PODD communication books in Mind Express 5

Like many people working with individuals who cannot rely on speech alone to be heard and understood, I regularly make PODD books and other more complex low tech AAC resources. In May this year, I was involved in running an AAC camp in France. For this camp Helen Tainsh, Mathilde Mella and myself produced a bilingual English-French PODD that we could use to support us all to communicate better!

That bilingual PODD was made in Boardmaker 7, which is the platform I have been using to make PODD books since it was released in 2021. Initially, making PODD books in Boardmaker 7 was extremely problematic, but with time and bug fixes the situation did improve. Unfortunately, however, there are still a number of bugs in Boardmaker 7 that make it time consuming and problematic when making larger documents like a PODD book. These bugs include symbols that change as I import Boardmaker 6 files, changes I make that don’t save, and random crashes where I often lose hours of work. There are more, but I won’t go on about them! Let’s just say that I was frustrated enough to be keen to find another option.

During the AAC Camp I mentioned above, Mathilde kept telling me how good Mind Express was. She made me very envious! And so, when I heard that the PODD book templates had been produced for Mind Express 5, I decided to purchase both Mind Express and the PODD templates and see for myself.

I then met a bit of a bump as I am a Mac user and Mind Express is only available for Windows. Again, Mathilde was my source of information as she is also a Mac user – and she let me know that she had been running Parallels Desktop on her Mac to enable her to access Mind Express. I therefore decided to do a truly horrible thing and install Windows on my Mac, just to access Mind Express.

The installation of Parallels Desktop, Windows and Mind Express was very easy and didn’t impact on the running of my Mac at all. The last time I installed Parallels and Windows on a Mac would be nearly 10 years ago and it made my Mac run like a truck – so I was delighted to find that this time it made no difference.

I purchased a version of Mind Express 5 called DocLock. The DocLock version only allows you to make printable resources – you can’t use it for interactive page sets. However, it’s perfect for what I wanted to do, which is making PODD communication books and other low tech resources. I purchased my copy of Mind Express from Zyteq who have a great description of the versions available and the options on their website.

Screenshot 2024 01 06 At 11.35.17 am 1024x721

Once I had Mind Express installed and running, I started customising my first PODD book. It was so easy! Mind Express 5 is very intuitive. I was able to edit buttons, delete pages, add pages, copy and move pages and all the other functions I needed. The little bit of help I needed was included in the instructions and tutorials easily linked to from the PODD menu page shown above – although I didn’t have to refer to them much. I customised and produced the PODD book in record time! The final product is below 🙂

Podd In Me5 1536x1086

As well as the easy to use features of Mind Express that I mentioned above, there are some other features that I really liked. I loved the ability to create a “style” for use across a number of buttons. You can set a style with a font, font size, font colour, border colour etc and then use it across buttons. Very elegant and simple – and very powerful.

Screenshot 2024 01 06 At 11.38.21 am 1536x889

When I purchased Mind Express 5 and the PODD page sets, I bought a bundle that included the Picture Communication Symbols from Boardmaker for use within Mind Express – this is a necessary purchase if you wish to use Mind Express to customise PODD books. Mind Express 5 also comes with SymbolStix and Bliss Symbols included. It was a big advantage as I was able to use SymbolStix for some of the curriculum related vocabulary I was adding to the PODD book. It also has a really simple to use feature to search the web for symbols that I was able to use a few times as well.

My only negatives with using Mind Express 5 were:

  • After purchasing it online, I had to wait a couple of days for the code to use it, which seemed odd in this day of online purchasing and immediate provision of codes;
  • When I first started using it, I had some technical issues which were an issue at Jabbla’s end. These were corrected after a couple of weeks of communication back and forth with myself and Zyteq and Jabbla. The biggest delay was that Jabbla took a few days to answer my original request for support – but once they had started looking into it, they were very efficient.

My next Mind Express project is going to be importing a Boardmaker 6 PODD book and customising it for use. I hope this goes as smoothly as the previous book did! I’m very excited that Mind Express offers the option of importing and customising Boardmaker 5 and 6 files – a definite added bonus!

* Please note – I attempted to import a Boardmaker 6 PODD book but was unable to. I have now learned that the DocLock version doesn’t let you import Boardmaker 5 and 6 files. I’ve also been advised by Mathilde that it is better to wait for the official Mind Express versions as there are a lot of settings that need to be adjusted when importing a Boardmaker 6 PODD.

I’m sure there are many extra features of Mind Express that I will learn over time – but at the moment I’m just very excited to have a reliable, easy to use alternative to Boardmaker 7. I’m really appreciating the ability to make PODD books again without losing so much time to glitches and problems! And I’m sharing this in the hope that it will help some of you who have been wrestling with the same difficulties.

And Happy New Year to you all!


Financial — No relevant financial relationship for this blog exists.

Nonfinancial — I have been friends with some staff at Zyteq for many years

Spread the word. Share this post!

Comments (5)

  1. Collette O’Loughlin


    Love reading your posts Jane, and a very happy new year to you too!

  2. Cassie Perry


    This is great information! Can you tell me if you printed the PODD yourself or got a printing company to do it? I have been working with a printing company for a year trying to get our PODD correct for distribution across our school. We have been using Boardmaker 7 and the company has had lots of issues converting it into a printable file format for commercial printing. Does Mind Express 5 have this same issue do you know?

    • jane


      HI Cassie – I just printed it myself. I do know that there have been issues with commercial printers and Boardmaker 7 – and I’m not sure if anyone has come up with the solution. I mostly hear about these issues from Queensland schools – so maybe there is a group you could ask questions on within EQ? Jane

    • jane


      Oh – and I don’t know if Mind Express has the same issue – it’s so new. Hopefully not!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *