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In this post you’ll find some of the best mind mapping tools you can use for free.
I’ve also included some video walkthroughs to help you get up to speed with each tool quickly.
I’ve been trying out and using different productivity solutions for years, and I find none come close to mind mapping when it comes to brainstorming and planning.
One reason is that we think faster than we write (or type) and mind mapping software gives you the ability to very quickly create a tree-like structure in which you can contain your thoughts without losing track of your thought process.
Let me explain what I mean in the video below:Mind mapping can help you get down my thought processes quickly and then develop them like no other tool.Click To Tweet
Ok, let’s now take a look at some of my favourite mind mapping tools:
Xmind is a mature mind mapping tool – they’ve been around many years and they provide a solid tool. The good news is that you can use Xmind for free – for personal use, of course.
The current desktop version is Xmind 2020. However, their long-time flagship product was Xmind 8, which is the version I use.
Let me show you how good this tool is in the video below:
Xmind also offer a subscription plan for their Xmind Zen mind mapping tool, with the type of features and benefits that businesses and teams will find useful.
Let me explain the difference between Xmind 8 and Xmind Zen:
And here’s more information on Xmind 2020, in case you’re wondering:
XMind 2020 was released not long ago from this update, and that’s the reason I’m still using Xmind 8. It does exactly what I need, so it’s good enough for me.
That said, Xmind 2020 is not a radical change from Xmind 8, because Xmind 8 was already a mature product with a strong user base. 2020 is simply an upgrade.
Whichever of the two you decide to use, you’ll find the tutorial below useful:
I use Xmind 8 as my goto mind mapping tool, but I also rely on other tools that produce even nicer looking maps, as you’ll see in a moment.
I’ve been using this software for years now and I still use it at least 3 or 4 times a week. I fire up the app whenever I want to plan a project, big or small.
But I also use other mind mapping apps. The fact is that there are plenty of choices when it comes to mind mapping software and I don’t limit myself to just one.
The cool thing is that many offer free plans for those who can make use of the software but don’t have a need for the business features and benefits (such as sharing with teams).
In the case of Xmind, when considering that you can use the software for free, there are some pretty nifty benefits:
- it works on a mac
- it works on windows
- it’s a desktop app, so you run the software on your computer
This app is perfect for brainstorming anything you need to plan. The software is very intuitive – as you can see in the videos above – and it really is hard not to fall in love with this tool.
Where to get your Mind Map software – for Mac and Windows
The Xmind website claims that this is the most popular mind mapping tool on the planet. I know that’s a bold claim, but I believe it. After all, when you give a desktop app with this much power away against a backdrop of paid alternatives, it can’t be hard to rack up a ton of raving fans.
You can get it here.
If you’re confused about the paid plans, just check out the Xmind 8 vs Xmind Zen video to see how you can use the software for free, as explained to me by Xmind support.
Using the Mind Mapping software
Once you grab your free download and install it on your computer, you’ll be able to start using it straight away.
You can watch the walkthrough video or the tutorial videos at the top of this page to see me use the different features. You can watch me create branches and explaining some of the things that took me a little bit of time to figure out, such as creating relationships and structures.
Let me quickly go over some of the cool stuff you’ll see in the video:
When you fire up the app, you’ll see plenty of gorgeous templates that you can use to get started. These are pre-made templates to give you a head start. They include many designs and layouts and the idea here is that you can use the templates to choose a design that you like.
This is a great option if you’re doing presentations and you want to add a little eye-candy to the mix.
I actually use the default template most of the time because it suits me fine, but I do like to play around with some of the pre-made maps every so often.
How to export your Mind Maps
I mostly just save my work in its original format because it’s for my own use. But if you want to add a nice mind map to a document, you can export your work to a graphic and then embed that graphic in a document.
The paid plan gives you a lot more options to export to, including PDF.
Tip: check out the video as I share my workaround for creating a nice PDF with your mind map
Other potential uses for your Mind Maps
You can use mind maps for anything you want, of course, but some of the things that spring to mind include:
- brainstorming ideas from scratch
- creating processes that you can share with others
- creating processes that you can use in a presentation
- creating documented procedures and embedding the mind maps into the documents as images
You can even create lead magnets that your web visitors can download if you have a blog. Offering a mindmap download can be a very quick way to create a decent lead magnet that you can use to generate subscribers.
Tip: if you’re going to create downloadable mind maps, use the templates to create really nice looking lead magnets
Using the icon sets
I use many of the icon sets extensively. I like to colour code things to help me very quickly make sense of the map visually.
For example, if I brainstorm a project, then I always use these colours:
- blue flags on any process that I’m waiting on
- red flags for urgent processes
- green flags for completed processes
There are many other icons that I like to use, but the above are the ones I make the most use of.
Ok, enough about Xmind. Now let’s move on to other mind mapping software tools that I like.
Coogle is a great mind mapping software. Like Xmind, you can also use this mind mapping tool for free – with limits.
Here’s a video explaining how Coggle works:
And here’s my tutorial series where I show you the best of Coggle so you can get started quickly:
Suffice it to say that Coggle is really cool. It’s different to Xmind, which is one reason I like to use it. I actually find making mind maps fun with Coggle.
And talking of different, this next mind mapping software is radically different from anything else I’ve seen out there: it creates animated mind maps.
The tool is called The Brain, and it’s a fantastic tool to use for creating visually appealing presentations.
Let’s take a look at the tool in action:
Impressive or what?
Now, one thing that some channel viewers reported is that some of these desktop-based mind mapping apps can be quite resource intensive, meaning that their computers really took a hit in performance when running the software.
Coggle solves that problem, but so do other mind mapping apps that work inside Google drive.
Let me show you how easy it is to start creating mind maps in Google drive:
I hope you found this page a great resource. I do believe these are some of the best mind mapping software tools around today, but I am aware that there are so many more that I haven’t yet covered.
On that note, make sure you subscribe to the blog in order to keep up to date with all these cool tools, and I’ll let you know when I test other mind mapping tools.