MindNode 5 : Mind Mapping with Power and Simplicity


I have been a customer of MindNode for the past 4 years. In that time, I have consistently been in awe of what the app has been able to help unlock in my brain – for both personal and professional endeavors. The ability to use a tool to extract random ideas and concepts from the mind and get them out in front of you, organized in both a fun and beautiful way was absent in my digital life until I came across this refreshingly versatile app. Simply put : MindNode is the most well thought out piece of software that I have used for fleshing out ideas and arranging them in a way that makes sense.

As a musician, I cannot help but think of MindNode in the same vein as playing jazz : there are some loose borders around the creative endeavor, the ability to play endlessly is always there, and you don’t know where you may end up, but in the end the result is something you didn’t know you would produce and the process of engagement just flows from your fingertips. Take my book, GTD with Things 3 (shameless plug), for example. That entire book started out as a blog post idea via MindNode. In the main idea node I simply had written, “GTD and Things”. As I got going along, adding and expanding the nodes into what ultimately ended up looking like a tarantula on steroids, I realized that there was enough of a concept here to be compiled into a book.

That’s the beauty of mind mapping. Your output can be so much greater than your initial intent.

MindNode is 10 years old

Personal story aside, I write this post today just as MindNode is coming up on two milestones.

First, the product itself will be turning 10 years old soon. The app has evolved from a Mac-centric mind mapping outliner to the powerhouse that you have likely just downloaded, or are about to.

The second milestone (and a treat for us!) is that MindNode 5.0 is out today. This release brings parity to the version numbers, as previously the latest versions had been 4.5.8 for iOS, and 2.5.7 on the Mac counterpart. It does feel as though there is a proverbial cleanup of sorts going on over at the company called Ideas on Canvas, who are the creators of MindNode. With version numbers now aligning, I would suspect that we see updates that are not only a benefit to iOS and Mac, but also implemented upon both platforms simultaneously.

Outlining vs. Mind Mapping

So, if you have never heard of mind mapping, here is a brief comparison to outlining.


Outlining is typically associated with an arrangement of ideas that make sense when displayed vertically. There can be “parent” and “child” ideas, so as to incorporate smaller ideas inside of larger concepts. This is how a paper in school and university is typically arranged before being written, and it can accommodate for all of the major points and sub-headings that you want to consider in your paper or essay. This is a very useful “start with the end in mind” solution to gathering thoughts around a central notion while arranging the ideas sequentially.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping, in my opinion, is far more creative, and for the right-brained type of person – the person who’d rather allow for random thoughts to flow, and organize them later, rather than creating a logical, sequential structure. Mind mapping starts with a central theme to kick things off, and is generally credited to Tony Buzan, who, on his web site says that the mapping process :

“…harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain.”

Ummm…I’m sold.

The reason that mind mapping has become so popular is that it allows for one to touch upon the vast tracts of the brain in a freeform, creative – thinking manner, thus allowing the presentation of ideas which we may not have even been aware of previous to outputting them on a mind map canvas.

Why MindNode?

So, there are some mind mapping app competitors out there – why MindNode?


First, there are new features in MindNode 5 that are more useful than any other competitor software out there.

A few of the new features are :

  • A complete redesign

This app sure looks beautiful on all 4 platforms – iPhone, iPad, Mac and Watch.

  • Quick Entry mode

This is my favorite new feature. If you just want to jump into a mini outline, and turn it into a mind map when you are done, on the Mac you have the option to have MindNode up in your menu bar, and when you click on that, are immediately taken into a quick entry/brainstorming mode. On iOS, this can be initiated using 3D touch by pressing firmly on the app icon, yielding this result:

Here is a quick video that I have done to show how this feature works on a Mac :

  • Unlimited Personal themes

Personal themes break up the monotony of having all mind maps look the same. Like using pink backgrounds for work-related maps? That’s cool. Blue nodes against an orange background to represent personal endeavors? That’s not a problem. MindNode makes it easy and beautiful to create content.

  • Top-down and horizontal layouts

This is a big one for business and other hierarchical needs. By creating a top-down structure, you can give the utmost importance to the main node, and create immediately under that management or supervisory roles, and under those, employee roles, and on and on.

  • Orthogonal branches

A right angle is never a “wrong” angle. Curves are great, but when you want to add some visual flair to your maps via angular and rigid branch structure, this is a welcome touch.

  • New stickers

Who doesn’t love the little stickers that you can send in iMessage? MindNode had a limited set that has been expertly expanded upon to communicate various scenes and characters via these simple but effective icons.

Furthermore, along with these great new additions, the app stays the course in offering outstanding support for :

  • Nodes with titles, notes, images, tasks and links
  • Branches and connections to show different types of relationships
  • Outline view, including search
  • Multiple themes and unlimited personal themes
  • Many styling options for all parts of the document
  • Two branch shapes, multiple node shapes
  • Full screen mode
  • Dark Mode
  • Export to text, pdf, image and outline formats
  • Share tasks to Reminders, Things and OmniFocus
  • myMindNode, free web service to create sharable documents


The app allows you to generate ideas around many different subjects, and does so beautifully. Here are some examples:

  • Structuring a business
A business department map in MindNode
A business department map in MindNode
  • Blog post
Example of a blog post structure in MindNode
Example of a blog post structure in MindNode
  • Writing a novel
A novel idea...get it?
A novel idea…get it?
  • Organizing a trip
A big trip can mean lots to think about.
A big trip can mean lots to think about.


MindNode also has many useful shortcuts built into both the Mac and iPad version to ensure that you stay in a creative flow as much as possible, without the interruption of having to drag and click often.

Where to buy

MindNode can be purchased by visiting Ideas on Canvas’ site here.


MindNode offers superb creation and organizational tools that truly are a representation of your best ideas on a canvas. With version 5, the company has really increased the usefulness of the app to an all-time high. I can see myself using it to put together a novel and organize how I want 2018 to look for my business.

How about you?

If you need anything or want to comment, you can do so below, or find me on Twitter.

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