Edited by Nataly Bogorad
October 1, 2019
Comparing the Top Mind Mapping Software
When brainstorming a complex task, it can be difficult to keep your thoughts organized. A notepad helps, but mind mapping is a more efficient way to connect your thoughts. In this post, we'll take a look at 14 pieces of free mind mapping software to help you decide which one is the best for you.
Free Mind Mapping Software
All of these mind map software products are either freeware, or have a free trial option. If there is a cost associated, we'll let you know in the description. Please note that these programs are not in any particular order. All of them are good in their own way, otherwise they would not have made the list. These are also not thorough reviews, once you shortlist a few options you can seek out more detailed analysis of their pros and cons.
This online mind map software, like most of the other cloud offerings, has a collaborative workflow so others can join you in real-time when you invite them to help edit a map. You can even chat with each other in the sidebar to flesh out ideas. The software is easy to use, simply click on the plus icon to add a new node. The new node will be automatically positioned by Coggle. If you create 3 mind maps or less, Coggle is free. Prices after that start at $5/month.
Mindly has a desktop version for Mac as well as an app for iOS and Android. The mobile app is free to use and can be synced to the $29.99 desktop version. Many consider Mindly to have the best interface for mobile devices, so if you are on mobile this is one to try out. Creating new nodes is as simple as clicking (or tapping) an existing node. Like Coggle, Mindly will handle the layout for you so you can focus on brainstorming.
Web-based MindMup also allows for free collaborative mind map authoring. Unlike most other options, you do not have to create an account to get started using MindMup. This is great if you just want to try mind mapping to see if it works for you. MindMup also offers a variety of themes that you can use to style your mind map. There is a monthly payment option if you would like to have support for larger maps.
This free web-based mind mapping software was created by people behind the task management website MeisterTask. Because of this connection, the two websites can be integrated to get even more utility from each. In addition to integrating MeisterTask into your maps, you can also place videos. Like many of the free tools, there is also a paid option if you need to create more maps.
Another web-based entry is Stormboard. This one may be the best for rapidly creating mind maps because each time you create a node, it will automatically create another one. This means that you will also have a node ready to jot your thoughts down. Like many of the other offerings, it offers collaboration features. One big feature is that it integrates with Zapier. Zapier is a service that allows a wide variety of web applications to talk to one another, so your mind maps can drive and be driven by a number of popular web applications. Stormboard is free with a paid upgrade option.
This program is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. One thing SimpleMind does that the other tools do not allow you to import and PDF, which will then be automatically turned into a mind map. The mobile version of the application allows you to use your microphone or camera to add voice and video data to your map nodes. The software is free to try, but an upgrade for more features is available. The upgrades cost $6.99 for the mobile versions and $24.99 for the desktop.
LucidChart is available on the web as well as on iOS and Android. This offering goes beyond just mind maps to allow users to create flowcharts as well. Because of the added flowchart functionality, it behaves a little differently than most of the rest. To create a node, you'll drag and drop it into your workspace, and then connect it to another node by dragging a line between them. LucidChart is free for up to three charts, and $4.95/month if you'd like more.
Edraw makes a number of mind mapping products. Their free mind mapping software is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The product is completely freeware. The only upsell would be if you decide to buy one of Edraw's more feature-rich applications. You may find the free version suits your needs just fine, however. It has a number of different styles you can choose from for your mind map and include a large variety of symbols from which to create your nodes.
This software is available on just about any platform you'd want it on. Not only does it have a web-based cloud version, but it has native apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux. It is also known for having a large number of integrations so you can use it with a number of office apps. Because it is geared towards teachers and students, Mindomo also integrates with some popular education apps. The software is free to make up to 3 maps, after that it is $6/month.
When it was iMindMap, this program started at $100 for the home and student edition and went up to $235 for the Ultimate edition. As cloud-based Ayoa, prices start at $9/month after the 7-day free trial. Ayoa combines mind mapping with chat and task management into one product so you can be productive without having to worry about integrating with, and paying for, different services.
Scapple is a desktop mind mapping program available for both Mac and Windows. It is not as fully featured as some of the other offerings, but that simplicity comes with incredible ease of use. Scapple is one of the easiest mind mapping tools to just dive right into. Unlike many of the other offerings, Scapple is also only a one time fee. The program costs $14.40 for a student license and $18 for a regular license after the 30-day free trial.
Like LucidChart, SmartDraw handles more than just mind maps. In fact, it offers thousands of template and tens of thousands of symbols for over 70 different types of diagrams. These templates cover just about any industry imaginable, making SmartDraw a smart choice if you are looking for something that goes beyond mind maps. At $9.95/month for individual users, it is a little pricier than most of the other options. That cost is reduced to $5.95/month per user if you have 5 or more users.
The strengths of this mind map software are accessibility and collaboration. The software is available on the web, iOS, Android, and Amazon. It is available in 29 different languages, with more coming and allows you to collaborate with an unlimited number of people without requiring them to have an account. If you need more features than the free tier allows, the pro plan for individuals is $8.25/month. They also offer plans for schools and businesses.
On their front page, Creately brags that they are used by NASA, eBay, Citi, PayPal, National Geographic, and Amazon. There are certainly some big names trusting this solution. The software features over 50 shape libraries and thousands of templates covering a wide range of industries. The service is free for up to 5 maps. For those needing more, individual plans are $5/month and team plans are $25/month. Alternatively, you can purchase the desktop version for a one time fee of $75 for individual use and $349 for team use.
Mind maps are a great way to exercise your brain and get the creativity flowing, but you don't need specialized software to create mind maps. You can easily do it in just about any photo editor. Photoshop or the open-source photo editor Gimp could work, though those products have a steep learning curve. Movavi Photo Editor lets you focus on creativity without worrying about the technical aspects. It allows you to quickly and efficiently handle complex photo editing tasks. The program is available for Mac and Windows, so grab a free trial today and see what Movavi Photo Editor can do for you.
Movavi Photo Editor
The easiest way to turn any snapshot into an eye candy
- Improve quality and retouch blemishes
- Add effects and filters
- Crop, straighten, and flip pictures
- Change image backgrounds and remove objects