July 30, 2015

Top 7 Free Mind Mapping Tools For Students

Top 7 Free Mind Mapping Tools For Students
Mind mapping has been a classroom graphic organizer tool that students have used for years. Long before any software tools for this process were available, students learned how to take pencil to paper and create their own mind maps.

They use mind when they needed to:

  • Brainstorm ideas for an essay or paper
  • Organize ideas into categories or steps
  • Prioritize ideas and concepts

Benefits of Mind Mapping

The biggest benefit of mind mapping is that students are able to see all of their thoughts on a specific topic or idea as a whole. This makes it easy to then do the following:

  • Combine ideas or sub-topics that are similar
  • Eliminate those that are duplicates or unimportant/irrelevant
  • Organize and prioritize ideas or sub-topics

Student use of mind mapping in order to prepare for writing is probably the most important use. Consider some of the possibilities

  • If a student is writing a persuasive essay, the mind map will allow combining and prioritizing the arguments that will be used
  • A character sketch – a mind map can be used to note all of the character traits that will be covered, and, under those, examples from the story or novel that will be used as evidence
  • Research Paper Organization of Sub-Topics, along with reference citations for those sub-topics
  • Plots for narratives can be chronologically organized

Technology Comes to Mind Mapping

It was only natural that mind mapping tools were be developed, both as independent software programs and as online apps. In fact, there are now a huge number for both educational and business use. Of course, for students, “free” is always better, and there are plenty of mind mapping tools that have free personal accounts.

Freebies: The following is a list of the most popular free mind mapping tools that are easy to use, allow collaboration with other students, and have a number of features that make assignments, organization, and planning much more efficient.


This tool is online, so that it can be accessed from anywhere and with any device. You can use it solo or collaborate with other students if you are involved in a group project. The live chat feature makes it even more attractive. Watch the demo on their website.


This is a Google Chrome extension, with Dropbox, Google Drive, and Cloud built in. It can be used locally or in the cloud and allows the printing and exporting of completed maps. The other great feature is that you can add text, images, links, etc. and customize color so that sub-topics and sub-sub topics re easily recognizable.


This is one of the simplest mind mapping tools to be found. Once you type your main idea or topic, the tree begins. You may then type in “sub-level” terms, and they are automatically placed. You can then move the bubbles around. There is also an auto-save feature and, because it is online, you can collaborate with others. The drawback of this app is that you cannot add images, links or files unless you purchase the premium version.


This is an open source tool with some unique features. You can export any map in other formats – PDF, TXT, JPEG, etc. It has tree, logic and fishbone charts, for personal preference and depending upon your project. The basic account is free but, as you add features, the price can go up to $80.


If you are a beginner to mind mapping tools, this is a great starter too. You simply type in your main topic or concept and click “map.” Immediately, you map is generated with the topic in the center. As you type in new text as sub-topics, it is immediately positioned for you. There are built-in keyboard shortcuts and you can download to your own device as a PDF or Image.


This online tool allows you to place notes and files, as well as URL’s and reference citations. Because it is stored in the Cloud, there is easy access from anywhere and the ability to share with others (you can designate “read only” or “read and write”). Personal accounts are free. There is a great tutorial/tour video to orient any “newbie.”


Interactive mind mapping tool is flexible enough to fit different needs like business, education or personal use. The tool has two appearances - as an application for Windows or Mac and a subscription-based online service, giving you the freedom of choice. Possibilities like MS Office integration and Multi-Language support make this tool even more attractive.

For students new to mind mapping, these are probably the easiest to use tools. Once you begin to use mind mapping tools, you will see the benefits!

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