It’s 20 years ago or so and this pilot fish is at a client’s site fixing something, when the office manager asks if he could double-check the office backup as long as he’s there. Sure, says fish. Office manager then puts a tape in the tape drive of his PC and double-clicks an icon, after which a black window flashes on screen, but just for a fraction of a second.
“That’s it!” says the office manager. “Fast, huh?” This doesn’t pass fish’s smell test — how much data could possibly be backed up in less than a second? So he tells the OM, Let me take another look. He peers closely as that screen flashes up briefly once again.
And he sees that it says: “Bad command or filename.”
Mind maps are one of the best known logical organization tools. It’s a graphic representation of connections between concepts and ideas. The idea starts from a central topic, and we gradually connect them with different branches and label it with notes, symbols, pictures, links, and more.
When you create a map, you elaborate on existing knowledge structure and their relation to new concepts. Gradually, you’ll start connecting the dots and also recall information quickly. Let’s look at the top free or inexpensive mind map apps that give you great value for your money.
How to Pick a Mind Map Tool
Choosing a mind map software depends a lot on your needs. With so many apps available in the market, it’s not an easy task. These factors shown on a mind map will help you decide
Coggle is an online tool for creating, sharing mind maps and flow charts. The app lets you and your team collaborate on notes, brainstorming sessions, and plans to complete your projects efficiently. Every mind map starts with a single central topic.
Click the Plus (+) button to add a branch and enter your text in the box. You can also format your text, insert links, add images, and icons to elaborate on your key points. Continue adding branches as much as you want. Right-click on any item to explore more features.
With a free account, you can create three private diagrams, collaborate in real-time, and upload unlimited images. The export options include TXT, PDF, and JPEG. Check out the pricing page to explore premium features.
Add multiple central nodes in a single workspace. The app also supports keyboard shortcuts to create mind maps quickly.
View the entire version history of the mind map. You can check who last edited the map along with the date.
Message team members, leave notes, and chat in real-time to develop ideas.
Create loops and branches to connect other mind maps and see relationships.
GitMind is a free, online mind map tool. It lets you visualize complicated concepts, generate new ideas, make lists with task priorities, and prepare for a presentation. To get started, type in the topic name, right-click and choose Insert node. Then type your text in the box.
With GitMind, you can assign a task priority and progress meter with symbols. Also, add images and comments without cluttering the node.
Choose Insert subnode to create sub-branches. Then click the Relation line to show the relationship between specific ideas. You can export a finished mind map as text, PNG, JPEG, PDF, or SVG.
Intuitive with a well-designed toolbar. Keyboard shortcuts help you quickly create a mind map.
Day and night themes are available. Modify mind maps with custom lines, border color, transparency, shape, and thickness.
Arrange the mind map in five different layouts and reset them at any time.
Share the mind map you created with a link or collaborate with other people in real-time.
Canva is a web-based graphic design app that makes it easy to create mind maps. Equipped with ready-to-use templates and toolset, you can create beautiful mind maps without any effort.
Enter the term “mind map” in the search field, and within a few seconds, you’ll see many different templates. The built-in tools allow you to edit photos, customize text, background, and more in your mind map. The export options include PNG, JPEG, and PDF.
The free account gives you 1GB of free storage space, access to 8,000 templates, image uploads, and collaboration with ten members. Check out the Canva’s pricing page for more details.
Powerful drag and drop editor with a vast selection of tools and templates.
Embed the mind map and share it on social media or email it right from the app. You can also collaborate in real-time.
Insert pictures, embed videos from YouTube, TED, links from the web or Twitter, and GIF from Giphy.
Use symbols, color codes, speech bubbles, and icons for informative presentations.
Traditional mind mapping tools are hierarchical. When you start creating complex linkages, they quickly get confusing and unusable. But with this app, you can join multiple ideas, and yet it adjusts your map dynamically to an elegant layout. You click a topic, and everything re-arranges around it automatically.
The app lets you build a mind map from scratch. You can import notes, links, images, and attach it to any item or a relation. There is also an option to integrate it with a data source to automatically create a mind map from text files, Wikipedia articles, and Twitter tweets.
To get started, type in the topic name and click New Item. For each topic, type a name and add a description. You can add descriptive linking phrases on relationship lines and select colors, dotted or solid lines. Or even customize the style of the ends, with or without arrows.
Insert multiple items, edit or delete them, and use drag-and-drop for moving relations.
Toggle between a 2D and 3D displaying mode and also show or hide cross-connections.
Build a map from MediaWiki, including all the sister Wikipedia sites. You can also import outlines, CSV, RDF, XSD, and more.
Generate flashcards to memorize items practice with quiz sessions.
Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Windows 10 ($10)
Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Mac ($9)
Download: InfoRapid KnowledgeBase Builder for Android ($11) | iOS ($9)
Sketchboard is an online digital whiteboard app that allows you to mind map with sketches. The board comes with a wide variety of pre-designed icons for use in software diagrams, mind maps, roadmaps, and more. Drag and drop the icons from the shape gallery and type in the topic name.
To create a connection, hold the Shift key and double-click to create a sibling. Double-click the empty area to create sub-branches.
Then use the toolbar to change size, color, or add text. With a free account, you can create three private boards with up to five members. Check out the Sketchboard pricing page for more details.
The drawing board has an unlimited canvas; drag the canvas area to get more space for mind mapping.
Mix and match ideas with shapes, freehand drawings, notes, and roadmap.
Do a live chat group discussion to share your design, add-on board comments, and share links. If you’re a Slack user, you can create visual messages right inside Slack.
Export board as SVG, PNG, and PDF.
Edraw MindMaster is a cross-platform and multi-functional mind mapping software. The app offers an interface similar to Microsoft Office. On the ribbon, you’ll find all the key mind map elements. You can insert topics, pictures or clip art, draw relationship lines, add notes, and more.
The left panel is your canvas, and in the right sidebar, you’ll find options to adjust the content, change the appearance of your diagrams, add a background, tasks, view and export outlines, and more. There’s a handy color strip below the canvas to set the line and fill color.
The app offers a vast library of ready-made templates, vector diagrams, and clip art to infuse creativity.
Automatically create slides by disassembling your mind map into separate branches. Add notes, background, design to the slides, and export them as PPT or PDF.
Store files in Edraw cloud storage for access and collaboration on the move
Use a handy Gantt Chart mode to visualize and track progress on any project.
Picking the right mind map before you adapt to its workflow is not easy. The apps discussed above are a starting point if you want to jump into the benefits of mind maps. Most of these apps are free (or relatively inexpensive) and do not have a steep learning curve.
I’ve seen somewhere around 35 autumns so far, and let me tell you: raking leaves by hand doesn’t build that much character. So screw all that noise and make some louder noise with one of these leaf blowers.
I love autumn sounds: the gusty winds, the crush of dead leaves, the constant, mechanical howl of leaf blowers. I like to think of them as robot wolves. I also used to pretend the highway I lived next to was a machine river. I’m a weird dude.
The point is: fall looks pretty amazing, as the summer greenery turns from yellow to orange to shocks of red. Then all of those colors hit the ground and become brown, noisome trash. It’s nature’s garbage salad—sent to whet our appetites for the oncoming dirty-snow entree.
Anyway, you could spend a lot of your time with rake in hand, like one of our dumb ancestors, or you could be a wild future human with a Ghost Busters backpack who banishes leaf ghosts to your neighbor’s yard by harnessing the power of mechanical wind. That choice is yours.
My aim is to make that choice at least a bit easier by suggesting four leaf blowers, each of which does the job differently, for different people, for different amounts of money.
What to Look for in a Leaf Blower
As with loads of other motorized gear, you’re going to be looking either at electric or gas-powered blowers, and each has its pros and cons. Gas-powered blowers give you more power paired with portability, but you, like, also have to buy gas and generally perform more regular maintenance on the motor. Also, the blower’s going to smell like gas, which isn’t a big deal if you’re keeping it in the garage, but if it’s something you’re keeping inside a truck, or tucked away in the house somewhere, that’s going to make some smells, or possibly leak onto upholstery. Gas blowers also require you to fight a pull cord to get it started, meaning you might get pissed off before you even begin your leaf blowing in earnest.
Electric blowers, on the other hand, are lower maintenance, easier to start, and don’t smell like gas. The downside is, if you want them to have comparable power, then they generally need to be plugged into a power source. Portable electric blowers are going to be more limited in terms of power output, and you’ll get diminishing returns as the battery loses its charge.
As for output, two main factors determine how much it can blow: airspeed and volume (in cubic feet per minute, or CPM). Some blowers blow a huge volume of air, but at a relatively lower airspeed, and that’s still pretty good. Others blow at high speeds, but with a lesser volume, and that can be the result of a smaller tube diameter. Think of it like a garden hose: put your finger in it, and less water will come out at a faster speed. Take your finger out, and a higher volume of water comes out, albeit at a lower speed. If you’re covering a vast area, you might want a blower with decent airspeed, but a ton of volume output. If you’re blasting out the corners of your garage, that volume might be less critical than airspeed.
Best Overall: Hitachi RB24EAP
I hope you like model names that look like automatically generated passwords because four out of four leaf blowers have alphanumeric model designations. Instead of calling this blower the “Hitachi Frond-Bomber” or whatever, it’s the Hitachi RB24EAP. Hey, that’s fine. I don’t care.
The point is, the Hitachi R-whatever totally blows (that’s a good thing for this list), but without being hard to use or a significant cash investment. It’ll spit out air at up to 170 mph at 441 CFM, weighs only 8.6 lbs, and is notably easy to start. For a gas-powered blower, this is important, especially if you’re old enough to hurt yourself getting mad at a pull-cord and yanking it angrily, over and over, and your shoulder doesn’t work so well anymore. In my experience, that age comes immediately after your peak, right around the early 30s.
In short, this is an easy-to-start, easy-to-use, handheld gas blower that still delivers on power and volume without being super expensive. Notably, 83 percent of the over 3,000 Amazon customers who’ve reviewed the Hitachi R-etc. gave it four or five stars, and I won’t argue with those numbers.
Gas-powered, easy to use, and powerful, the Hitachi RB24EAP is one of the most popular blowers out there, and will probably suit most jobs for most people, most of the time.
Best Premium: Husqvarna 965877502 350BT
Man, if you thought IKEA was the most Swedish company with the least comprehensible product names, then you thought wrong. The Husqvarna 965877502 350BT‘s name makes about as much sense to me as a European phone number. That’s OK—I doubt I’d be able to say whatever name they would’ve given it in Svenska.
Take a look at the above photo: this here Husqvarna is a gas-powered backpack model—objectively, the most self-empowering sort of leaf blower there is. You will feel Njord’s (Norse god who rules over wind) power in your hands (and on your back), as you absolutely shred your dead leaves with 180 mph winds and an air volume of 494.41 CFM. That’s enough wind to blow the will to reanimate right out of a draugr’s husk. Yes, I played a lot of Skyrim in 2011.
This is, of course, a more commercial/professional model, compared to the others on this list. That means it may not be super necessary or accessible for more casual users. For instance, the integrated pack is nice, but it also tells you something else: that this thing weighs 22.5 lbs because it’s bigger than the handhelds. It also costs the most. So, it’s not for everybody, but if you’ve got real big leaf problems, this might be your real big solution.
A nice bonus: this blower uses an X-torque engine, which can reduce exhaust emissions by up to 60 percent, and increase fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. Perhaps even nicer: it has vibration dampeners, so you don’t feel like you just stuck your finger in an electrical socket after a serious leaf-blowin’ session.
Best Budget: Sun Joe SBJ597E
Are you skeptical about a leaf blower that might cost you less than $20? Hey, I hear you. I also can’t ignore the fact that the Sun Joe SBJ597E has been pretty well received by Amazon users—about 95 percent of its over 1,000 reviewers have decided it’s a four-to-five-star blower.
I’m sure there are higher-quality “budget” blowers on the market. But, man, if you’ve got the sort of trivial leaf or dust problem that you need to fix—like a dirty garage or a patio behind your condo, and your leaf-problem budget is low as hell—the Sun Joe actually delivers a decent amount of power for the smaller jobs. You’ll need an extension cord (it’s a plug-in electric model), but that’s not a big deal since you won’t be using this guy for clearing acres of property on your estate. Spot-keeping a modest urban property, though, seems like this blower’s sweet zone.
It’s also more powerful than you’d think and is capable of blowing air at 155 mph. It won’t push the same volume of air as the others on this list (though, 260 CFM is better than you’d think), but that’s to be expected.
If the previous backpack model is like an industrial wet/dry vac, think of the Sun Joe SBJ597E as like the dustbuster of this list: it’ll clean up smaller spaces just fine. With corded electric power and an unnervingly low price point, this is the leaf blower for people who don’t want to have a leaf blower but need one some of the time.
Best Electric: DeWalt DCBL720P1
Let’s say you don’t want your leaf blower gas-powered or electric with a cord. Why? Perhaps for religious purposes, or maybe you’re one of those DeWalt guys who has all the tools and battery pack and chargers, and you want to keep it up with that.
The DeWalt DCBL720P1 is a brushless blower that makes use of that lithium-ion battery pack system to blow up to 400 CFM at up to 90 mph. That’s less speed than the other blowers on this list, which I suppose comes with the “battery-powered” territory, but a respectable air volume.
The bright side (as with all electric blowers) is way less maintenance, you don’t need gas, and no yanking on a pull cord. It’s an excellent choice for anyone who’s already bought into the DeWalt gear, as you’ll probably have 20V MAX 8Ah batteries and chargers kicking around. It seems like a good, easy way to blow away some of the mess you just made with your other DeWalt power tools, all using the same modular power source.
Plus, DeWalt is a pretty well-trusted name for industrious gadgetry. That name, by the way, means “of Walt” in French.
There are loads of electric leaf blowers, but the DeWalt DCBL720P1 stands apart as a high-quality cordless model that’ll use the same modular batteries you might already have if you’ve got other DeWalt products. Airspeed is relatively low, but still about 20 mph faster than a tropical storm wind. Air volume is also pretty good, at 400 CFM.
Our thoughts rarely go from Point A to Point B in a straight line. More likely, they flit about like a firefly caught in a jar. This is where a tool like a Mind Map comes in use.
A mind map is simply a diagram that helps to connect related ideas or concepts around a central thought. It is a great idea-capturing device to bring some order to the chaos that’s our brain. A paper and pen is the easiest tool to get started on your first mind map. But today, we will take a shot at making a mind map with Microsoft Word.
Think of the central idea and write it down in the middle.
Think of related ideas and place them radially around the central idea. Connect all ideas with meaningful relationships. Use lines, colored lines, shapes, pictures, etc. to graphically describe ideas and relationships.
Leave lots of space between ideas because new filler ideas and relationships will come in as the mind map grows.
with the help of basic shapes and connectors. Extend it with icons, pictures, SmartArt, charts, or even videos. And the finished mind map in Word can become a professional document in its own right.
Step 1: Switch to Landscape Mode
The landscape mode gives the most horizontal area to work with. In a New Word Document, select Layout > Orientation > Landscape. If you want to finally print it, select the right Size in the Page Setup group.
Step 2: Combine Available Shapes in Word
Most of the tools we can use lie in the Illustrations group on the Insert tab. Click on Shapes which has all basic building blocks for a mind map.
You can use simple shapes like ovals or rounded rectangles to represent the central ideas. Then, label all shapes with a Text Box.
Stretch out and connect the shapes with lines and arrows to represent relationships.
Like all other elements, you can copy and paste shapes, thus helping to put down the main ideas rapidly as nodes and sub-nodes.
Step 3: Start Mapping With Shapes and Text Boxes
All elements can be elaborated using the full range of the Shape Styles. Drawing the first shape brings up the contextual Shape Format tab. The best thing is that a mouse-over on any tool gives us a live preview of how the diagram is turning out.
Step 4: Format Your Shapes
To change the properties of the shape, right-click on the selected shape and select Format Shape from the context menu.
Any options for Lines connects all the nodes and sub-nodes. Lines are also Shapes and their look or angles of rotation can be similarly changed from Format Shape or from the Ribbon (double click on the shape to bring up the Format tab).
Step 5: Label Shapes and Lines
You can label shapes and lines with text to define the relationships. However, in earlier versions, Microsoft Word limits text orientation to vertical or horizontal. In Word 2016 and 2019, go to Insert > Text > Text Box and insert a Simple Text Box, which you can subsequently rotate to your preferred angle.
Mind maps can be illustrated with images sourced from your desktop or online. Instead of pictures, you can also tap into Icons to represent processes and workflows.
Go to Ribbon > Insert > Illustrations Group > Icons.
While inserting images or icons, use the corner handles to define the size of the image. You can also adjust the transparency and colorize the icons to match them with the color theme of your mind map.
Step 6: Add Notes and Links to Your Word Mind Map
Creating a mind map in Word can be extended by adding hyperlinks to external sources. But what if you want to add more detailed notes to the mind map?
A workaround to add notes or attachments within the Microsoft Word file is not there, though you can use OneNote to make Linked Notes.
The OneNote Linked Notes feature allows you to dock OneNote on one side of the open Word document and take notes. Whatever notes you take in OneNote gets “linked” to the particular Word document.
To start taking Linked Notes in Word, go to Ribbon > Review > Linked Notes.
OneNote will open next to your mind map and ask you to pick a Notebook, Section, and Page for your new note with the Select Location dialog box. Choose a new page or an existing page to begin.
Start your notes in the OneNote window on the right. OneNote embeds a thumbnail image of the page, a text excerpt, and a link to the document the note is linked to. You can click on the thumbnail to open the associated mind map anytime.
To stop your note-taking session, go to the upper-right corner of the docked OneNote window. Click the chain link icon, and then choose Stop Taking Linked Notes.
Microsoft Word as a Mind Mapping Tool
Microsoft Word (and even Microsoft PowerPoint) is useful as a rapid tool for building a mind map. It’s more flexible than pen and paper because you can easily update it by adding or rearranging the topics.
You can copy it to the other Office programs and if need be, even print it out. Presenting it with PowerPoint or email sharing are added options.
But make no mistake—Microsoft Word is not a dedicated tool for mindmaps.
Mind mapping tools like FreeMind have greater flexibility. Just to cite one feature, it’s not possible to collapse and open the branch nodes in Microsoft Word. But, the crux of the matter is that Microsoft Word can make mind maps and we have shown you how to make one.