Mind Mapping with FreeMind (Review)

FreeMind – free mind mapping software

FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map) software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click « fold / unfold » and « follow link » operations.

So you want to write a completely new metaphysics? Why don’t you use FreeMind? You have a tool at hand that remarkably resembles the tray slips of Robert Pirsig, described in his sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance called Lila. Do you want to refactor your essays in a similar way you would refactor software? Or do you want to keep personal knowledge base, which is easy to manage? Why don’t you try FreeMind? Do you want to prioritize, know where you are, where you’ve been and where you are heading, as Stephen Covey would advise you? Have you tried FreeMind to keep track of all the things that are needed for that?

Did FreeMind make you angry? Write a complaint (http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=320014).


See Download.

Get yourself what more than 5 000 users download each day. stats (http://sourceforge.net/project/stats/detail.php?group_id=7118&ugn=freemind&type=prdownload&mode=60day&package_id=0)

Project news

See more at News.

FreeMind has made it into the final 12 in both the « Best Project » and « Best Project for Educators » categories.

New Test Version FreeMind 0.9.0 beta19 available (http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=7118&package_id=188772) (21 Jul 2008). For the overview of new features, see the wiki page dedicated to the new version.

FreeMind 0.8.1, a bug fix release, has been released on 27.2.2008. See also the old overview of features in 0.8.0 (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/docs/features/0_8_0/Features%200.8.0.html).


To run FreeMind, do one of the following.

  • in Windows, double click Freemind.exe, or
  • on any operating system, double click freemind.jar in the lib/ folder of the folder in which FreeMind has been installed.

Getting a taste of FreeMind

You can view mind maps created with FreeMind now in your web browser, if you have Java 1.4 installed.

Map Note

Error: Mind Map file Freemind.mm not found

Shown as a mind map, using a Java applet with around 700 KB.
Mind Map Gallery Mind maps contributed by FreeMind users, embedded into this wiki.
Daniel’s public map (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/PublicMaps.html) Some bookmarks and remarks.
Daniel’s public map (HTML) (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/PublicMaps-exported.html) Map exported into HTML; some bookmarks and remarks.


See more in Screenshots.
FreeMind-computer-knowledge-thumb.png (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/FreeMind-computer-knowledge.png) FreeMind-learning-german-thumb.png (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/FreeMind-learning-german.png)
FreeMind-freemind-development-thumb.png (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/FreeMind-freemind-development.png) FreeMind-my-health-thumb.png (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/FreeMind-my-health.png)

Uses of FreeMind

Current users of FreeMind use it for the following purposes:

  • Keeping track of projects, including subtasks, state of subtasks and time recording
  • Project workplace, including links to necessary files, executables, source of information and of course information
  • Workplace for internet research using Google and other sources
  • Keeping a collection of small or middle sized notes with links on some area which expands as needed. Such a collection of notes is sometimes called knowledge base.
  • Essay writing and brainstorming, using colors to show which essays are open, completed, not yet started etc, using size of nodes to indicate size of essays. I don’t have one map for one essay, I have one map for all essays. I move parts of some essays to other when it seems appropriate.
  • Keeping a small database of something with structure that is either very dynamic or not known in advance. The main disadvantage of such approach when compared to traditional database applications are poor query possibilities, but I use it that way anyway – contacts, recipes, medical records etc. You learn about the structure from the additional data items you enter. For example, different medical records use different structure and you do not have to analyze all the possible structures before you enter the first medical record.
  • Commented internet favorites or bookmarks, with colors and fonts having the meaning you want.


Apart from other things, this release of FreeMind features:

  • Fully functional following of HTML links stored in the nodes, be it www links or links to local files.
  • From very early versions, Freemind supports folding which is its essential property.
  • Fast one-click navigation, including folding / unfolding on one click and following links on one click at the same time (you don’t have to make choice between fast following of links and fast fold/unfold). You can move the map by dragging the map’s background as well as using mouse wheel.
  • Undo
  • Smart Drag’n Drop, including the possibility to copy nodes or copy style of nodes; dragging and dropping of multiple selected nodes; dropping of texts or list of files from outside
  • Smart copying and pasting into, including pasting of links from HTML or structuring the pasted content on the basis of the number of leading spaces in a line; pasting of lists of selected files
  • Smart copying and pasting from, including plain text and RTF (MS Wordpad, MS Word, MS Outlook messages).
  • Export of map to HTML, with folding (see example (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/PublicMaps-exported.html))
  • Find facility, where found items are shown one by one as you do « find next », and the map is unfolded only for the current item.
  • Possibility to use and edit long multiline nodes; even with newlines
  • Possibility to decorate nodes with built-in icons, colors and different fonts.
  • Low costs of risk of switching away to another mind mapping tool, because FreeMind stores maps in XML format. If you have a lot of maps created by FreeMind and you want to switch to another program, writing a conversion program should be easy, especially if that program features Visual Basic scripting facility. Christoph Rissner describes in his article (http://krottmaier.cgv.tugraz.at/docs/seminar/sem2002_mindmaps.pdf) at IICM site (http://krottmaier.cgv.tugraz.at/veranstaltungen/seminar/abgeschlossen.html) his implementation (http://krottmaier.cgv.tugraz.at/docs/seminar/sem2002_mindmaps.tar.gz) of data exchange between FreeMind and MindManager.
  • File mode enables you to browse the files on your computer, seeing the folder structure as mind map.
  • See more details in Freemind development tree (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/Freemind-development.html)

Weak spots include:

  • The support of pictures in nodes is in preliminary stage. When you want to carry a map around with you, you have to take care that you take the image files with you.
  • FreeMind is basically one user application. Although users can in principle work on the same map, there is only preliminary locking mechanism to prevent conflicts, at the time, switched off by default.
  • In rare cases, following of HTML links in the web browser does not work on some computers; the same holds for opening local files.
  • Limited support for fancy graphics.


FreeMind is a free software (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software), licenced under GPL – GNU General Public License (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html). Basically, that means that you are free to use FreeMind to whatever you want without paying for that, and that any code derived from current FreeMind’s code must also be licenced under GPL. FreeMind is also open source software (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_software).

Get help from other users

Ask a question on FreeMind’s Help (http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=22102) forum. Also, consider looking at the collection of asked questions, using the search function of your browser. If you’re unlike most of computer users, you may also consider reading the documentation, accessible from the menu Help > Documentation; press Ctrl + F to search through the documentation. For Linux users, FreeMind on Linux page may be helpful.


See detail in Documentation.

Documentation available includes the following.

Alternatives to using FreeMind

See detail in Alternatives to FreeMind.

To achieve that which FreeMind offers, you can use variety of tools.

Authors and contributors

See detail in Authors and contributors.

Several people have substantially contributed to the development of FreeMind, including the following.

  • Jörg Müller
  • Daniel Polansky
  • Petr Novak
  • Christian Foltin
  • Dimitry Polivaev

Many other people have contributed.


FreeMind team uses:

Do you want to reward authors for their work?

Drop us a line saying that you like FreeMind. You can do it on our Thank you for the music (http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=320015) forum – just start a new thread and click « Post commment »; it’s really easy. We are always glad to read that someone finds FreeMind useful. This definitely increases our motivation. Also, we appreciate to read what attracts you on FreeMind, and what is your most important case of use of FreeMind.

Please, address any questions with problems to the Help (http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=22102) forum.


What users say about FreeMind includes the following.

Andrea, 25.7.2008: I rediscovered Freemind last week while my proposal for a multi million USD contract was being reviewed in a tender in a ministry. The reviewer was keeping all details under perfect control at lightspeed, giving hard times to us proposers noticing every single missing or glitch in our documents.

How could he be doing this?

I just asked: mind mapping software was the response. He made a big mind map of the whole proposal and checked all the nodes one by one. As easy as this.

Well, I was fascinated, after passing the tender review (YESSSSSSS!!!) I just browsed my PC where freemind was sitting quiet since a couple of years. I just launched it and applied it to my current project: a BIG software system delivery to an important bank.

Guys, in 3 days I made a perfect job in tracking activities, preparing project status meeting, todo lists, reports, software test result diagrams… I’m just amazed.

>From now on I’ll use it for everything.

Thanks for this precious piece of software.

Rich, 14.4.2004: First off, congratulations on a truly awesome application with a fantastically intuitive interface… I thought I’d spend 10 minutes evaluating it but I had so much fun I ended up playing for hours – I even missed lunch!

Daniel, 1.2.2003: How do I know that FreeMind is a high productivity tool? The answer is I don’t. I am using FreeMind on daily basis and am very satisfied with the benefits it brings me. What I really consider important is that when I use FreeMind, most of the time I don’t have to ask myself « how do I do this thing in FreeMind », but I rather just do what I need without thinking about it. FreeMind makes my task of collecting, organizing and analyzing information on a given topic much easier.

James, 14.10.2002: Now, having tried out the new release, I can tell you: It’s brilliant! Well done!

Henning, 21.11.2002: I recently started using FreeMind and I’m rather delightet. After getting to known it, it immediately became one of my every-day-use-tools.

Joe, 20.1.2003: I downloaded Freemind several months ago and it has become a vital part of my daily activites. I am enormously grateful for the program.

Paul, 9.2.2003: What a splendid piece of work!

Tom, 13.2.2003: I appreciate version 6.1 very much. Having the DnD capability into and out of my emails has now made Freemind the source document for my management work. 6.1 is stable, simple and elegant in text, lines, and manipulation. I prefer such elegance to commercial versions because I have work to do, not time to make things look better. This is a superb complexity organizer.

I also use it at home to capture my martial arts learning as I head towards a black belt. I put in the basic movements and the katas or arranged groups of movements. I use that when I practice at home.

Perry, 10.4.2003: I have been using FreeMind for two or three months now, and find it totally indispensable! I simply can’t say enough good things about how it has helped me get on top of an overwhelming workload. I’ve tried task managers and project managers ad-nauseam, and they are either too simplistic or too cumbersome.

See more of positive reactions on Thank you for the music (http://sourceforge.net/forum/forum.php?forum_id=320015) forum.


So you want to know what electronic press has to say about FreeMind? FreeMind has been reviewed in the following articles and blogs.

See more at marketing page.

More pages

This website also features the following pages.

Forums ~ Requests for enhancements ~ Import and export to other applications ~ Flash browser ~ FreeMindPDA ~ Freemind Win Collab ~ Sandbox ~ Documentation efforts ~ Plugins ~ Short patches ~ Tutorial effort ~ User.properties

Mind Mapping with FreeMind (Review)

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