Here we review IthoughtsHD, an IOS app that has become an almost de-facto standard for mindmapping. Lets’s see why this mindmapper has become the app of choice for many.
Mindmapping is the process of adding notes, images and concepts to a central theme or topic. The central topic is usually denoted by a big circle in the middle of the page and the concepts related to that added as orbiting circles. Each orbiting circle can also have further sub topics. It is a great way to brainstorm and map out ideas related to any given theme. Since their original inception by Tony Buzan the techniques have come of age and have branched out to other areas such as for taking notes or even project management as the task hierarchy formed within the mindmap can also be aligned to project outline planning or even mindmap derived Gantt charts.
The arrival of handheld devices such as tablets has played to the strengths of mindmapping tools. The concept of dropping ideas into a mindmap diagram go hand in hand with the ability to do that wherever and whenever one wishes – now made possible with handheld computing devices. Which brings me to IthoughtsHD, for many the standard bearer of such mobile mindmapping devices. This app, designed for the IPad has siblings also covering Iphone and also OS X, so essentially spanning the Apple landscape. Let’s review the Ipad variant and see how it enables the process of getting stuff from your brain into a legible format.
The user interface is clean and clear with several buttons at the top for the various functions,
- Add new mindmap
- Add a sub topic
- Add a topic
- Add a comment
- Link topics
- Attach files
- Formatting and topic options
Within options there are various formatting options that can be pre-configured as shown in the screenshot below. In general everything was easy to use and easy to access, so no complaints on this front.
Features and Functionality
If only for brainstorming a mindmap app need only the most rudimentary of features. However, as noted in the Introduction their application scope has broadened. Here are a few noteworthy features in IthoughtsHD that cater towards those needs.
The ability to add images directly into the mindmap is a great asset to IthoughtsHD. The usual application I have for this feature is to be able to copy images from E-Books into the mindmap to complement notes I have taken from them. Furthermore, when the mindmap is exported to some other Mindmapping applications such as Mindmanager, the images go with them. So, this useful data is maintained across different mindmapping apps which for me is also critical.
It is possible to add task data into IthoughtsHD such as,
- Start and due dates
- Resource names
- Percent complete
So, in theory you could use it as an app for task tracking. I don’t think this feature is IthoughtsHD forte but neither is it in vain. If the mindmap is exported then to other apps custom designed for task tracking then the task information entered in IthoughtsHD could be utilized. Personally though, I would not use it for such purposes but I am sure some might!
This function takes the words entered in any given topic and uses them as web search terms. So, click the topic, hit the research button and it enters those terms in a browser window and up pop the related internet related items. A nice touch for those who use mindmaps as a basis for internet research.
I don’t use this function much but it is possible to link files used in other IPad applications to IthoughtsHD topics.
One feature I use a lot is the Notepad. This is viewable simple by dragging it down from the top menu bar. Often it is insufficient merely to have a few word topic entered. In many cases I wish to elaborate on the topic or paste additional comments and for that, the notepad comes in very handy.
Import and Export to other formats is an area where IthoughtsHD really excels. Not only can you export to standard fare such as images and MS Office, but also other Mindmapping applications so that you can continue editing on that other app or platform. The screenshot below shows the myriad of options available.
Another nice feature I like about it is the syncing feature it has for dropbox. Mindmaps can be created in IthoughtsHD, exported to whatever format you want and synced to Dropbox, then you can open another application and access those files in with another application in their native format. In my case I do it with Freemind and it works wonderfully.
You will have to search hard in this review to find a negative comment about IthoughtsHD. It is very difficult to find fault with this excellent app. Recommended and deserves a place among my preferred productivity apps.
For other mindmapping apps, check out the mindmapping resources page.