Mac Mind Mapping Software Review
Mac Mind Mapping Review Objectives
In this Mac mind mapping software review, we evaluated professional Mac desktop applications which tend to have more of a productivity feature offering. This is due to their MS Office integration and functionality. For this review, the top three Mac mind mapping software programs on the market were evaluated, MindJet for Mac (formerly Mind Manage), MindView 5 Mac and NovaMind 5 Mac. Although these seem to stand out, users may also consider iMindMap and MindNode. All of these applications make the process of creating the mind map much simpler than drawing mind maps on paper. There are some key differences in the way in which the programs design the maps, and we will cover those later in this review. Since professional mind mapping software is often used for brainstorming sessions, running meetings more effectively, knowledge management or to stimulate team collaboration, this review is focused on features important and relevant to these areas.
Mobile & App's
MindJet has an iPad and iPhone app available, whereas both MindView 5 Mac and Nova Mind 5 Mac work on the iPad and iPhone through integration with iThoughts. There is talk of MindView being released in iPad format in 2013, though this is not confirmed. As with most App's, these are limited in functionality when compared to their desktop software counterparts.
The basic fundamental of mind mapping is that it is an organic, non-linear way of brainstorming or understanding complex information. Traditional mind maps were drawn on paper and took on a radial style comprised of branches, sub-branches and connector lines all varying in color, thickness and length. One of the major benefits of mind mapping software is that users have the ability of presenting and visualizing captured information in different views.
The most common among the reviewed Mac mind mapping software is the standard mind map view. All three software programs allow you to view the ideas or branches in different directions such as right - left or top – down. When we tested MindJet's views, you can change the "Style" or view, but this is not interchangeable, meaning once you pick the new style, you cannot go back to the prior view. Similarly, NovaMind lets you manually drag the branches around to represent any chosen layout or view, but this is a manual action, not automated, and proved to be very tedious. We found that MindView's pre-set view options proved to be much more intuitive, effective, beneficial and easy to manage. All three programs claim an Outline view, however MindView was the only one with a proper Outline that functioned the same as the alternative views, making it a workable view, rather than just a list of topics. MindView was also the only Mac mind mapping software to have a fully integrated Timeline, making it a valuable educational or business planning tool.
General Mind Mapping Features
When working with mind mapping software, building the branches of the mind map is only the starting point. There are many assistive features such as adding pictures, text notes, comments, file attachments and hyperlinks to branches, which turn a mind map into a productivity map, rather than just a diagram.
All three Mac mind mapping software programs allow users to add images; however NovaMind replaced the branch shape with the picture, forcing the user to resize the branch in order to view the image. Both MindJet and MindView allow you to clearly see the branch picture above the branch itself.
The formatting of branch data, such as branch text, color, shape, etc… was much easier in MindView than in Mindjet and Nova Mind. Both required a complex color picker and non-intuitive inspectors, whereas MindView had a simple to use inspector that had all properties displayed and ready for customization.
Adding text notes is a vital addition to any mind map. Both MindJet and NovaMind only allow 1 text note per branch. There is also no live preview; the text note is only visible by clicking on the branch and viewing it in the inspector. MindView has a proper text note editor, as well as an intuitive branch icon and pop-up that allows users to quickly launch the text note. Users can also have multiple text notes per branch in MindView. This proved especially useful when exporting to MS Word, which we will cover in the next section. MindJet and NovaMind also did not have a floating option for the text note inspector; it was docked either on the right or bottom only.
File attachments allow for the mind map to become a simplified document management system, perfect for presentations, projects and learning modules. MindJet has a simple way of adding the file attachment, however there is no live preview; it only opens in the inspector, so you have to go to the inspector to launch the file. There was also no file name on the branch, only in the inspector. NovaMind and MindView both show the file name and give you the ability to launch the attachment right from the branch, however NovaMind forces you to select what program to launch the file with. MindView's intuitive file system automatically knows what program to use.
Adding hyperlinks is also useful for research and reference. All three programs allows for the addition of hyperlinks, however MindJet and NovaMind create an addition branch icon for the hyperlink making the branch look cluttered, whereas MindView has one branch icon for all attachments, and a simple drop down menu for accessing multiple branch attachments.
Presentation mode and Focus Mode are effective ways to either force users to follow along with the presentation by navigation the map or minimizing what is being shown on the screen. NovaMind did not include either of these features, MindJet has a presentation mode, however it forces you to convert the branches to slides and then review them 1 by 1, just like a PowerPoint slideshow. MindJet's branch focus simply collapses branch levels rather than minimizing what is shown on the screen. MindView's presentation mode allows users to navigate the map and uses controls to go from branch to branch, and maintains the main branch / sub-branch relationship so that users can see where the presented topic falls on the map. MindView's branch focus mode allows user to isolate a branch or group of braches and will clear out the other topics so the audience can focus on the topics at hand.
Mind Mapping and MS Office
One of the most important factors in reviewing any Mac mind mapping software is what you can do with your mind map once it is complete. Having the ability to turn your mind map into an outline in Word or polished PowerPoint presentation is a huge advantage. This saves time, gains productivity and most importantly represents true ROI on your mind mapping software.
MindView is known for its world class MS Office integration, specifically with MS Word and PowerPoint. This is due to MindView's template based, wizard driven Word and PowerPoint exports. Although MindJet and NovaMind allow users to export to MS Word, they simply export the branches out as sections of the Word document. MindView allows users to select from several pre-made templates or the ability to access a custom template to be used in the export. NovaMind did not have the option of creating a table of contents, which is a nice feature in MindJet and MindView. It is also important to mention that in NovaMind, neither branch file attachments nor hyperlinks came over into the Word export. MindView and MindJet have an import from MS Word feature, however when we tested MindJet's import, all sections came in as 1 main branch and several sub branches. New text notes made in Word came in as new Branches of the mind map rather than branch text notes like in MindView.
When it came to exporting a mind map to PowerPoint, MindView exported the branch structure to PowerPoint automatically, whereas, Mindjet forces you to select the branches you want to export as slides and convert them. Once again, MindView proved to have the most polished integration when it came to the export to PowerPoint. MindView was the only one that had an import from PowerPoint feature.
All three Mac mind mapping software programs exported as PDF, however MindJet and NovaMind simply made an image of the mind map as a PDF, whereas MindView uses the same wizard as the Word export, creating a document rather than just a picture of the map.
With regards to the HTML export, MindJet and NovaMind make a single file website, but it is only one page with a simple outline of topics. MindView uses wizards and templates creating individual pages, bringing over branch attachments and creating a Site Map which is the map view that was open when exported to HTML.
Collaboration with Mind Mapping
Our research has shown that in mixed groups of left brain and right brain thinkers, some being more visual than others, there is a vast disconnect between the levels of communication and collaboration. This is known as the communication breakdown. When working with a mind map, especially in a group environment such as a brainstorming or white boarding session, the mind map makes it easier for all participants to engage. It is easier to see relationships, to visualize complex data, and to make suggestions to the appropriate categories being discussed. All three programs allow for this type of use. Mindjet offers a collaborative environment through their online version.
The conclusion on this Mac mind mapping software review is that all three applications offer impressive mind mapping features. It was MindView that scored highest in this review due to its seamless MS Office integration and comprehensive views. MindView was also the easiest to use, allowing users to work more efficiently. Mind Manager ranked 2nd, however they did get some points for the collaboration via the online version; however the review of that feature was not impressive. NovaMind ranked the lowest among its competitors, but it is also the least expensive. NovaMind can be purchased for $149, whereas MindView rang in at $249. Mindjet has now gone to a subscription model, at $30 month, which has left some customers a little frustrated, though they now sell this as a package. When considering which product will give you the most value for the money, we feel that MindView is the best choice when it comes to Mac mind mapping software.
Mind Mapping Review Table