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!


  • http://www.pingbar.de Markus Hippeli

    Nice overview. I my eyes you missed one of the best ones: http://www.novamind.com/ – also not cheap, but worth the price.
    Furthermore curio is priceranged up to 140 Dollars, according to their website and mindmanager 8 is already announced by mindjet with a lot of tuning in comparison to v7.

  • Steven

    there an open source version of XMind which is actually free if you can live without the “pro” features. http://www.xmind.net

    • http://www.ryanleach.com Ryan Leach

      I just checked the open source XMind out and I love it, thanks for the suggestion!

      • http://thesuccessfulgeek.com Adam Teece

        The free version is my favorite free mind mapping program. I like it a lot better than freemind.

  • http://www.coyotethunder.com/RedMonkey/ ender

    I used to use Inspiration when I taught college writing – very intuitive, can be playful and still professional. They have “kid” versions as well.
    http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration

    • Raj

      I liked the Inspiration 9 so much. It has everything one needs for mind mapping.

  • http://www.ueidaq.com Joshua Mormann

    @Markus I am with you on this. Novamind is superior in many respects, not the least of which is its integration with Project Wizards’ Merlin 2, (which is IMO the best Project Management software on the market even though it is Mac only. So good in fact, that independent PMs and PM firms alike should [at the very least] consider switching platforms).

    http://www.novamind.com/
    http://www.projectwizards.net/

    Trust me I don’t work for either of these companies. I just think they have created outstanding products, that are well worth their pricing.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Thanks for the pointers Joshua!

  • fellowweb

    If one considered piling up the money for Mindjet’s software, one should be aware that Mindjet will soon update Mind Manager to version 8.

    Regarding FreeMind’s limitations being a Java application: There are in fact intentions to modify FreeMind in a way that it is more Mac-like, e.g. with respect to keyboard shortcuts. If I remember correctly, I found the respective information in the FreeMind wiki on their homepage. Your trusted search provider might help either way.

  • http://www.ryanleach.com Ryan Leach

    I really like Mind Meister which is subscription based. It’s online so not strictly Mac but I find it intuitive and easy tt make look good. http://www.mindmeister.com/

  • http://trishussey.com/ Tris Hussey

    I was a huge MindManger fan for years, but it’s support for Word export in their Mac version was sorely lacking. I switched to MindView because of the Word export functions. Yeah a hefty price tag for sure, but exporting to Word was essential to my workflow. I hope they keep developing it, there hasn’t been an update in a very long time.

    • http://www.mindjet.com Garrett

      Tris,

      Have you tried our latest update to MindManager 8 for Mac. It has full import/export for Microsoft Word as well as many other Office and Apple products, you can import from Microsoft® Word, and Apple® Pages®. Export to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint®, Apple iWork Pages, Keynote®, OPML, text outline, HTML, JPG, PNG or TIFF formats.

      You can find more information here: http://mindjet.com/products/mindmanager-mac/whats-new

      Feel free to ask more questions here or on Twitter @Mindjet.

      Garrett

  • http://w3planet.net/ Jad

    You should check PersonalBrain out, it’s awesome app. http://www.thebrain.com/

    • http://blog.jackvinson.com Jack Vinson

      Note that PersonalBrain is _not_ a mind mapping tool, it is a concept mapping tool. One can restrict themselves to the mind map model, but it is much more than that. (I have been using it for 10+ years.)

  • Shannon Schmalzried

    I use Spinscape, it’s web based platform independent. Looking forward to their sophomore version coming out this winter … http://www.spinscape.com

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  • Betty Conrad

    I too use MindView and found the price relevant to the feature list. It a multiple views for communicationa and the MS Office integration cannot be touched.

    Love it!

  • Daniel Hertlein

    My vote is for MindNode Pro. Easy to use, great to look at, does everything I want it to.

  • djflippy

    MindManager 8 now has an iPhone companion app, simply called Mindjet, that currently sells for $7.99.

  • ScottNYC

    How can you talk about mind mapping and not mention omnigroup’s omnigraffle pro?

  • Danny

    Try mind42.com and tell me what you think….

  • http://www.rossgardt.de Benedikt

    XMind is great. Nearly the same like MindManager for PC – but Open Source.

    • zhan yu

      yes, and XMind is also cross platform.

  • http://www.accesslab.net/ Natasha

    I’ve been using FreeMind for some time now, and surely it feels like from the last decade. Have checked out the free version of MindNode to find out that you cannot expand/collapse nodes, have nodes with several lines of text, and create URLs – things that I am used to in FreeMind. Those features work with the paid version, but for me it will be the trash bin for MindNode.
    XMind seem to support those features in the free version.

  • Isaac Horton

    It’s crazy that you didn’t list Omni Graffle. It’s one of my favs

  • http://www.booster-seat.co.uk Steve_F

    Another vote for Mind Meister here – I work in a multi OS workplace, so having a browser based mind mapping solution is perfect. The features are so good you don’t notice you’re working with a web app – which I guess is the best thing you can say about any web app.

  • http://jonbuscall.com Jon Buscall

    I like Tinderbox for combined notes and mindmapping functionality.

  • Ron

    I prefer a pen and paper for mind mapping.

    • Ron Hewey

      I found another program called Personal Brain – just as good as pen and paper in my view.

  • http://www.techbabu.com Tech Babu

    There a lot of cool stuff to help me for my mac.

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  • Ron Hewey

    I found another program called Personal Brain, is it possible for you to review it?

  • http://www.houseoflearning.co.uk Barry Mapp

    I don’t use computer mind maps much and prefer the benefits from hand drawing. What I would say is that whether to use a program like iMindMap that allows you to stick fairly closely to the Buzan Rules for Mind Mapping or not depends on the purpose of the Mind Map. Brainstorming is actually a fairly trivial use for Mind Mapping for there many more productivity uses. If anyone is interested, I speak quite extensively on the importance of purpose in a recent interview that is available to listen free as a podcast for the next few weeks here: http://unhub.com/AHuO

    • subas

      Perfect solution with endless possibilities using color pens for great effect. Lets not get bogged by the technology and enjoy mapping our wayward thoughts mindfully! Useful both for thinking and reproducing thoughts.

  • http://www.kaplang.com/blog Michelle

    wow, where do I start with all of these :) thanks for a great bunch of tools

  • http://www.m65jacket.com m65

    i like using freemind it is easy and works great

  • crd2

    Freemind gets my vote. It’s cross-platform, which works great with my linux netbook, and it seems like it’s one of the standard formats to which many of the other applications export. Plus, you can’t beat free. This makes it easy to send mindmaps to friends to edit who don’t want to shell out cash for one of these programs. Xmind is also good in similar respects.

  • hank

    MindManager 7 Mac

    I’d been looking forward to an upgrade from MindManager 6 for Mac. There were a number of things I liked about the program, including the default way that it styled a mindmap but it seemed incomplete or immature, as one might expect a new version of a program to be, and in particular I really wanted outline capabilities along with the mindmap.

    I was therefore very excited to download the trial of MindManager 7, however I then found that it was really closer to a mature beta than a “ready to charge real money for it” product. In particular I wrote to them asking about two anomalies  1) that Cmd-B indeed bolded text in the mindmap mode, but while the command is still available in the menu, it did not bold in outline mode  2) that it indeed supported multiline text entry and even line breaks, but you can’t see your text in outline beyond the first line. The lines otherwise look like any other line so a reader is likely to not even know if there is hidden text there or not.

    I’m sure there are other problems in that I found these in just playing with it for 5 or 10 minutes, but I didn’t look further because their response to me was:
    “Were sorry we can’t meet your exact needs, while we have noted your concerns we do not at this time have any plans to release an update addressing those particular issues.”

    Apparently they interpret these issues of basic functionality as just being quirks of my “exact needs” and they have no intention of correcting them.
    Curio now does a nice mindmap and ConceptDraw is about to upgrade their product. There are other alternatives as well for Mac, like NovaMind, and these companies care about delivering a useful and complete product to their customers. I’ll certainly be looking elsewhere before I invest any more money in a company like Mindjet.

    • http://www.mindjet.com Garrett

      Hank,

      Have you tried MindManager 8 for Mac? This version was released in January of this year and is a great improvement to the previous versions. I would love to get your thoughts on the new version. You can get more details here: http://mindjet.com/products/mindmanager-mac/overview

      Let me know if you have any questions you can ask them on twitter @Mindjet.

      Garrett

  • http://www.zahipoint.com Latest Gadget

    Excellent info provided in the topic for Mac and I think to use it mac user can get lot of help

  • rickdmax

    Thanks for affirming my first impression after only trying MindNode Pro and FreeMind. I tried these in that order. MindNode Pro was so superiorly intuitive that I about got a headache with FreeMind. Just wanted to be sure there was nothing free that was better. You helped me settle on MindNode Pro as my best option. Thanks!

  • http://www.marmalademoon.com/ Kate England

    I’m loving MindNode! Minimalist, beautiful and effective!

  • Daniel

    There is a mindmapping app which was initially started for windows, now on mac, which i really love – thebrain.com, there is a mac version, full version for use until 30days later which goes back to the free version if you are not keen to pay. I have used this since 1999. And it is beautiful

    • Vorst

      First of all I love this reviewer, he initiated a blog discussion, which helped me to choice the correct brain mapping software.
      After trying all the packages, PersonalBrain (thebrain.com) stands out for me:
      Advantage:
      - each topic (it calls a “Thought”) can be linked with any unrelated topic. It allows nested relations between Thoughts. This is mind blowing my opinion. e.g. if you create a event list and separately an appointment list, you can related it back to a todo list, so if you click on the todo Thought, you get all the thoughts, created into the events and appointments thought list (if you link them together). All the other packages I used have visual links, but if it is 10 trees away you can’t see it together.

      Disadvantage:
      - The user interface looks like a windows 98 program. Graphics are looking terrible, so it is less attractive for presentations.
      - Learning curve, is steep, I needed 3 days full days to get a grip on the way to work. Thebrain.com tutorials are the best, i have seen several ones on business and marketing, Engineering, project management and presentations.
      It can be used in all these situations. Although I’m not sure I would use it for a presentation for a big audience (because of the look). Although the flexibility that it gives in presentation mode for a small group of people is no comparison with Powerpoint or Keynote. You just can move to that specific slide more easy. You can change your slide workflow for each type of customer differently. I didn’t try that yet but it looks promising.

  • http://www.biggerplate.com Liam Hughes

    Anyone using Mindmanager as their mapping tool of choice may be interested in the mind map library at http://www.biggerplate.com which has over 1000 user-generated mind maps and over 11,500 active members who can view and download maps for free.Our site enables users to rate maps, and leave comments for the creators. You can search (with accuracy) for maps, and can also browse over 150 categories to find maps of interest. All maps are tagged by the authors, and assigned to specific categories, making the site easy to navigate and maps easy to find.
    Hope this is of use/interest to your readers!

    Best wishes

    Liam Hughes
    Founder: Biggerplate.com

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  • http://www.nickjenkins.net NickJ

    Just bought MindNode Pro and am very satisfied. Mind mapping has to be fast and slick and not interfere with the actual process of thinking. Bought mindNode and was up and running in 10min, producing beautiful looking mind maps.

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  • http://www.jonathanevatt.com Jonathan

    Thanks for this list. I have tried them all.

    I use to use MindManager (for many years) up to version 8 on Windows. When I switched to Mac and tried MM 7 and 8 on there, I was somewhat disappointed. In my experience it is a very watered down version compared to the feature-set of the Windows one. So I moved on. T’was a pity as I’d been using MindManager since version 3… for many many years… and had a huge number of maps. Fortunately I could import them into other mind-mapping apps.

    Currently XMind Pro (free one is also good) and Novamind are the two I prefer.
    I do think The Personal Brain is great for people who need the degree of relationship control it has (between “thoughts” or nodes). I don’t, so I’ve not been an avid user of it, even though I’ve tried it numerous times in the past 5 years or so.

    Happy mind-mapping.

    Jonathan

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    I use to use MindManager (for many years
    switched to Mac and tried MM 7 and 8 on there
    Processor comparison

  • LJ

    Thanks for the review. I was using freemind but got tired of the interface among other things. Online solutions are great for sharing but I like to go caveman when I am just starting a map, these products will work for me. Going to try Curio and Mindnode and see which I like best. Thanks again.

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  • Sofie

    Thanks for mentioning whether you think the program was originally designed for Mac or for Windows! That was the information I was looking for. ConceptDraw and MyThought didn’t look very ‘Macish’ when I installed them. Moving on to MindNode thanks to your advise!

  • Will Cooper

    The absolute best mind mapping program for Mac is NovaMind. Version 4.X was marvelous, but the company’s newest release, version 5.0, now in beta, beats all of those listed above hands down. You can get the program now or wait for the final release, which will have even more features. This is the gold standard for mind mapping programs on the Mac.

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  • Carla

    I’m looking for a mind-mapper allowing me to have multiple centers of attention and connecting them not only at the root but at the extreme points, like constellations. The tree-based ones like Freemind are not flexible enough.

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    Excellent informations about Mac tools. Lets mind mapping now!

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  • http://techmix.net Thanh Nguyen

    Good list, I have a similar, but only free one here, if you have interest, you can check out at: http://techmix.net/blog/2011/06/26/best-free-mind-mapping-software-for-mac/

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    Mac work perfect there is no Mind Mapping if you meen something bad :)

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    I liked the Inspiration 9 so much. It has everything one needs for mind mapping.

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    All tools of Mac are great. The only problem is the price…

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    I am a big fan of Mac and i dont care about the price, the only important for me and for alla Mac fans is the unique quality!

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    i LOVE MAC AS WELL AND I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE PRICE. i also like salonika and terkenlis :)

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    I think that Mac’s are the best technology for pc, laptops and smartphones so this tools are great too! <a href="http://www.terra-verde.gr&quot; φωτοβολταικα

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  • http://julienbayle.net julien

    nice summarize.
    indeed, omnigraffle is nice.
    but I’m more into very minimalistic tools in order to focus on my organization, so mindnode is very cool for that!

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  • Vishpala

    Really very useful information. Thanks a tons

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    I use Spinscape, it’s web based platform independent. Looking forward to their sophomore version coming out this winter … http://www.spinscape.com

  • Marie

    Which of these can be used with ithoughts for iPad

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  • Wajid

    Well, I have fairly used most of the software listed due to my learning style the one that worked well for me was the iMind Map which offers 3D view meaning you can twist the mind how you want also the multi-mind maps on one page was very efficient. The only issue with this software is more money making and it is not targeting everyone for use but mainly companies due to the exorbitant price and you don’t get those nice little features until you put hands in your pocket to get the Ultimate version that has it all and it cost 300USD. The software has great potential but it is not accessible to every one out there. Mind Node pro offers the multi-map thing but the only problem with this tool is that it offers only one view for the branches not possible to make them look bigger, wider, more organic (very important), etc…not possible to add your own notes on the mind map within the software simply no functionality for that.

    For Mind-Manager not bad at all but there is a but: For the price basically close to iMind-Map, Novamind, etc in functionality but there is no way to make the branches look more organic, Everything is set for you in advance. The MS office functions need lots of improvements compared to their Windows version. Note that the Windows version has a presentation view not present in the Mac version…I don’t know why….????

    Inspiration is nice but the Mind-Mapping tool needs lots lots and lots of improvement. On the other hand their diagramming tool is one of the best and pretty much let you decide how you want to finalise your diagram…

    Diagrammix is great too but…: Nice colours, nice graphics for this one the only problem no way you can add your own notes within the software…notes are extremely important when using these tools…but Iove it and I hope an update will permit this.

    MyThoughts: Similar to Tony Buzan but it is one of the best organic mind mapping tool for mac so far because it offers the organic style and lets you decide on how you want your branches to look like…however the software needs a lot of work too because despite it lets you add your won notes on the branches it lacks seriously in other features…the list is too long so I can post it them all there and it is not review solely for this software but an overview… Keep in mind that this software cannot handle large Maps…

    Mindview, Freemind are the most basic one with no extra functionalities: I do not like the way they look so I do not use them at all. I was forced to use Freemind because I could not import maps from one software to another without freemind, sad though and when you import you lose all your images.

    I would pick iMind-Map, great quality but the price is not worth it so in the mean time I use different pieces of softwares to meet my goals and objectives….!!!!

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  • Sridhar
  • http://www.conceptdraw.com Olin Reams

    I wanted to respond to the statement that ConceptDraw MindMap for the Mac was a ported Windows application. ConceptDraw MindMap for the Mac has always been a separate product since day one. Many people think because of the sameness in feature set that they come from the same source tree. Not the case at all. As an example if you want to open a file from Microsoft Project, the file opens the same on Macintosh and PC.

    So integration with Microsoft applications and file structure is exactly the same between Macintosh and Windows. User interface is totally different. On top of that we have an integrated office suite which includes our project management solution and our business graphics solution.

    One last note our list price is $199 for ConceptDraw MINDMAP, (only $20 less then listed) but when you are counting dollars it is important.

  • Ed

    Thanks a lot for the post. It was very useful as a starting point for deciding what to use next as a mind mapping solution. At work I’d always used Mind Manager for Windows, but independently I work on OSX platform. And since Merlin is the solution of my choice for managing projects information, I’ve decided I will give NovaMind.com a go. Will let you know how it works

  • http://www.webone.gr Κατασκευή ιστοσελίδων

    I decide to go with FreeMind. Not that it beats everyone else on the list, is just that it suits my needs best.

    Thanks for the useful list, saved me hours of search.

    Cheers

    • Moxie

      I have been unsuccessful installing FreeMind on my MacBook Pro OS X 10.7.5

      Any suggestions?

  • Eclaire

    Do any of these programs convert the map to an outline or a list with billet points? Someone recommended MindMapper to be, but that program is made only for PCs. Thanks -

  • Brent

    I want there to be a mind mapping standard so that regardless of which app I chose now, or the app I may use 5 years from now, I’ll be able to import that map and be able to work on it. There are tons of mindmaps out there (templates) that are essentially rendered useless without this standard or simply get locked into one product for life!

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      There is, at least of a sort: OPML (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPML). Most major outlining and mind-mapping apps support it, and it’s an XML based format, so odds are you’ll see apps support it far in the future.

  • Zatoka

    I’m using conceptdraw maindmap7, its Solution for writers and Evernote integration is pretty cool options. Check it http://www.conceptdraw.com/solutions/business/word_exchange.php

  • Chang

    Thanks for the review, i have tried ConceptDraw and it helped me a lot with my thesis. I could structure all thoughts and books i have with mindmaps. The price was quiet high for me but I’ve requested for an academic discount which had saved my budget. If you are a student just let them know, the support is very responsible.

  • http://www.conceptdraw.com Olin Reams

    Just wanted to revisit this post for the ConceptDraw MINDMAP program to let readers know about two important additions to the product recently.

    1) Send your map content, image, and file to Evernote with a single click. Now your mind map content is everywhere for you to act on. Even if you are a Mac user who has a Blackberry as your Smart Phone, with one single click, your map is there to share, thanks to ConceptDraw MINDMAP and Evernote. http://news.conceptdraw.com/article.php?nid=NID-4762

    2) Skype integration. Brief your team using ConceptDraw MINDMAP and SKYPE. Once your briefing is completed all of your team members have a copy of the presentation map, plus all of the associated documents. Sharing information is efficient and quick. http://news.conceptdraw.com/article.php?nid=NID-5548

  • http://qvacua.com Tae

    Qmind (http://qvacua.com) is an open-source FreeMind-compatible Cocoa App which I am developing in my free time. Since I do not have much free time, it’s progressing quite slowly, but it’s already quite usable (in my opinion ;-)

  • http://www.ferbhinlor.com Ferb

    These mind map tools are just what I’m looking for thanks so much for listing these tools out. One of my most favorite in your list is the iMindMap, really love the way they designed it and I’d definitely love to use it.

    Thanks – Ferb

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