I received this message from an author: “What’s happening with mind mapping apps? I can’t afford hundreds of dollars. Even little apps seem to be subscription-only now…”
It’s an excellent question. Just a few years ago, you’d find lots of free mind mapping apps. These apps didn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps intended for business use, but they did provide wonderful tools for authors who needed an aid to plotting and structuring their writing.
If the apps weren’t free, they were inexpensive.
Of course I’m all for app developers making an income from their hard work. However the pendulum seems to have swung from “hey, try this it’s FREE”, to “pay a monthly subscription, or go away…”
(BTW, if you’re not using mind maps, they’re excellent tools for writers.)
Intuitive mind maps: get inspired with visual tools
Not sure how to use mind mapping? In How To Outline Your Writing: 3 Easy Tricks You Need Today, I discussed intuitive mind maps:
… kick your rational mind out of the way when you’re creating an intuitive mind map. Write your topic in the center of a sheet of paper, then cluster words or phrases around that central topic… without thinking about it.
Intuitive maps help you to create “mud”: the raw materials of your writing.
Mind mapping apps: are there any inexpensive, or free apps left?
Within a couple of years, two of my favorite apps, Nova Mind, as well as Tony Buzan’s iMindMap, took the subscription route. The Buzan tool became Miro on the desktop; it’s still available in its original form for iPad users.
The subscriptions aren’t huge and as I’ve said, I don’t mind developers making money. But the cost of a stack of monthly subscriptions soon mounts up. To be worth a monthly or annual subscription, an app needs to be a daily essential.
I haven’t explored the mind mapping space for a while, but here’s what I’m using now.
iThoughts: relatively inexpensive, available on Windows, Mac, and iOS
I’ve been an iThoughts user for many years. Formerly I used it rarely, but over the past year it’s become my primary mind mapping tool.
Recently I’ve used it mostly for fiction, as well as for project dashboards to track files and people.
Thankfully it hasn’t gone the subscription route. I’ve got the Mac version.
FreeMind: free for Windows, Mac, Linux
FreeMind is another app I’ve used for years. Currently I use it to create material for writing classes, both online and offline, as well as for business projects. It’s ideal for mapping processes, websites, and anything you need to display or share visually.
Do you have a favorite mind mapping app that’s non-subscription and inexpensive? (Or even free?)
By “inexpensive” I mean under $80 to $100, for a one-time payment, with use on at least two computers, and family use.
Please share what you’re using, with your app’s biggest benefit to you. I’ll add your favorites via updates to this article.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.