Cayra is a desktop mind mapping tool similar to Freemind, Mindjet MindManager and other desktop mind map applications. It is no longer actively developed but is available for free from sites like cnet. I only recently discovered Cayra and have experimented with it as an alternative for Freemind and Xmind. In this article we will have a look at Cayra and its uses as a mind mapping tool.

The Cayra mind mapping software offers a large feature set and a more aesthetically pleasing interface than software like Freemind. Cayra offers the ability to export as HTML and images, and import maps from FreeMind and Mindjet MindManager.


Cayra mind mapping feature list

- Export mind maps to web pages and other formats

- Useful keyboard shortcuts

- Can import Freemind and other programs mind maps

- Capable of multiple main nodes

- Automatic layout or fixed layout modes


When using the Cayra mind map format it supports automatic layouts which makes it extremely easy to work with large mind maps. This feature makes it especially good at being used as a note taking application for students or in the workplace.  They also make Cayra good for being used as a brainstorming tool, for project management, time management, to help make decisions and for general ideas and creativity.

One of the big problems with Cayra is its Windows 7 support, or rather lack of it. It may be possible to get the software to work, but it is probably a better solution for those of us still with Windows XP and Vista systems.

The self-centering system is one of the best features of Cayra. It effectively centres the mind map around the node that you have selected at that time. This feature is found in software like Brain, but allows you to use very large Cayra mind maps very efficiently.



- Free

- Good design

- Lots of ways to export your mind maps

- Easy to add color and other effects to the mind maps



- Some may find it a bit featureless compared to more developed mind mapping software

- No longer being developed, but can be downloaded from sites like cnet

-  May not work fully on some Windows 7 systems



Excluding the issue of Windows 7 compatibility, Cayra is a very capable free mind mapping tool. If you use Windows Vista or XP, then it is definetly worth trying out. If you are looking for windows 7 software then you probably need to look at Freemind or Xmind if you want free software, or Mindjets MindManager if you are after a paid for solution which comes with better support.


There are many alternatives to Cayra mind mapping. The main free ones are the excellent Freemind, and its cousin Xmind. These are both very good pieces of software, with Xmind seeming a bit more poilished although Freemind is very fast in use.

The main paid for alternatives include Mindjets MindManager and Tony Buzans iMindMap software. Both of which offer impressive features and support for companies. We would suggest that you try out free software first if you are new to mind mapping. 

Do you use Cayra mind mapping? Do you think Cayra is good mind mapping software? Please write a comment below.