Best mind mapping software 2022: Visualize your ideas | ZDNet

The goal of the best mind mapping software on the market is to improve upon the in-person, pen-and-paper brainstorming and mind mapping options available. They do this by making their software easy to use, being able to integrate various graphics, thought bubbles, and comments, and incorporating valuable collaboration tools like version history.

When you shop for mind mapping software, you’ll want to consider the value of the product for your context since some products offer their best deals to individual users while others give a strong incentive for you to buy an enterprise-based plan. Then you’ll want to think through how extensively you want collaboration to occur in the product and the features that help boost your brainstorming potential within each mind map. 

Between features, collaboration potential, and price-to-value, you can pick the best mind mapping software for your needs. While many have similar price points, a major source of distinction is in whether you’re aiming for an occasional use product, in which case you’ll often be able to work with a free version. If you want consistent access to and lots of features for your mind-mapping, choosing the software that works most seamlessly with your existing team software may be your best path forward.

While all of the mind mapping software can deliver a place to make your ideas come alive, some of them stand out for a variety of reasons. 

Miro

Comprehensive features and a strong free version

Miro

Part of why Miro shines is that it includes a lot of things in one, recognizing that sometimes your mind mapping software also needs to be able to create usable diagrams, be shared in a real-time video conference, and used for a presentation after being developed. 

Pros: Being able to edit simultaneously makes this a powerful tool for drafting not just a mind map but a presentation based on your brainstorming. You can video call or screen share right from the interface, so there is no need to use the software at the same time as you use a different video call app.

Cons: Free account only comes with three boards, but even so, the ability to collaborate on any number of other boards is nice! Once you spring for a full account, expect the price tag will be a little higher than most dedicated mind mapping software.

Pricing: $0 to $16 per month, with discounts for annual billing and custom pricing for enterprises.

LucidChart

Useful integrations into project management

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Lucidchart

One of the top-ranked data visualization and diagramming software products is also incredibly useful as a mind mapping project. With integrations to things like GSuite or Atlassian products, the process of brainstorming in a LucidChart can be connected into project assignments and deadline management much easier than with a simpler mind map. While definitely feature-heavy and geared toward the more intensive or complex project context, it still works with a clean interface and tools that make quickly diving into the work itself easy, without a lot of onboarding and training needed to start using LucidChart tools. 

Pros: A variety of templates and objects you can add to your mind map make it possible to drill down to exactly how you want your mind map to look, even in a variety of industries. They particularly shine in the world where a mind map needs to lead to specific next steps, such as when the mind map generates entries in a project management software that can be seamlessly integrated.

Cons: While many of these software do focus on education-industry uses, Lucid Chart does this less, at least in their template library. Also, a con would simply be that, for an individual person just looking to brainstorm through simple bubble-connecting-to-bubble charts, Lucid Chart has a bit of an overload of features.

Pricing: $0 to $9 per month for different levels of features, with custom Enterprise solutions available.

Coggle

Simplicity and utility for all ages in an education context

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Coggle

If you want your mind mapping software to be instantly usable for even the youngest learners, Coggle is a great simple tool. While the functionality isn’t designed to feed into a complex project management process, it’s a tool that allows simple mind-maps without a focus on a bunch of distracting additional features. With the core purpose of being able to outline and work on a piece of writing, this can be an ideal choice for anyone who wants to do their own mind mapping but wants the additional functionality of being able to collaborate on shared mind-maps for group projects. Great for in-class work, especially if doing a group project in a virtual seminar or hybrid course.

Pros: Coggle’s features focus on making those mindmaps useful with a variety of export settings, embed options, and chat history for those who are working on mindmaps together. They also point out the benefit of using Coggle to create visual notes that are more appealing and engaging than a word processor. 

Cons: Users report that limited colors and lack of sorting/arranging options can make Coggle cumbersome if you have a lot of collaborators or a really complex map. The colorful, simple interface may or may not fit a given business culture or personal preference. 

Pricing: $0 for free use (appropriate for occasional users), $5 per month for personal/professional, and $8 per member per month for access to teams and data access control. 

Mindomo

Strong template and theme options

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Mindomo

Mindomo lets you start with a blank canvas if you want, but you certainly don’t have to. It’s got an impressive array of more than 50 templates that help businesses or educational contexts launch a discussion and dive into brainstorming and organizing ideas. The software has dedicated ways of use that help you use it for life organization, collaborative planning at work, and teaching/learning contexts. Their collaboration tools get them high marks since jointly editing and commenting to team members allow the plan to be made, revised, and reviewed in ways that are seamless within a meeting, distributed team context, or between teachers and students. 

Pros: A variety of export and backup options, a user-friendly team interface, and an intuitive platform all contribute to Mindomo’s success. The deliberate thought that goes into the business, personal, and education-specific themes also pushes mind-mapping forward in ways that make it more useful in more contexts.

Cons: Higher price point needs to be justified through using many of their strong features, but overall, it’s nearly in line with other software of its type. 

Pricing: Free version and then $5.50 to $16.60 per month for premium, professional, or team-based memberships.

Conceptboard

Excellent visual appeal and design

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Conceptboard

If you have ever used Prezi after having previously just made basic slide decks, you’ll understand the classy look of the zoom-in, zoom-out ability of a Conceptboard blank canvas. While you can draw traditional connections between items on Conceptboard, it excels at letting visual distance showcase distinctions. When you’ve finished creating your mind-map, the strong design and layout make it possible to tidy the lookup just a bit to be ready to make a presentation of the next steps. 

Pros: Conceptboard has tagging capacities that make it part project-management-board, but also uses the infinite canvas in a way that brings the best of mind-mapping and data visualization to the table. The personalized cursors are particularly well-designed and useful for keeping to your part of the canvas while working. 

Cons: While embedding media looks great when it shows up, some users have noted that there can be challenges getting all media to show up on the board. At the time of writing, Conceptboard was also not one of the more integration-rich options on our list.

Pricing: Free version, as well as $6 and $9.50 per user per month plans, and enterprise-level solutions for large companies that need at least 250 annual licenses.

How did we choose these mind mapping software picks?

We evaluate features, reliability as assessed by customer reviews, and pricing to select a variety of high-quality software options that also offer different priorities and price points for our readership. The goal is to present high-quality options that allow individuals and teams to find the product that best fits what they are looking for in the best mind mapping software. 

Some want a product, for example, with the ability to do an all-in-one collaboration, like Miro, while others want the focused functionality of a program that exclusively does share mind maps, like Coggle. 

Which is the right mind mapping software for you?

The first consideration for you is whether you want to be able to make mind maps for yourself or for a team since each software offers greater and lesser features that make real-time shared editing possible. More editing accounts can cost more, but some systems actually charge a reasonable amount if you opt for a professional or enterprise account.

Secondly, some software options offer a limited free trial that may work for you. For instance, if your free trial only allows you to make 4 mind maps, but you don’t need to retain your mind maps long-term, you may be able to re-edit the same four maps over time and get everything you need from a free version.

Finally, consider if you are prioritizing any integrations. Some software, for instance, integrates into Evernote, a notetaking management application, allowing you to convert your mind maps into notes that you can use in other contexts. Other software is organized more like a LucidChart, where it integrates into multiple different typical enterprise software, making it a viable first step that naturally progresses into project management. Finally, an aesthetically pleasing software like Conceptboard can be a combination of mind-mapping and joint-presentation-design options. 

Mind mapping software

Price point per user (for lowest non-free version)

Notable Feature

Miro

$8 per month

In-app video/audio

LucidChart

$7.95 per month

Extensive integrations

Coggle

$5 per month

Simplicity and multi-user editing

Mindomo

$5.50 per month

Multi-industry template options

Conceptboard

$6 per month

Visual appeal for presentations

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a visual display of many different ideas, similar to how people write concepts on a whiteboard or blackboard and draw arrows, connections, and distinctions between them visually. They are typically used to organize ideas as they are being generated, but can also be used as a definitive plan, a flowchart that illustrates steps in a process, or a delegation technique to showcase who is in charge of what.

How do people collaborate on a mind map?

Mind map software allows multiple to access the same online document, all adding sticky note icons, comments, and photos and other artifacts to a space where each user can see everything that has been added in real-time. Some software even make it clear where each user’s cursor is at a given moment to help multiple editors not step on each other’s toes in the shared document.

Can I save my changes to a shared mind map online?

Most collaborative mind maps will automatically save your changes, but technological glitches when multiple users are accessing a mind map can occur. Ideally, storing your own ideas locally in case of an update glitch is a smart choice. The best mind mapping software will also have options for saving and exporting, allowing you to capture a snapshot of a moment in time in a given shared mindmap. 

Are there alternative mind mapping software options worth considering?

First and foremost, there are many applications we couldn’t include that are fan favorites around the web. We chose our five top picks because of a combination of a reputation for excellence in things like updates/functionality, strong customer support where needed, as well as stand-out features. Here are some we couldn’t include:

While many companies really value the ability to draw connections or move concepts into proximity-based groups, it’s possible to brainstorm in other well-known programs. If you have a less tech-savvy group who haven’t worked with mindmaps before, you may find that using your company’s GSuite or OneDrive collaboration options will allow you to contribute to a shared document in real-time, add comments, resolve items, and even assign tasks to each person after the meeting. These types of software may be a little clunkier if you want to include photos, videos, or other artifacts in your brainstorming. Still, they can usually support this feature, even if it doesn’t have the easy drag-and-drop usability of a dedicated mind map software.  

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