Hyperlink or Attach that is the question?

Not quite as fundamental as to be or not to be but it is important to understand the difference.  The question was raised in another forum and I thought I would summarise my thoughts here.

Where are the files?

Hyperlinked files (and web pages) remain where they are on your hard drive, network drive or on the web.  Hyperlinks won’t work with USB memory sticks, SD cards and other portable memory devices if they are removed. Hyperlinks won’t work if the file name or folder is changed.

Attached files are copied from the original location, embedded in the MindManager file and there is no link to the original file.  They increase the file size.  Providing the MindManager file does not become corrupt, you will always be able to view and edit the files (assuming you have the file editor on the computer).  Temporary copies of Attached files are created in your temporary user folder when editing them.

How do I create a Hyperlink or Attachment?

Hyperlinking is simple, drag the file or folder from Windows File Explorer on to the map and either create a new topic or add it to an existing topic. You can also drag links from web pages and the browsers address field favicon.

Alternatively select a topic and use the toolbar tool or Ctrl-K to open the hyperlinking dialogue which gives you some additional options.

MindManager Hyperlink Tool

  • Existing File or Web Page to create a link to a file, folder or URL (could be a web page or file)
  • Topic in this map useful for related topics in large maps
  • New document create, save and link a file
  • Email Address and subject. This link will create a new email
  • Options has more fields for web exports and adding an arguement to a file e.g. to open it at a specific page
  • Relative or Absolute will be discussed further down.

MindManager Attachment dialogueAttaching a file can be achieved with drag and drop from Windows File Explorer, if you press and hold the Ctrl key, and then release the mouse when the file is postioned as a new topic only. You will be given the option to hyperlink or attach the file.

Alternatively select the topic, use the Attach tool or right click the topic or Ctrl-Shift-H to open the attach dialogue opposite. You can also create a new document.




What can I (not) Hyperlink or Attach?

Hyperlinking will work with anything on your computer you can open by double clicking in Windows File Explorer: files including executable ones and folders. These can be located on your local PC, portable, mapped network and WebDav drives.  Obviously the latter 3 drive types will not work if they are not present.  You can hyperlink to any URL which could be a web page or a file and includes FTP links.  If you can get at it in your browser, you can link to it.

Attaching works with files only. But you can zip a folder and attach it. Or convert a link to a shortcut file.  Again you are not limited to document files. Executable files can be attached. Perhaps you have batch file or a piece of shareware which can be used with other files attached to the map.  Attach them to a topic with a note about how to use them.

How many Hyperlinks or Attachments per topic?

As many as you like with MindManager 2012 (previously hyperlinks were limited to one per topic). If you drag another URL/file/folder on to a topic it will be added to the list of hyperlinks.

MindManager Hyperlink Multiple Dialogue

When you have one hyperlink on a topic, the file icon is displayed and one click will open that file. When you have more than one hyperlink, a link with a dropdown triangle is displayed. Clicking it opens the dialogue shown above.

Personally I prefer the single hyperlink per topic and using drag and drop to replace rather than add to the list.  I would like an option per map to choose whether to have single or multiple hyperlinks. Add your vote for this option in Mindjet Voice Multiple Hyperlinks – Please can I turn them off.

Clicking the Attachment icon on a topic opens this dialogue. You can add as many attachments as you require.  By clicking the files you can open them for editing.  You cannot add more attachments by dragging files to the topic.

MindManager Attachment Manage Dialogue

Where do I edit the documents?

You have a choice: A click on a hyperlink or attachment will open it in the MindManager editing pane with the toolbar for the document type. This works for Microsoft Office documents, web pages, PDFs and folders. If you hold the Ctrl key down whilst clicking or use the option in the dialogue you can open the web page or files in the default browser or application.

Absolute or Relative Hyperlinks?

It depends:

  • Relative hyperlinks are good for moving groups of maps, files and folders to a different computer or drive and the links will work in the new location.  For instance you could copy a group from your c: drive to a portable drive, connect the drive to someone elses computer which calls it the h: drive and the links will work.
  • Absolute hyperlinks are good for files which always remain in the same place and may be referenced by many maps. The contact list or the logo folder for instance. This may also be located on a server e.g. the company network drive n:

You need to think about what will happen to these links, if you give this map to someone else!

There is an escape route if the links do not work when the map is moved. Use Find and Replace > Options > Look in Hyperlinks to replace for example c: by h: or ../ by c:/mynewdrive/onthispc/

Hyperlink or Attach that was the Question?

Hopefully the above has helped you understand the technical differences between the two choices which will back up tmy observations on my original question.

It depends:

  • Hyperlinks
    • Are good for files other people are responsible for and editing
    • Will not increase your MindManager file size significantly
    • If a drive, file or folder name is changed the link is broken
    • If you use the File > Save & Send > Send using Email your hyperlinked files can be zipped up with the map
    • If you use the same file in more than one map


  • Attachments
    • Put all the data in one place. A portable project file.
    • Can only be edited by those with editing rights to the MindManager file
    • Will increase your MindManager file size significantly. You may exceed email and uploading limits
    • Can be used to save versions of the map with all the documents as they were at that time.
    • If you email or upload the map, all the attachments go with it in one file.
    • Make sure your map file is backed up. If its deleted or corrupted you will lose all the attached files as well.


Use both were appropriate. 🙂

Happy New Year



About Andrew Wilcox

Andrew is an experienced user of MindManager who shares his knowledge and advice for free here. And provides commercial training and consulting on how to exploit MindManager and other mind mapping software applications in business, organisations and for individuals at Cabre For more information about Andrew please visit his Google + profile.


4 Responses to “Hyperlink or Attach that is the question?”

  1. Andrew Wilcox says:

    Here is an example of using an attachment on the fly.

    I have a map which connects to all my financial information. Part of it relates to VAT. Two quarters ago I had failed to record some transactions and overpaid my VAT. This month I can make an adjustment to the payment based on what I paid, what I should have paid and what I am due to pay for last quarter.

    To make sure my calculations were correct and to have evidence, I attached a spreadsheet on the fly between the topic linked to the incorrect return PDF and where I will add this return’s PDF.

    The 60 cell spreadsheet adds 6kb to the MindManager file size.

    I could of used the MindManager spreadsheet tool but it is not as easy to work with.

  2. Andrew Wilcox says:

    Attached files are not found by Windows Search.

    I created and attached an Excel spreadsheet within MindManager about VAT payments. A few months later I ran a Windows Search to find .xls files with VAT in the name or content. Windows did not find it. Fortunately my brain crunched and I went to the map where it had to be linked or attached and found it.

  3. Andrew Wilcox says:

    Just added another important point to the why Hyperlink list:

    If you use the same file in more than one map

  4. Andrew Wilcox says:

    Web Exports:

    Attachments are not handled by the web exports. The paper clip icon appears on the clickable image maps but is not clickable. Nothing appears in the text.

    If you have used multiple links, only the first link is exported

Leave a Reply