50 Free, Fabulous Tools for Mind-Mapping & Brainstorming
November 4th, 2010 by Staff Writers
From smart phones to iPads to our various personal computers and data managers, we have all kinds of tools at our disposal to help us collect information for school work, business, personal use, and more. But even though it’s easy to find, that information still needs to be stored, saved and even shared in a way that’s also simplified. Whether you need to keep track of notes for an online college course or study group, manage a freelancing project, or just plan out long-term goals for yourself, here are 50 free — and fabulous — tools for mind-mapping and brainstorming.
Share these mind maps with study groups, friends, business associates and your blog readers.
- Mind42.com: This mind mapping tool works in your browser and lets you share with one other person or go public.
- WiseMapping: Still in beta form, WiseMapping is free to use and lets you publish mind maps and share them.
- Mindmeister: The basic subscription is free and lets you manage up to three mind maps and collaborate on each one. Also supports import from Freemind and MindManager.
- bubbl.us: This web tool is a simple but popular mind mapper that lets you embed your project into your blog or website and share with friends.
- Xmind: Regular XMind is free and offers a streamlined system for sharing ideas and brainstorming.
- Bookvar: Bookvar lets you add image, embed and play movies, attach files, create custom skins, utilize 3D animation effects, and of course, share with friends.
- Skrbl: Use this sharable online whiteboard to plan ideas and projects with text and images.
- Thinkature: Thinkature offers real-time collaboration as you draw, add tabs and text cards, color code ideas, add images, and more.
- Edraw Mindmap: Draw your own mind maps for problem solving, flow charts, brainstorming, analysis and more. You can share, print and save for free.
- Dabbleboard: Use this whiteboard tool to map out ideas and projects with your associates. Free plans available.
- Comapping: A free version of Comapping exists and lets you take and share notes, online or off.
- Ekpenso: Make and share mind maps that you can view on and offline.
- Stixy: This virtual bulletin board lets you add, share and manage notes from the web, and as notes, photos, documents and to-do lists.
These tools are great for organizing homework, papers, and projects.
- MAPMYself: Create free-flowing mind maps that resemble tree branches or brain stems, depending on how you look at it. Great for organizing papers, designating tasks, and planning goals.
- RecallPlus, Lite: Designed for students, even this free version is ideal for organizing study notes.
- Freemind: Download this software to help you prioritize, see and track goals, and reorganize papers and study notes.
- Visual Understanding Environment (VUE): Tufts’ open source project features mind mapping resources and tools for education and research.
- Wikka Wiki: Make and manage floats, lists, tables, threaded comments, notes and code blocks with this easy tool.
- Labyrinth: Labyrinth brands itself as a "lightweight" tool that helps users see ideas, notes and projects in different ways, thanks to mind mapping and problem solving solutions.
- Wridea: A great idea management tool, Wridea is ideal for goal management but also writing and editing papers or long-term assignments.
- yWriter5: This word processor features lots of brainstorming and idea mapping potential, fueling creativity.
- NovaMind Express: Often used by schools and educators, NovaMind Express is free and lets you integrate all kinds of images, colors, text and branches to customize mind maps and outlines.
Use these free tools to plan and track goals, delegate tasks, and manage all kinds of personal projects, from home design to family parties.
- Gliffy: Create diagrams, flowcharts and other mapped out plans and ideas with this tool, which uses shapes, images, and other options to customize your project.
- Freeplane: An offshoot of FreeMind, Freeplane is also free and has more sophisticated features for display and knowledge management.
- SmartDraw: Great for small business owners or just very busy families and large family projects, SmartDraw offers a free download for sophisticated, efficient mind mapping and concept mapping.
- FlowBreeze: The basic edition of this software is free and still supports great features like a template generator, text to flowchart wizard, and save as picture option.
- DeepaMehta: Indian movie director Deepa Mehta has also built this knowledge management tool for mapping out assignments and academic work just as easily as more "social" plans.
- MindRaider: Use this tool as a "personal notebook and outliner" to help organize your daily tasks and goals.
- The Brain: This personal information manager gives you a place to store things you need to remember and offers a mind mapping tool,too.
- Pimki: Pimki is another easy tool designed for organizing and making sense of all the mess in your life.
Apps and Add-ons
For the iPhone and desktop, check out these little apps and add-ons for mind mapping and brainstorming.
- GanttProject: Create, share and save charts that let you identify milestones and dependencies with the GanttProject.
- SimpleMind Xpress: This app lays out a clear, color-coded mind map that you can reorganize and share.
- Scribble Storm: This iPhone app integrates with Facebook and e-mail and lets you share your scribbles and brainstorms with other users.
- ThinkingMap Lite: Here you’ll find a mind mapping tool that is useful for summarizing and breaking down ideas and projects.
- Insights: This clever app allows you to rate your ideas, assign status, create and save new ideas, and more.
- Allinson Brainstorm LITE: Brainstorm with lists and rows with this app.
- Tweet Hunter: Use Twitter to give you ideas and spur on brainstorming sessions with this tool, that finds chatter based on your keywords.
- iBrainstorm Companion: This iPad app features an editable sticky note for jotting down ideas.
- Edistorm: With this app, you’ll brainstorm with virtual sticky notes.
- Jagimo: Jagimo is actually a brainstorming game that you can play with other users, spawning new ideas and creativity.
Here you’ll find brainstorming tools that fuel creativity and help you clarify your ideas.
- Twiddla: You can use this white board with friends and colleagues, but it’s also a really great virtual space to start developing your own ideas from scratch.
- Threddie: Invite others to brainstorm with you using a post-and-comment system.
- BrainReactions: Connect to brainstorming rooms and take advantage of the community and social features on this site to inspire creativity.
- FruitNotes: This free, beta-version notebook lets you share and organize notes, add photos and video, and even record voice notes.
- GQueues: If you have a Google account, you can use this tool to manage, share and streamline tasks and lists.
- Corkboard: This social brainstorming and collecting site lets you add sites and ideas to your corkboard and get ideas from other users.
- Helipad: Keep track of notes written online with this tool, which syncs to Mac OS. and iPhone.
- Listthings: Set up your corkboard canvas by adding notes.
- Many Eyes: Create data sets or visualizations for a customizable mind mapping and brainstorming experience. The idea is to share with others your reports and projects, so it’s less of a personal information manager.
- Jotspace: This free online whiteboard that’s currently accepting requests for testers.