MindManager 9 for Mac review

MindManager 9 smooths the task of modelling projects and processes as mind maps with simple but useful new features. Foremost is the Quick Entry palette, which shoves all concern about a map’s structure aside in favour of brainstorming keywords and phrases at the earliest stage.

Type something, then press Return and a new tag appears in the palette. After brainstorming, tags can be dragged onto nodes to build a mind map. Node borders change colour to indicate whether a new sub-topic will be created or you’re about to append the keyword to a node’s label.

Hovering over a node doesn’t display a menu to choose whether to add a topic or a callout, you’ll need to work with menu items or keyboard shortcuts to do that. The Inspector window is used to flesh out each node’s detail with icons, task timings, web addresses and supplementary documents. You’re now able to open more than one Inspector, which means less clicking back and forth as you make refinements. The style of nodes and connecting lines doesn’t even need the Inspector any more, thanks to the formatting toolbar right above your mind map.

Rules allow complex maps to be viewed more clearly by filtering out unwanted detail. They are constructed with row-based criteria that look at the node attributes. They’re a cinch to set up because they work just like Smart Mailboxes in Mail.

Multiple Inspector windows give you direct access to many more tools, without having to keep clicking between tabs

A mind map, or part of it, can be turned into a slideshow to better communicate with people not involved in its creation. Any node’s detail can be turned into a slide from the right-click menu. The choice of how much detail is displayed is uniform across all slides, but you can export to Keynote and PowerPoint (2008 and 2011) to really stamp your mark on presentations.

OUR VERDICT

The ability to brainstorm before mapping and more directly access tools that add detail later on build on an already strong product. Upgrades aren’t cheap but are worthwhile if you’ve invested in an earlier version. First-time buyers should contrast features with affordable alternatives before making a commitment.

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