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Mind Map Software vs. Online Mind Mapping

Updated on July 25, 2012

Mind mapping is one of the best ways to capture and organize your thoughts. It helps you to find connections between ideas and concepts and visualize structures. And the colorful nature helps remembering the material better.

Best of all, it's really easy to get started. All you need is pen and paper and you can brainstorm away.

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Desktop Mind Map Software

However, it's the 21st century and (of course) there are programs available to let you mind map on your computer, which actually has a couple of advantages.

  • You can import graphics to create colorful, vibrant mind maps
  • It's easy to re-order the individual nodes and branches - try that with a paper-based mind map. It would be a mess.
  • Associate documents and files
  • Interlink your mind maps
  • Easily share them online

Mind Mapping for Musicians
Mind Mapping for Musicians

The Drawing Noob

Here's a screenshot of a mind map I created showcasing possible uses of mind mapping especially for musicians.

I admit it - I'm a total noob when it comes to drawing. Any kindergarten kid can draw better than me. So there's no way I would have been able to create such a highly visual mind map without some software.

To read the associated article on my blog, just follow this link:

Free Desktop Software

Mind mapping software can be quite expensive. Some of the available programs on the market cost more than $200.

Fortunately, there's also some great alternatives available for free.

I've used FreeMind and EDraw Mind in the past - both are really good programs, but a few months ago I switched to XMind. I like the user interface and the aesthetically pleasing look of the generated mind maps.

The Problem

I don't know about you, but I want to access my applications and files from anywhere. I simply don't like being tied to my PC.

Nothing worse than knowing you have the urgently needed answer to your burning question/problem at home on your computer - and you don't have access. :-(

Time to move to a cloud-based setup.

The Solution

Cloud-based Set-up
Cloud-based Set-up

Step 1

1) Sign up for a free Dropbox account that gives you a whopping 2 Gigs of storage that auto syncs with your Dropbox folder on your computer. And - you can access those files from any computer simply through your Dropbox account.

Step 2

2) Download the portable XMind version. Put it both on your USB drive and into your Dropbox.

Step 3

Sign up for your free account. is an online based mind mapping application. It does have potential. However, it's still 1st generation and does not offer the flexibility and options of Xmind.

But you can still use it for situations when you don't have your USB drive with you and only have a crappy internet connection that's too slow for downloading the XMind portable files from your Dropbox.

This way, at least you can get your thoughts digitized. Should you want or need a "prettier" final result, no problem. let's you export your mind maps in FreeMind format, which XMind is able to read. Works like a charm and is really easy to do. :-)

Step 4

Always make sure to save your mind maps into your Dropbox folder. Now your valuable mind maps are safely backed up and available anywhere you go and have internet access.

Final Words

I hope you've found the information useful. Please, leave a comment and let me know. Also, if anything is unclear feel free to ask your question(s) in the comment section below.

Take care,



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    • Marko Zirkovich profile image

      Marko Zirkovich 7 years ago from Sigless/Austria

      I just got myself a new PC. Guess which programs did I install almost immediately?

      Of course...

      XMind and Dropbox (as well as other goodies.)

      The beauty of the whole mind-mapping process is that there are tons of ways to adapt it to your needs/preferences.

      All analog with pen and paper.

      All digital with apps like XMind.

      Some of my graphic designer friends use a hybrid approach utilizing their tablets.

      Whatever works for you. :-)

    • profile image

      iMindMap 7 years ago

      Hi Marko,

      I understand what you mean about being a noob regarding drawing and Mind Mapping. This is why Mind Map software is such a great thing to have because you can take advantage of the Mind Map (images and all) and not have to draw yourself.

      The cloud based set up is the future I think and pretty soon all the leading software will have to go that way. There is some headway in that direction with multi platform versions of the software but as you say being tied to one device is something many want to avoid.

      I concur with you about Xmind which in my opintion is probably the best free software available.

      Thanks for sharing this



    • profile image

      Marty Ware 7 years ago

      I really like the organic side of things with pen and pencil. I guess it's different for everyone.

      You need to see what works best for you!

      Marty Ware

    • Marko Zirkovich profile image

      Marko Zirkovich 7 years ago from Sigless/Austria

      Thanks TroyM

    • TroyM profile image

      TroyM 7 years ago

      These are neat. Learning more and more about them all the time. Nice Hubs!

    • Marko Zirkovich profile image

      Marko Zirkovich 7 years ago from Sigless/Austria

      Hi Javier,

      I'm glad you've found the article useful. Thank you for your comment. :-)

    • profile image

      Javier Guerrero 7 years ago

      Gracias Marko.

      Excelente artículo, me sirvió muchísimo.