Software Review: MindGenius

Reviewed by James Manktelow, CEO, Mind Tools


MindGenius is a software-based drawing tool used to draw high quality Mind Maps and Mind Map-related diagrams. Gael Ltd, the creators of MindGenius, claim that it can also be used in Brainstorming, SWOT Analysis, Project Management and a range of approaches to problem solving and decision making. Given the closeness of these claims to the core themes of Mind Tools, we’ve decided to review it.

What I Was Looking For...

I’m going to start by saying that I use Mind Maps extensively in my day-to-day work as a way of taking notes when researching articles or books, and for thinking through questions or exploring ideas. As a way of taking notes or brainstorming, Mind Mapping is hugely powerful: partly in the way it allows me to condense notes that would spread over many pages; partly in the way it clearly shows the structure and organization of a topic; and partly in the way it shows the way that pieces of information fit together.

And in starting this review, I was conscious that there are many things that can substitute for Mind Mapping tools like MindGenius.

At the most primitive level, it’s very easy to buy an artist’s sketch pad, and draw your own Mind Maps. Mind Mapping on paper gives you tremendous flexibility, but paper mind maps can quickly become untidy, need frequent redrafting, and suffer from all the limitations of paper-only documents.

On another level, software like MSWord can be useful in brainstorming and note-taking, but does not easily give the spatial organization of information that’s so important in Mind Mapping. And on a third level, drawing packages like Corel Draw can help you create beautiful Mind Maps, however they require slow, tedious assembly of low-level graphic elements to give the finished product.

Must be Clearly Better Than the Alternatives

For MindGenius to be worth using, it must be clearly better than all these different approaches:

  • It must produce smarter, better looking diagrams than can be produced on paper, and must have all of the benefits of storability, ease-of-distribution and ease of management offered by computer-based documents;
  • It must give the full spatial benefits and flexibility of layout that paper-based Mind Maps give, thereby clearly beating other categories of software; and
  • It must be quick and easy-to-use, giving professional-looking diagrams without the tedious hard work needed with conventional drawing packages.

So what I was looking for was a flexible, highly-intuitive program, which produces high quality computer-based output with a minimum of fuss.

Easy Operation - Fast and Intuitive

And that’s what I got with MindGenius.

Before downloading, I had a number of doubts about how easy it would be to use. For example, how quickly could data be entered? How easy would it be to reorganise my Mind Maps, for example by pruning information from one part of the chart and grafting it elsewhere? And so on.

However, using MindGenius was fast, obvious and intuitive. Data entry was quick and easy, with it being possible to create and manage mind maps with the barest minimum of control key strokes and mouse movements. Moving and reorganizing branches was accomplished by simple drag and drop mouse action. And as I added information, the map structure flexed and adapted automatically, preserving plenty of white space and keeping the layout clean and elegant.

A minor gripe was that I had to experiment before I figured out that you had to double click on an item to edit it (there should have been an edit item on the right click menu). But in general, the ease of operation was such that throughout this review I did not have to look at the help system once – this shows how intuitive the software is.

Use With "Mind Tools"

My next area of interest was in what could be achieved with MindGenius from a techniques perspective. MindGenius is great as a Mind Mapping tool, however I wanted to test out Gael’s marketing claims about the range of “mind tools” it supports. We look at these below:

  • Mind Mapping: We’ve already said that MindGenius is a very, very good Mind Mapping package. It’s easy, elegant and intuitive, a pleasure to use, and it produces high quality output (click here to see the mind map I created in researching this article). There’s no need to say any more;
  • Brainstorming: And as Mind Mapping is a great technique for conducting and recording a brainstorming session, it’s great for Brainstorming too;
  • Decision Making: Gael’s claims for decision making need to be taken “with a pinch of salt”: MindGenius is great for mapping out and exploring alternatives, which is an important part of the decision making process. However, it does not provide crunchy, quantitative decision support in the way that, say, Excel does;
  • Project Management: Again, MindGenius does not provide a substitute for the heavy duty, big project scheduling capabilities of MSProject, however it does provide a useful tool for management of smallish projects, and helps with initial identification of tasks;
  • SWOT Analysis: MindGenius does provide a good, quick, flexible, easy tool for SWOT Analysis, however it’s only marginally better than can be achieved with MSWord;
  • Six Thinking Hats: MindGenius is great for techniques like Six Thinking Hats – the way it supports this sort of quick evolution and extension of ideas is unparalleled;
  • Impact Analysis and Cause & Effect Analysis: And again, its approach is great for these too: The standard templates it includes for these techniques make them extremely quick and simple to use.

MindGenius is not going to replace analytical tools like Microsoft Excel. Nor can it match the sheer scheduling power of Microsoft Project.

However, it is superb for situations and techniques involving the evolution and recording of ideas, and it presents the structure of these ideas cleanly and elegantly. As a tool for the support of creative idea generation, it is unparalleled.

And given its interfaces to Microsoft Office products, it has the potential (as Gael point out) to be a great creativity front-end to MS Office.

Download and Purchase:

I downloaded the 21-day trial version of MindGenius from the Gael Ltd website. Download was easy and straight-forward, and installation was simple. It’s good to have this trial period, as it gives plenty of time to explore the product's capabilities and make up one's own mind about it.

I was less impressed by the purchase process, which wasn’t as well thought through, and had some irritating glitches within it. While I persevered and made my payment, Gael need to improve the way they collect the licence fee.

In Conclusion…

However in conclusion, I strongly like MindGenius. As a Mind Mapping tool, it’s extremely intuitive, fast and convenient, and from now on, this will be the tool I use routinely.

It is also extremely effective for techniques like Brainstorming, SWOT analysis, Six Thinking Hats, Impact Analysis and Cause & Effect Analysis, which is a real pleasure to see.

Try it for yourself – it will add real power to your creative thinking.

Click here for the MindGenius 21-day trial.



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