Brainstorming is essential for developing creative solutions to problems. While your analytical mind works in a logical pattern, the creative mind needs room to move and create without restriction. Brainstorming gives him that freedom. While many people traditionally think 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 power all your brainstorming sessions. We’ve picked the best mind mapping software to help you find the one that’s right for you, whether you’re on PC, Mac, Android, or iOS.
Scapple is a brainstorming tool designed for writers. Created by Literature and Latte (the same minds behind Scrivener), it’s an easy-to-use, low-cost tool. It works on both Windows and Mac and only costs $18 for a full license. There is also a 30-day free trial that you can use to try out the program for yourself.
The downside is that it doesn’t have the most robust feature set, but it’s perfect for the early planning stages of any project when all you have to do is let your mind wander until that you focus on the project objectives.
Coggle is for collaboration. It starts with a central idea, from which you can derive an almost infinite number of ideas and thoughts. Coggle is designed with bright colors and flowing graphics that keep your ideas organized while remaining visually appealing, making them easy to read and follow.
Coggle has three tiers: a free plan that gives you three private diagrams and an infinite number of public diagrams, over 1600 icons, and more. The Awesome plan is $5 per month and offers better privacy features, while the Organization plan is $8 per member, per month, and is for teams.
Lucidchart is another tool designed for teams. Although it doesn’t have the same visual appeal as some options, it is placed on a sort of cork board where users can drag and drop different shapes to create diagrams, timelines and more. Once on the board, other team members can leave comments 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 the individual plan is more suitable for creative professionals at $7.95 per month. The team plan is $9 per user per month, while the enterprise plan is priced based on the total number of users and the company.
Mind mapping tools work best when they’re intuitive, and this is one area where MindMeister excels. You can use the app for everything from mind mapping to project planning, creating both maps and lists in the same layout. Like many others, it is also designed to encourage teamwork with collaboration features that allow an unlimited number of people to work on a single mind map or flowchart simultaneously.
MindMeister’s creative tools 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 Enterprise. 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: it works on all platforms and is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and even the web. Paid plans are every six months or yearly, and the price unlocks all features. XMind costs $39.99 for six months or $59.99 per year.
Features like Pitch Mode make it easy to present your ideas to others in a Powerpoint format, but it otherwise works as expected. It’s one of the best brainstorming apps for people on the go, especially since you can view 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 has an infinite canvas so your ideas can spread as needed. It works much like a whiteboard, and your team members can work on different areas at once. This is great for project management, especially when there are multiple areas to focus on at once.
Like other platforms, there are multiple tiers. The free version lets you work with three boards, while the Team option ($8 per month) gives unlimited boards and visitors. The business plan is $16 per month per member and targets advanced collaboration.
WiseMapping is a completely free and open source mind mapping program. The low cost makes it ideal for educators, while the collaboration tools make it possible to work with anyone. You can even embed your mind maps into 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 develop according to the needs of its users. If you need an option that won’t cost you a penny, 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 restrictions or prefer to use a model to guide your thoughts, there are plenty of free mind mapping tools available to help you.