I’ve been using XMind and getting familiar with how to use and modify its visually pleasing presentation. The biggest frustration I’ve had so far is trying to manually move and place sub-nodes on the map. Others have experienced this problem too, and like me, considered abandoning XMind for another program when all efforts failed.

According to #10 in the XMind FAQ, mouse combined with:

  • Shift: The selected topic will not be linked with its current parent topic, and become a floating topic.
  • Ctrl: Copy and move the selected topic.
  • Alt: Move the main topic to a specific location on the map. (This function is only available in the “Mind Map”structure option.)

It took a while, but I finally found a forum post explaining the issue issue I was having.  It turns out to be an unfortunate selection of key and mouse combinations, particularly if you use the Gnome Desktop environment on Linux.

If you run Fedora the situation is worse because the menu to change the key binding isn’t installed by default. Admittedly this is the first time I’ve needed or wanted to make this adjustment.  It seems unreasonable, however, to require installation of a separate package to make a simple adjustment like this. Other Gnome based distributions include it by default and figuring out the package to install was not easy until I found this post.

To change the behavior of the Alt+mouse combination on Fedora:

1) Install the control-center-extra package:

$ su -c 'yum install control-center-extra'

2) From the desktop, select: System → Preferences → Window

Note, manual node placement only works on the “map” structure and not the other styles like fishbone, org, or tree.  To change the structure (style) of a mind map, click on top node and then change the “structure” found in the “properties” panel on the right.  There are some really cool options and this makes XMind a great choice for a sophisticated mind mapping program that is free.


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