Mindnode: Mind Mapping Made Manageable


I’ve found mind-mapping apps such as MindManager and MindView to be a little clunky and over-engineered. Sometimes, you literally want to sketch some thoughts quickly, with little concern for presentation or correctness.

As luck would have it, I recently came across Markus Müller’s Mindnode, a deliciously simple mind-mapping tool that’s designed specifically for Macs. The free edition of the product does nothing more complex than allow maps to be constructed fluidly and quickly. There are no special notations or symbols, just click and drag to add and place nodes, and watch as MindNode colors them automatically, creating a simple, easy-to-comprehend diagram.

The app also offers some useful integration with the underlying operating system. It uses OS X’s Spotlight search to enable the contents of a mindmap to be indexed, and you can also use Quick Look for visual previews.

Mindnode allows maps to be saved in a whole bunch of graphics formats (TIF, PNG, etc) as well as in its own native format and, more interestingly, as OPML and HTML documents. This implies that the resulting maps can be imported into other packages for further — perhaps automated — manipulation and even CSS styling.

Mindnode isn’t feature-rich; it has just enough features to fulfill its purpose elegantly. Even the Pro edition (just $15!), adds only a handful of useful additional features.

There’s a place for the higher-end applications and services that we’ve covered previously, but it’s reassuring to know that simpler options exist. My only bugbear with Mindnode is the lack of a Windows or web edition. Come to think of it, it’d make a great iPhone app!

Be sure to check out Aliza’s post, Mapping Your Work Madness, which contains some great mind-mapping tips.

What mind mapping tools do you use?


Imran Ali

@Steve That’s great to hear – I think there’s a place for simplicity in design, regardless of the abilities or disabilities of users. Check out John Maeda’s book – ‘The Laws Of Simplicity’

@Markus Do keep us posted on your iPhone edition – infact, can we talk off the record about your plans (email me on imran@ali.name)

@Andrew I totally agree – be ace to see what the Omni guys could do…though their approach isn’t really about simplicity.


I found Xmind terrible as it allowed overlap of nodes.
Mindmanager is good, but poorly supported for the Mac and very expensive for that.
I think Curio connects with Evernote. It is a nice app and I was tempted.
Freemnd is well free, but a little clunky on the Mac.
Mindmode I liked for its simplicity and automation, the OPML export means you can use it for speed and then export to more powerful apps. Its my pick for non power users.
The best IMO is Concept office, works well with their good PM tool and exports wonderfully to html.
What I would really love to see is an Omnimind. i love Omnigraffle but it cant MM. If they want some help developing one I would love to talk.

Anand Graves

What a fantastic tool!
Unfortunately I’m using Windows XP.
I’m a huge fan and user of mind maps. If anyone knows a tool similar to mindnode for Windows, I would love to hear it.

Markus Müller

Thank you for you article about my application. I’m glad you like my approach.

I’ve been working on an iPhone application for some time now but I’m not sure when it will make it into the app store.

Khalid Naseem

Would love to have this integrated with Evernote. What say you?

Steve Robillard


I totally get the simplification aspect. I used to work with students with learning disabilities, and sometimes there was just too many options. They would get lost in the technology and lose sight of the problem they were trying to solve. Note I am not implying you have an LD, but we all appreciate simplicity, or a tool that does just what we need and no more.

Imran Ali

@Steve – thanks, it might sound odd, but xmind seems a bit ‘over-feature’ for my needs.

@pierre – nice idea, but I don’t actually use dashboard…apps seem kinda lost if they’re exclusively widgeted!

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