The 6 Best Free Mind Map Tools (And How to Best Use Them)
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Mind maps are one of the best known logical organization tools. It’s a graphic representation of connections between concepts and ideas. The idea starts from a central topic, and we gradually connect them with different branches and label it with notes, symbols, pictures, links, and more.

When you create a map, you elaborate on existing knowledge structure and their relation to new concepts. Gradually, you’ll start connecting the dots and also recall information quickly. Let’s look at the top free or inexpensive mind map apps that give you great value for your money.

How to Pick a Mind Map Tool

Choosing a mind map software depends a lot on your needs. With so many apps available in the market, it’s not an easy task. These factors shown on a mind map will help you decide

how to pick a mind map app

1. Coggle

Coggle is an online tool for creating, sharing mind maps and flow charts. The app lets you and your team collaborate on notes, brainstorming sessions, and plans to complete your projects efficiently. Every mind map starts with a single central topic.

Click the Plus (+) button to add a branch and enter your text in the box. You can also format your text, insert links, add images, and icons to elaborate on your key points. Continue adding branches as much as you want. Right-click on any item to explore more features.

With a free account, you can create three private diagrams, collaborate in real-time, and upload unlimited images. The export options include TXT, PDF, and JPEG. Check out the pricing page to explore premium features.

Unique Features

  • Add multiple central nodes in a single workspace. The app also supports keyboard shortcuts to create mind maps quickly.
  • View the entire version history of the mind map. You can check who last edited the map along with the date.
  • Message team members, leave notes, and chat in real-time to develop ideas.
  • Create loops and branches to connect other mind maps and see relationships.

2. GitMind

gitmind free mind map tool

GitMind is a free, online mind map tool. It lets you visualize complicated concepts, generate new ideas, make lists with task priorities, and prepare for a presentation. To get started, type in the topic name, right-click and choose Insert node. Then type your text in the box.

With GitMind, you can assign a task priority and progress meter with symbols. Also, add images and comments without cluttering the node.

Choose Insert subnode to create sub-branches. Then click the Relation line to show the relationship between specific ideas. You can export a finished mind map as text, PNG, JPEG, PDF, or SVG.

Unique Features

  • Intuitive with a well-designed toolbar. Keyboard shortcuts help you quickly create a mind map.
  • Day and night themes are available. Modify mind maps with custom lines, border color, transparency, shape, and thickness.
  • Arrange the mind map in five different layouts and reset them at any time.
  • Share the mind map you created with a link or collaborate with other people in real-time.

3. Canva

colorful hexagon mind map with Canva

Canva is a web-based graphic design app that makes it easy to create mind maps. Equipped with ready-to-use templates and toolset, you can create beautiful mind maps without any effort.

Enter the term “mind map” in the search field, and within a few seconds, you’ll see many different templates. The built-in tools allow you to edit photos, customize text, background, and more in your mind map. The export options include PNG, JPEG, and PDF.

The free account gives you 1GB of free storage space, access to 8,000 templates, image uploads, and collaboration with ten members. Check out the Canva’s pricing page for more details.

Unique Features

  • Powerful drag and drop editor with a vast selection of tools and templates.
  • Embed the mind map and share it on social media or email it right from the app. You can also collaborate in real-time.
  • Insert pictures, embed videos from YouTube, TED, links from the web or Twitter, and GIF from Giphy.
  • Use symbols, color codes, speech bubbles, and icons for informative presentations.

Download: Canva for AndroidiOS (Free, Pro)

4. InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder

Traditional mind mapping tools are hierarchical. When you start creating complex linkages, they quickly get confusing and unusable. But with this app, you can join multiple ideas, and yet it adjusts your map dynamically to an elegant layout. You click a topic, and everything re-arranges around it automatically.

The app lets you build a mind map from scratch. You can import notes, links, images, and attach it to any item or a relation. There is also an option to integrate it with a data source to automatically create a mind map from text files, Wikipedia articles, and Twitter tweets.

To get started, type in the topic name and click New Item. For each topic, type a name and add a description. You can add descriptive linking phrases on relationship lines and select colors, dotted or solid lines. Or even customize the style of the ends, with or without arrows.

Unique Features

  • Insert multiple items, edit or delete them, and use drag-and-drop for moving relations.
  • Toggle between a 2D and 3D displaying mode and also show or hide cross-connections.
  • Build a map from MediaWiki, including all the sister Wikipedia sites. You can also import outlines, CSV, RDF, XSD, and more.
  • Generate flashcards to memorize items practice with quiz sessions.

Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Windows 10 ($10)

Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Mac ($9)

Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Android ($11) | iOS ($9)

5. Sketchboard

sketchboard whiteboard app

Sketchboard is an online digital whiteboard app that allows you to mind map with sketches. The board comes with a wide variety of pre-designed icons for use in software diagrams, mind maps, roadmaps, and more. Drag and drop the icons from the shape gallery and type in the topic name.

To create a connection, hold the Shift key and double-click to create a sibling. Double-click the empty area to create sub-branches.

Then use the toolbar to change size, color, or add text. With a free account, you can create three private boards with up to five members. Check out the Sketchboard pricing page for more details.

Unique Features

  • The drawing board has an unlimited canvas; drag the canvas area to get more space for mind mapping.
  • Mix and match ideas with shapes, freehand drawings, notes, and roadmap.
  • Do a live chat group discussion to share your design, add-on board comments, and share links. If you’re a Slack user, you can create visual messages right inside Slack.
  • Export board as SVG, PNG, and PDF.

6. MindMaster

Edraw MindMaster is a cross-platform and multi-functional mind mapping software. The app offers an interface similar to Microsoft Office. On the ribbon, you’ll find all the key mind map elements. You can insert topics, pictures or clip art, draw relationship lines, add notes, and more.

The left panel is your canvas, and in the right sidebar, you’ll find options to adjust the content, change the appearance of your diagrams, add a background, tasks, view and export outlines, and more. There’s a handy color strip below the canvas to set the line and fill color.

Unique Features

  • The app offers a vast library of ready-made templates, vector diagrams, and clip art to infuse creativity.
  • Automatically create slides by disassembling your mind map into separate branches. Add notes, background, design to the slides, and export them as PPT or PDF.
  • Store files in Edraw cloud storage for access and collaboration on the move
  • Use a handy Gantt Chart mode to visualize and track progress on any project.

Download: Edraw MindMaster for Windows | macOS | Linux (Free, Premium)

Make a Mind Map in Microsoft Word

Picking the right mind map before you adapt to its workflow is not easy. The apps discussed above are a starting point if you want to jump into the benefits of mind maps. Most of these apps are free (or relatively inexpensive) and do not have a steep learning curve.

Also, did you know that you can use Microsoft Word to draw quick mind maps How to Build a Mind Map in Microsoft Word How to Build a Mind Map in Microsoft Word Microsoft Word may not be the first tool you pick for mind maps. But with these tips, Word can be effective for mind mapping. Read More ? There are some simple rules to follow, but once you get the idea, you don’t need a complicated app for basic mind maps.

Explore more about: Collaboration Tools, Education Technology, Mindmapping, Organization Software, Planning Tool, Project Management, Study Tips.

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  1. Mr Stott
    September 14, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Nice article, but the Blumind link leads to a phishing site that attempts to tell you your computer has a virus.

    • Saikat Basu
      September 16, 2019 at 4:55 am

      Yeah, it appears so. My uBlock extension also flags it. Will take a look at this again. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Minah
    January 11, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Hello. Great article, but there are a few broken links and some information that needs updating. It would be awesome if you guys could take care of it.
    Keep up the good work.
    Cheers!

  3. Elisa @ Innovation Zero to Eight
    January 7, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Are there any mindmapping programs that integrate with SquareSpace?

  4. Elisa @ Innovation Zero to Eight
    January 7, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Is there any mindmapping software that can integrate into Squarespace? We would like to include a mindmap of professional resources with images, videos, and clickable links into our company's website, rather than simply save as a .pdf where links and videos are lost. Thanks!

  5. Andreas
    August 30, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I like your explanation. I'll definitely use one of these with my students. I'm also looking for a mindMap software for mapping emerging knowledge of a developing brain so I need one more dimension (like layers in a CAD) which is : time

  6. PP
    April 23, 2018 at 4:16 am

    None of them seem to be even remotely sufficient for me. I could use something much more elastic in forms of presentation, connectivity and its levels of literality, directness, or able to find, discover and create connections, that could be completely invisible without seriously deep reflection or amount of steps leading from one place to another appearing as not in anyway connected with the prior, but after long development and evolution of the thread unvailing its strong mutual and not at all easily noticable (and absolutely unnoticable for probably quite numerous group ) correlation on much deeper uncertain and elusive planes of association forming and mutually influencing on many levels. It would for sure need to be shapable multidimensionally and multi trangressively. In visual sense, as well as meant in mental comprehensibility context. Could it be even possible that something that complex could be created? Im afraid not...

    Peace&Love

  7. FERNANDO ALBUQUERQUE
    April 14, 2018 at 3:42 am

    I created a software to create Mind Mapping 100% free, those who want to try access memorize.ninja?

  8. Jane Jacobs
    December 18, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Mind maps do help a lot in improving study and work efficiency. I've been using Edraw MindMaster since it was released in October 2017. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux, it's really worth trying! By the way, it's FREE! It's really worth trying!

    • john
      May 8, 2018 at 11:48 am

      Thanks. this is cool. and it's free !

  9. Bob Sadler
    September 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    As a writer, I'm looking for something that doesn't look for team involvement. What is available for someone in my position?

    • Saikat Basu
      September 9, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Hey Bob,
      I am a writer myself. I use Milanote.com a lot these days. Not exactly a Mindmap tool, but I think you just might like the look of it. You can use arrows and connectors to "link your thoughts". Let me know if you like or hate it.

    • Rick
      January 7, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Try Scapple.

  10. Maleni
    May 20, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I recommend Coggle because I think that the Coggle is more easy for use, is colorful and specially I think that is the most accesible and Easy for de students

  11. Aaron Konkol
    May 9, 2017 at 1:05 am

    I use bubbl.us and it works great. There is a free option so I could try it out to see how it works.

  12. Klaas Vaak
    January 9, 2017 at 10:56 am

    MindMaple version 1.71 you mentioned above if the last version & it is dated 2011. Moreover, the last blog posts on the website date back to 2013, and a number of the pages they link to are 404 pages.
    Do you know if development has stopped? By the way, version 1.71 is really very impressive. I have both it & Freeplane currently installed (surprised you have not mentioned this truly free open source mindmapper) & find MindMaple slightly more attractive in a couple of aspects: you can move topics (nodes in Fp parlance) freely around without moving the other ones at the same time like Fp does, and you can attach files to MM, whereas Fp can only handle links to those files.
    I have not fully explored MM yet but already like it a lot.
    Hope you can shed some light on the development issue.

    • Petros
      August 31, 2018 at 9:12 am

      Is there still a free version of MindMaple to try out? I canĀ“t seem to find v1.71 and the latest versions are obviously chargable.
      Thanks!

  13. Adam Gould
    December 25, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Could you help recommend the best product based on my needs?
    - Ability to access and modify maps on PC, Mac, and iOS (ideally android/web too if possible)
    - collaboration with multiple users ideally in real time
    - comments with time stamp
    - backup/filing with Evernote, Dropbox and/or OneDrive
    - drop and drag
    - voice command input
    - versatile with including new members in future projects
    - not needing to be free
    - integration with Outlook/Office (tasks/calendar)
    - export to PDF or PPT
    - presentation mode

    Thanks!! Great article

    • Saikat Basu
      December 30, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Wow, that's a long list. I haven't kept up with all the latest updates but I think most of them are bound to be premium features. For example MindManager Pro has voice input.

  14. Sara Hirnakova
    October 12, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Hello, I'm looking for a mind map tool, in which I can add notes and pictures (photos) into the mind map. Some of the tools offers these requirements? Thank you very much.

    • Saikat Basu
      October 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Try Coggle as mentioned above. You can drag and drop pictures and add notes.

      • Sara Hirnakova
        October 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        Hallo, thank you very much for your help. I have one more question: Is it possible to work online in one of them - like a more than one person in the same time? Thank you! Sara

        • Saikat Basu
          October 20, 2016 at 2:52 am

          Coggle again :)
          Most mindmap tools are designed for collaborative work now, so there shouldn't be too much of a problem.

    • Laura G
      April 25, 2017 at 10:57 am

      ConceptDraw MindMap fitts your needs http://conceptdraw.com/products/mind-map-software

      • chang daisy
        October 31, 2017 at 3:43 pm

        I attended a seminar today and really liked how this conceptdraw works. May you share some experience in using it?

  15. Wolf Larson
    August 26, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I'm looking for a Mind Map tool with the following features:

    - Must be able to save to Box for collaborative use (I cannot save to other cloud locations)
    - Must be able to crosslink

    Any thoughts on what options these two requirements filters me down to? I've looked at now about a half-dozen solutions and it doesn't seem that the combination of these two capabilities is very common.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 27, 2016 at 6:44 am

      Mindmeister integrates with Box. You can also add links to your topics to redirect to additional maps or connect your thoughts with an existing web.

  16. Anonymous
    August 19, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    As a photographer I am of course "visual", and I hate lists: boring and overwhelming. Kanban seems okay for project management (I only have a few at a time as a freelancer), but, although visual, KB is quite linear. I LOVE these mind maps I see (the simple and colourful ones!), but I need the program to be somewhat of a task/project manager. Can't tell which ones do that well. Can I set deadlines? To-do lists? Reminders? X-mind appears to do this under *Business toolbox, but that is only on "Pro" at $99, drat. And when it says "Task Management in there, how do I find out the capabilities? Any other programs you can think of that would fit a freelancer who wants mind-map style yet task management, too? (Oh, also I prefer residence ON my Mac, not cloud-dependant. Here in Thailand, where I do free projects for charity groups, the internet is NOT everywhere!) Thanks so much for how much work you put into these reviews and your expertise. Neat to see a thread where the author actually answers questions... amazing!

  17. Marijus
    July 29, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Thanks, great article!

  18. Nigel
    July 9, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Really good article Why no mention of Xmind? Free, cross platform and slick.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 9, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Did mention it in passing with a link. Didn't make it a centerpiece because we have covered it before and it is popular.

  19. Viet
    July 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    This was one of the most thorough reviews of a lot of the mind mapping apps out there. But, I'm still a little lost....What do you suggest for a Chef of a restaurant where I would be doing my menus, prepping, and daily planning. Ideally, id like it to work on android and PC.

    I would love to add photos so my manager knows what the dish will look like

    Idea: dinner menu
    Topic/nodes : sides, main entrees
    Sub nodes: mashed potatoes, steak(some I may want to add photos) and
    sub sub node---perhaps a link to a recipe or something like that.

    Do you think a mindmap is for me or should I go with a flowchart and a checklist? Thanks Saikat!!

    • Saikat Basu
      July 7, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Hi Viet,

      As they say -- "A great chef can still cook great dishes with a dull knife." :)

      Try your hand with Mind Vector. They have a free plan. You can use images and insert notes in each node-subnode. From what I understand, your mindmap needs to be VISUAL.

      Mindmeister
      is also worth a shot.

      Let me know how it turns out.

    • Zoltan
      January 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Hi, use Trello. As I understand the need youdont want a mindmap, lists and cards will do.

  20. Anonymous
    June 21, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Hello Saikat,

    Nice article that clearly describes capabilities of mind mapping tools available out there. The videos provided gives a glimpse of the GUI that helps people to choose a tool that suites their tastes. I tried few of them but 1 major lacking I see, which common in among the tools I tried is that there is little or no option to connect sub topics of different branches together.

    I intend to use the tool for an altogether different requirement. In short, I would like to collate my customers and prospects together. For example, there is this company A,B & C and there are 5 employees in each of the company (Let's name them as 1,2,3,4 & 5). So far, so good, I can chalk this out in any of the mind mapping tools. but when it comes to mapping the individual employees of company A to employees of Company B or a particular employee of company A to company B, there is no much flexibility or options I see in the listed tools by you. Hope I have put the point across

    Can you please let me know which tool best fits for my requirement please?

    • Saikat Basu
      June 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Sandesh, I think it is called "cross-linking' in mind mapping terminology. And it is usually represented by a dotted arrow/connector in most cases.

      SketchBoard, WiseMapping and Visual Understanding Environment have it. You can also look at The Simple Mind and more advanced tools like MindJet and XMind too.

      Hope this helps.

  21. MaX
    June 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Is there a tool (ideally for Mac OS X) to calculate the number of nodes in mind maps saved in different formats like PDF, JPEG, PNG, PowerPoint, Word, etc?

    I have hundreds of mind maps saved in such formats and would like to know the number of nodes in each other than counting it manually of course.

    • Saikat Basu
      June 12, 2016 at 5:49 am

      Couldn't find anything except this discussion around Freemind.

      You can give serial numbers to your nodes from now on I guess. Could be a quicker workaround to counting them manually.

      • MaX
        June 12, 2016 at 10:41 am

        Thanks. The problem is that I do not have the original applications or native files, but the exported or saved mind map outputs as PDF, JPEG, etc.

        So, I guess that what I need is an image analysis tool capable to identify and count nodes on such (picture) files. Any idea?

  22. Kyo
    June 4, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Nice article. I have used XMind for 8 years for engineering projects and organizational project management and tracking. It has been really great, one think I found a need for in it is an easier way to link and view "sub-maps". Came here to see if there is anything new - i like the look of VUE, going to try it out.

    • Saikat Basu
      June 6, 2016 at 4:50 am

      Do drop in and give your feedback on how it turned out for you :)

  23. Mike
    June 1, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for this very useful article. Are there any you can suggest where i can create formulas to input numbers in to calculate percentages, etc ?

    • Saikat Basu
      June 2, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Not sure if it's a mindmap solution you are looking for.

  24. Gavin
    May 9, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks Salkat - That's a great post, really helpful. I have just tried MindMaple and found it really intuitive, so I'm going to get the Pro version. Thanks again.

    • Saikat Basu
      May 11, 2016 at 3:09 am

      You are welcome Gavin. Go for it...and do tell us how it works out with the Pro version.

      What do you use mindmapping for?

  25. Kiriske
    May 6, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Have a look at Mindomo, an online concept mapping software (homepage) that wasn't mentioned. Besides its concept mapping and mind mapping features, it also has an outline feature that lets you switch from the outline view to the mind map view and vice versa. Offers real-time collaboration too. I guess you can start with their free version, and if you want for example to create unlimited maps and export them as PDFs, you can upgrade.

    • Saikat Basu
      May 7, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks Kiriske.
      Didn't mention Mindomo because we have included it quite a few times. For e.g. here and here.

      But it's always good to be reminded again as it gives us a chance to see how the program has developed over time and what are the latest features.

  26. Anonymous
    April 17, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Please put the date in the article! Especially when it contains phrases like "this year"

    • Saikat Basu
      April 18, 2016 at 2:38 am

      Just below my name and profile pic.

      • Anonymous
        April 18, 2016 at 3:07 am

        so it is! sorry seen at lot of articles on other sites without a date. didn't look hard enough...

  27. Bemaxo
    February 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Also a useful mindmaping software is YouMinds Composer which allows you to convert Mindmaps into notes, pinboards, diagrams and more.

  28. Ankit
    December 22, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Xmind works best for me. Mindmup is another one.

  29. Micheal H
    December 7, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Another free platform that lets you easily create pretty good mind maps is GoConqr.com.

    • Saikat Basu
      December 7, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Wow. Thanks. It looks like a very good PLM tool. Will check this out in detail.

  30. Squalle
    December 4, 2015 at 5:38 am

    I've never really understood the reasoning behind these types of programs.

    • Saikat Basu
      December 4, 2015 at 5:51 am

      Mind mapping in general or the software programs?

      • Squalle
        December 5, 2015 at 1:33 pm

        I understand the concept. I guess I just never understood how something like this would help. I've tried them before and they didn't help me at all. They just seem to make things jumbled up.

        • Saikat Basu
          December 6, 2015 at 4:44 am

          Ah! That's okay. Not everyone gets it and they don't have to. For some, simple checklist or freewriting helps just as well. There are things like Rico Clusters too. You, the user, precede the tool.

  31. Anonymous
    November 28, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Take a look at Mohiomap when you have a chance. It's more of a viewing app than an actual map generation tool, but it's worth checking out because...

    It can link to your Evernote, Google Drive, Box or Dropbox and display all of your stored data as a mindmap. You'll be looking at your "data mind" as something almost organic, instead of a flat folder tree.

    A dynamic way of seeing your files in a graphic representation, it can still do what mindmaps do best...give you a different view to spur your thinking.

    • Anonymous
      November 28, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      I also meant to say that I like and use Mindmup and Draw.io! :)

    • Saikat Basu
      November 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

      We have covered Mohiomap before when talking about the same integrations you mention. :)

  32. Filippo A. Salustri
    November 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    You missed Freeplane (better version of Freemind) and IHMC CmapTools, both of which are outstanding tools.

    • Saikat Basu
      November 29, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for the mentions. CMap Tools definitely looks good.

  33. Anonymous
    November 27, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    The thing to keep in mind about mind maps is that the theoretical mind map is often limited by the software. A true mind map can point from any bubble to any bubble. Many, if not most, software packages cannot do this; they are really just graphical outlines and are limited by the hierarchical nature of outlines. That's not to say they can't be useful, just that they can't provide all the benefits of a true mind map.

    • Saikat Basu
      November 28, 2015 at 5:08 am

      True. There are cogntiive benefits to doing it on paper. Firstly, it is more free-flowing and speedier. Digital tools come into the picture when you need to articulate a really complex one more professionally perhaps. For the last thing however, I feel that a mind map does more for the doer (as a personal exercise) than for the viewer...that's why it shouldn't be "presented".