When it comes to mind mapping software, there are an awful lot of choices out there, so how do you know which is best? Well, in truth, just like many other choices in life, choosing “the best one” is relative and will be different for each person. In fact, choosing the best mind mapping tool is often a matter of personal preference and the type of project or results needed.
XMind versus MindMeister: Consider Your Purpose
One of the first things to do before you research mind mapping software is to figure out the purpose of your project and how you will use mind mapping.
Mind Mapping has been used for:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Content planning
- Organizing details
- Boosting memory and recall when studying
- Project planning
XMind vs MindMeister: Try Before You Buy
A good method is to try before you buy when it comes to any software. You’ll find hundreds of mind mapping programs to choose from here, but we’re going to talk about two of the popular programs in this article.
The benefit of mind mapping is the ability to get your ideas or large amounts of information organized on the page. Without trying mind mapping software first, it’s going to be difficult to get the combination of features that suits you best. You could end up paying money for a mind mapping program you just won’t regularly use if at all.
XMind versus MindMeister: The Basics
XMind 8 one of the newest releases of a popular mind mapping software. It launched in the final quarter of 2016 and is available for Linux, PC, and Mac. A free version is available, or you can upgrade to XMindPlus for $79 annually or $99 for XMindPro. XMind Cloud is enhanced for better storage and sharing functions, and the Pro program offers a brainstorming mode.
Another top mind mapping software tool is MindMeister. It has a free version which is available through a link at the bottom of the company web page. MindMeister is web-based and uses Cloud-based storage which means your mind maps are available from any of your devices on any platform.
MindMeister’s free version gives you the ability to create up to three maps, share your maps with others, and import from other formats. Paid levels include unlimited maps with more features.
When it comes to deciding to use XMind versus MindMeister, there’s no reason not to try them both before you decide. These are two of the most popular mind mapping software programs on the market today. You can register and being using it quickly so you can try out the features for free.
XMind vs MindMeister: Comfort Zone
Are you more comfortable using the mouse and menus to use your computer? Or do you prefer to use the keyboard and keyboard shortcuts when possible? If the way you’re most comfortable inputting commands into the computer doesn’t align with how commands are entered for the mind mapping software program you choose, there will be a learning curve before you are comfortable.
Selecting a user interface that is not at all intuitive for the way you work may interfere with getting those thoughts onto the page. Too much of a learning curve in mind mapping software can delay or stop the flow of ideas rather than enhance it. You must consider all other benefits before deciding if the learning curve is worth the other benefits. In most cases, your comfort in using a program is determined by how well you can get around in your mind mapping program.
XMind 8 versus MindMeister: Getting Around
The updated XMind 8 works well for both keyboard users and those used to the mouse. Simply use the Enter key to add a new main node and tab to create a new child node. It’s easy to learn but especially intuitive for those who prefer the keyboard shortcuts. Keeping your fingers on the keyboard rather than jumping from keyboard to mouse, can improve focus and productivity.
MindMeister, on the other hand, is a clear example of how a mind mapping software can be perfectly capable for some users but not a good fit for others. To create a new mind map in MindMeister, you use your mouse to click the “+” sign in the upper left corner. To add a new node, you can also use the insert key, but you must still use the mouse to go back to the center in between.
This can mean a learning curve for keyboard warriors, and it can also mean repeated interruptions in your flow of ideas. Even as someone who is used to the mouse, I found taking my fingers from the keyboard to go to the center each time interrupted the flow of ideas.
XMind versus MindMeister: Final Result
Another factor to consider when choosing a mind mapping software is whether the process of making your mind map is important (i.e. brainstorming or studying), or if it’s the visual mind map you need (i.e. slide presentation or sharing ideas with others).
If you just need to study some material for a test, the map itself will probably end up in a drawer or even the wastebasket after you conquer that test. If you use it for brainstorming ideas for your next book, you may just keep it on hand so you can refer to it until you complete your project and its no longer needed. Appearance isn’t crucial, so you won’t need to add a lot of icons or extras to enhance the visual look of the map.
But if you are doing a mind map because you want to use the map to be able to somehow share it with others as a teaching or presentation tool, then your ability to customize the visual appearance of the map is more of a factor in your decision. The features available to enhance your mind map determine your final result.
XMind versus MindMeister: Map Features
The newly improved XMind Cloud allows for automatic syncing of files across multiple devices. XMind 8 allows you to export into a multitude of file formats including PDF, RTF, PNG, Plain Text, JPEG, and more depending on the level of XMind you use.
With XMind you can choose other ways to display your information including charts, decision trees, and timelines. There are also plenty of additional features including audio recordings, labels, or files. With its advanced features, you can even turn your map into an Evernote note and share with others on your project team or export it to a Gantt chart or another format.
XMind 8 includes a slide-based presentation option, brand new clip art, over 60,000 images to use as icons, and new useful templates make it easy to create, visually customize, and share your map to social media or with other project team members. You can even copy and paste all or just sections of your mind map for use in other documents.
MindMeister offers a choice between a personal, business, and pro-level subscription. Each level offers all the features of the level before it. It’s completely web-based which means enhanced the ability to work collaboratively on mind maps and share them with others. No more worry about file formats because you and others can access your mind maps quickly and easily through a web browser.
MindMeister is geared toward use by educators and businesses, and thus it’s a highly collaborative program. Whether you need to take notes, brainstorm, plan a project (or novel), or keep track of meeting decisions, Mindmeister can do it all in one mind map. Multiple users can log in and view the same mind map, and everyone can update and make changes to the same mind map in real-time.
MindMeister includes the option to turn your finished mind map into a slide presentation for sharing with others. There are a ton of features that let you enhance the visual appearance of your mind map. Add notes, icons, & images such as colored check marks, numbers, or even emoticons to your mind map to represent different priorities visually. You can also add a link to files or tasks, and if you combine your MindMeister account to MeisterTask, you can turn your mind maps into the very powerful project management tool.
Before you make a decision between XMind versus MindMeister, try them out, use them both for a couple of projects and see which one seems more intuitive for the way you work naturally. Compare the features and then choose the mind mapping program that best suits your needs.