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Open Thread: Mac Mind Mapping, and how you use it

I've recently revived my interest in doing mind mapping as a way to capture ideas and plan out projects.

Back in the day, I'd use Inspiration (which registration regrettably died a few years ago), and in more recent times I've played with free apps like My Mind and FreeMind, as well as tested more costly apps like NovaMind and MindManager.

If you also like to mind map, I'm curious to hear which of these you and your Mac are using, how you're using it, and what made you choose one app over another. Got a preference? Prefer regular old paper and markers? Using lots of images in your mind maps? Which pay app is most worth the dough, and why?

And for folks who are new to mind mapping, here's a few links to get you started:

  • Mind map - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "A mind map (or mind-map) is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making."
  • Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Mind maps were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map."
  • Learn how to draw Mind Maps with Mind Tools - "Mind Maps are more compact than conventional notes, often taking up one side of paper. This helps you to make associations easily. If you find out more information after you have drawn the main Mind Map, then you can easily integrate it with little disruption."
  • how to make a mind map - "Your initial words and images stimulate associations. Attach whatever word or image is triggered. Allow the 'random movement of your thought; you do not have to ‘finish’ one branch before moving on"
  • Uses of Mind Maps [peterussell.com] - "Whenever you are confronted by a problem -- professional or personal -- mind maps help you see all the issues and how they relate to each other. They also help others quickly get an overview of how you see different aspects of the situation, and their relative importance."
Quyen's picture

I started with MindManager back...

I started with MindManager back when I had been on a Tablet PC. It's great in tablet mode and allowed very quick entries (key to mind mapping... it's got to keep pace with your thinking). When I tired of XP (even on a Tablet) and switched back to OS X (what a relief!), I tried Novamind for a bit, but was so used to the MindManager interface. Luckily, MindJet released the OS X version shortly thereafter.

For education, I can't say enough about Inspiration. I think it's a great way to kickstart the process. MindManager is a bit heavy on the features, sort of like using MS Word to type a letter. Novamind and Inspiration are great in that there's less to distract you and a shorter learning curve. Plus, Novamind maps are downright beautiful. MindManager is pretty corporate.

I've used OnmiGraffle extensively for business graphics, but wouldn't use it for mindmapping. You need something that allows you to create braches with a single keystroke and start typing immediately.

As I said before, the key is to find an app that you can work as fast as your mind. I still revert to paper to begin concepts. Once I've gotten a basic form on letter size paper, I'll switch to the 'puter to really let the map grow (I've been known to transfer those initial forms from a paper napkin). The infinite space on digital paper is great, and I can chunk off a section to make an outline. I don't add graphics until I hit a lull in my thinking... then I might go back and pretty things up, but I tend to spend the time reading over everything.




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