How to Create a Mind Map on a Mac


Mind maps are a great way to get your ideas out in a visual way. Today I will walk you through how to make a mind map on a Mac using MindNode.

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What is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a diagram that shows a hierarchical relationship between various components of the subject the mind map is covering. Mind maps are primarily composed of the following:

  • Main Node
  • Parent Nodes
  • Child Nodes
  • Connections

In this post, we will walk you through how to build a mind map using your Mac and an application called MindNode.

What is MindNode

MindNode is a mind mapping application made by IdeasOnCanvas. It is very good application for those starting to build mind maps as the user interface is very clean and easy to navigate. MindNode is available in the Mac App Store.

MindNode 6 link to Mac App Store

Getting Started with MindNode

Create a new MindNode Document

New Mind Map in MindNode

Open MindNode and press the keyboard command Command-N to create a new mind map document.

Changing the Name of the Parent Node in MindNode

Changing name of main node in MindNode

To change the name of the main node, double-click on the current name and type the new name and press “Enter”.

Adding Child Nodes to Nodes in MindNode

Adding child nodes to nodes is a key part of making a mind map. To add a child node:

Adding Child Nodes to Parent Node in MindNode
  1. Click on the parent (or main) node
  2. Press on the “+” button to the right of the node name
  3. Double click on the newly-created node and give it a name

The original node is now a parent node to this new node. The new node you just created is now a child node to the original node in step 1.

Adding External Images to MindNode

Adding an image to a node in MindNode

To add an image to your mind map in MindNode, simply drag your image onto the node where you want the image to be. The image should pop into place.

Selecting an image from Photos library in MindNode

Alternately, you could use the “add image” button on the top bar of the MindNode window. Pressing the “add image” button will bring up a pop-up box representing the Photos app user interface.

Adding Stickers to MindNode

MindNode supports the ability to add stickers to the nodes in MindNode. To add stickers to a node:

  1. Click on the stickers button
  2. Either scroll down to or type in the name of the sticker you want to use
  3. Drag the sticker from the pop-up window onto the node you want to add the sticker to
searching for a specific sticker to choose in MindNode

Adding Task circles to a Node

You can also add task circles to nodes in MindNode. Task circles are essentially checkboxes that allow child nodes of a node to have a checkbox next to them. To add task circles to a child nodes of a node:

Creating a task list from child nodes in MindNode
  1. Select the node you want to add task circles to the child nodes of
  2. Click on the “add/remove task” button
A checked-off task in MindNode

Task circles will now be added to child nodes. If you click on a task circle, it will display a checkmark inside it. To remove the task circles simply select the parent node and press the “add/remove task” button in the top bar of the MindNode window.

Creating a Connection between two Nodes in MindNode

Sometimes, nodes can have a relationship that you want to display in the mind map. This functionality is supported in MindNode and is very straight-forward to set up.

To setup a connection between two different nodes:

Creating a connection between two nodes in MindNode
  1. Select the first Node
  2. Press the “Create a connection” button. You will now be in connection mode
  3. Drag the connection to the node you want to connect to
  4. Click on the node you want to connect to
A connection between two nodes in MindNode

Your nodes now have a connection in MindNode. The default connection is a straight line. However, you can bend the connection line.

Bending a connection between two nodes in MindNode

To bend the connection line:

  1. Click on the turquoise circle in the middle of your connection
  2. Drag the circle to create the curve and release when done

Folding Nodes in MindNode

Sometimes you don’t want to view all the nodes of a given parent node. MindNode supports the ability to fold a node so that you don’t see its child nodes. To fold a parent node:

Folding Node button in MindNode
  1. Select the parent node
  2. Press the “fold/unfold” node button in the top icon bar of the MindNode window

The child nodes will disappear from the screen and will be replaced by an ellipsis (…). To unfold a parent node simply perform the same steps as above.

Focus Mode in MindNode

Similar to folding nodes, sometimes you want to focus on a very specific piece of the mind map on your screen.

Focus mode button in MindNode

To enable focus mode:

  1. Select to node you want to focus on
  2. Press the “Focus” button in the icon bar at the top of the MindNode window
Focus mode in MindNode

To leave focus mode simply redo the steps above.

Organizing Nodes in MindNode

Once you have added all of your nodes and connections to your mind map, it may not look very neat. Creating a mind map is an iterative process and it is very easy to look at your final creation and be a little sad about how it looks. Fortunately MindNode makes it extremely easy to rearrange nodes.

Move all nodes to the right

To move all of your nodes to the right side of the main parent node:

  1. Select all the Nodes (keyboard shortcut: Command-A)
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Move All Nodes to Right
Mind map with all nodes on right side of main node

All of your nodes should now be on the right side of the main parent node. To undo use the undo keyboard shortcut (Command-Z)

Move all nodes to the left

To move all of your nodes to the left side of the main parent node:

  1. Select all the Nodes (keyboard shortcut: Command-A)
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Move All Nodes to Left
All nodes on left of main node

All of your nodes should now be on the right side of the main parent node. To undo use the undo keyboard shortcut (Command-Z)

Balance Nodes in MindNode

Sometimes your mind map may seem unbalanced, with more nodes on one side than the other. Use the “Balance Nodes” function to fix this:

Enabling Balance Mode

To balance the nodes on each side of the main node:

  1. Select all the nodes (Command-A)
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Balance nodes
Balanced mind map

The nodes should be evenly distributed on each side of the main node.

Detaching a Node from a Parent Node

MindNode supports the ability to detach a child node from its parent node.

To detach a node:

selecting detach node
  1. Select the child node you want to detach
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Detach Node
a detached node in MindNode

The node will now be completely detached from any other node.

Attaching a Detached Node to a new Parent Node

To attach a detached node to a new parent node:

  1. Click and hold on the detached node
  2. Drag the node onto the new parent node and hold until the user interface changes
  3. Release the mouse button

Size to Fit Content

You can size total area of your mind map to fit the content of your mind map. To use the size to fit content functionality:

  1. Select all (keyboard shortcut: Command-A)
  2. Go to Node -> Size to Fit Content

You should notice your mind map content change a little. Personally I don’t use this function much but wanted to show it to you for sake of completeness.

Sort Nodes Alphabetically

You can sort your nodes alphabetically in MindNode. To sort alphabetically:

selecting Sort Nodes Alphabetically
  1. Select to parent node of the nodes you want to alphabetize.
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Sort Alphabetically
Tasks sorted alphabetically

Your child nodes should not be sorted alphabetically

Sort Nodes by Task State

If you are using the task functionality, you may want to sort those tasks by their state (i.e. on/off).

To sort your child tasks by state:

selecting sort tasks by task state
  1. Select the parent node of the child tasks
  2. Go to Node -> Organize -> Sort by Task State
sorted tasks by task state

The tasks will now be sorted by task state with the unchecked tasks appear first.

Manually Moving Nodes in MindNode

While MindNode offers a bunch of ways to move your nodes around, you will likely need to move some around manually as well.

To move a node:

  1. Select the node you want to move
  2. Click and drag the node to where you want it and release the mouse button
manually arranged nodes

Repeat as necessary to get the mind map to look the way you want.

Themes in MindNode

Each person wants their mind map to look a different way: different colors, tones, etc. MindNode has a bunch of pre-built themes you can apply to your mind map.

Theme button

To apply a new theme to your mind map:

Candyland theme
  1. Press the “Themes” button in the upper-left corner of the MindNode window
  2. Scroll through to the theme you want to apply and double-click on it
Mind map with new theme applied

The new theme should now be applied.

Adding Notes to a Node in MindNode

You can add notes to your MindNode nodes to provide further context. To add a note to a node:

Select the nodes, right click and select edit notes

Adding notes to node

Type in your notes.

adding a file attachment to the note

OPTIONAL: Add a file attachment to the note by pressing the “Link…” button and selecting the file

How to View an Outline of your Mind Map in MindNode

MindNode supports the ability to view your mind map as an outline. To view your mind map as an outline:

selecting outline from menu
  1. Go to View -> Outline (or use keyboard shortcut: Command-5)
Outline in MindNode

An outline of your mind map will now be displayed on the right hand side of the MindNode window. To toggle off the outline simply press Command-5 again.

Summary

The inspiration for this blog post

Mind mapping can really help you get your ideas out and see how all the elements of your idea relate to each other. By being such a visual medium, mind maps allow you to work through these relationships and potentially uncover new insights. MindNode for Mac is a great tool for getting started making mind maps on the Mac.


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