Cayra is a neat little concept and mind mapper and in my view is greatly undervalued, probably because is now an advertising site, and the software is no longer supported. But copies can be downloaded from Cnet and other download sites and it is very usable.

It has some of the qualities of mind mapping software: Organic lines and colour; but at the same time, the connections it can make allow it to be used to make concept maps with cross links and linking phrases.  It even lets you have multiple maps on the same page, and has a good ergonomic design to handle this, providing for ‘parking’ separate maps at the foot of the screen.  Nodes can have pictures and hyperlinks, links to files, and dates/times for project management tasks.

Be prepared to spend a few minutes understanding how it works, because it is not quite like other mappers, but it is well worth the time, because it has a flexibility that other mappers do not.

Its most unexpected feature is that it uses the self-centering mechanism like Topicscape or Brain.  Click a node and that moves to the centre and its branches expand.  This can be switched off, and if you then save the file, it will operate in ‘Fixed mode’ from then on.

It comes with a help map, but also has comprehensive built-in help.

Price: Free

More about Cayra on


Have you checked Our Faves yet?
Subscribe to the RSS feed for news of regular
posts & follow me on Twitter for in-between
items about visual tools you never knew existed.

If you’re on Twitter and tweet about mapping topics,
tweet me — I’d love to know and follow you.

I did see a comment on Twitter that Cayra doesn’t work in Windows 7.  I haven’t tried it on that, but it works on Vista.   Cayra has an update function built in, and the place it checks for updates no longer exists, so I wonder if that gives the impression of Cayra not working.  I just set my firewall not to give Cayra Internet access.  Vic.


8 Replies to “Cayra”

  1. Dear Cayra people. 07-27-12
    I do not understand why you do not make it clear exactly what the computer requirements are to run you Cayra application. In fact, I believe your not doing so is dreadfully irresponsible.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Sadly Cayra became orphan software years ago, so no one from Intalev, the originator of this nice little free package, will reply – I’ve tried several times to contact them because Cayra was open source at one time, and we had a volunteer to maintain and enhance it. But they never responded. As I mention here, I saw a comment on Twitter that it doesn’t work on Windows 7. When I wrote that, I didn’t have a Win 7 PC to test it. I was using it on Windows XP and Vista at the time.

      Now I have a Win7 PC, and I tried to install it, but it seems that the way the Cayra installer tests for the .NET framework (it requires .NET 3.0) fails. As a result, it refuses to continue with the installation, even though .NET 3.0 is supported by default in Win 7.

      However your question prompted me to look for a solution and I found one, I’m pleased to say.

      I copied the \Cayra folder from a Windows XP PC to a Win7 PC, and found that the exe file can be launched directly, so no formal installation is needed. I haven’t done a thorough regression test, but it looks OK. Cayra, being freeware, open source, abandonware and having no licence, I think I can make this generally available without breaking any international treaties.

      To get it running without an installer takes a little work, but not too much. Try this:
      1. Download the zipped up Cayra folder.
      2. Make a new folder C:\Program Files\Cayra
      3. Move there and unzip it
      4. Right click on C:\Program Files\Cayra\Cayra.exe and select Create shortcut in the context menu.
      5. Drag the shortcut to the desktop (be careful to drag the shortcut, not the original .exe file – they have the same name). You may then want to remove the “.exe” from the shortcut filename. You might prefer to place the shortcut somewhere else, like C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs – then it’ll appear in your Start menu.
      6. It’s a good idea to delete or rename C:\Program Files\Cayra\Updater.exe, or you may get occasional error messages on start up when Cayra tries to check for a revised version and fails to get a response.

      And you’re done.

  2. Salve a tutti ho un problema con Cayra: ho provato a reinstallare il software dopo un aggiornamento di windows XP mi dice che si è verificato un errore e l’applicazione verrà chiusa, ho provato a copiare l’intera cartella in programmi e lanciare l’exe ma niente non funziona, secondo voi da cosa dipende?

    Google Translate renders in English as:
    Hi all I have a problem with Cayra: I tried to reinstall the software after an upgrade of Windows XP tells me it was an error and the application will close, I tried to copy the entire folder and launch the programs’ exe but nothing does not work, according to you depends on what?

  3. As at 15 Dec 2013 the Cayra 0.9.5 download is still available at the Cnet URL given in the blog post above. It can work on Windows 7, with one gotcha: When I tried to run the MSI file to install Cayra it said I needed to install .NET 3, even though I had .NET 4.0 installed. I even tried saying yes to installing .NET 3 but it attempted to open a download page that no longer exists.

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat, however. If the installer won’t run you can still extract the files from the MSI file. This link gives step-by-step instructions for how to extract files from an MSI file: It’s not difficult at all.

    Once the files have been extracted run Cayra.exe to start the application.

    As for resources, I ran it on an 8 year-old Pentium 4 machine without any problems.

Comments are closed.