FreeMind 0.8.1 review

What the Java-based and open source FreeMind lacks in looks, it makes up in ability – especially when you consider that other fully featured programs like Mindjet MindManager cost $129 (£87).

FreeMind especially is handy for note-taking because as you create nodes – the building blocks of mind mapping – the program automatically arranges and tidies them up. But FreeMind doesn’t give you much freedom to rearrange your mind map.

Every mind map starts with a root node. Hit the tab key to create a child node, or select a child node and hit the return key to create a sibling node. Sometimes you’ll want to graphically tie nodes together without creating a hierarchical relationship between them. To create a graphic link, hold down shift-ctrl and then drag between nodes.

FreeMind also offers preliminary support for PNG, JPEG and GIF images in your mind maps. Note that a node can contain text or an image, not both. You can search within a node and in all of its descendant nodes. To search your entire mind map, simply select the top-level root node before searching.

FreeMind boasts a number of export and import options. In addition to exporting to HTML and XML formats, FreeMind can import MindManager mind maps. It also offers a “freemind browser” applet that lets people browse your mind maps on your website.

Though we did not experience any crashes with FreeMind, we did encounter frequent, frustrating hangs on the welcome screen when we launched it.

OUR VERDICT

FreeMind 0.8.1 may not deliver the user experience and interface you’ve come to expect on your Mac, but it does offer an abundance of features and capabilities at a price no one can argue with – absolutely free. If you’re a function-over-form type, FreeMind may be right for you. But if you find the application less than intuitive and want something simpler, check out a more user-friendly, no-cost mind mapping app like MindNode.

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