[Mac OS X] Brainstorm and build mind maps with SimpleMind Free

mzl.skhqtrsx.800x500-75I think a lot of people miss the point of brainstorming. Sure, it’s great to have a free-for-all where you share ideas. But it’s never enough to simply list all of your ideas in a row: you need to take your brainstormed ideas and make them actionable. A great next step in the brainstorming process is linking related ideas into groups: a great way to visualize these linked ideas is through a “mind map”: and that’s just the sort of service that SimpleMind Free excels at.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

SimpleMind Free is a no-cost tool used to build mind maps, link great ideas to each other, and coalesce brainstorming sessions into a series of interconnected concepts and plans.

Pros

  • Tons of different visual looks to match your style
  • Connects with related iOS app
  • Easy drag-based controls make it easy to link items
  • Full-featured cut/copy/paste functionality to share/duplicate data from one map to the next

Cons

  • Export options are limited to print
  • Free version lacks some features from the full version, such as hyperlinks to other mind maps and import/export to Freemind

Discussion

mzl.ykhizfng.800x500-75SimpleMind Free does lack some features that are featured in the regular/paid version of SimpleMind. These features include built-in emailing and exporting of your mind map, as well as searchable maps that utilize links to other maps or external webpages.

If you’re giving a talk or teaching a course using these kinds of mind maps, not having these features can be a real disadvantage. However, if you use this app for personal organization, you might not miss some of the more robust features from the regular/paid version of SimpleMind.

One thing I really love about the free version of SimpleMind is the “note” functionality you can embed in any given bubble. Bubbles with notes are identifiable by a little yellow dot around the edge of the bubble. This keeps the mind map from getting cluttered, but allows you to include a ton of pertinent information that’s just a click away from the main map. It’s nice to have that information stored in the map, without ruining the sleek lines of the map with an overabundance of the written word.

I also love how flexible the color schemes are in SimpleMind Free. If you’re the sort of person who really benefits from color-coding items into like sets, this app makes getting organized by color really simple. In fact, it’s not just the color controls that are intuitive: the whole app is easy to find your way around, without any tutorials or prompts.

Conclusion and download link

I’ve tried a couple of other mind-mapping tools for Macs in the past, and SimpleMind Free is definitely my favorite. The free version is actually perfectly suited to my needs, but those who work in an office or collaborate with a large team may want to upgrade to SimpleMind, rather than stick with SimpleMind Free.

Price: Free (full version is $29.99)

Version reviewed: 1.6.9

Requires OS X 10.6.6 or later

Download size: 1.9 MB

SimpleMind Free on Mac App Store

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