3 Valuable Mindmap Software Tips, or Computer Mind Mapping Is Too Difficult

A couple of days ago I posted a message on computer mind mapping and hand drawn mindmaps on the website. I received a number of personal responses via email on this topic.

People love to create computer mindmaps, but they were hesitant to get started, because mind mapping on a computer could be difficult… or so they thought…

There are a couple of tips I want to give you to make computer mind mapping as smooth as possible.

#1: Easy Does It!

The first tip is probably in the beginning the most important one. You should investigate which software tool is the easiest to use for you.

With this I mean that you want your mindmaps to go from your head, to your screen with as little distraction and keystrokes as possible. A mindmap tool has to take care of the mind mapping part for you. You have to enter your data. That is it (in the first stage of computer mind mapping).

Since there are about 300+ mindmap tools available… this could be difficult. Should you test all of them? And what is important when you choose a tool for your mind mapping?

I believe 2 things are important in this. First, the tool has create maps that you need. There is a big difference in the mindmaps these tools create. Some look like hand-drawn maps, others are very formal, and are much more flow charting overviews.

Second, the input method is vital. Do you need to use the key to add a new branch? Or perhaps the key? Or can you just start typing away?

I prefer the last solution. I don’t want to spend another keystroke to add a branch or topic. This may sound silly or even crazy… but think about it… when you are creating a map with dozens of topics, you want to spend all your time working on the information, not with the software tool!

#2: Keep Your Hand Where I Can See Them!

This is a little bit in line with the whole ‘use as few keystrokes as possible’ rule I have.

People who start using mind mapping software often go back to the mouse and add branches or information using their mouse. Or they go from one area in the mindmap to another using the mouse! The result is that you distract yourself this way. Your focus is changing from in front of you to the side (and back). You start to point your attention to the menu, in stead of looking at the content.

Don’t do that. You should only focus on adding information (in the beginning).

We humans are not really the multitasking kind of species. Even women, who should be able to do more things at the same time, benefit from single tasking.

Do this by only using the keyboard. Don’t take your hand away from the keyboard. Use the cursor keys to navigate through the map. The only time you should take your hands away from the keyboard is when you get something to drink or when you are done adding information! :)

Another way of only using the keyboard and not using the menu is by using the full screen mode of your tool. This way you only work on the mindmap, not with the tool!

#3: Keep It Simple

When you are creating overview in your information, you need to make sure that you keep it as simple as possible. Don’t overdo it. A simple map is much more powerful than huge maps with lots of pictures and colours.

This may be obvious to you… but most people try to create the most wonderful mindmaps, because that will be so much better… they think.

The fact is that your mind loves simple things. We start to over-think and this makes it much more complex for us to understand what happens and what we should be doing.

Don’t start with adding pictures to the map. First simply use colours.

Don’t use too many words. Use only simple terms and as few as possible.

Remember this last tip above all others when you are mind mapping on your computer. Over 70% of all people start typing away and add way too many words. Then they come to me and tell me the map isn’t working out for them…


Just because you can type really fast with nearly all your fingers doesn’t mean you should!

The people in my workshops who are no good in typing are usually the ones who create clear mindmaps. This is just because they think about each word before they start typing. The meaning and weight of each topic is the best it can be.

When you do that as well, the map is clear and the content will start to work for you.

So these are 3 tips you can use to get started in making computer mindmaps as well.

Enjoy the creation of your next map!

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