When you’ve got projects to manage, events to plan and the never-ending demands of life hovering over your head, it’s helpful to get your thoughts onto paper. Do you carry around a pen and pad? Maybe not; but if you’re like most people, your mobile device is always within arm’s reach.
Plan and organize your thoughts anywhere you are with these eight brainstorming apps.
SimpleMind (iOS, Android, Free)
SimpleMind offers a basic, free app for both Apple and Android devices powerful enough for the casual mind mapper. It is also available as a paid desktop version.
Create thought nodes with connecting ideas, apply custom visuals and save your mind map for later review. SimpleMind is designed for smoothness on smartphones and tablets so you can switch between devices seamlessly.
The full version of SimpleMind ($4.99 Android, $5.99 iOS) unlocks more than 25 premium features, including the ability to link thoughts to web links, share mind maps with friends, and manage saved maps. Use SimpleMind to diagram everything from your shopping itinerary to team brainstorming sessions. Integration with Dropbox makes SimpleMind indispensable for busy minds on the go.
Grapholite Diagrams (Web, Android, iOS, Free demo)
A mobile version of Grapholite’s powerful desktop app, Grapholite Diagrams is available for Android devices and iPads.
The free demo allows users to try the program’s various features, but saving mind maps for later requires the full version priced at $14.99. The app allows you to create maps and visualize your thoughts in varied ways — from Venn diagrams to complex shapes and flowcharts.
Scientific visualizations, website wireframes and infographics can also be created with Grapholite Diagrams, which might make this app ideal for professionals in various online industries.
Grapholite Diagrams allows you to export maps so they can be uploaded to a website, presentation or spreadsheet.
Grapholite also provides an option to purchase the desktop/Web application for one flat fee, simplifying the collaboration process. If you prefer to do your brainstorming from your desktop, check out these other web-based mind mapping tools.
Mindomo (iOS, Android, Free)
Mindomo is a powerful and visual alternative to basic mind mapping tools. The productivity tool is perfect for mapping out projects, timelines or ideas for any part of your life.
You can access Mindomo with other accounts, like Facebook, Yahoo or Google+, which is a helpful for mobile users who want to minimize native app logins. In addition to mapping tools, Mindomo enhances brainstorming visualization by allowing users to attach images to mind maps.
As with most brainstorming apps, maps can be saved, shared and exported in Mindomo. Mindomo stands out by offering real-time collaboration and the ability to create presentations from mind maps.
Chrome users can take advantage of Mindomo’s companion extension and integration with Google Drive, timesaving features that are not available from other app developers.
Mindomo is also available in a paid desktop version, with prices starting at $36 for six months.
Idea Sketch (iOS , Free)
Designed for iOS devices, Idea Sketch is a simple mind mapping app for smartphones and tablets.
Create idea hubs, flowcharts and illustrated concepts that can be uploaded to the cloud or sent to others via email. Idea Sketch allows you to import ideas from emails, websites and documents, reducing the need to perform duplicate tasks.
Outline meetings, perfect workflows or journal your customers’ experiences quickly with Idea Sketch’s functions.
You can also get the Idea Sketch Plus upgrade for $4.99, which provides users with an unlimited number of mind maps.
Recent updates to Idea Sketch include the addition of a Windows Phone app for $1.99.
Download: Idea Sketch for iOS (Free)
Mindly (iOS, Free)
Mindly is a true no-frills option for those wanting a simple and clean mind mapping tool. It is app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
Although the app’s features aren’t as robust as other apps, this app includes productivity tools like the ability to schedule due dates and add more information to an idea bubble.
The premium version, Mindly Plus, is available for $6.99 and comes with additional features to enhance collaboration. An unlimited amount of hierarchal data is included in the paid version, which can be exported or uploaded to iCloud.
For users who stick to Apple products, Mindly is a great mobile brainstorming tool.
Download: Mindly for iOS (Free)
SchematicMind (Android, Free)
Not many full-featured brainstorming apps are completely free, but SchematicMind is an exception to this. While other mind mapping apps might be prettier to look at or have more customization options, SchematicMind features an uncluttered interface, unlimited maps and no map size restrictions.
Although SchematicMind shouldn’t be used for top-secret projects – it does not require a login – it’s perfect for sketching out ideas, creating workflows and evaluating unorganized projects.
You can also add shapes, text and colors to help your ideas stand out and quickly locate sections of your mind map.
Download: SchematicMind for Android (Free)
Popplet (iOS, $4.99)
Used by students and professionals alike, Popplet helps users categorize ideas, brainstorm concepts and stay organized.
Popplet allows users to create notes, attach images and build digital collections, such as travel destinations or inspiring art, to mind maps. Popplet is compatible with iPhones and iPads, so it is available on the Apple device you’re in the mood to use.
Popplet Lite, a free, limited version of Popplet, is simple to use and contains many of the key functions needed to keep thoughts organized.
However, Popplet Lite limits users to one Popplet board. In contrast, paid subscribers receive unlimited boards and access to public boards. Popplet also encourages social collaboration among users with a paid subscription.
Download: Popplet for iOS ($4.99)
Penultimate (iOS, Free)
Sometimes, using paper and pen helps ideas flow smoothly, but grabbing the needed supplies is not necessarily convenient.
If you’re a big fan of your iPad and Evernote, Penultimate is the answer to your prayers. While Evernote, Penultimate’s developer, might encourage you to purchase the accompanying $75 stylus, you’re still able to use a regular stylus – or even your finger – to get results.
Because Penultimate was designed by Evernote, it syncs seamlessly with the popular note-taking app, which eliminates the need to transfer data from one program to another.
Though not specifically designed for mind mapping, Penultimate has been used successfully by individuals and teams to enhance evaluations, map work processes and visualize concepts.
Premium Evernote subscribers receive access to Passcode Lock and unlimited digital paper for only $5 a month.
Download: Penultimate for iOS (Free)
As a simpler alternative, you can also use these MS Word templates to mind map via Word documents.
Life can be busy and chaotic. These mind mapping and brainstorming apps can help you keep track of your inspirations and ideas for a better thought process. And all just a screen tap away.
Do you use brainstorming tools? Or do you rely on the trusty paper and pen? Tell us your pick for the best brainstorming tool which is both flexible and accessible when you are on the move.
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