The 6 Best Free Mind Map Tools (And How to Best Use Them)
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
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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)
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 ? There are some simple rules to follow, but once you get the idea, you don’t need a complicated app for basic mind maps.