When the light bulb moment strikes, capture that great idea with these tools
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Brainstorming - as anyone who’s been to workshops littered with butcher’s paper and thick markers will know - is about capturing ideas as they’re hatched. Traditionalists might keep a notepad handy so they can quickly jot down ideas when inspiration strikes, but if you’re looking for a digital alternative, there are several options available.

Evernote can be used to grab online material to use for research when brainstorming. It’s a catch-all platform for storing web pages and organising clippings into notes with attachments such as PDFs, audio files, and other documents. It has a web-clipping bookmarklet and browser-based access to notes, as well as phone and tablet apps (iOS and Android). CC_ONLINE_Evernote5_icon_100

Scapple is a brainstorming app for Mac OS X, which can also be used for storing ideas. It was developed by Literature & Latte, the team behind the Scrivener writing software. CC_ONLINE_Scapple_icon_100

Solvr is a problem-solving site where you enter a problem, add ideas and comments, and then try to solve it, or find a smaller problem to solve. You can go back to your page using your problem's unique URL, which can be shared for collaborative problem solving. CC_ONLINE_Solvr_logo_175

Jot! (iOS, free/$5.49) is a simple whiteboard app that allows you to draw illustrations using a stylus or your finger. Backgrounds can be plain, lined or with a grid, and there’s a keypad for entering text. There’s also an option for adding images to notes. Files can be emailed as an image, or saved to a photo stream. CC_ONLINE_Jot_Whiteboard_icon_100

Free Note (Android, free/$5.99) is a note-taking app that combines keyboard input as well as handwriting using a stylus. Notes can include text, images, photos, videos and voice memos. It also features a calendar and a to-do list for adding to your notes. CC_ONLINE_FreeNote_icon_100

Toolbox (Surface RT, free) combines up to six different tools - including web search, voice memos, and social media - for searching and creating. There's also a brainstorming template for idea generation. CC_ONLINE_Toolbox_app_icon_100




A mind map is a visual diagram of an idea created around a central word, image, symbol, or concept, with lines coming off in different directions linking related ideas. It can use colour to help enhance the connections. A mind map allows someone to forge connections between concepts in a less rigidly linear way. Mind-mapping can be an extremely useful way to explore your ideas, and there are a number of websites featuring mind-mapping tools.

Freemind is a program for mind maps featuring versions for Windows and Mac. It’s easy to create a mind map, with lots of nodes and sub-nodes. There is also a range of tools for formatting mind maps to identify different nodes, with categories, icons and colours for designating stages and sections of a project.


Mind42 is a browser-based mind-mapping tool. The maps can include notes, bullet points, links, icons, and images. Any maps you create can be seen in bird’s-eye view, and nodes can be expanded and collapsed. Mind42 maps can be shared and exported.

text2mindmap is an online mind-mapping site. It features a text box for adding your ideas, and generates a mind map graphic on the page that can be saved and downloaded as an image or PDF.

Wisemapping can be used to create free mind maps for collaborative projects or for embedding into blogs.


SimpleMind (Android/iOS, free/$4.99, Win/Mac) uses tap-and-drag functions to create mind maps and add nodes. It links to other maps, has an unlimited size for maps, and can include links to web pages. It synchronises with DropBox and desktop and iOS devices, and allows you to export a mind map image.   CC_ONLINE_SimpleMind_icon_100






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