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Brainstorm at speed with Edraw Mind Map

11 November 2014, Mike Williams

Edraw Mind MapIn theory, mind mapping software should help you generate ideas, then organise and arrange them for easier sharing with others.

But then you launch your chosen package, stare at a blank screen, and are left wondering exactly how to begin. The end result is you’re wasting time dealing with the mechanics of the program, rather than thinking about the core issue you’re trying to address.

Edraw Mind Map is a free (for personal use) mind map creator which can make it easier to get started on your diagram, while also providing the more advanced features you’ll need to customise it later.

While you can start with various blank charts, for instance (“Mind Mapping Diagram”, “Concept Map”, “Bubble Diagram”), the program also includes around 40 templates, each loading a mind map for a defined topic: “Daily Work Schedule”, “Meeting”, “Problem Solving”, “Choose a Car”, “Marketing Plan” and more.

Edraw Mind Map

Well-designed templates get you started in seconds

These maps come pre-built with sensible options and text – no “Lorem Ipsum” junk here – so double-clicking something like “Wedding Plan” might give you an outline you can use.

But even if most of the topics are wrong, they’re extremely easy to change. You already know how to do it: just click a box or topic, and type.

If you do start with a blank template then there are some useful shortcuts available. To gets started with your own “Wedding Plan” map, say, you don’t have to manually add boxes for every single topic. Click “Add Multiple Topics”, enter every topic area in a text box (Church, Guests, Cars, Reception, Honeymoon, whatever), click OK and the program automatically adds them to the map.

If you’re happier with the conventional charting approach, that’s available too. You can drag and drop assorted shapes, symbols, clipart and more from Mind Map’s palettes, connect them and add text as required.

Any map topics may have notes, files or links attached; you’re able to insert tables, images, Office documents, OLE objects; and you can customise map fonts, colours, backgrounds, maybe even add a watermark (“Confidential”, “Draft”, or anything else you need).

Export options are a particular highlight, with the program able to save your diagram as an image, Office document, PDF, HTML file, and more.

All this is free for personal use only, and if you select an option which isn’t included in this build then a web page will open, recommending that you upgrade.

Edraw Mind Map’s free version still offers a vast amount of functionality, though, while still being relatively easy to use, and overall it gets a thumbs up from us.

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