Best App for Brainstorming



iThoughts Screenshot

Branch out: Start with a central idea—starting a new career as a superhero, for example—and add branches for the concepts and topics to consider. The diagram sprouts clouds and tentacles of topics and subtopics. iThoughts provides a big canvas for your mind map, about 1000 iPhone screens. Swipe to move around, pinch to make the map larger or smaller, or flip your iPhone or iPod on its side for landscape view.


iThoughts Screenshot

Bubbling with Ideas: Tap a bubble to select it (here, “Good views for patrols” is selected). A toolbar materializes to let you add a subtopic bubble or add another bubble at the same level. Double-tap the bubble to edit an item’s text, color, shape, or add an icon or note. You can drag bubbles anywhere on the map, or cut, copy, and paste them into different branches, along with any subtopic bubbles.


iThoughts Screenshot

Take note: Bubble text is typically brief, but iThoughts lets you attach longer notes to any item, including a link to a web page, phone number, or email address. Select a bubble with a note, and its text appears at the bottom of the screen, as shown here for the “secret identity” bubble. When the selected bubble has subtopics, tap the gray [–] icon to show or hide those subtopic bubbles.

Top Pick


Version: 2.0
Website: CMS

Cross an outline with a flow chart, and you get a “mind map,” a visual sketch for capturing and organizing stream-of-consciousness ideas. iThoughts diagrams these brainstorm sessions on your iPhone. A bubble represents your topic; draw links to more bubbles for related ideas, which grow like tendrils across the screen. When you’re done, prune and organize branches into shape. Email or share maps online in several formats.

Honorable Mention


Outliner Screenshot

Outstanding outlines: Create an outline of topics and subtopics. Tap one of the + icons in the dock to add an item at the same level as the selected topic, or to create a subtopic. Move a topic in the outline by tapping the four-point compass arrow; you can indent, outdent, or move it higher or lower in the list. Tap the blue arrow for an item to edit it, add a note, or turn the item into a task for your to-do list.



Version: 1.5.2
Website: CarbonFin

If the freeform sprawl of mind maps makes you antsy, fall back to more traditional methods. Outliner lets you create and share outlines in an effortless interface that lets you get your ideas down fast. Change an item to a task, and Outliner adds a checkbox so you can mark it done after you’ve knocked it off your list. Email your outline as plain text or OPML, a format for sharing with desktop outline software. You can also sync and share outlines online with a free account at the app’s website, where you invite others to come admire your clear, organized ideas.

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I am unable to send my map to myself on email to have a backup copy of the map. Thanks, CL

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