Mind mapping, also known as concept mapping, is used to create relationships from concepts, ideas, and information. Mind mapping software can help to brainstorm ideas, act as a memory aid while studying, help to gather information, organize your ideas, describe relationships between ideas, prepare presentations, help with researching, and support planning a project and/or essay. Mind mapping tools are also available online for free and/or may require a membership. Mind mapping software is often used by individuals who learn visually.
Some features that may be available in mind mapping software include:
- Creating trees that are expandable or collapsible
- The ability to re-arrange topics in your map
- Use of colours and shapes on your map
- Adding pictures to concepts and ideas
- Embedding documents, notes, and web links within the structure of the map
- The ability to export the content to word documents, PDFs, or presentation software like PowerPoint
Some mind mapping tools have advanced features to support structured collaboration, planning timelines, converting between formats (e.g. turning a mind map into an overview or bulleted list).
Want to learn more about mind mapping software? Ottawa Network for Education created videos for students who are interested in learning about or starting to use technologies for reading, writing and other school work. To learn more about word prediction software, visit Ottawa Network for Education’s website to watch a video titled ‘Pre-writing: That Was Easy! Using AT to Organize Your Ideas’ and ‘Mind Mapping Tools.’
Questions to consider when choosing a mind mapping software
- Consider why you are using the mind mapping software. Do you need the mind map to look visually appealing?
- Do you need graphics for your mind maps? Does the software have an extensive library of graphics to make your map interesting and easily navigable by using symbols?
- Are able to position the tree branches any way you want?
- Can you switch between different views? (e.g., turning the mind map into a text outline)
- Can you add colours and other labels to help structure and organize your mind map?
- Does it need to work with other technology? (e.g., word prediction, text-to-speech, magnification/zooming) Are there programs that are compatible or single programs that have the combination of these features?
- Does it have a user-friendly interface (i.e. menu, toolbar, control panel)? How complex is the menu or toolbar structure? How easy is it to adjust settings?
- Does the user need access to multiple computer systems? If so, consider options (e.g., software on a USB key, software with multiple installations per license, online or built-in options, etc.)
- Can the mind map be created using keyboard shortcuts only or does it require mouse use? Students who rely on keyboard shortcuts or software that uses keyboard shortcuts (e.g., on-screen keyboards and switches) may not be able to use a mouse.
- Is it compatible with your computer or device’s operating system?
- Can you export the data into other applications?
- What type of built-in tutorial are available? What other supports are available for users?
- Is there a trial period or demo copy for testing out the software?
- How will you get support if you need it? (e.g., a technician in the school, a local vendor, by telephone, by email, remote access, etc.)
- How much do upgrades cost? Is there any software management agreement or upgrade package that can be purchased?
- What is the payment method? (e.g., purchase, pay per use)?
Manufacturers of Mind Mapping Software
Links are provided for information purposes only. SNOW does not endorse any of the following software or hardware.
- Inspiration Software, Inc. – Inspiration, Kidspiration, Webspiration (Windows, Mac, online, apps)
- Matchware – MindView (Windows, Mac, online)
- Mindcad LLC – Mindcad (Mac)
- MindGenius Ltd. – MindGenius (Windows, iOS)
- Mindjet – MindManager (Window, Mac, Android, iOS)
- MindMaple – MindMaple (Windows, Mac, iOS)
- MindNode – MindNode (Mac, iOS)
- Mindomo – Mindomo (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS)
- Notion – Popplet (iOS)
- Sim Tech Systems, Inc. – MindMapper Mobile, Standard, Professional, Arena, and USB (Windows, Android, iOS)
- Stormboard – Stormboard (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)
- TheBrain – TheBrain (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS)
- ThinkBuzan – iMindMap Home & Student, Ultimate, Ultimate Plus (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)
- XMind Ltd. – XMind (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS)
Online Mind Mapping Tools
- IRIAN Solutions – Mind42
- MeisterLabs – MindMeister Basic
- WiseMapping Corporation – WiseMapping
Free or Open Source Software