Mind mapping with MindNode

Today, I would like to introduce you to MindNode ($10) for the iPad. MindNode was one of the first apps that I bought for my iPad back in 2010 when it hit the app store, and it is one of the third party apps that I use the most often (ignoring games, obviously). As you have already guessed from the title of this post, MindNode is an app for mind mapping.

Mind mapping probably needs no introduction, but in short, the idea is to organize your ideas in a tree structure that starts from a central node in the center and then moves outwards. Benefits of mind maps are that they speak to the spatial parts of your brain: I can quickly find around my way even in very large mind maps, like the one holding all the topics I would like to cover in this blog, because my brain knows in what corner to look for the information it is looking for.

I am using mind maps for many different things. While I sometimes use it to structure my thoughts to prepare some writing, my main use for mind maps is to store ideas and little bits of info. I find that the structure of mind maps makes it easy for me to get back to the information collected in the map even after some time of absence.

 

MindNode gets out of your way

There are several mind mapping apps out there, and some a better known such as iThoughts HD ($10) or free such as Mindjet for iPad. So what is so good about MindNode? For starters, I really enjoy the simplicity of the app. I am a bit of a minimalist junky, and this is especially true for mind mapping apps. MindNode’s interface pretty much gets out of the way and allows you to jot down your ideas fast and easy. While not being as full fledged as others, MindNode has enough features to make I believe most users happy: change layout of branches, reorganize branches, reorder branches, fold and unfold branches, and a smart layout that will reorganize your mind map automatically. One of the features that I like most (and that seems to be missing among most other mind map apps that I checked out) is that you can have multiple mind maps on a single canvas. For example, you can have one top-level node for the theory, one for the context, and one for the discussion section on a single canvas when sketching out the flow of a research project (please pretend that the picture below shows exactly that).

a shamelessly ripped off image of MindNode in action

Shines on the iPad, but Lives in the iCloud (coming soon)

Mind mapping on the iPad is a chance for this device to really shine, because you can manipulate the mind map very intuitively and zoom in and out of the map with ease. MindNode also makes sure that you are never running out of canvas space, which is a big plus compared to paper and pencil mind mapping.

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What is missing in MindNode for iPad is the ability to add pictures, links, or connections to your maps. For this, you would have to fire up your Mac and use the desktop version of MindNode Pro ($20, App Store). Yes, there is a Mac version, too, and this is one of the best features of MindNode. You can share your mind maps via Dropbox and through wifi sync, and since it is a universal app, you can also access your mind maps from your iPhone. Also, I hear (and am very excited about) that iCloud support is coming to the Mac version in the near future. I will cover the Mac version of MindNode some time later, after iCloud support has been added.

 

Conclusion

MindNode is a really useful app for structuring information and getting organized. It is also a great thing to show to colleagues and spouses who are either on the fence of whether or not getting an iPad or who think that you are wasting too much money on gadgets. There is no free version for the iPad to try out, but if you have a Mac you can check out the free MindNode (free) version (not MindNode Pro) for the Mac that is also available on the App Store.

Questions or comments? Meet me in the comments section!

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