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Updated by MamaRed Knight on Nov 19, 2015
Headline for An Alternative to Left Brain Outlines: Online Mind Mapping Tools
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An Alternative to Left Brain Outlines: Online Mind Mapping Tools

Mind mapping is a great way to get ideas down, brainstorm and look for the connections among different topics.

Use them to gather ideas, see relationships, add images, text, audio, and video. I even use them to take notes during meetings!

MindMeister - Create mind maps online
Online: Yes
Free/trial version: Yes
Premium/paid version: Yes

Create, share and collaboratively work on mind maps with MindMeister, the leading online mind mapping software. Includes apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.



Online | Free | Collaborative

Mind42 is a free, fast and simple online mind mapping application supporting collaborative editing with one or more users simultaneously. Sign up to easily structure your thoughts and organize your ideas.

This is the tool I used when partnering up with a Virtual Assistant (VA) because it was quick and easy to learn and she grokked it immediately. It wasn't fancy stuff I needed, it was a place to work together!

You can export your mindmap as a picture or get the individual text items for use somewhere else.

Export types:

Online Diagram Software and Flowchart Software - Gliffy

Online | Free | Premium is a web-based diagram editor. Create and share flowcharts, network diagrams, floor plans, user interface designs and other drawings online. One of the neat advantages of Gliffy is that you can create a whole bunch of different types of diagrams.

You can have up to 5 diagrams on the free account (of whatever type you need to create).

If you're only looking for a mind mapping tool, I suggest looking at one of the other options simply to make your life well, more simple!

XMind: Professional & Powerful Mind Mapping Software

Desktop | Open source/Free | Premium | PC | Mac | Linux

Recommended by one of my buddies in the "there's a tool for that" game, Xmind has some neat features for getting all those thoughts organized and in one place. Whether fancy or simple, you can play with all sorts of visuals. Be careful, or you'll spend all day there!

One of the advantages of the premium versions is you can export your creations to other formats (like Word, PowerPoint, PDF)

There are some super neat features in the purchased version that expand what you can do (want a Gantt chart anyone? Org chart? Check out the features to see if this one is right for you)

Spicynodes : Home

Online | Free | Premium

Spicy Nodes is a bit different than your standard mind mapping can create a "moveable" (or "radial mind map if you want to get technical) that lets your viewers focus on a specific aspect of the information you share.

You can also add pictures, audio and links to other information...makes for a great impression (here is one of mine to check out and see the difference between a standard mind map and a Spicy Node:

I prefer creating a mind map in Freemind, then importing it into Spicy Nodes (a bit easier on the creator!)


Desktop | Free | PC | Mac | Linux

FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click "fold / unfold" and "follow link" operations.

FreeMind was the first mind mapping tool I downloaded and put to use organizing my rampaging thoughts. It's simple, can be made to look fancy and I love it because the keyboard options let me mind map while I'm listening to presentations.

One of the bennies of FreeMind is that many other mind mapping tools let you import or export them. It all depends on what you want to do.

Funny way to distinguish a tool, eh? I like being able to click "Insert" to add more information without thinking. Other tools have keyboard shortcuts too and some are weird! That said, one of my buddies much prefers XMind to Freemind. So check it out for yourself. We all have our preferences eh (and I'll be checking XMind out again to see what I think)


Online | Free |

WiseMapping is a free, fast and simple online mind mapping editor for individuals and business. Sign up to start organizing and sharing your ideas and thoughts.

You can also import mind maps created with FreeMind and export mind maps created with WiseMapping to Freemind. | brainstorm and mind map online

Online | Free

Brainstorm online with Easily create colorful mindmaps to print or share with others. Almost no learning curve.

This is one of the simplest mind map tools I've found...and there is always the trade off between simplicity and features, eh? Pick the tool that is the least complex for what you NEED and look for ones that let you export your work so you don't get "stuck" with a specific tool if it changes, you need something more complex or it goes away completely.

This tool has a very simple interface and can export as a

Web outline (HTML format)
Backup (XML format)


Online | Free

Spinscape is a Web based application you use to find, organize, and share information on any topic. Mind Mappers will be at home with the look, but Spinscape goes much further. Collaborate with people from around the world in real time, visualize mountains of information, and even find stuff and automatically pull it in to Spinscape.

Spinscape has a slightly different, although compatible approach to pulling things together. Check out the short videos on