More Handy Mind Mapping Tools for Smarter Business Brainstorming

Dec 05, 2011 10 Comments by

What tools do you use for creative thinking and brainstorming?  I like to use mind maps, and here are some handy tools you may find useful.

Update: 5 December 2011:  Just added 2 more tools at the bottom. Good tools.  XMind & MindMeister.

1. MindManager is a mindmapping software product from MindJet.

I’ve been using MindManager for years, and it’s the  leader in its field.

It comes with templates that can help do some of your thinking for you.  But it also comes at a price.  The current price is US$349 for the latest version of the software for Windows, and $249 for the latest Mac version.  It’s probably not expensive but it  ain’t exactly cheap either.  You can also get a subscription to an online version so you can easily share your mindmaps and docs with others.

2. FreeMind is an open-source piece of software that is similar to MindManager, but it’s free.  That makes it pretty darn good value.

The developers of Freemind claim it can do some things better than MindManager.    (Here’s what they say “The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click “fold / unfold” and “follow link” operations.”

I’ve not used Freemind as much as MindManager,  but it stacks up pretty well and is easy enough to learn. And you can’t complain about the price!

3.  Pens, Paper  & JotNot Pro Yes I confess, I still use paper and pens.  And pencils.

Often I carry my sketchbook with me.  I’m not really much of an artist, but get me brainstorming and the ideas start to flow pretty quickly.  Some of them even turn out to be pretty good.

Archaic maybe, but it’s often faster for me to dump out ideas onto a piece of paper than to type them into a mindmapping tool.

But I  also use  some low cost software called  JotNot Pro.  It’s an iPhone app that cost  me  $1.19   There is also an Android version, and a free version if you prefer.

JotNot is pretty handy.

(This morning I noticed that JotNot had released an update which is partially what prompted me to write this post.

This pic shows what’s been added in the update.)

Here’s how I use JotNot…

You create whatever it is you are creating on paper – or on a whiteboard, flipchart, etc.

Then you take a photo of it using your smartphone and the JotNot software converts it into a PDF.

After that, you can email it, print it,  fax it or send it other places like Google Docs, Evernote,  Dropbox or

You can even send it to another device or user  through your local wireless network.

(By the way,  I’m a huge fan of Dropbox and recommend it highly. You can get up to 2Gb of Dropbox storage for free.  Files synchronize with your different devices and with different users with whom you share your  Dropbox folders. It’s sweet. )

So, I send my paper-based mindmaps as PDFs to clients for them to refer to as they work through the issues, strategies, tactics  or tools  we’re working on.  It’s fast and it’s convenient for everyone.

I can also send the PDFs to my VA (Virtual Assistant).  My VA then creates a neat version of the mindmap using Freemind or XMind – and sends it on to me and the client.  This saves time and money – and helps  improve creativity and productivity.

5 Dec 2011 Update:

Two more tools are XMind and MindMeister.

XMind is a free mindmapping tool which is pretty good. You can also upgrade to their Pro version.  Mind Meister is a collaborative mindmapping tool that allows two or more people to simultaneously work on a mind map across the web.  MindMeister also has an app for the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones.  The iPad app is AU$8.49.

These days,  we can start to work smarter and more effectively and productively from almost anywhere – and tools like these help us do it.

What tools do you use?  What helps you work more effectively and productively?

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thumbs up for this article!

  2. Alisdair Blackman says:

    Mindjet is indeed the best in the market. I use MindManager for all my digital strategy workshops, brainstorming and presentation work. It is highly intuitive and very powerful!

    FreeMind – I demo’ed this software and it is far more basic and limited in features than MindManager.

    Great post Richard.


    Alisdair Blackman

    • Richard says:

      Hi Alisdair
      thanks, yep MindManager is powerful software. Like any tool, it’s all about what you need to do with it, how well you know it and how well you use it. FreeMind may often be good enough.

      thanks for your thoughts. Nice to hear from you mate.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot and waiting for more!

  4. programy do sciagania says:

    Interesting, thanks for your effort!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this entry. Looking forward to next one.

  6. Anonymous says:

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  7. Anonymous says:

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  8. Tod Ramsdale says:

    Appreciate you sharing, great post. Will read on…

  9. Arjen ter Hoeve says:

    Great mind mapping tools you mention. XMind, Mindmanager and Freemind are good tools. It all depends on how much you need it I think. If you spend 350 USD you should use it a lot I think.

    Fortunately all 3 tools can work with the Mindmanager format. So you can start with Freemind and then move to the other tools.