MindManager is one of the most comprehensively-featured mind mapping applications around, but there are a few things it doesn’t do well or at all, despite some of these features being available in competing products. However, MindManager’s versatility means that you can often use a workaround to get at least part of the way there.
I’m starting an occasional series examining these gaps and some of the “tricks” to get around them with a look at topic notes exporting and printing.
The ability to print or export topic notes just by themselves is essential for people who use mind maps primarily for writing, or to prepare project or process documentation. This need has long been recognised, as MindManager does have a dedicated facility to print topic notes – it’s just this tool is very inflexible. For a start you can only print the notes, not create a file (apart from “printing” a PDF document), but by far the biggest limitation is that notes are printed out one to a page.
I’m not sure about the logic behind this, but it makes the process very tedious if you want to print lots of short topic notes. In fact, I was prompted to write this by a plea from a user on the MAPBM community forum for a simpler way to achieve this. This user had come up with a workaround, but one that was very cumbersome; basically you saved the document as a PDF, then either scanned it to Word or opened it in an application that could convert PDF files to Word. Once the document was in Word you could edit out all the spaces between notes.
Fortunately there is a better alternative, which is to use the beefed-up Word export facility that is available from version MM20 onward. This provides a lot of control over the export process, so you can select topics with notes and remove pretty much everything else you don’t need – anything that’s left to be cleaned up can be dealt with easily in Word.
Obviously you’ll need a copy of Microsoft Word (or something that can edit Word files) to make this work. These are the steps involved:
- Select the map you want to export and click on the Power Filter icon, then under Text & Other Elements tick Notes under Other Elements. The map should now show only topics with notes, and the parents and other “ancestors” of topics with notes.
- Then start the Word export process, selecting Custom Export under Export Type. Under Topics click on Filtered topics, and then under the following dialogue boxes ensure that all the tick boxes for icons, tags, task info or properties are unticked (unless you want any of these to be included).
- When you come to the Map Elements dialogue box click on the Include only selected map elements and untick everything except Notes (unless, again, you want any of the map elements).
- Make sure the options under Additional Content are unticked. Under Topic Info Layout I suggest selecting Paragraph, and Icon style shouldn’t matter assuming you are not including icons.
- Under document formatting you can decide which options you prefer (remember that if you choose numbering the topics will be renumbered compared to the map). Untick all the Map Elements Prefixes (unless you are including any of these).
- Under Template & Style select whether to use Map style or a Word template; the latter is better if you want to edit the resulting document in Word. If you do choose a Word template you can adjust the numbering and formatting options (in particular, for topic notes) to suit your preferences.
- Click on the Export button, select a location and a file name to save the document. When the export process is over, open the file.
Topic names should appear as headings in the exported document, and (depending on the choices you made under Template & Style) the topic notes should appear as normal text underneath each topic. Any parent or ancestor topics will appear as headings further up the hierarchy; to eliminate these, use Word’s style facility to select the headings at each unwanted heading level and delete them. Of course, if your goal is simply to print the notes you can do this now.
This seems more complicated than it actually is, and the settings you selected in the export dialogue process will be remembered to become the default quick export options for future export – though unfortunately these settings which will be overridden every time you change the options in the Word export process.