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Mind mapping topics and ideas is a good way to jump start projects and tasks. Though good old pen and paper traditionally got the job done, digital applications like MindNode for Mac ($19.99) and iOS ($9.99) devices offer flexibility and features that save time and trees.

We last took a look at MindNode in 2009 MindMapping: 3 Simple Idea Mapping Software for Mac MindMapping: 3 Simple Idea Mapping Software for Mac Read More alongside a few other OS X mind mapping solutions, and since then MindNode has added an improved user interface, additional exporting features and a brand new iOS app.

This is a fairly easy application to learn, and is useful as both a brainstorming and presentation tool.

Mind Mapping

If you’ve never tried mind mapping, you might be surprised how useful the technique can be for generating topics, ideas, and tasks 8 Tips To Come Up With Winning Ideas When You Are Brainstorming Alone 8 Tips To Come Up With Winning Ideas When You Are Brainstorming Alone Two heads think better than one, but brainstorming is as much about individual problem solving as it is about the group. Here are some methods to build up a “storm” of ideas. Read More for a project by seeing relationships between clustered items in a visual structure. Mind mapping is also similar to creating an outline, but it’s less linear and more focused on drawing connections between related ideas.

MindNode example

The technique is useful for writing projects, presentations, problem solving, project management, team building, studying for exams and lots more.

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Adding Nodes

MindNode doesn’t come with pre-designed templates, which could be useful, but it’s still easy to get started using the application. A new MindNode document starts with what is called a “node” in the center of the document. A node simply represents an individual idea or piece of information. The main node is the main heading or topic of your project.

MindNode main node

You might start off just adding a set of “parent nodes”, which could be sub-topics of the main node. You can add nodes with keyboard shortcuts, or click on the + button and drag and create nodes as ideas come to you in either version.

Note: You may not notice it at first, but if the document appears too big or small, use the zoom tool on the bottom-left corner to adjust the size of the content for better viewing. I find this feature works better than the assigned keyboard shortcuts for zooming in and out.

MindNode viewing

Adding Child and Sibling Nodes

In mind mapping, parent nodes are like the sub-topics of the main nodes, followed by supporting items called child nodes, but don’t let the terminology trip you up. Basically, as you add nodes you’re creating relationships and drawing connections. To add a sibling node, you can drag and create as you do with parent nodes, or hit the Return key to quickly create a “list” of sibling nodes.

MindNode child sibling

To create a child node, you can hit the Tab key, or you can drag and create from the plus button. You might also find it easier to select a node and duplicate it using Command+D.

Editing Nodes

As you create nodes you’ll inevitable want to move one or more child nodes to another sibling node. To do this, select the child node and drag it on top of the sibling node you want to add to it, and release. It works the same way in the iOS version, except you’re tapping with your finger and dragging the node.

MindNode editing

When you want to change the colors, font and font size of nodes, you don’t have to do them one at time. You can select multiple nodes and use the MindNode Inspector and font library (both accessible in the toolbar) to make stylistic changes. Both the Mac and iOS versions of MindNode also include features for changing the color of the background canvas.

MindNode background

Folding and Unfolding Nodes

As you create and label nodes, your map may become a little unruly, but don’t let the get in your way. Nodes can be moved around, resized, and even folded and tucked away. That’s right, you can select a set of nodes and click on the folding button on the toolbar to temporally hide them. To reveal them, simply click or tap on the three-line icon.

MindNode folding

This folding feature is also included in the iOS version, but it’s a little difficult to tap the button for unfolding a set of nodes. Fortunately the developers added an Outline feature in the toolbar, which enables users to more easily fold and unfold items.

MindNode ios

MindNode also includes a nifty Smart Layout feature (under the View menu) that resizes your map into a nice compact view.

Screenshot2709

Sharing and Exporting

MindNode documents can be shared via email, Messages, and AirDrop on iOS. Documents can also be exported to PDF, an image file, and to FreeMind, another mapping tool How To Use FreeMind To Design Or Manage A Website How To Use FreeMind To Design Or Manage A Website When you think of tools that you can use to create web pages, you probably think of things like Kompozer or Firebug. However, what if I told you that one tool that can really boost... Read More . MindNode also exports to a text file, creating a literal outline, and to applications that support Outline Processor Markup Language, or OPML.

MindNode outline

MindNode uses iCloud to sync and manage documents between devices, and updates typically occur automatically. One of the advantages of using iCloud is that all your MindNode documents are saved to a single location in the cloud, which can be managed in-app. You can drag one document on top of another to create a folder.

MindNode icloud

MindNode also handles any conflicts with updates between documents, letting you decide what to keep and what versions to discard.

MindNode conflicts

Worth the Investment

You can download a free lite Mac version of MindNode, which includes most of the basic mapping creation features. The pro version includes iCloud and Wi-Fi sharing, image and file attachments, all important drag-drop-reorganization, the latest updates and much more.

The iOS version, especially on the iPad, allows you to interact with MindNode almost like using pen and paper. The uncluttered user interface puts the focus on your ideas, and all your content is automatically saved.

If mind mapping is useful thinking tool for you, MindNode is well worth the investment.

Download: MindNode for Mac ($19.99, free trial) / MindNode for iOS ($9.99)

  1. phil taylor
    February 21, 2016 at 3:33 am

    brilliant app I have used for 2 years. Best investment ever. For a fast consultant , powerpoint is jurassic.Helps sort ideas. Last week I created the backbone of a presentation in 40 seconds. Totally recommended. As an overview for a presentation or seminar you can zoom in to detail , and move the running order in real time ....even move break and lunchtime indicators if your audience is very interactive.Wobble the focus you want to make to the audience instead of the old style ( "I have to turn my shoulder to the audience" :-(( laser pointer ) . Print project overviews on an A3 format to give your team or clients the whole overview in a few seconds.
    I even use it to take interview notes instead of a pen / paper or word.
    Working with a big bank client , 60 problems stated by the staff became 9 mind node re- clusters and so 9 project group missions .
    just brilliant

  2. instantfeed
    February 15, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I have been doing this on powerpoint anything more it can do.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 17, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      Mmm, not sure it can do more than I describe. Do you find it easier to create mind maps on PowerPoint than in dedicated application this one?

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