Brainstorming is essential to develop creative solutions to problems. While your analytical mind works in a logical pattern, the creative mind needs room to roam and create without restriction. Brainstorming gives it this freedom. While many people traditionally brainstorm through pen and paper, real-time collaboration sometimes calls for the ability to do it remotely.
The good news is that there are dozens of mobile apps and ideation software options to fuel all of your brainstorming sessions. We’ve picked out the best mind mapping software to help you find one that works for you, whether you’re on PC, Mac, or Android or iOS.
Scapple is a brainstorming tool designed with writers in mind. Created by Literature and Latte (the same minds behind Scrivener), it’s an easy tool to use that comes at a low cost. It works on both Windows and Mac, and costs only $18 for a full license. There’s also a 30-day free trial 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 need to do is let your mind wander until you zero in on the project goals.
Coggle is for collaboration. It starts with a central idea, from which you can branch off an almost infinite number of ideas and thoughts. Coggle is designed with bright colors and flowing charts that keep your ideas organized while remaining visually appealing, which makes 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, more than 1600 icons, and much more. The Awesome plan is $5 per month and boasts greater privacy features, while the Organization plan is $8 per member, per month, and is targeted towards teams.
Lucidchart is another tool built with teams in mind. While it doesn’t have the same visual appeal as some options, it’s set against a sort of corkboard where users can drag and drop different shapes to create diagrams, timelines, and much more. Once on the board, other members of the team 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 private users, while individuals are better suited to creative professionals at $7.95 per month. The team plan is $9 per user per month, while the enterprise plan is priced according to the overall number of users and the company.
Mind mapping tools work best when they’re intuitive, and that’s an area where MindMeister excels. You can use the application for everything from mind mapping to project planning, creating both maps and lists in the same layout. Like many others, it’s also built to encourage teamwork with collaboration features that allow an unlimited number of people to work simultaneously on a single mind map or flowchart.
Creative tools within MindMeister help you create unique mind maps, while comment features let others leave notes on each node. There are four price tiers: free, personal, pro, and business. 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 alone: it works across all platforms and is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, and even on the web. The paid plans are either every six months or annually, and the price unlocks every feature. XMind is $39.99 for six months, or $59.99 annually.
Features like Pitch Mode make it easy to present your ideas to others in a Powerpoint format, but it otherwise works as you would expect. This is one of the best brainstorming apps for people on the go, especially since you can pull up your mind map on a mobile device and continue to work on it when you return to your computer.
Miro is one of those mind mapping apps that works best for teams, not single users. It features an infinite canvas so your ideas can spread as needed. It works a lot like a whiteboard, and your team members can work on different areas at once. It’s 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 (at $8 per month) gives an unlimited number of boards and visitors. The Business Plan is $16 per month per member and is aimed at advanced collaboration.
WiseMapping is a completely free, open-source mind mapping program. The lack of cost makes it ideal for educators, while the collaboration tools make it possible to work with anyone. You can even embed your mind maps in web pages and blog posts, or export them to a variety of different file types.
Due to its open-source nature, WiseMapping has a lot of user-focused functionality and continues to grow based on the needs of its users. If you need an option that won’t cost you a dime, give it a whirl.
Mind mapping is worth exploring, even if you don’t think it will work for you. Whether you need to work without restrictions or you prefer to use a template to guide your thoughts, there are plenty of free mind mapping tools available to help you out.