MindManager Shortcuts: 3 – filtering with conditional formatting UPDATED

In this the third in an occasional series of articles on MindManager shortcuts I’m describing how to use conditional formatting as a more user-friendly alternative to power filters. Many of these posts are based on solutions I’ve suggested in response to questions on the Mindjet community forum. In part 1 I described how to select topics by level, while in the last post I explored options to set up and use “secret” markers.

Update: When I was responding to some thoughtful comments on the original post I realised that I had forgotten to highlight the most important advantage of Conditional Formatting over the Power Filter: its much better handling of the distinction between filtering topics that match all the query criteria and filtering topics that match any of the search criteria. I have therefore rewritten and expanded this post with some examples. The table has been updated as well.

MindManager’s Power Filter is quite a powerful facility, giving users the ability to set up queries based on almost every aspect of a map. Multiple queries can also be created, saved and applied cumulatively, while the ability to fade filtered topics as well as to show and hide them is a great recent addition. However, power filters can be tricky to use and the feature’s interface does not make it easy to set up complex queries.

A prime example is the way in which the Power Filter handles the choice between “Any Element” – when you are looking for topics that meet any of the criteria, and “All Elements” –when you want to show only the topics that meet all criteria. You see these choices only on some tabs: the Markers tab in the Power Filters dialogue box where there is an Any marker/All marker choice, on the Text and Other Elements tab where the options are Any element/All elements and on the Properties tab where the choice is Any property/All properties.

However, these Any/All options apply only to the items within each tab. For example, if on the Markers tab you can select, for example, Priority 1 and another marker such as, say, a green flag and then choose either Any marker or All markers, the query will return the results you expect. On the other hand, if you select Priority 1 from the Markers tab and a Due date of today from the Task Info tab, the resulting query will show all tasks that suit either criteria, regardless of the Any marker/All markers setting.

Power Filter Markers Tab. The “All markers” option applies only to the criteria set in this tab

The only way to get an “All Elements” query involving multiple tabs is to create a separate query for the criteria on each relevant tab – for example, one for Priority 1 on the Markers tab and another for Due date today on the Task Info tab – and then apply these queries cumulatively. To do this you have to create each query and save it separately, clearing the Power Filter afterwards each time. When you have finished you have to apply these queries in the appropriate order. This should result in all the queries acting together as a de facto All Element filter – in theory anyway – but this is a time-consuming, cumbersome and confusing process.

In MindManager 2018 Corel have added (or to be more precise, revived) a great feature – Conditional Formatting. This enables users to set up the automatic formatting of topics using rules based on topic content, topic properties, task information and/or other attributes. In a previous post I described the dialogue box approach which is used to set up and manage these rules, thus simplifying a complex and powerful feature. This is much easier to use than power filtering, especially when seeking to impose complex criteria (see my earlier post for a basic guide).

In fact, Conditional Formatting can be used as a form of Power Filter. It handles the creation of an equivalent to the “All Elements” query much more elegantly through its rules. Each rule can have multiple triggers involving disparate topic elements as criteria – markers, due date, number of sub-topics, topic properties, etc. When setting the triggers each rule has an “Any/All conditions are met” selection which applies across all these criteria. This means you can easily set up “Priority 1 AND Due Today”, or “Priority 1 OR Due Today” and the query will show the correct results, highlighting the relevant topics using whatever attributes you prefer. The following examples based on a simple rule demonstrates this.

Conditional Formatting rule example 1. Topics meeting ANY of the conditions (Task Due Date is on Today and Task Priority Is Equal To Priority 1) will be highlighted green.

Map showing the effect of the Conditional Formatting rule with the ANY condition option applied

Conditional Formatting rule example 2. Topics meeting ALL of the conditions (Task Due Date is on Today and Task Priority Is Equal To Priority 1) will be highlighted green.

Map showing the effect of the Conditional Formatting rule with the ALL conditions option applied

If you do need to show or hide topics selectively rather than just changing their appearance it is quite easy to use conditional formatting in conjunction with power filtering. First, set up and apply one or more rules under conditional formatting and ensure that topic fill colour is the effect applied to topics which match the criteria (this is the only topic formatting that conditional formatting applies that can be used to trigger a power filter). Then set up and apply a query based on this fill colour and only these topics will appear. If you wish you can then set up further queries to further refine your selection.

Map showing the effect of the Conditional Formatting rule with the ALL conditions option applied and then filtered to show only topics coloured green.

The following table compares the features of the Power Filter with Conditional Formatting. While there are a few attributes that conditional formatting can’t access such as Past Due and At Risk tasks, there are others where conditional formatting offers a wider range of options. For example, it is easier to set up date and numeric ranges as a basis for selection using conditional formatting. Hopefully these feature sets will be made more consistent in future versions of MM 2018 – and ideally the conditional formatting rules-based approach will be extended to power filtering (click here or on the table to download a PDF version). 

Table has been updated.

This entry was posted in Mind Mapping, Shortcuts/Gaps & Tricks, Viewing, Filtering and Formatting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to MindManager Shortcuts: 3 – filtering with conditional formatting UPDATED

  1. Pingback: MindManager Shortcuts: 2 – using “secret” markers | Sociamind

  2. Thanks for your Shortcuts to MindManager tips Alex. Great stuff! 🙂

    Here are my biggest shortcomings with my indispensable MindManager software:
    1. Not being able to filter multiple maps (ie. find all topics with due date today, next week, overdue). I have many project maps.
    -> Find it strange that I can not Power Filter multiple properties/tabs? This is essential. I.e. filter by a marker AND link (i.e. topic must have priority 1 marker and contain a link). The only option is the filter operator OR between different properties/tabs. A workaround is to apply a new filter on top of existing filter, but this cannot be saved (time-consuming and error-prone).

    2. Not being able to “clone” topics within the same map, and/or between different maps. (ie. when you change a property in one of the “cloned” topics, the property changes on the other topic too.

    3. Not being able to import notes from Evernote (my 2nd information manager).

    Any thoughts on these? Any add-in that will solve my shortcomings?

    Have a nice day! 🙂


    • Alex says:

      Thanks Torgrim for your feedback.

      In relation to the issues you raise:

      1a. Filtering multiple maps. You can search multiple maps for text strings or numbers using the search facility, which will list the results within the search tab. The other option is to set up a dashboard map which rolls up multiple maps and then filter the dashboard map (this can get problematic if you have a lot of maps and/or they are very large.

      1b. Filter multiple properties/tabs. You do get the option with both the Power Filter and Conditional Formatting to filter for ALL the selected elements or ANY of the selected elements though I agree this works is very confusing especially when using the Power Filter. One advantage of Conditional Formatting is that you can easily set up and manage multiple triggers within a single rule though unfortunately you still have only the ALL/AND options between triggers. Another advantage is that most of the time the triggers in Conditional Formatting give you more control over the selection criteria than the Power Filter does (for example, when you set a trigger for priority level you have choices such as Greater than or equal to, Less than or equal to, Equal to, etc).

      2. Topic cloning. Have you had a look at the Topic Tracker add-in from Olympic Limited? This is a bit expensive any may be overkill, however – https://www.olympic-limited.co.uk/product/topic-tracker-6/. You could also look at using Dashboard maps, especially if you intend the cloned topics to be “slaves” of the original topic and you make changes only to the latter.

      3. Evernote integration. I don’t use Evernote but I understand you can use Zapier integration. There is also an Evernote add-in, Pons – https://www.onenotegem.com/pons-for-mindmanager-and-onenote.html

      Hope this all helps!


      • Thanks for your thorough answers to my comments/questions Alex.

        Regarding 1b:
        Is it really possible to power filter a map using the AND operator between tabs/different properties? Is this maybe something I have missed?

        Can you please explain how I can create and save a Power Filter for all topics with Priority 1 AND ending/due today within a map?

        I have always felt it was strange MindManager could not do this, so maybe there is something I have missed about this feature.

        Have a nice weekend! 🙂


  3. Alex says:

    Yes, I had forgotten the really confusing element of Power Filters. You only see the “Any Marker/All Marker” choice on the Markers tab in the Power Filters dialogue box, and the “Any Element/All Elements” on the Text and Other Elements tab. The point is these options apply only to the items on that tab – for example, Priority 1 and another marker – and not to an item on that tab in conjunction with another tab – for example Priority 1 and a Due date of today.

    It appears that multiple queries on different tabs in the dialogue box are treated only as “Any Element” filters. The only way to get an “All Elements” query involving multiple tabs is to filter cumulatively – and the only safe way to do that is to create each query, save it, clear the query, then create the second query, save that one and clear it as well, and so on. Then you apply the first named query and then the second. This should result in the queries acting together as an All Element filter.

    Conditional Formatting handles the creation of an “All Elements” query much more elegantly. For a start each Rule can have multiple triggers which can involve quite disparate topic elements – markers, due date, number of sub-topics, etc. however, the “Any/All conditions are met” choice applies to all the triggers within each Rule, so you can easily set up “Priority 1 AND Due Today” OR “Priority 1 OR Due Today.”

    Please explore these options and let me know how you go – and thanks for reminding me of this issue. I’ll amend my article to explain the problem more clearly and highlight the potential for Conditional Formatting to provide an alternative.


  4. Pingback: What’s new in MindManager 2019 1: SmartRules outsmart Power Filters | Sociamind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s