4 Great Web-Based Mindmapping Tools To Enhance Your Creativity

Having trouble organizing all of your ideas? Sounds like what you need is a mindmapping tool. Mindmaps are a wonderful resource for brainstorming, planning, and managing ideas in a way that increases your productivity and enhances your creativity. But what if you want to create a mindmap without pen or paper?

In recent years, a lot of mindmapping resources have begun popping up on the Internet. Some of the more powerful ones require you to download and install a chunky program on your computer. Others cost a pretty penny. Here are four free mindmapping tools that are web-based, meaning you can get up and running immediately without hassle.

Bubbl.us

web mindmap tool bubblus   4 Great Web Based Mindmapping Tools To Enhance Your Creativity

What Is It?

Bubbl.us has been around since 2006, making it one of the oldest web-based mindmapping tools to still exist today. Since ¬†launching, they’ve delivered over 3 million mindmaps to over 1.5 million users. Its age does show through in some parts, but they’ve proven themselves to be reliable and useful.

The Good:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
  • Mindmaps can be saved, shared, and collaborated on with others.
  • Mindmaps can be embedded into webpages.
  • Export mindmaps in XML, HTML, PNG, or JPG formats.
  • Use keyboard and mouse shortcuts for improved workflow.

The Bad:

  • Requires account creation.
  • Free accounts are limited to 3 mindmaps.
  • Premium accounts are $6/month or $59/year.
  • Interface looks outdated and can be slow at times.

Mindmeister

web mindmap tool mindmeister   4 Great Web Based Mindmapping Tools To Enhance Your Creativity

What Is It?

Mindmeister is an online mindmapping tool built around a freemium model that’s mainly subscription-focused but with a limited free option. They’ve grown considerably since their launch in 2007, even debuting as one of Google’s partners when the Google Apps Marketplace launched in 2010. That should lend credence that Mindmeister is pretty good.

The Good:

  • Advanced flexible interface, supports images and annotations.
  • Free demo that you can try before creating an account.
  • Share and collaborate on mindmaps, even integrating Skype calls.
  • Import from Freemind and Mindmanager or export to RTF and GIF.

The Bad:

  • Requires account creation.
  • Free accounts are limited to 3 mindmaps.
  • Premium accounts are tiered at $5/month, $10/month, and $15/month.

Mind42

web mindmap tool mind42   4 Great Web Based Mindmapping Tools To Enhance Your Creativity

What Is It?

Mind42, pronounced “mind for two,” is a web-based mindmapping tool that emphasizes the collaborative nature of brainstorming and mindmapping. Despite the name, Mind42 can be used alone, with another, or with a team of others.

The Good:

  • Free for all users without limitations.
  • Intuitive interface for creating mindmaps.
  • Social aspects, such as liking or commenting on public mindmaps.
  • User Guide helps users get started without confusion.
  • Share, embed, or export mindmaps to Freemind, Mindmanager, and RTF formats.

The Bad:

  • Requires account creation.
  • Though free to use, supported by ads.
  • Ads can be removed for ~$13/year or ~$40 forever.
  • Some interface elements are clunky and inflexible to use.

MindMup

web mindmap tool mindmup   4 Great Web Based Mindmapping Tools To Enhance Your Creativity

What Is It?

MindMup is one of the most powerful free mindmapping tools on the web. It has been designed to run using the latest HTML5 web technology. Furthermore, it’s open source (under the MIT license). MindMup is used all over the world for its simple but effective interface.

The Good:

  • Completely free for all users.
  • No account creation necessary.
  • Smart, simple, and easy-to-learn interface.
  • Integrates with Dropbox, Google Drive, and GitHub.
  • Extension system expands the functionality of MindMup.

The Bad:

  • Free mindmaps are limited in size to 100KB.
  • Free mindmaps are only stored for 6 months.
  • MindMup Gold increases mindmap size limit to 1GB and guarantees storage for the length of the Gold license. Gold costs $25/year.

In addition, check out Angela’s guide to integrating MindMup with Google Drive if you plan to do so.

Conclusion

MindMup is the clear winner for me. It is tied with Mind42 for the least restrictive limitations for free users, but Mind42 still has ads and a clunky interface. MindMup earns bonus points for designing with HTML5 in mind and being able to integrate with cloud services.

However, if you don’t like MindMup, Mind42 is great if you can get used to the interface. Mindmeister would be the runner up if free accounts could have more than 3 mindmaps. Bubbl.us has been around for a while but they have some catching up to do in terms of interface and free limitations.

What do you think? Do you use any free web-based mindmapping tools that weren’t included on this list? Share them with us in the comments!

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34 Comments -

Saad

You are missing Mural.ly

Kevin

Not really a mindmap, but a mindmap++, or virtual corkboard. Interesting concept, but not very helpful when you’re exploring thoughts instead of content. Still a worthy share though, thank you!

Joel L

I agree with what Kevin said but thanks for sharing. I hadn’t heard about Mural.ly until just now. :)

Madhur

How about the android app SchematicMind ?

Kevin

Read the title… web based. If you’re focusing on an android app, it’s not web based.

Kevin

Web based… not app based. Read the article for intended audience.

Joel L

SchematicMind is a great app for mindmaps! But this article was about web-based mindmappers. For anyone who’s interested, yED is a nice mindmapping/flowchart tool for desktops.

Val Jermy

Or Inspirationmaps which can be downloaded for free from the app store. Sold mostly to dyslexic students but very useful for working on presentations/ideas generally

Kevin

Web…. based…. not app based.

Kevin

Web… based…. not app based. Right in the title….

Jurmy C

Kevin

Instantly I see one disadvantage. It needs to be installed into chrome. I use chrome at work, but Firefox at home… That might be why it’s not included.

Joel L

I purposely avoided browse-based mindmaps here, but I appreciate the recommendation. It looks interesting!

Gojko Adzic

Hi – thanks very much for spreading the word about MindMup – I’m glad you liked it. Just to clarify, maps stored on Google Drive, Dropbox or Github are limited by that storage only – you can use them for free with capacity and storage duration limited by the third party service. MindMup Gold is required only for a few use cases where other storage systems do not provide the adequate service (eg embedding public maps into a web site).

Joel L

Are you the creator of MindMup? If so, great work! And thanks for clarifying the storage benefit of MindMup Gold. Good to know!

Gojko Adzic

I’m one of three people behind MindMup. thanks!

Marcos

What about Coggle (http://coggle.it)?

Joel L

That’s beautiful! I missed it because it’s in beta but it looks very promising. Thanks for the heads up.

Tristan

What about Documaps? (http://documaps.io). It’s still under development, but I find it very useful because of it’s speed. About 4 times faster than all of these. I can’t wait till they finish it. Plus its free to try.

Joel L

That definitely looks very polished, though I’m a bit hazy on what Documaps actually is. The mindmapping portion looks more like a sitemap. Is there a difference?

Kat

What about XMind 2013? http://www.xmind.net

Joel L

XMind is great but this was a collection of web-based mindmappers. Thanks for sharing!

Caroline W

Kevin is scaring me into saying anything here!, but I shall anyway! To be honest, I’m not overly impressed with web-based MM’s because of their limitations and want of fees; so for me personally – and Kevin, please don’t jump on me for this! – I am happier sticking with a MM program. Then at least I know my data is saved/stored/at my fingertips and without restrictions. I daren’t say anymore!!

Joel L

That’s perfectly fine. Different tools for different folks. Personally, I’m also more partial to desktop mindmappers over web-based ones. :)

pwgc

If you really want a mindmapping service then surely you would pay for a good one. If all you want is something free, then you probably aren’t serious about mind mapping. I use mindmeister (and pay for it). I find it has everything anybody could reasonably want from a web based service at a good price. This “review” has no real assessment of functionality. Joel, you should be reviewing things you know about. Advertorials have no place on this site.

Joel L

Is there something wrong with wanting the best that free can afford? MindMeister’s paid options might be nice but there are better free alternatives. This article was in no way a review of MindMeister’s paid options and if you feel that it did not do the service the right justice, perhaps MindMeister should rethink their free offerings.

Ben Joven

I use FreeMind…because it’s free and it works.

Guest

Forget these web tools. You still can’t beat the classic Java app FreeMind (and its successor Freeplane). Outside of searching the Internet proper, I really haven’t found any cloud program that an offline desktop program does just as well if not better.

They still work even if these Web 2.0 clones go offline, and your data is probably a lot safer with hard-copy backups versus on some cartoonish pastel startup site. Probably a lot more people trust PowerPoint over Prezzi.

illferris

None of those come close to Mindjet Vision.

Charles White

None of these MM systems (web based, phone based, or desktop based) will work if you do not know how to map your thoughts in the first place. Some tutorials would be nice for the uninformed. As for web based, take a look at The Brain’s web based mind mapping software here: https://webbrain.com/explore.
The Brain also has great tutorials that will give you a better understanding of the Mind Mapping concept… here is the link: http://www.thebrain.com/support/tutorials/
I am not associated with The Brain in any way, shape, or form. I just like their concept.

Joel L

Agreed. Most tools won’t be helpful (or might even be detrimental) if you don’t know how to use them in the right way. Mindmapping is powerful IF you know how to use it well. Thanks for sharing!

Chris Tully

I agree with you Charles. Personal Brain is the gold standard. I have tried many but The Brain (pro-edition) is my go-to. I have it on my mac and my work pc. I share some of the ‘brains’ online as well. Too bad they don’t have an app -to my knowledge. The free edition is awesome and many people can use the trial to setup most of their lives without ever going to the paid editions. I use the pro-edition because of the attachments features.

Paul van Leeuwen

What about drichard.org/mindmaps/#

chad bennett

i’m a big fan of mind mapping and my vote is for mindomo. http://www.mindomo.com

it is free, has amazing tools and settings. can import/export a lot of file formats, has desktop version and apps for most devices. the current version for creating maps is flash-based, but they are working on an html5 version. embedded maps have made the switch to html5 and are really fast.

with an education email, you can get a pro-education version for free. i’m a teacher and use it quite often for project planning, curriculum mapping, etc. you can see an example of an embedded version on a blog post i wrote about mind mapping tools for students. http://tiny-elephant.postach.io/mind-mapping-tools-for-students