Manage Your Thoughts with MindMeister

Whenever I work with a client on their presentation or demo script, I first create a mind map. It helps me understand the different chunks of information and their relationship. And mind mapping software makes it easy to change the sequence and flow of a presentation or product demo.

MindMeister - A web-based mind mapping tool.

To my delight, a new application has entered the mind mapping scene. MindMeister is a web-based mind mapping application that lets you work on a map collaboratively from any location. All you need is a web-browser. And the Offline Mode even lets you work on your maps when you’re not connected to the internet. Once you’re online again, the maps will automatically be synced with their online versions.

The user interface is well designed and the functionality is what you would expect from a full featured mind mapping software. The top menu bar includes buttons to add, delete, and connect branches, basic text editing functions, as well as an export feature, which converts your map to a document (rtf, pdf) or an image. MindMeister also supports the popular MindManager and FreeMind file types.


On the right side of the workspace, users find:

  • Navigator
    Lets the user zoom in and out of a map, center the map, or switch to another map.
  • Text Formatting
    MindMeister offers three different text sizes in regular, bold, and italics, as well as an option to change a font’s color.
  • Icons and Images
    There are almost 300 built-in icons available, as well as the option to upload your own image files, to make your maps more memorable.
  • Extras
    – Notes: Attach a note to any branch of your map.
    – Links: Add hyperlinks to your branches
    – Attachments: Upload a file as attachment to a specific branch.
    – Tasks: Set priority and schedule/assign tasks.
  • Information
    Lets the user share and publish, set the title, description, tags, and notification options for a map.

MindMeister is so easy to use, no manual is required. There are a few easy to remember keyboard shortcuts:

  • TAB – add new child idea
  • ENTER – add new sibling idea
  • DEL – delete an idea
  • SPACE – open/close ideas
  • cursor keys – move between ideas
  • + / – – zoom in / out

Collaborating on a map is fun, as users see each other’s modification of a map as it happens in real time. And just in case you need to roll back time to see who added which topic in what order, MindMeister lets you step through a map in its History View.

MindMeister also developed two applications for the iPhone:

  • MindMeister for iPhone
    This is essentially the same functionality of the web-based application in the palm of your hand. It lets users create, view, and edit maps, then share them right from the iPhone.
  • Geistesblitz
    A very cool, free add-on. The application has one text field and a submit button. Entering a thought in Geistesblitz will send it straight to your default map and add it to a branch called “My Geistesblitzes”.
    Geistesblitz is also available as a browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer, as well as an option to send your Geistesblitzes via SMS or Email.

The Basic Edition of MindMeister is free and naturally has some limitations. Users can only have 3 mind maps, can’t export in MindManager or FreeMind format, and have to endure a small advertisement in the upper right corner of the screen. To lift these limitations, users can upgrade to a choice of subscription-based plans, based on their needs. MindMeister also offers an Academic Edition.

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