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FreeMind is a free program that allows the creation of mental and conceptual maps.
Mind maps allow us to represent ideas using diagrams. These maps are very useful to sketch out ideas and concepts. Are commonly used to summarize and memorize information more easily. This type of maps is frequently used by students and professionals who need to present ideas to other people.
These diagrams can be easily draw with pencil and paper, but thanks to information technology, we can design more colorful and professionals diagrams, in a simple way.
The use of FreeMind is simple. In window's central part is where we will create the mental map. To do this, we must add nodes to the central node. The nodes can be added as a child, sibling or parent. To add nodes we can use the specific icon on the main menu, or use the available keyboard shortcuts.
We can apply styles to nodes: bold, italic, font size, color, etc. This allows to highlight the important parts of the map.
We can also add annotations to nodes that will be visible when we click on the node. This is very useful for further information and to explain more extensively the meaning of the node.
We can also add password encrypted nodes, which can only be deployed if the user knows the pass to unlock them.
The program allows us to use keyboard shortcuts to access all its functions. It is convenient to learn these keyboard shortcuts, because that speed up and streamline the process of creating mind maps. We can consult these shortcuts in the help section of the program.
Created mind maps can be saved to the program's own format (.mm), or can be exported it to other formats such as HTML, Open Office Writer (.odt), PDF, PNG, JPG, and SVG.
We can save the mental maps and protect them with a password using the option “Create Encrypted Map”.
The program supports import of files created with MindManager X5.
A curious thing about the program, is that its help manual is created as a mental map, so that if we click on the help menu, it will open a mental map that contains all the information needed to use the program. This manual is perfect, because we can edit, and view different kinds of nodes, and in this way, we can see the many possibilities offered by the program.
The software is free and cross-platform and can be run on Windows, Linux and Mac. To be able to use this program, we must have installed a Java version higher than 1.6, if not, the program will not be able to function.