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Personal Brain 4 Review

I recently discovered Personal Brain and I’m taken with it. It took me a couple hours of experimentation and more importantly, playing with Jerry Michalski’s brain to get used to it and to realize how powerful it is. For those of you who ‘get’ and use GTD, I’ll say that this gave me the same feeling I got when I started really using GTD-it’s a trusted system for all the information I want to make sure I remember. It’s more than that though–it’s a way to find patterns in knowledge and thing I’m learning, a way to create patterns, to store about anything… it’s fun, addictive (after a little over a week I have well over 1000 thoughts).

I made a video review of it (my first video review) here:

In the video I call Personal Brain “new”–really it’s only new for me, it’s been around for about 10 years.

Personal Brain is Java which means it’s available on Mac, Linux and Windows. It also means it’s not as Mac-like as most of my other favorite software, but it’s really not bad.

Personal Brain comes in 3 versions – free, core and pro. The core and pro versions are expensive. Fortunately the free version is very adequate. There’s also an enterprise version (BrainEKP) which is networked and web-based.

UPDATED: Video should work now – moved to YouTube

13 replies on “Personal Brain 4 Review”

Wow, thebrain! I remember messing around with a version of that, probably around 10 years ago. 🙂

With this and many of the other “mind mapping” apps I’ve seen and tried, I never can get past the neatness of using the app. I’ll enter some data, start to organize, and then just let it drop.

Have you ever used Tinderbox from Eastgate?

It seems to have a similar view on organizing data (one of the many ways you can use the app). I’ve been tempted and tempted to try it out, but something about it (that I can’t quite explain) has kept me away from it.

Bill – I saw a review of Personal Brain on MacUpdate that really stated well what I’ve found – I like that w/ Personal Brain you don’t have to worry about layout like you do w/ TinderBox, OmniGraffle and even some mindmapping apps. The focus is solely on entering data and creating the relationships. You’ve got a couple options for viewing it in different ways but on the whole, where to put things isn’t a distraction at all.

I still use FreeMind for some things – for example for starting projects and brainstorming. I find in those cases it’s better to be able to see the whole mindmap at once and a lot of those ideas aren’t really related to anything else (e.g. who’s the project manager on a 3 month project isn’t really relevant to the rest of my life). I turn to Personal Brain for anything that has long-term relevance.

Someday I would like to give TinderBox more time, but right now I think I feel the same way you do about it…it’s probably the price that repels me. Personal Brain has a functional free version where as with TinderBox I’d really have to be able to justify dropping over $200 on it to make it worth considering (that’s more than OS X costs!).

Hi Marcus,

Your review convinced me to give this program a try. Thanks for that! 🙂

However, the link you posted to Jerry’s Brain isn’t really correct (click on it and you’ll see the problem). You need to use this link in order to gain access to Jerry’s Brain.

And now to embark on the epic task of digitizing my brain. 0.0

hmm, does anyone know if and how personal brain can be run on a phone or palm whatever mobile device

Sead: As far as I know there is no way to actually run Personal Brain on a palm or mobile device, though you can export and view it on an iPhone if you upload it to a website. It’d not ideal…but it’s something.

I’d absolutely love it if it would work on the iPhone… I still use PersonalBrain daily but I think I’d use it even more if I could do it on the go.

Hi, I’m new to PB and totally captivated. Some people said they’ve been using PB for years even 10+ year, and have about 60,000 items in PB. May I ask you how big is you PB file and how many item you’ve saved in PB?

I am just wondering whether PB becomes slow in such situation. If PB is capable to maintain so much infomation, I would like to store all my infomation including into it. Look forward to your reply. Thx.

Forrest – As of today I have 3942 thoughts in my brain. The whole folder with attachments and all is about 500mb, the database itself is around 25mb. It runs perfectly well, just as fast as it did when I started using it.

Hi Mike

Thank you very much for your great presentation of PersonalBrain. Since approx. 15 Years I am using
Mindmapping as my main tool at my Business.
Not realy common for Chefs to use such a technic,
however it worked well and now its the time to create
my own Hompage. I would like to buildup my Hompage
like a Mindmapp, which program you would recommend
are there such pages in the net.
I would be very pleased if you could write me a E Mail.
Ones more thank you!!!
Best regards from
Istanbul Turkey


Merhaba. Yorumun icin tesekkurler. Benim bildigim PersonalBrain’i kullanan ilk sef sensin, ama tarifleri organize etmek icin faydali olabilecegini acik bir sekilde goruyorum. Aslinda PersonalBrain icinde “export> site brain”e giderek bir web sayfasi olusturabilirsin. Dilerim e-mailim yardimci olmustur.

Iyi gunler,

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