Setting up alternative checklists in MindManager

MindManager’s dedicated set of progress symbols provides a versatile tool for measuring how a task is proceeding. The default quartile progress levels (0, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) can be supplemented by including additional markers for 10%, 35%, 65% and 90% either in the Map Index or in the context menu for a specific task. Alternatively, they can be edited to limit choices, for example, to only three (0, 50%, 100%) or two (0 and 100%) options, or even just one (100%).

It’s not just tasks which require a status update. Inventories, retail orders, questionnaires and even shopping lists are examples where you might want to the ability to mark whether something is present, has been ordered, supplied or answered. Usually in these cases you simply want to tick a box, or leave it unticked, so the ability to reduce progress levels to a couple of options means that the progress symbols can be easily adapted for this task.

However, there are stylistic and practical limitations which may make these symbols unsuitable in some circumstances:

  1. The progress icons look like, well, progress icons, which may not be desired if you want a list to look literally like a checklist.
  2. Reducing the number progress options simplifies their use in checklists, but this reduction affects the availability of these options across the whole map.
  3. MindManager automatically assumes that any topic which has any task information (except priority) is itself a task. This includes the progress icons, and can impact the behaviour of topics and their parents in maps to which Task Roll-up has been applied.

The last point is potentially the most serious issue, but it needs a bit of illustration. Continue reading

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MindManager – “reverse mapping” and exporting the Map Index

If you use MindManager to categorise information the resulting groupings in the Map Index are often just as significant as the topics themselves. This is especially the case if you use MM’s tag feature as a basis for research, a process I described back in 2017.

In that post I described how to use MM to undertake basic quantitative and qualitative analysis with small data sets such as survey results or interview transcripts. MM’s potential use as a tool in this area has been enhanced by the revelation that comparison and logical operators can be used in MM formulas. This, along with the introduction of SmartRules means that topic properties can also be used as part of the analytical process.

However, there was one feature I didn’t fully explore in my 2017 post. While I described how to copy individual tag groups into a new map, I didn’t realise back then how simple it was to create a complete “reverse map” based on the Index categories simply by exporting the whole index. This can provide a whole new perspective on your data.

Creating a reverse map

All you need to do to make a reverse map is open the Map Index pane, then click on the ADD drop down menu and select Copy Index. Create a new map and simply paste the copied index. A new map should be created in which the main topics will be the names of groups used in the Map Index; only those groups whose icons, tags or other elements have been used will appear in the map. If fill or font colours have been used these will also appear as main topics.

The sub-topics under each main topic will be the names of the items from that group used in the source map. In the case of tags, resources and Kanban these will be, respectively, the tag names, resource names and Kanban stages. For all groups involving symbols and icons such as Priority, Progress, Flags, Icons etc, the name associated with the symbol or icon will appear as sub-topics. Similarly for fill or font colours the RGB numbers for each colour will appear.

In turn, under each of these all the map topics to which these symbols, icons, tags or colours were applied in the source map will appear as sub-topic. Obviously, this means that the same topic can appear multiple times in the map of the index depending on what attributes have been applied to it.

The following images show the different stages. The first map shows the hypothetical results of a survey of a group of artists regarding their preferences for various forms of video and online presentation. These are shown using tags.

The following image shows the relevant tag group in the Map Index. The objective is to create a map of this index.

The final image shows the map created by copying the Map Index. The tags have become the main topics, with the names of the artists appearing as sub-topics under each tag. Obviously, each artist can appear multiple times. This information can be used, for example, to set up different interest groups or to allocate resources. Note the central topic is not renamed automatically.


There is no way to nominate specific groups to be included or excluded in the map prior to copying. This means that a lot of the groups appearing in the exported map (such as fill and font colours, unless you are using them deliberately instead of tags or icons) are likely to be redundant. This is annoying, but easy to deal with; simply delete the redundant main topics.

The topics are really only the names of the topics as they appear listed in the Map Index. This means that all topic information and properties originally associated with each topic in the source map will not appear in the index map.

There is no way to “round trip” between the source map and the index map. The topics are not linked and every time there is a change in the main map the index will have to be copied again and the reverse map recreated. Similarly, any subsequent formatting you apply to the exported map will have to be reapplied, though this can be overcome to some extent by developing and applying a specific theme for these maps.

When using this technique as a form of analysis it is difficult to record the number of sub-topics in each category item, even though this is shown in the Map Index. Of course, you can show the number of subtopics by collapsing the branch, but these counts are not available to use elsewhere.

There are a couple of ways to overcome the last problem. The first is to create a numeric topic property with a value of 1 which is applied to all the source map topics you are trying to count in the reverse map. At the category item level, you can add a formula to count the number of these topic properties. Alternatively, if you have the MAP add-in you can utilise the Extended Properties feature to add the Sub-Topics (Children) topic property which will count the sub-topics.

Exporting to Word via a reverse map

You can copy the Map Index and paste it directly into a Word document, but the result will probably be disappointing. This is because the index is pasted without any formatting, apart from indentations, which Word cannot translate into a document hierarchy based on Word heading styles.

The solution is simple – first copy the index to create a reverse map using the technique described above. Edit this as required and then use the Word Export feature to create the appropriate hierarchy in the resulting Word document.


Reverse maps are a very effective analytical tool, especially when combined with processes to count the number of topics in each group. They are also simple to use, but some improvements could be made to make reverse maps more accessible and effective:

  • A specific command on the Map Index Add menu to create a map of the index;
  • The ability to select which groups to include or exclude when either copying or mapping the Map Index;
  • An option to select a specific map theme to apply when mapping the Map Index;
  • An option to export all the topic information attached to topics when copying or mapping the Map Index, and not just the topic name.

More generally, both sub-topic count and topic level should be made available as topic properties in all maps.

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Turning URL lists into mindmaps: MindManager 2021 update

Surprisingly, MindManager (MM) lacks a facility to easily import and map a list of URLs. These can be all sorts of things, for example, bookmark or favourite lists exported from web browsers, website page directories, product lists on commerce websites, publication reference links or pages of links you may have developed yourself.

A couple of years ago I developed and documented a workaround to do this which depended on a number of MM undocumented features. This was based in part on some of my earlier posts about extending MindManager’s Word import facility to include formatted task lists. Recently MindManager 21 was released, with a new approach to Word import/export which makes some of the techniques I described obsolete.

However, after a bit of research and a lot of trial and error I’ve been able to modify my workaround to work with the latest version. In this post I’ve updated and extensively revised my previous article to incorporate these and several other changes.

A warning – this process is a bit technical and there are a few steps involved. It requires the use of MS Excel and Word and draws on some undocumented aspects of MindManager which could be changed or deleted at any time. You will need a reasonable knowledge of Word and MindManager, and a basic understanding of Excel. Finally, there are variations in the processes I describe depending on whether you are using MM21 (or later), or earlier versions of MindManager.

I’ll demonstrate the process using a very simple example – a list of recent posts taken from the right-hand side of this blog page, as shown left below – and describe how to turn it into the map on the right.

Continue reading

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Logic, time and money: more MindManager formula surprises (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I looked at Time Value of Money (TVM) and exponentiation in MindManager (MM) formulas. While the potential of exponentiation in MM formulas is easy to overlook, at least this featire is referenced in the help guide. However, formulas have two other categories of operator which are entirely undocumented.

These are comparison and logical operators. Codeacademy describes comparison operators as “operators that compare values and return true or false”, while logical operators “combine multiple Boolean expressions or values and provide a single Boolean output”. I “discovered” the comparison operators while exploring MM’s formula capabilities, and subsequently MM’s Jan Heger confirmed the existence of the logical operators. Until now I had always assumed that MM’s SmartRules feature was the only way to access these types of operators in MM. Continue reading

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Logic, time and money: some MindManager formula surprises (Part 1)

A lot has happened since my last post in May 2020, starting of course with the huge and continuing world-wide impact of COVID. Back in April last year I wrote an article for the MindManager blog with advice of non-government organisations (NGOs) on managing the impacts of the virus. I had no idea back then that in many countries these effects will last well into 2021, and beyond.

The release of MindManager 2021 in September 2020 was a welcome diversion, bringing a suite of new features, including topic info cards, accelerator keys, flowchart extensions and an enhanced MindManager Snap feature. Among the major changes was a major redesign of Word import and export and a completely new approach to slides, which I’ll come back to in future posts.

I also want to mark the sudden demise of the old MindManager Community Forum late last year. The forum was a great example of peer support, with experienced users volunteering their knowledge in response to thousands of questions from the wider MM community. Late last year the third-party providers of the forum software abruptly discontinued the service, which meant that all this information was lost.

I’m pleased MindManager has responded by starting a new forum, though I still miss the content of the old one – and at the moment I’m trying to recover some of it. More on that in the future, but one of the early questions on the new forum was about MM formulas and specifically whether it was possible to use them to make Time Value of Money (TVM) calculations.

Playing around with the MM’s seemingly modest formulas facility I discovered to my surprise that it is indeed quite capable of handling TVM equations. In addition, I stumbled across some significant but undocumented features which make formulas much more capable than they initially seem.

This two-part series is based on my response on the forum to this question and my additional research on formulas. My thanks to Jan Heger from MindManager who confirmed what I found and whose comments on the forum filled in some important gaps. In this first part I’ll look at TVM calculations and exponentiation. Continue reading

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Search all files in MindManager – with a little help from Windows

A recent question on the MindManager (MM) forum got me thinking about MindManager’s search capabilities. These are reasonably comprehensive when it comes to searching MM’s own files, with the ability to search topic text, notes, properties and a variety of other fields, as well as by file name.

Depending on what field you choose, MM will list not only the matching files but also the relevant topics. And, as you’d expect from a mind mapping program, MM provides various ways to incorporate search results directly into maps.

Outside of MM’s own files, however, the situation is very different. MM does have the capacity to incorporate all the files in a particular folder (or folders only, or a combination of files and folders) using File Explorer Map Parts, but this is an all-or-nothing feature with no search capability built into it.

The original question on the forum was asking whether MM’s tags could somehow be linked to tags or bookmarks in Adobe PDFs. The short answer is no, but I started to look at alternatives. I’ve found a couple of options – the first is specifically focused on PDFs, while the second, which involves the use of Windows File Explorer, provides universal searching across all file types.

These options require a reasonable level of experience in using MindManager. Readers are advised to trial these techniques extensively before attempting to use them on important or sensitive material.

Example of a Windows File Explorer search and results in a MindManager map. The search is stored in an external file which has been linked using a MindManager File Explorer Map Part

Continue reading

Posted in Import, Mind Mapping, MM2019, Project Management, Research and Writing, Viewing, Filtering and Formatting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

COVID-19 and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)

As most readers would be aware I normally use this blog to write about aspects of MindManager (MM) software such as key features of the latest version, or to explore how you can use these features in unusual ways to accomplish specific tasks. I’m a director of a small company and I’m also involved in several non-profit non-government organisations (NGOs) which manage small projects, so I often have these in mind when I develop ideas for posts on my blog.

These are not normal times, however. As the world responds to COVID-19’s terrible toll, millions of people’s lives have been upended. As countries try to contain the virus, businesses and other organizations have closed, suspended or radically altered their activities.

Almost all community, social and cultural activities have also come to an abrupt halt as social distancing and isolation kicks in. While it’s the cancellations of the big events which have attracted the most attention, thousands of local fetes, markets, concerts, sporting events, performances, exhibitions and other activities put on by small (NGOs) have suffered the same fate.

In collaboration with MindManager I’ve turned what I’ve learnt from working with several NGOs which are going through this process to develop a COVID-19 NGO Pause Strategy which may be helpful to other organisations. This article, which also includes ideas on how to continue some activities online, has just been posted on the MindManager blog:

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Mind Mapping the World-Wide Web, one page at a time

It’s been a little while since I last updated this blog. I was going to mark my return to regular posting by reviewing some of the new features in the latest MindManager 2020 release, but first I’ve decided to take a small detour to describe some practical things you can do with most Windows versions of MindManager. In doing so I’m drawing on responses I’ve written (on a voluntary basis) to questions on the MindManager Community forum.

In this post I’ll describe a process to turn a list of links on a web page into a MindManager map. These could be lists of links to other pages on the same website, links to products on a commerce website, links to entries in online documentation, or links to references available online.

Why bother doing this when you can simply just hyperlink the page containing the links in a mind map? There are quite a few practical uses, the most obvious of which is to create a framework as a basis to add your own notes and comments, for example if you are conducting online research. This technique can also be used to produce a more concise summary of lengthy webpages with multiple links, especially as you can often edit out the site’s own text descriptions. You can even – with a bit of work – copy and map search engine results.

Finally, you use this approach to take a snapshot of the links on a web page and preserve them at a particular point in time. This advantage does however point to one limitation of this approach; the maps you produce with it are not dynamic. If the web page contents change, you will have to repeat the process to get the latest version.

MindManager and Word – a little secret

Mapping a webpage is surprisingly tricky to do in MindManager. Simply pasting the list in a map results in the links being pasted as the topic names; this looks fairly ugly and is relatively useless as the links are no longer active. You can try going via Excel and using MM2020’s new Excel import facility but this doesn’t seem able to import live links either.

I have developed a workaround, based in part on some of my earlier posts about extending MindManager’s Word import facility. A warning – the process is a bit technical, uses some undocumented aspects of MindManager and requires the use of MS Excel and Word (with the Send to MindManager add-in, which should have installed when you installed MindManager). You will also need a reasonable knowledge of Word, and a basic understanding of Excel.

I’ll demonstrate the process with a very simple example – the list of recent posts on the right-hand side of this blog page, as shown left below – and describe how to turn it into the map on the right.

Continue reading

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MindManager Integrations 3: the logic revolution

In the third article in the MindManager integrations series I’ll explore how SmartRules can revolutionise the use of the program through the introduction of functions based on Boolean logic. 

Beefing up MM’s formula facility to include logic statements, most importantly IF-THEN functions like those found in Excel and many other programs, has long been on many people’s wish lists. This would allow users to compare aspects of topics, most obviously the data in topic properties, either with each other or to some other criteria.

The company has answered this request not by adding this feature to formulas but instead via an unusual route; the expansion of the SmartRules facility in MindManager 2019. Despite some shortcomings this is a surprisingly useful approach. 

SmartRules can accept a wide variety of inputs and not just topic properties. They can be nested like functions in Excel and can also combined with MM’s formula facility. And just as there is a range of inputs, there is a wide selection of formatting and other outputs. This makes the SmartRules feature and more specifically its IF-THEN functionality one of the most powerful tools available in MindManager.

The following example map was developed to illustrate of these techniques and is itself a work in progress as I continue to explore this functionality. I’ve hidden most of the “machinery”, including some topics and topic properties as well as the SmartRules and formulas involved, but I’ll come back to these later in the article.

A word of advice – this is a long and very technical read and assumes a reasonable level of experience with MindManager, some understanding of how SmartRules and formulas operate, and, ideally, familiarity with Excel formulas. If you haven’t done so already, it’s also worth having a look at the first article in this series which explains the basics of linking SmartRules and formulas, as well as the second which provided further examples. Continue reading

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MindManager Integrations 2: Doing more with SmartRules and Formulas


This is the second in a series looking at the ways in which new and old features in MindManager 2019 can be combined to produce innovative and exciting ways to manage and present material in mind maps. 

The first post in this series outlined how MM2019’s revamped SmartRules feature can be used to translate tags and icons, including task icons, into topic properties which can then be manipulated using MM’s Formula facility. In this article I’ll explore some additional ways to use these concepts. 


Previously I covered how to:

  1. Set up numeric topic properties to match tags or icons;
  2. Create SmartRules to link icons or tags to these topic properties;
  3. Use Formulas on the Central Topic to sum the topic properties matching each tag or icon; and
  4. Write SmartRules to highlight if the total for each topic property meets or fails to meet certain criteria.

 These techniques provide the basis for some of the more complex examples discussed in this post, so it’s probably best to look at part 1 if you haven’t done so already. 

Counting multiple tags

In part 1 I used a simple example of counting of mutually exclusive Kanban tags The same approach can be used to count multiple tags in the same group without the mutually exclusive option, as shown in the following example. 

Continue reading

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