My First Time Using Mind Mapping

Some folks swear by mind mapping, a way to get ideas down on paper and visually display their interconnections beyond what just a text editing file can do.

I haven’t found it as easy a medium, but this last week I tried mind mapping my sermon outline before writing out the manuscript, and found the process really helpful. I used the app MindNode to do it, which I review today.


A Simple Mind Map of The Fifth Discipline


Here’s a simple mind map for understanding Peter Senge’s five disciplines in The Fifth Discipline:


5 Disciplines on an iPhone
5 Disciplines on an iPhone


What’s really cool is what you can do with this mind map in MindNode (iOS) once you have it. You can see a text-based outline, which can expand or collapse levels:


iOS Mind Map Outline


And you can export to MyMindNode, where you can view and publish your map on the Web:


Upload to MyMindNode 2


You can then share the link to your mind map
You can then share the link to your mind map


I was hoping to embed the above mind map right here in this post, but does not support plug-ins or a good deal of third-party embeds (dah!), so I simply can give you this hyperlink to see what it looks like.


More Complex Mind Mapping


I used MindNode to map out my sermon outline this last Sunday. When I was done it looked like this:


ScreenShot from OSX app MindNode Pro (click to enlarge)
ScreenShot from OSX app MindNode Pro (click to enlarge)


And then I thought: oops. How I am going to get this into Scrivener without re-typing everything? At first I just dragged a .png image file into Scrivener so I could see the mind map as I worked on next steps. Then I realized I could actually export it not only as a PDF or image, but as a text file. (!!)

It looked like this:


Export to text


…which was sweet, because then I could just copy and paste to Scrivener and write my manuscript into my outline, started in MindNode.

By the time I was done writing the manuscript, I’d pared down the outline a bit. Editing in MindNode was easy, so that the final map looked like this:


Final Sermon MindMap


Nodes, Parents, Siblings, Etc.: All Easy to Use


There’s a lot more to mind mapping, not the least of which is learning some terminology (nodes, parents, siblings, children, etc.). The best place to start is the MindNode Web page here. The iOS User Guide is also a great way to get to know the app; that is here.

MindNode offers iCloud and Dropbox support. iCloud has its issues (sync hanging), but MindNode has the best and most succinct troubleshooting guide I’ve seen.

Styles, fonts, and colors are all customizable. And it seems a rare treat for a writing app to exist (and be well-designed and executed) on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Of course, for a large mind map one will probably choose Mac (or iPad) over iPhone, but moving between devices is easy. There is no Apple device on which you cannot access and edit your mind map. There’s even an accompanying Apple Watch app.

There are some other really nice touches, too, like being able to “fold and unfold” nodes, the equivalent to expand/collapse in a table of contents, for example. You can hide all of a nodes’ children if you need to clear up some screen real estate, and just as easily unhide them. You can also add notes to a node for storing even more information without having to display it.

Perhaps the best thing about MindNode is how easy it was for me to make both of the above mind maps before reading any of the support material. Moving nodes, connecting them, disconnecting them, changing fonts, dragging things around, exporting, and more… all of this was really intuitive and easy to come by both on OSX and iOS.

So… I’ll keep trying mind mapping for the outlining stage of writing. MindNode has much more still to uncover, and I’m looking forward to future use. A brilliantly executed app.



Thanks to the good people of IdeasonCanvas, for giving me a download of MindNode for iOS and OSX for the review. Check out the app’s iOS page here and the Mac app (MindNode Pro) here. Note that MindNode Pro for OSX has now been updated to MindNode2. See my other AppTastic Tuesday reviews here.

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