Clear for Mac: An iOS App with an OS X Price

Clear, a minimalist to-do listing app, was launched to almost-universal acclaim for iOS in January this year. Utilising a very simple UI that resembled a heat map of priority, Clear offered a viable alternative to the recently-shipped stock Reminders app and a simpler competitor to rivals in its category.

We’ve been using Clear for Mac, which launched Thursday, for a couple of days now and, in this article, we’re going to investigate how it stands as a Mac app and alongside its iPhone counterpart.

Getting Started

Clear for Mac is simple in all senses of the word. Upon first launch, the app runs you through a tutorial of its basic  — nay, its only — features before throwing you straight into a default list of tasks that again go over how to manipulate your task list.

Just like in Clear for iPhone, you can manage multiple separate lists of tasks in Clear for Mac; new ones are added by simply right-clicking. When viewing your list of lists, Clear for Mac shows a nice numerical indicator of how many tasks are left uncompleted in each list.

Clear for Mac allows users to manage multiple lists, with a nice indicator of how many uncompleted items are left.

Once you’re into a specific list, the app is fairly easy to navigate, even if there’s no actual buttons to click. To create a new item, users need to merely begin typing while the app is in focus in OS X. To complete a task, simply select it and press the space bar. This is a little bit tricky, however, since clicking will actually allow you to edit, and therefore pressing space then actually adds a space to the item’s text.

Items can be re-ordered by dragging and deleted by swiping to the left. Navigating between a list and the list of lists can be achieved in a number of ways too: by pinching on a trackpad, scrolling up/down through the full lists or clicking the app’s single button in the top-right.

Clear for Mac is pretty much the iOS app, emulated for OS X.

You can also pull out individual lists by dragging out their item in the “list of lists”, creating a multi-window setup that shows more lists at once, something certainly not possible with the iPhone app. However, that feature is pretty much the only non-iOS function in the Mac version.

Overall, the app is pretty simple. An outlier in a world of apps still dominated by ones featuring actual buttons, Clear is different, but is easy enough to use once you’ve committed the full control set to memory.

Gestures, Gestures, Gestures

Clear is very heavy on gestures. Without the aforementioned traditional use of buttons and menu items, Clear can take a while to get used to. Ultimately, it feels like the iOS app being emulated for OS X, rather than an app that’s had significant consideration into the differences in UX between touch and mouse/keyboard. The same minimalist style could easily have been achieved without such an unfamiliar control convention.

However, once the controls and gestures that Clear uses are memorised, it does end up being a pleasant experience, on trackpads especially.

Swiping to clear a task


Clear for Mac syncs your tasks and lists with iCloud, meaning users of the iPhone version (and/or multiple Macs) will be able to keep all their tasks completely in sync with a new update.

However, this is a feature long available in Reminders, the stock and, importantly, free app in OS X. It’s also an app available for iPhone, where Clear is not available unless you run the iPhone edition in 2x mode. As we’ll discuss in just a moment, Clear for Mac has a hefty price tag and isn’t able to boast any substantial features that Reminders doesn’t have, aside from an interface that most will pass on in order to save a significant amount of cash.

Final Thoughts

Clear for Mac is a nice app, and the minimalist interface combined with a notable simplicity will appeal to a lot of users who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the app they’re using to organise their time for more important causes.

There are some usability concerns but enough exposure mitigates these. The big issue here, though, was never the app. After introductory pricing, Clear for Mac comes with a $14.99 price tag, a significant increase over the $1.99 price for an iOS version that is OS X’s is essentially ported from. Something about this doesn’t seem right, especially with a number of significant cheaper and free alternatives being available, including the one you already have installed on your Mac by default.

The app itself would probably get a strong 8 or 9 out of 10 if it were cheaper, especially for those looking for a simpler experience. However, price is a big factor here and it’s not something that can be ignored.


The OS X version of popular minimalist to-do app Clear.



Add Yours
  • Totally agree on the price argument. I think its a very nice and sleek app. I have been using since last night and I’m happy with it and I’m happier with the $7 price point, but long term $15 is just dumb. No one, and I mean no one should buy this app after it goes back to $15. Its simply not worth it. Your better off with Reminders. I like its simplicity, I will be using it all the time because I use the iOS app all the time. I hope when Clear drops way off the charts after the price goes up they’ll realize the mistake they made. In the mean time, I’ll enjoy the app for what it does and the fact that I got it for a lot cheaper.

  • Picked it up on launch day for $7.49 AUD. Very happy so far. Except that seeing as I am not installing iOS6 for various reasons, I can’t use the latest version of Clear for iPhone, and therefore can’t use Cloud sync. Boo.

    Other than that, happy.

    • My situation is exactly the same as this gentleman. I didn’t realise I had to have iOS6 for iCloud to work on my iOS device; this bums me out a little. However, 7.49AUD is definitely a price I’ll pay for decent software.

  • It’s currently at $6.99 for the launch day price!

  • $15 is indeed a ridiculous price. $7 is OK but even at that, it’s only a todo list. So if you don’t need the fancy interface, you can get the same functionality for nothing out of built in apps….

  • Totally agree on the price argument too!

  • Clearly overpriced (Ha!).

    Intuitive app, but obviously one that sells highly on design over features.

  • This app is not a good GTD app. If I want to see a list of stuff I need to do I can just type it up in Stickies. Clear doesn’t even show me what date something is due, which pretty much makes it utterly useless.

    • Hi Tim, I agree with you that Clear is not a good GTD app and it never tell you that it is!

      I see it quite a few time on this website that either:

      1.) people haven’t read GTD (the book) and just skim over the concept and start comment on app that it’s not good for GTD (while they themselves still doesn’t understand what GTD really is).

      2.) complain that a Non-GTD app is not good as a GTD app. If you say Things is not a good GTD app and you have a solid reason, this is acceptable. However, if you said Clear is not a good GTD app, this is strange. Clear is a list app, it is not a GTD app.

      For some non GTD app, you can adopt it and use it for GTD methodology, but if that app doesn’t, it is not because of the app. It’s because of you using the wrong tool.

    • Oh. one more things. I maybe wrong but as far as I can remember, GTD Next Action Item doesn’t have due date. Anything with date specific should be in Calendar.

      PS. Since English isn’t my native tongue , please forgive my poor English.

  • Here’s the thing I don’t understand about their pricing for the Mac app:

    It doesn’t appear to have any additional features that aren’t already available in the iOS app, so why does it cost 3x (introductory price) or 7.5x (normal price) as much as the iOS app? I wouldn’t pay more than $1.99 for this. Sorry Clearmac, you all built a truly beautiful ToDo list program, but either charge $15 for the iOS app or drop the price of the Mac app. It seems really silly to pay a 7x premium to use (what you yourselves have deemed) $1.99 worth of features on my desktop computer. That being said, I do wish you all the best. I love Clear for my iPhone.

  • How about a free app for iOS that synchs with the desktop app (also free) and that has priority settings and lists?

    If that appeals to you, then there is Wunderlist, which I have been using for a longish while now:

  • I have the iOS app and use it religiously. However I can’t believe he price for the app on Mac £6.99 which is obv the £ equivalent of $14.99.
    I tweeted the makers and their excuse was it took 8 months of development to make the Mac App. They didn’t seem to appreciate my suggestion that the iOS app must have taken less than 2 months as by their rules of value as it only costs £1.50.
    Their response was that they have to be able to support the app but as I pointed out to them 100x£3 sales is better than 10x£6.99.
    I’ll give that Wunder list a look thanks.