Brainstorming is essential to coming up with creative solutions to problems. While your analytical mind works in a logical pattern, the creative mind needs space to run free and create without constraints. Brainstorming gives him that freedom. While many people traditionally brainstorm with pen and paper, real-time collaboration sometimes requires the ability to do so remotely.
The good news is that there are dozens of mobile apps and ideation software options to fuel all of your brainstorming sessions. We’ve handpicked the best mind mapping software to help you find one that works for you, whether you use PC, Mac, Android or iOS.
Scapple is a brainstorming tool designed specifically for writers. Developed by Literature and Latte (the same minds behind Scrivener), it’s an easy-to-use tool that comes at a low cost. It works on both Windows and Mac and only costs $18 for a full license. There is also a 30-day free trial version that you can use to try the program for yourself.
The downside is that it doesn’t have the most robust features, but it’s perfect for the early planning stages of any project when you just need to let your mind wander until you focus on the project goals.
Coggle is for collaboration. It starts with a central idea from which you can branch off into an almost infinite number of ideas and thoughts. Coggle is designed with bright colors and fluid charts that organize your ideas while remaining visually appealing, making them easy to read and follow.
Coggle has three tiers: a free plan that gives you three private charts and an infinite number of public charts, 1600+ symbols, and much more. The Awesome plan costs $5 per month and offers better privacy features, while the Org plan costs $8 per member per month and is geared towards teams.
Lucidchart is another tool built specifically for teams. While it doesn’t have the same visual appeal as some options, it’s aimed at a kind of corkboard where users can drag and drop different shapes to create charts, timelines, and more. Once on the board, other members of the team can comment and vote on ideas.
Lucidchart offers four tiers: Free, Individual, Team, and Enterprise. The free plan is sufficient for the majority of home users, while Individual at $7.95 per month is better suited for creative professionals. The team plan costs $9 per user per month, while the enterprise plan is priced by the total number of users and enterprise.
Mind mapping tools work best when they’re intuitive, and that’s an area where MindMeister excels. You can use the application for everything from mind mapping to project planning, creating both cards and lists in the same layout. Like many others, it was also designed to encourage teamwork with collaboration features that allow an unlimited number of people to work on a single mind map or flowchart at the same time.
Creative tools in MindMeister help you create unique mind maps, while commenting features allow others to leave notes on each node. There are four pricing tiers: Free, Personal, Pro, and Business. The basic plan is $4.99 per month, the Pro plan is $8.25 per month, and the business plan is $12.49 per month.
XMind is a fantastic brainstorming app for one reason alone: it works on all platforms and is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android and even the web. Paid plans are either every six months or yearly, and the price unlocks all features. XMind costs $39.99 for six months or $59.99 annually.
Features like pitch mode make it easy to present your ideas to others in a powerpoint format, but otherwise it works as you would expect. This is one of the best brainstorming apps for people on the go, especially since you can access your mind map on a mobile device and continue working on it when you return to your computer.
Miro is one of those mind mapping apps that works best for teams, not individual users. It features an infinite canvas so your ideas can expand as needed. It works similar to a whiteboard, and your team members can work on different areas at the same time. It’s great for project management, especially when there are multiple areas to focus on at once.
As with other platforms, there are multiple tiers. The free version allows you to work with three boards, while the team option (for $8 per month) offers unlimited boards and visitors. The Business Plan costs $16 per month per member and is aimed at advanced collaboration.
WiseMapping is a completely free, open source mind mapping program. The low cost makes it ideal for educators, while the collaboration tools allow you to collaborate with anyone. You can even embed your mind maps in web pages and blog posts, or export them to a variety of different file types.
Due to its open-source nature, WiseMapping has many user-oriented features and continues to grow based on the needs of its users. If you need an option that won’t cost you a dime, give it a try.
Mind mapping is worth exploring even if you don’t think it will work for you. Whether you need to work without limitations or prefer to use a template to guide your thoughts, there are plenty of free mind mapping tools to help you.