9 Mind Mapping Tools for Mac

Organising your thoughts can be a difficult task when approaching a complex problem, and there’s no reason why you can’t enlist the help of your trusty Mac. “Mind Maps” have become increasingly common as a way to manage a stream of thoughts, ideas and information – though their graphical nature doesn’t easily fit into a traditional software package.

Today I’ll be looking at 9 different specialist mind mapping applications for the Mac. Some are fairly expensive, commercial solutions – others are relatively budget-friendly. Hopefully there’s something for everyone, and you’ll be mapping our your own thought process in no time!

MindNode

MindNode

MindNode

This is one of the most mac-like applications available, and feels at home on the platform. It has a very simple interface, and allows you to export to a variety of different file formats such as PNG, TIFF, PDF, RTF or HTML. A companion iPhone app is also available, though full syncing isn’t yet supported. This is one of the best value apps if you’re looking for a simple mind mapping solution.

Price: Free / $20 for Pro
Developer: Markus Muller
Requires: Mac OS X v. 10.5 or later

Curio

Curio

Curio

Curio is another application that looks like it was designed for the OS X platform, with a fairly advanced interface allowing several complex features. These include in-built searching of popular image website, encryption, a “dossier” screen to help track the requirements of a project, and a full-screen presentation mode.

Price: $65.40
Developer: Zengobi
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later

MyThoughts

MyThoughts

MyThoughts

Another reasonably priced application, MyThoughts is capable of producing some bright and attractive graphic layouts – maps that “work in a way that the human brain enjoys”. It doesn’t convey a huge amount of professionalism, but seems like a very friendly tool to use.

Price: $49
Developer: MyThoughts
Requires: Mac OS X v.10.5 or later

Mind Manager

Mind Manager

MindManager 7

MindManager starts the move towards a more professional and “corporate” application, used by companies such as HP and WebEx. You can add images, hyperlinks, and attachments to enhance functionality, fully search any of your mind maps, and use a map for project management purposes. Not cheap at $129, but a fully-fledged solution.

Price: $129.00
Developer: Mindjet
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

XMind Pro

XMind Pro

XMind Pro

XMind is a fully cross-platform solution, so can work on Windows, Mac or Linux – great if you’re needing to work on a map at different computers. It supports traditional mind maps, a full-screen presentation view, Gantt charting, and an interesting pricing policy of monthly or yearly subscriptions. It’s inexpensive to try out, but costs quite a lot for a lifetime license.

Price: $49/year
Developer: XMind
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

iMindMap

iMindMap

iMindMap

This is the only “official” mind-mapping software, endorsed by the guy behind the phenomena – Tony Buzan. This shouldn’t really sway you in it’s favour, as each application in this roundup is good at achieving the core functionality. This app is fairly expensive, and comes in three versions: Elements, Professional and Ultimate. It feels slightly like the tool has been ported across to Mac as an afterthought, rather than being designed with OS X in mind from the start.

Price: $99 to $395
Developer: Tony Buzan
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

MindView

MindView

MindView

Any requirements list that states “Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher” as the recommended browser for the Mac immediately causes me to flinch, though it seems that MindView may actually offer a fairly robust set of tools. It’s main selling point is the excellent integration with Office for Mac – perfect if you’re user of MS Office, but not so great if you prefer iWork.

It’s one of the most expensive apps in the roundup, but does offer a wide set of features including a solid-looking HTML export option, and good time-lining functionality.

Price: $229
Developer: MatchWare
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

ConceptDraw MindMap

ConceptDraw MindMap

ConceptDraw MindMap

Another tool aimed at the corporate setting, MindMap is good for brainstorming, planning, and “knowledge management” (don’t you just love these business terms?) The Mac version looks as though it’s had time and effort invested in it, but the price point is fairly high. If you’d like their whole suite of apps rather than just the MindMap tool, you’ll be looking at over $500.

Price: $220
Developer: ConceptDraw
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

FreeMind

FreeMind

FreeMind

FreeMind is an open source mind-mapping app written in Java. It works cross-platform, and could be a good solution if you’re not looking to spend a dime on this type of software. As is commonly the case with Java software, the interface lacks polish and doesn’t make use of high quality OS X graphics capabilities.

Worth looking into as a free option, but I’d suggest MindNode as a superior alternative.

Price: Free
Developer: Open Source
Requires: Java

Conclusion

These nine are undoubtedly amongst the most popular mind mapping applications for OS X, but don’t represent every different tool on offer. Do you use a different piece of software, or something slightly more generic such as OmniGraffle? Please do let us know in the comments!