How to Edit and Share Mind Maps on the iPad with iThoughts HD

By Galen Gruman

If you want to get fancy with your work mind maps on the iPad, you can in iThoughts HD, such as to create stunning mind maps that you might present in a meeting.

Editing and formatting text in mind maps

If you select text within a node, you get the usual iOS contextual menu options for text selections: Cut, Copy, Paste, Replace, BIU, and Define. Plus you get three options that are special to iThoughts HD:

  • Research: Opens a Search page showing the results for whatever term is in that node. When in that search mode, you can change the search service using the compass icon in the upper right of the screen, such as to WolframAlpha or Google Scholar.

  • Make Topic(s): Makes a child node for each selected word (each word becomes the label for the new corresponding node).

  • Add to Note: Adds the selected text to a note attached to that node. You see a little note icon in the node indicating that you have a note there. Tap it to have the note appear above the mind map in a drawer that opens. A note is not a comment; a comment appears on the mind map as a type of node, whereas a note is inside the node.

When you select a node that has text in it, you see some options above the onscreen keyboard. They’re not really that useful because you can use standard iOS editing functions for all but one of them. But here’s what they do:

  • Open selection menu (­): Opens the standard iOS contextual menu for text selections.

  • Move Left a Word (|Word) and Move Right a Word (Word|): Navigates your text cursor through the currently selected text.

  • Move Left (the left triangle) and Move Right (the right triangle button): Moves one character left or right, respectively.

  • Open Text Style Pop-over (A): Lets you adjust the text size, font, color, formatting, and alignment of the selected nodes’ text.

Formatting maps and nodes in mind maps

You can change how your mind maps are displayed using the Settings button (the gear icon). It lets you change the canvas color, font, style of the link lines, and the map layout.

For the map layout, the default style is horizontal, which adds new nodes to the left or right. But you can switch to Vertical, which adds them below and above; Top Down, which has them flow down from the top; and Fishbone, which has them flow to the right from the root node. You can also enable Rainbow Colors, which applies different colors to nodes based on their relationships. Changing these settings changes the layout of your current map.

If you tap an object, the standard iOS contextual menu appears with the Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete buttons. Plus the Research button is also available for text selections.

To select multiple nodes, tap and hold the Shift button with one finger and then tap each node with another finger. Release both fingers when you’re done selecting.

For a specific node, you have a lot of formatting options via the Format pop-over. To open it, tap the i icon at the upper right of the screen. It has six panes, from left to right:

  • Icons: Inserts icons to the selected nodes.

    Tap and hold an icon and then tap Add to Favorites to add it to the ­pop‐]over’s Favorites list.

  • Palette: Applies a color from the swatches that display, or you can choose a specific color by tapping More to show the color picker.

  • Shape: Lets you choose the shape for the selected objects.

  • Text Style: Lets you adjust the text size, font, color, formatting, and alignment of the selected nodes’ text. (Yes, these are the same options available via the A icon when editing text.)

  • Project Settings: This pane lets you set indicators such as degree of progress, start and due dates, estimated time frame for the research or delivery effort, and resources (a list you create of resources needed for the selected nodes). This pane’s capabilities transform iThoughts HD from just a mind-mapping tool to a project-estimation tool.

  • Related Items: Lets you associate a library image (iThoughts HD–­provided artwork to help decorate nodes), a photo from the Photos app, a photo you take with the iPad’s camera, a doodle, a link to another mind map, or an email address. This pane’s options are available only if a single node is selected.

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Sharing mind maps

After you’ve created a mind map, you can share it with others by using the Share button at the top of the screen. The Email and Open In options work as they do in any iOS Share sheet, but three options are special to iThoughts HD:

  • Cloud: Lets you share the mind map with others via the Dropbox cloud storage service (if you have a Dropbox account, of course).

  • Image: Exports an image of your mind map that can then be sent to other people or apps, as well as printed, via the standard iOS Share sheet.

  • Task Reports: Creates an email listing your choice of the tasks embedded in your mind map or the resources noted for the mind map. (You set both the tasks and resources reports in the Project Settings pane of the Format pop‐]over.)