Software Review – FreeMind

FreeMind is a cool Open Source mind-mapping software application that works the way your mind does. The premise behind the software is that our human minds don’t organize thoughts in lists so much as it organizes in clusters of related thoughts.

Remember when you had to type your first term paper, and your instructor suggested that your write each thought on a notecard–then organize the notecards in logical piles? That’s akin to what FreeMind does: When you launch it, you start by creating a blank slate (or “mind map” using FreeMind’s lingo). You add a thought (or “node”) by pressing the Insert key and adding a descriptive label. Labels can be very short, or fairly long. Here’s a screenshot of what one of my recent mind maps looks like:

There’s no limit to the number of sub-nodes and/or thoughts you can add within a node–just pop open the node, press the Insert key, and type away.

I prefer to assign a different background color to each node, but you could choose to skip specifying background colors, if you prefer. For that matter, you can choose to not envelope nodes with a border. For me, the cloud shape around each node helps keep me focused. Here’s what a node looks like when you expand it…

To minimize a node, just click on the node label again, and it’ll shrink back down to its original size. You can also set up nodes as hyperlinks–so that when you click on them, they’ll pop open PDF files, spreadsheets and the like.

For more information, or to download and install FreeMind, visit http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

If you’d like help getting FreeMind installed on your workstation or network, feel free to contact me.

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