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hand drawn mind mapsAre you searching for a simple mind mapping tool that is more traditional in the way it uses non-linear lines and asymmetric shapes? The Chrome Web Store has a handful of mind mapping tools. The choice gets limited further because some like Mindmeister are commercial. A search through the free ones, revealed the well-reviewed Connected Mind.

The brief description on the Connected Mind Chrome Web Store page says that the browser based mind map tool is about making connections more naturally. Perhaps, the reference was to the more natural form of the drawings.

That’s definitely one of the standout features of the mind map tool as all the items of the mind map have to be drawn by the user. There is no automatic layout option. Also, the nature of the shapes and lines on the mind map takes it close to a hand drawn mind map.

If you like your mind maps to be more natural (like the ones on paper), you will catch the appeal of Connected Mind.

Mind Map on the Cloud

As a cloud based tool, you can also access your created mind maps from any device that can run Google Chrome. Also, as a browser based tool, it’s comparatively easy to reference information and link them to the mind map. Connected Mind allows you to create as many mind maps in the cloud as you can fit in 100 MB of space. Maps are also stored locally and are retained as long as the browser cache is not cleared.

The ‘Hand Drawn’ Mind Map

hand drawn mind maps


When we draw a mind map on paper, we don’t go for straight lines or symmetrically curved ones. We go for a more freehand flow. In my personal opinion, this asymmetry in fact, makes mind mapping more effective. Automatic layouts made up of symmetric lines also make one map look like the one that came before it. That defeats the basic purpose of mind mapping.

Connected Mind has quite a few easy-to-implement features for creating distinctive mind maps that seem more natural…

5 Key Features of Connected Mind

  • You can start a mind map with a shape or an image. In case of an image, you can select one from your desktop.

drawn mind maps

  • Clicking on any item (or map node) opens up the Properties dialog box. You can edit properties like color, gradients, font, and text color.

drawn mind maps

  • You have a choice of 27 shapes for your node items. Each shape can be customized with gradient fills, text, and strokes.

drawn mind maps

  • Connected Mind lets you draw straight lines, and curved lines with more than intermediate points. Each line has formatting properties which can be edited. For example, line thickness for showing main branches and their sub-branches.

hand drawn mind map examples

  • Connected Mind gives you choice of 60 fonts which you don’t have to install on your system.

hand drawn mind map examples

  • Any node (shapes, images, lines) can be associated with notes. The notes feature allows you to elaborate with extra content like webpage links and extra images for reference. The rich notes editor gives you full formatting control over the notes. Notes are hidden behind the map items and are displayed on a mouse-over. You can toggle them on and off.

hand drawn mind map examples

  • Connected Mind also understands speech. Speech recognition (similar to Google Voice Search) allows you to speak out the text of your node items instead of typing it in. But in my trials, it was often off the mark. But do try it out.

hand drawn mind maps

Connected Mind allows you to import maps created in other applications in the FreeMind format. Only the content will be imported and not the layout or graphical elements. Connected Mind does not have a print button but you can work around that by using Chrome screen capture extensions that print from the browser.

The learning curve on this mind map tool is minimal. What also helps is the mind map which explains the features of the program. I got it all in one glance. If you do too, tell us about your opinion of Connected Mind or how does it fare against any other mind mapping tool out there.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Sue Beckingham
    August 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Like all new things it's a bit fiddly to start with but then I should have started with the excellent video that takes you through how to use it! Just click on the ? which is the FAQs.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      It is definitely one of the quickest that I have come across, probably because it does not give you 1000 and 1 options.

  2. Ronnie Newton
    August 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Mind maps and memory maps are proven to be effective study aids for high school and college students. They help break down complex subjects into simpler sub-parts. The cool thing is, you can adapt it to fit your style of learning.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Would like to read someone's opinion on hand drawn mindmaps vs those done on software. I personally favor the hand drawn ones.

      • Bob
        August 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm

        I too prefer hand drawn mindmaps for my notes and to help me understand things. Also to prepare writing - I try to get my students to use them too. For presenting things, though, I prefer a software one as it looks more professional. It also takes a lot longer although probably the more you use the software the quicker you can become.

        • Saikat Basu
          August 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm

          If you are teaching your students mindmaps, then it's really great. I came to know about them much later.

      • Maxi
        August 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

        In terms of recall & memory - hand drawn maps trump software generated ones every time.  The physical arrangement of the info, saying/hearing the words, writing the words out, seeing the words, etc. all combine and have a BIG impact in recalling the info at a later date.  (Probably due to being 'actively' involved in the process when drawing by hand, whereas with software you're slightly more 'detached' during the process as there's no real kinaesthetic/physical component involved.)

        I do use software myself as it also has many benefits - the main two being - 1. Presentation - They 'look' very neat & professional.  2. Editing - this is the strongest benefit (IMO).  The ability to edit the map/s as many times as you like - adding & removing info, combining branches, updating info, rearranging nodes, ideas & keywords, etc. along with anything else that you want to change about your map/s without going through pages of handmade drafts.

        If I'm studying & learning a subject - I do them by hand.  If I'm just summarising a subject for reference I use mind mapping software - that way I always have two copies - one saved on my computer and one hard copy printed out.

        Either way I'm so glad that I came across them in high school they made learning & revision much easier & way more effective than using my classical linear notes.  Sadly & unsurprisingly it wasn't my high school (or my college for that matter) that introduced them to me to mind maps, but "The Brain Book" by Peter Russell (1976) - which I found in a second hand book store about 25 years ago.

        • Saikat Basu
          August 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm

          Also, as I have mentioned, with software based ones each mindmap ends up looking similar. that defeats the very purpose of mindmaps. My introduction was an article by Tony Buzan, but unfortunately after my college years.

        • Maxi
          August 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

          That's my main gripe with the schooling system - no time is devoted to teaching a child 'how to learn' - no techniques are taught?!  Why not?!  Everyone would benefit, how can the education system not see this?  And most of the techniques are fun to learn and use - kids are amazed at how much they can 'really' do.

          You're a perfect example - you're a professional writer with a healthy appetite for learning about many things, and it was only by mere chance (just like myself) that you came across mind mapping.

          (Methinks I'd better get off the soapbox now before I really get started... :-)

          Thanks for a the article - really enjoyed it.


        • Saikat Basu
          August 29, 2011 at 3:14 am

          True. Education is one of the sectors where groundbreaking innovation has yet to happen. We are still learning as our forefathers used to. Elearning methods are there, but it hasn't penetrated everywhere. Thanks for all your feedback.

  3. Aashish
    August 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I was looking for mapping tool for my Hospitality project. Thanks a lot for the info on this tool. i will use this now.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 27, 2011 at 2:35 am

      Let us know how it come out.