The 4 best mind mapping apps

Getting organised isn't just for Fortune 500 companies. Whether you're an educator, small business owner, or consumer, there's technology that can help you tame, manage, and share your thoughts. And just for you, my inquisitive reader, I've rounded up the best mind mapping software available today: TheBrain, Mindomo, MindManager, and MindView.

Not only do these solutions run the customer gamut – from consumers to corporations – they span across platforms, embrace cloud computing, and take your brainstorming to new depths, and heights.

Mind maps – visual webs of words, tasks, and ideas – predate the printing press. By the twentieth century, particularly the 50s and 60s, mind maps helped envision semantic networks. In the 70s, concept maps structured around keywords enriched education. Today, mind mapping has moved from the chalkboard to the computer screen, with a host of different software solutions designed to help everyone from educators to engineers, project managers to market researchers, to map out complex concepts.

So, which are the best pieces of mind mapping software you can get today? Read on, and find out…

Whereas traditional mind maps require hierarchical organisation, TheBrain accommodates associative linking, so a thought from one topic can link to an entirely different idea, topic, or attached file. To accommodate a many-stranded web, views animate and adapt, responding to whatever thought you click. TheBrain Pro isn't for everyone, but for non-linear thinkers in particular, it offers the most sophisticated cross-platform mind mapping software available.

With seamless desktop and online functionality, design, and interoperability, Mindomo takes the brain teasing out of brainstorming.

Whether you're a consumer, educator, or small business owner working in a browser or running the desktop client in Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux, Mindomo enables you to easily visualise projects through mind maps, and you can embed media, hyperlinks, and attachments, and begin planning projects by assigning priorities, completion statuses, and resources.

Unlike traditional mind mapping software, which can be a creative cul-de-sac, MindJet's MindManager helps small and large businesses shift from brainstorming to project implementation. By embedding project management into mind mapping, MindManager presents businesses with a single software solution from which to brainstorm, share, plan, and manage projects. Microsoft Office and Outlook integration are major plus points, and mobile apps are also included if you go for the Plus package at £270 – and you get a Mindjet Web account with that. MindManager isn’t so much a mind mapper as a one-stop information manager.

What separates MindView from its competitors isn’t so much the available features – though it's well equipped – as much as the ethos: MindView keeps your information alive. Be it through advanced import/exports, polished Microsoft Office integration, or versatile viewing options, MatchWare lets you repurpose, recreate, and redistribute existing data. If you're looking for an end-to-end brainstorming project management solution that keeps your data alive, set your sights on MindView 5 Business Edition.