per year or $79 for the lifetime subscription. There are free 15-day trials for both.
What is a Mind Map?
A mind map is basically a diagram which you use to organize ideas and visualize the relationship between various concepts. Information in the mind map is displayed in a branching structure with the main idea or theme in the center. This central idea branches out into associated ideas which can then branch out themselves to keep related concepts neatly organized.
The term ‘mind map’ was originally popularized by English author and educational consultant, Tony Buzan, in the 1970s. The idea of mind mapping was inspired by visualization methods used by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein. Buzan wrote several books about mind mapping with the aim of improving people’s memory, creativity and productivity.
According to psychological research, a mind map boosts creativity by helping the brain consider ideas from a variety of viewpoints. This is why mind maps are also an effective technique for brainstorming and decision making, as well as for understanding complex concepts and processes.
How Can I Use Mind Maps?
You can use mind maps for a wide variety of business and personal purposes. Below are some obvious business-related applications, though you can use mind mapping for pretty much any creative or organizational purpose.
Here are some tips on how to use mind maps:
- Brainstorming – Draw a box with your initial idea or theme and focus on it, then add new boxes as new ideas enter your mind. Keep adding them to the mind map as they come and soon you will have plenty of new ideas to work with.
- Task Management – Center your map on the task and the various steps required to complete it. Use the map to assign roles and responsibilities to your team. This keeps them informed of their own roles and how they relate to the rest of the team.
- Note Taking – Linear notes taken as you write them can make it difficult to go back and find some information you need. Mind mapped notes make it is easy to go back and find what you need.
- Event Planning – Mind maps help you keep all the options for your event a glance away. Use the map to evaluate each one when it comes to making the final decisions. Also use it to keep track of all required tasks and responsibilities.
- Business Strategizing – Developing your business strategy is easy and simple with a mind mapping tool. Brainstorm ideas and develop your plans for the future. Once the plan is devised, the map serves as a reminder of the steps required to succeed.
Which Mind Mappers are Free?
Some of the mind mapping apps above have versions that don’t cost anything. Other mind mapping software have trials that you can try before you buy. Here’s a quick list of each free mind map tool:
Software with Free Versions:
Software with Free Trials:
- Mindjet MindManager
With so many mind mapping options to choose from, it is worth trying a few of the free mind mapping tool trials. Clearly, it is no wonder that mind mapping software has grown so popular among businesses as well as individuals. They provide clarity of thought and help turn small ideas into complex concepts that are easy to understand. They make organizing teams and projects simple and effective. With so many benefits, mind maps really have become crucial to the success of business professionals all over the world.