Supercharging Your Mind Mapping – Part 2: Navigation Using Mind Maps

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Navigation Using Mind MapsIn part 1 of this series, you learned powerful mind mapping techniques to create maps faster and more easily.

You will now learn useful tips to improve how you’re using mind maps, especially while creating them.

These tips are some of the highest leverage things that I do to work with information effectively.

Mind mapping is a great tool to help you unclutter your mind. But if you don’t use the following tips, especially the ones about how to expand/collapse branches quickly and how to show individual branches, then your maps will be visually cluttered.

At that point, the benefits of using such a tool are greatly minimized.

The other techniques in this article allow you to save time little by little, consistently.


Expand And Collapse Branches Quickly

A mind map is made essentially of branches and sub-branches of information. It is a hierarchical diagram.

The better you are at showing only the branches you need to see at one time, the more clear and focused your mind will be.

If you are showing too much information, it will confuse you.

And every so often, you need to get a bird’s eye view of your whole map.


Closing Branches Quickly

On a selected branch, pressing Left-Alt + Left-Shift + 0 (the number zero) to collapse that branch.

Showing X levels

If for example a topic has three levels of subtopics under it and you just want to show two, then this feature is very useful. In this case, select that topic and press Left-Alt + Left-Shift + 2. You can show from 0 to 9 levels.

The tricky thing about this feature is that if you select a level that doesn’t exist, then the branch won’t expand.

In other words, if a branch has two levels of subtopics, and you want to show 3 levels, the software won’t respond to the command and it won’t expand the branch.

In this example, I selected the main topic, then pressed Left-Alt + Left-Shift + 2, so it showed 2 sub-levels to the main topic.

Showing all levels

Press Left-Alt + Left-Shift + . (period) and it will expand the selected branch completely. No matter how many sublevels there are in the branch, it will expand them all.

Right Click To Move The Map

This is what I use most often to move the map around.

In a white space, hold down the right mouse button and move your mouse to move the map.

I usually combine this with the mouse wheel (the mouse wheel by itself – don’t press the right mouse button or anything else) to scroll up and down. On a laptop, you can scroll horizontally as well by sliding your finger on the bottom of the mouse pad.

By using the right mouse button slide and the mouse wheel, you almost never have to use the scrolling bars, and that increases your speed at moving around the map a little bit every time.

Show Branch Alone

When working with my clients, and even when I’m mind mapping for myself, this is very practical.

By showing only the selected branch with F4, it shows only that branch, hence removing all the other branches creating visual clutter around it.

It helps you really focus on what you’re trying to develop, brainstorm on or capture.

Then, when you need to look at the big picture again, you simply “zoom out” by selecting that same element and pressing F4 again.


Resize Map To Fit Screen

Whenever the map gets to more than a few branches, it gets too big to fit on the screen while keeping a zoom level where the text is clearly readable. Once in a while, I expand the map fully and make it fit the screen (with Ctrl-F5) to show my client a whole picture of the work we’ve done so far.

It gives perspective.

Open A Hyperlink

This is especially useful when I’m breaking down a map into a few parts (more on this in part 3 of this series).

All you have to do to open a hyperlink on a topic is selecting it, then pressing Ctrl-J.


Now on to you. Pick a few tips and try them several times throughout your mind mapping sessions. Then report back. Which technique have you tried and found most useful? Leave a comment below and let us know.

If you like this, make sure to subscribe to the blog or RSS feed (both located in the right column) to receive notification when the last part is posted.


Read Part 3 Read Part 3: Power Mind Mapping With FormattingLearn the best ways to:

  • Color-Code Your Maps
  • Modify Your Map’s Style
  • Balance Your Map
  • Break The Map Into Sub-Maps


3 replies
  1. Matt
    Matt says:

    Hi Toon,
    Yes, that’s a good point. I personally don’t use it as I find I have less control and it’s slower to use than showing the right amount of levels right away.

    Thank you for your contribution! : )

    By the way, what do you use MindManager / mind mapping for primarily?



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