Review: MindManager 9 for Mac OS X

Mind mapping has just become more efficient on the Mac with MindManager 9, but the application is not yet on par with the Windows version. Some of the features available in the Windows version wouldn’t make sense on a Mac, but some others would. Regardless, the new version has a true Lion interface and features that support brainstorm processes like never before.

I’m not much of a brain stormer. Talking to oneself is not very effective in getting opposite views and ideas exposed, but even for loners like myself, MindManager 9 can make a difference. It sure is an efficient and now also nicely designed mind mapping tool. Let’s start with my favourite new feature: Quick Entry Mode. Quick Entry Mode is like typing tags in a window. The interface is meant to limit your abilities in such a way that you can concentrate on quickly entering terms and very short sentences, and later drag all of them to the min map window.

IT Enquirer rating

8.5/10
URL: mindjet.com

Pros
  • quick entry mode
  • export capabilities
  • project management features
  • printing parts of maps
Cons
  • lacks features of the Windows version, such as synchronised Gantt charts, multi-map view, and guided brainstorming
Price (approx.): €22.50

Quick Entry Mode is pretty effective at ‘loosening’ your thoughts so that subconscious thoughts can come to the surface. It’s like free association with the twist that you can actually use only what is relevant for your map.

Second nice improvement is the icon and image make-over. Icons, styles and buttons, are all much more OS X and less Windows. Still, to be honest, these could be further improved and made even more eye-candy like, but I think MindJet will need to hire a Mac designer like the IconFactory guys to make that happen.

Third best improvement in my opinion, is the ability to open multiple Inspectors. Lacking a tear off feature, the Inspector normally has one focus only. With multiple Inspectors, you can focus on Markers in the first and Styles in the second. MindJet chose this approach above the Adobe Creative Suite one — you either love it or hate it, but you can’t deny it’s better.

Better also is the availability of a Formatting Toolbar, which should have been there since version 7 or so, really. Now it’s there, and it makes your life so much more comfortable.

Selecting map elements and creating and saving filter rules has become much more intuitive. The Filter feature can be called “Smart Selections” for all I care, because it is based on criteria that you save and can use over and over again to zoom in on exactly those map parts you need.

Selecting map parts is more or less the same as filtering, and there’s one item in the Selection drop-down that refers to that: the “Edit Rules” option is available in this menu as well as in the Filter menu. It’s the same functionality and therefore one of these two menus could be scrapped altogether. Why not merge Filters and Selections together in one Selection menu?

Import and export became more powerful. Pages and Microsoft Word outlines can be imported in MindManager 9. Exporting is even more flexible. Pages, Word, but also PowerPoint and Keynote are supported, next to PDF, OPML, HTML, and images. You can export to Flash and PDF Viewer files as well, but you’ll need to be online, as this requires use of the MindJet conversion service.

Since you can export to Keynote and PowerPoint, there has to be a slider functionality, and sure enough there is one. Just select a map element and select “New Slide from topic” from the context menu. The topic and its children will be made into a slide. Inside MindManager 9 you can add transitions, but that’s not the main reason why you would run presentations inside MindManager. The major reason as far as I’m concerned would be that each slide really is just a part of your map; it remains fully dynamic — you can expand/collapse topics just as in the map itself. You can even edit topics right on the slide.

Finally, printing got a bit better too. The slide feature has the additional advantage that you can print parts of your map — viewed as a slide.