50 Useful Mind-Mapping Tools for College Students

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July 27th, 2009

By Emily Thomas

As a hardworking student, you’ve got a lot to organize, including essays, exams, deadlines, and class schedules, not to mention your social and personal life–plus any part-time jobs you may have taken on. In an effort to keep you more organized, we’ve generated this list of 50 useful mind-mapping tools that are designed to help you see your ideas more clearly, analyze and outline research papers, become more efficient when you study, and get inspired to be more creative in your work.

Free or Open Source

Online college students depend on open and free programs like these when balancing school work and a tight budget.

  1. FreeMind: FreeMind is a popular mind mapping software written in Java that allows you to technically outline essays, personal goals, and more.
  2. Pimki: This personal information manager will help you be more productive.
  3. Cmap Tools: Create concept maps with this free program, as long as it’s for personal use only.
  4. MAPMYself: This web-based mind mapping tool is all about the organic mind mapping experience with ideas that literally branch out.
  5. Mindomo: Mindomo is another online mind mapping software program that features a simple, streamlined interface.
  6. WikkaWiki: This PHP software program is described as "lightweight" and designed for speed.
  7. RecallPlus LITE: The LITE version of this study notes software is free and can keep you organized.
  8. DeepaMehta: This open source knowledge management tool is designed according to cognitive psychology principles, helping you learn more effectively through mind mapping.
  9. Semantik: Semantik is a mind mapping tool designed for students who need help with essays and other papers.
  10. Labyrinth: This open mind mapping tool is written in Python and designed to be simple and easy to use without sacrificing advanced features like copy/pasting from a clipboard, saving as an image, and more.
  11. View Your Mind: VYM is a thinking and planning tool that helps students and other users with time management, creativity, organization, and other skills.
  12. MindRaider: MindRaider is a personal notebook and organizer that lets you use clips from the web, your files, and your brain to stay organized.
  13. VUE: Visual Understanding Environment is an open source project created by Tufts University for students and teachers. The mind-mapping program depends on highly visual, digital images and tools to help you stay organized and to boost creativity.


Use these tools to work with classmates, share notes, prepare a presentation, and work on the web.

  1. XMind: This social mind mapping tool is great for group projects.
  2. Mind42: Mind42 is a mind mapping tool that sits in your browser and lets you work with friends.
  3. MindMeister: This bright and colorful online mind mapping system has individual, business (or group), and academic plans.
  4. WiseMapping: WiseMapping is all about the free creation of shareable mind maps from your browser. There’s no space limit, either.
  5. DropMind: Choose to use a desktop or web-based version of DropMind for real-time collaboration or the ability to add hyperlinks and images.
  6. Mindjet: Mindjet is expensive, but when you use the online version to work with friends, you can split the cost.
  7. Wridea: Wridea is an idea and content manager marketed towards writers but can work for any individual or group wanting to organize projects, papers and more.
  8. Dabbleboard: Dabbleboard is an online white board that lets you create mind maps, sketches, project outlines and more with your group.
  9. Mindquarry: Mindquarry is an open source collaboration tool for group editing, file sharing, task management and brainstorming.
  10. Comapping: Comapping lets your whole group add notes and plan out projects from one map.
  11. Stixy: Use photos, notes, documents and to-do lists to create your mind map with other students.
  12. writewith: This collaborative writing tool is great for working on research papers and presentations.

Brainstorming and Project Management

When you need to work on your ideas for a big project, use these tools to organize all of your ideas, edits and deadlines.

  1. iMindMap: This software program allows you to use colors and images to create all kinds of projects and presentations.
  2. ConceptDraw MindMap: This tool uses visual diagrams to map out ideas and plans.
  3. HeadCASE: This artistic, flowing mind map lets you import text from the web and Microsoft Office. Works on Windows only.
  4. Mindcad: Mac users especially will benefit from Mindcad’s ability to accept images and text from Word and the Desktop.
  5. eminec MYmap: This brainstorming tool lets you link to other documents on your computer and share your notes.
  6. Edraw Mindmap: This free mind map depends on a brainstorming diagram and ready-made symbols to help you analyze papers, notes and projects.
  7. Personal Brain: The lightest version of Personal Brain is free and works with Mac, Windows and Linux.
  8. BraineMine: BrainMine is a mind mapping tool for Windows that is equipped to manage research projects, help you organize presentations, and review exam material.
  9. 3D Topicscape: The basic version of 3D Topicscape lets you stay on track with to-do lists and mind maps.
  10. Twiddla: With Twiddla, you can brainstorm with graphics, photos and web tools.
  11. Project2Manage: This online project management tool lets you work with other team members managing task lists, ideas, and more.
  12. yWriter5: Use yWriter 5 for writing projects for which you need help organizing, editing and outlining.

Multitasking Study Tools

These mind-mapping tools are about more than brainstorming and outlining. Add images, import data and more.

  1. bubbl.us: Create a mind map with bubbl.us and then embed it into your site or blog; save it as an image; or share it with friends.
  2. Aibase CS: The Aibase CS is a data manager for outlining, brainstorming, studying and editing graphics.
  3. i2Brain: This information manager lets you create as many dimensions off a certain idea or subject as you want, boosting efficiency and creativity.
  4. MindGenius: Use this sophisticated mind mapping tool for help with essays, organizing presentations, mastering test concepts, and more.
  5. Aviz ThoughtMapper: Create mind maps with this tool, and then convert them to PowerPoint, Word, HTML or PDF.
  6. MindVisualizer: With this tool, you can edit text notes, use icons to mark your notes, add hyperlinks and attachments, and more. The price decreases when you add more users to each account.
  7. NovaMind: NovaMind lets you create your mind map branches separately before making connections. You can also use animations, create customized themes, and more.
  8. MindDecider: This advanced tool generates potential consequences and outcomes for your proposed actions and decisions.
  9. Nozbe: Nozbe is a project manager that lets you move around tasks and notes when your ideas and priorities change.


These highly specialized mind-mapping tools are great for mobile users, engineering students, and more.

  1. Gliffy: Math, business, science and engineering students can create flowcharts and technical drawings with Gliffy.
  2. Weilgut MindPlan: This sophisticated program is designed to help Lotus Notes users organize brainstorming, project materials and deadlines.
  3. Instaviz: Take mind mapping to your iPhone with Instaviz.
  4. MindBerry: BlackBerry users enjoy note-taking organization and mind mapping with this tool.

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