MacOS Monterey broke FreeMind. Here’s how to fix it.

Ross Hall

November 29, 2021
(Updated on January 9, 2022)

Screenshot of a Freemind mind map showing the fonts are unreadable in MacOS Monterey

I’m a long-time user of FreeMind, an open source mind mapping tool. It works on both Mac and Windows, is easy to use, and I’ve amassed more than a decade’s worth of mind maps.

The latest update MacOS – Monterey – looked like it had trashed all this knowledge.

FreeMind goes into hiding

I fired up FreeMind, opened my last mind map and where the hell was it? I couldn’t see it on the screen, and no amount of jiggling windows or opening this or that would bring it to the foreground.

Finally I found it. For whatever reason, FreeMind decided to open files in the smallest possible window, tucked away in the corner of the monitor. It’s there on bottom left of the screenshot.

Screenshot of a MacOS desktop with a Freemind window shown on the bottom left

Making the window whole again

Next came restoring the window to readable size. Click the green circle and you’d expect it to open to a full window. Not the first time, it stayed there quite determined to remain minimised. The fix is to drag the bar somewhere else, resize it manually, then click the green circle. A second click minimises it to the smaller, manually sized window.

Something to bear in mind is opening a mind map for the first time post-update can trigger the “let’s stay minimised” behaviour. Just repeat the drag-and-resize fix.

An unreadable mind map

Once the FreeMind window is visible, be prepared for more frustration. This time it’s the layout of the mind map. The fonts are unreadable on the default 100% zoom.

Screenshot of a Freemind mind map showing the fonts are unreadable in MacOS Monterey

The fix is simple: change the zoom scale. Everything goes back to normal, although 100% will always be scrambled and the UI fonts are messy.

Screen shot of a Freemind mind map scaled to correct the font problem in MacOS Monterey

Unable to scroll on a mind map

From time to time, FreeMind won’t scroll past a given point in a mind map. It bounces, as if there’s an invisible obstruction in the way. This happens a fair bit when I’m using gesture scrolling on a trackpad on my Mac.

You can scroll around the mind map using the scroll bars, but if you want to restore fingertip control there’s more work to be done. Change the zoom to a lower percentage and the trackpad should work again. Then reset to your preferred zoom. This seems to unblock the problem.

Is that all the problems?

As far as I can tell everything else works as expected. If I find anything else, I’ll update this page.

Might be time to move on…

Whether this gets fixed or not is anyone’s guess. As far as I can tell, Freemind hasn’t been updated since 2016. Fortunately the fixes I found will give some breathing space to find a replacement. So far my experience with MindMeister and Miro suggests it may take a while.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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