A mind map is considered a great way to brainstorm and generate more ideas. It helps you create a number of small ideas from one big idea, see how different ideas could be connected together and create a plan of action.
This article talks about eight mind mapping tools to help you brainstorm effectively. Almost all of them have free versions available. Some of them also help you collaborate with other people while working on the tool.
Abhijeet is a blogger and web publisher who edits Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes useful guides, tutorials and tools. This article was originally published on his blog and has been republished with permission.
Xmind, available in both free and pro versions, is a brilliant and feature-rich mind mapping tool. The interface is easy to use and you could create a variety of mind maps without getting stuck in complex options. The mind maps could be shared, embedded on your site and exported as PDF, Word or PowerPoint.
The tool also offers a special 'Brainstorming Mode' to help you capture ideas effortlessly. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux (separate installers) and the code is open-source.
FreeMind is a unique mind mapping tool. Unique because it's Java based and hence works on almost all the major platforms in exactly the same way.
And being completely free to use, I'd say the features offered are quite good, the best thing being a wide range of keyboard shortcuts which could help you create a mind map in no time.
MindMeister is a pretty popular mind mapping tool that's web based and doesn't require any download. It has a great user interface and also offers a set of tools to enhance its functionality. There's a real-time brainstorming mode to collaborate with colleagues in the mind map creation process.
The basic version of the tool is free but it doesn't include all the features. There are premium and business versions available.
If your mind mapping needs are fairly simple and you are looking for a no-frills, online tool then you should go for Mind42.
It's free, has a clutter-free interface, helps you get started easily and offers most of the features that a good brainstorming and mind mapping tool should provide.
Mindjet MindManager is a mind mapping tool for business professionals (and hence costly). It incorporates things like tasks and projects, information maps, interactive dashboards and much more into a mind map.
It is in fact a complete idea visualisation package that's available for Windows and Mac computers.
Mindomo can work as a web based tool as well as a desktop tool on Windows, Mac and Linux.
It has a nice project planning and tracking feature to help teams work together on mind maps and track the progress. Both free and premium versions are available.
If Freeplane sounds similar to FreeMind mentioned above, it is because it is a redesigned version of the same tool. It is created by one of the developers who created FreeMind and many prefer it over the previous one.
You could try both Freeplane and FreeMind and then decide, depending on the design, which one you find comfortable working with.
Lastly, we've got iMindMap, which according to their site, is created by Tony Buzan who is supposedly the inventor of mind mapping.
The tool lets you create colourful mind maps using drag and drop functionality. It's not free though. But you could give the trial version a shot.
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