Weekly Poll: How Do You Do To-dos?

It’s hard to throw a stone without hitting a new to-do list app for the Mac. From Apple’s Reminders app to the new, iPhone inspired apps like Clear to the old, trusty workhorse apps like Omnifocus and Things, there’s a million ways to get things done on your Mac.

The thing is, we all need different things from to-do list apps. I personally used a plain text file (with TaskPaper or any plain text editor) for the longest time to keep track of everything I needed to do, before it became too hard to keep up with the tasks that have deadlines. I then switched to Omnifocus, and rely on it to make sure I don’t miss anything I need to do. I still like using plain text files for to-dos, though, and also have taken to using Clear to keep up with lists of random things that don’t matter as much (say, apps I want to try or movies I want to watch).

There’s far too many to-do list apps to list in a poll, so I thought instead we’d just ask what apps you use to keep up with your todos. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Add Yours
  • Doit.im for to-dos, Evernote for everything else. I have an Android phone, so Omnifocus, Things, The Hit List et al are no good. Doit is great though, now that the Mac app isn’t crippled.

  • Evernote for everything: lists, read later, to-dos (checklists) and notes. The less apps, the more work

  • I’m currently using Things. However, I’m considering going to Reminders, as list-based may work OK for me (with Things I tend to just look at the Today list and ignore everything else).

    I need it to work on OS X and iOS both, so I need something like Reminders, or Things, or Listary, or whatever.

    I used to use OmniFocus but the UI and workflow of it really bugged me. If they blow the roof off with OmniFocus 2 I could consider heading back that route; I’ll see.

  • I’m having a hard time finding the perfect place for my to-dos. I’m a plain text lover and own TaskPaper, however, i don’t see it fit in the Dock as i use mostly menubar and Launchbar to access my applications. So i’m supporting this idea: http://rightapp.tumblr.com/post/40574436302/better It’s about a menubar-plaintext-list-organizer. Read and tell me what you think of it, i’m looking for someone interested in developing it.

    I also deal with projects and purchasing OmniFocus/Things turns out to be impossible due to the dollar conversion and average wage of my country (we receive 1/3 than an US Citizen, but pay double for any application). I’ve tried to reach out the developers in the lookout for a discount, unsuccessful, so i’m trying out 2do and it looks like pretty complete and promising. And, most important, affordable.

    • i was just reading your comment and i identify myself with everything you are saying. sometimes i just feel like learning dev so i can make apps the way i want, as i always find that something is missing on other apps. is the website yours? it’s amazing. i hope i can help with ideas also

  • I have been searching all over the app store for a to-do app that does everything I need it to do. After trying a lot of different apps I finally found 2do and Clear.
    Both are excellent apps that do exactly what they are supposed to. Both apps are on OS X and iOS which is important to me.

    2do is imo the best (most complete) task manager available on the App Store right now and Clear needs no introduction (but Dropbox syncing).

  • My favourite to do app is 2Do for the ability to build your to-do lists, make checklist and projects and set priority level and much more. It is easy to use and all around a great app.

  • Org Mode in Emacs. It let’s me set up projects, deadlines, schedule tasks and is basically eveything I need. There is a nice app for iOS but you can export everything in HTML or iCal if you want.

  • I use Reminders on my iMac, iPad, and iPod Touch. I also like that I can use the iCloud.com Reminders Web App if I need to see my tasks on a PC.

  • Like Philip, I am really picky when it comes to any GTD app, let alone one that manages my to-dos. However, I am currently seeking refuge in Wunderlist 2 for my to-dos. I’m loving the new update and so far it’s been great for managing my day once finished with classes for that day. However, I’m not liking how Wunderlist continues to alert me of a task I finish early, even when I checked it off. I can’t wait to see what others recommend for to-dos. I’m certainly looking for some within the free to $1.99 range (Things is out – for now at least).

  • I personally used and developed Purpose. It’s specifically targeted for GTD users.
    If interested, you can get more info at lotus-eyes.com

  • Native all the way baby. Remiders via Siri.
    There are some nice 3rd party apps out there, but I find Apples core apps usually do the basics pretty well. They might not have all the bells & whistles but its the cross app integration I’d rather keep (like Siri integration etc) than invest loads of time fragmenting my workflow into a 3rd party apps ony to find Apple improves Siri or brings some amazing new feature out in the future that I can’t use cos I migrated away.

  • I tested dozens of to-do apps since I switched to Mac last September. The solution I chose is Tree, a powerfull outliner which works perfectly as a to-do app and note keeper to me.

    App Storm made a nice review of Tree some time ago, when I get noticed about it:

    The developer site:

  • Over the past year I have personally tested a number of To-Do tracking tools that have both OS X and iOS versions. The programs I have tested each have a unique approach to content entry or presentation. The evaluation included Clear, OmniFocus, Orchestra, Reminder, Things and Wunderlist.

    My key requirements were: 1) keep data in sync across all programs, 2) Fast entry task entry/marked completion, 3) Ability to organize a large number of tasks into multi-level projects (or folders).

    While a really enjoyed the simple interface of THINGS (from Cultured Code), I found OMNIFOCUS (The Omni Group) because it provides a deeper level content organization and data capture. If you are not managing complex activities and the content you are capturing is only a simply list of tasks then THINGS is an excellent program and worth a serious look.

  • I use the iphone Reminders app to keep track of what I have to do for the week. This is usually just to organize my errands (not work deadlines).

    I organize all of my tasks by “This Day”, “This Week”, “This Month”, and then “In Time.” This way I can move items from “This Week” into “This Day” when it looks like I have free time, or move it in reverse if I’m swamped. This also works for moving “This Month” tasks into “This Week” and so on. When I make a task I always set the priority: none, low, medium, or high. The things that I absolutely NEED to do “This Day” or “This Week” get high priority, and something like “Look for the best new coffee mug for work” would be set to low priority. I do wish there was a way to differentiate between low and medium priority tasks on your basic list view, but you can only tell weather or not something is high priority (marked with !!!) or not high priority. I usually find my way around this by having my most important tasks towards the top of the list, and descending into least important.

    I also use two other task categories titled “Groceries” and “Stuff”. The “Groceries” category has a running list of anything I can think of that I need to pick up at the store within the week. This list I also sort by priority, and in the note section I write in the store where I will most likely purchase it. The note can be seen in list view, so it allows me to easily cluster each item I can get at the same store usually with the first store I plan to stop at at the top. This is where the “Stuff” category comes in. If I have anything I want to get, weather it be for me or someone else, that I’m not going to be picking up at the grocery store or anytime soon, it goes in that category. Now the priority is usually where I set what is most important to buy and least important to buy. This is also great when I’m pestered by friends and family around Christmas and Birthdays asking what I want. All I would have to do is look in my pocket to bring up a running list including the places I would most likely buy them at. I can also put “Stop at Walgreens” under “This Day” and when I get there see everything I need to get.

    I don’t like to use the alarm/date function for any tasks because I find calendar on my iphone works much better for things with set times. Using calendar along with tasks on my phone allows me differentiate between things that have a specific time that I can’t reschedule, or would have to contact someone reschedule, and things that I can reschedule at the drop of a hat. The first being calendar and the latter being tasks. For example, my calendar can alert me 2 hours before my doctors appointment, prompting me to let my boss know I’m leaving a half an hour early. Meanwhile in tasks I can drag “Pick up Jacket from John” to “This Week” so I don’t forget about it while leaving “Tale Out Trash” on the list so I still remember to do that today. Now you might think it would be useful to have an alarm and time for this too, but chances are the time will change. It would get annoying really fast having to assign arbitrary times to tiny little reminders, only to have to reset them 15 times. I want to be able to look at my calendar, tell my friend when I’m available to go bridesmaid dress shopping, then proceed to get my daily tasks done leading up to that point.

    …and that is how I do my to-dos without forgetting to actually do them.

  • I’m quite a fan of Wunderlist (http://www.6wunderkinder.com/wunderlist) not lest because of its combination of elegance with total cross-platform synchronisation.

  • A folder of plaint text files. The filename is the project and the content is the optional todos, notes, etc. I have a special prefix for each todo-file with tags and priorities in the name of the file. They are synced everywhere via DropBox. I can navigate using Notational Velocity or Finder with smart folders. I use Notesy or TaskPaper on my iPhone.
    I’ve tried almost everything before doing this and I haven’t looked back for a couple years now. It’s completely portable and allows for any level of detail.
    My system is my own, but this is what got me started down the right path: http://dougist.com/2009/08/file-system-infobase-manager/

  • I’m using Todoist (http://todoist.com). Nice web interface, browser extensions, mobile Apps and Mac client

  • i’m sticking with Wunderlist
    migration from v1 to v2 was really painful but it is still the only app i have kept using after a few weeks of testing. and i tried a lot of them…

  • Evernote, since the key is integrating to do’s with everything else. You can forward email to it, with the tags already applied. You can include extensive notes & attach documents to to-do’s. You can link & cross-reference separate notes to a fare-thee-well. You can use browser add-ins to instantly add a link or a page as a to do, with notes. You can share any of this with others temporarily or permanently, through email or shared notebooks. Google “GTD” and “the secret weapon” for a complete set-up.

    Works on *all* platforms. Mostly free (unless you want to attach any type document).

    Can your stand-alone to-do app do all that?


    • You’ve got some good points there, though there’s ways to do much of that with Omnifocus ;)

      • Thanks, Matthew,

        Omni is certainly pretty, & lots of people like it. However, it does not meet one criterion I mentioned that is important to those of us who live in multiple OSes: There’s no Windows version. Also, it replaces bookmarks, Dropbox, & several other functions across platforms.

  • Wunderlist

  • I changed over to use the Action Method. I use it on paper, my iphone, ipad and Mac. It is a really simple system that you can use yourself or really well with a team. If you haven’t heard of it I recommend you check it out.

  • ToDo by Appigo. Mac app, IOS apps for iPad/iPhone and web for my windoze PC.

    I’ve tried Things, tooledo, wunderlust, Firetask, OmniFocus, Productive, AnyDO, Taska, Orchestra, RTM and I’m sure a few others.

    I keep coming back to Todo a pen and a Moleskine notebook.

  • Plain text files in dropbox. On iPhone TaskPaper. On Mac package for SublimeText2, TaskPaper, NerdTool to display Next list on desktop and Alfred 2 workflow I just created to quickly glance at task and mark them as done (https://github.com/bevesce/TodoFlow).

    • We’re in the same boat. I caught your workflow over on the Alfredforum and it looks great. I’ve got one or two ideas I’d like to see implemented though, but that’s a topic for another time and another forum ;)

  • TaskPaper. Works on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Maybe on the expensive end, but the simple design, quick entry, and sync across devices makes it very useful. I use note entry with Siri voice-to-text to keep track of tasks performed in the field (as well as regular to do items). While there are no ~advanced features (scheduling function, etc), I find that the straightforward simple UI fits my workflow.

  • I was using Omnifocus, because of its ability to clip email to tasks, along with links back to the key message (Things can also do this), but am now using MailHub with Reminders. The MailHub Mac OS integration is seamless, less cumbersome than OF. And the advantages of MailHub with Apple Mail speak for themselves.

  • I recently switched from ToDoist to PAGICO. It integrates task/to do lists, notes and timelines – all of the elements for robust and simple project management. The Workspaces are easy to manage and allow for terrific TEAM collaboration!


    I’ve tried them all — PAGICO is the closest thing to “do it all” app as I’ve found!

    Cheers all … Jeff

  • I normally switch between multiple tasks on the same day so I need to keep track of my activities and organize my daily activity dynamically and by assigning time slots. That’s why I need to manage my todo using a Pomodoro-based software. At the moment I have not identified any tool that allows me to cross-sync between Mac and iOS so there is no sw to recommend from the many in the App Store. On 2012 Pomodorable seemed a good choice but the developer got out of business and now the sw disappeared from the App Store.
    As far as todo for teams I’m using Asana. It is good to keep track of project activity and tasks but not for planning. Finally I use Begin on iPad for a raw estimation of my weekly activity plan.

    • Pomodorable and MyLittlePomodoro got success on App Store and then were removed with no further information. Other apps does not have updates for a while. This is because apps designed to support Pomodoro technique are facing legal issues regarding the technique copyright. The only exception at this moment seems to be Tomatoes, which may have a deal with technique’s author.

  • A moleskin notebook, I forget everything if I use any software solution for ToDos :-)

  • I love using The Hit List on my Mac, thanks to its awesome keyboard support. I don’t think my fingers leave the keyboard at all when I’m using this app.

    Its main drawback for me is the lack of time-based reminders. I don’t trust myself to always know what’s on my Today list, so I prefer to set a reminder and forget it.

  • Depending my needs, I use Clear, Evernote and Wunderlist.

  • I use Due on my iPhone, iPad and Mac for full synchronization. Although Due is a reminder app it is one of the greatest one to have, I love setting recurring to-do for every week, month (like paying rent, watering the flowers etc…) and I don’t have to worry about that. Or if there is something important needs doing (time based), I always rely on Due.
    For lists without due dates and timers I use Clear, which I believe is the only thing keeping this app from greatness.

  • OmniFocus… back from Things and all the other ones, http://www.usingomnifocus.com/ebook/ gave me the boost to come back…

  • I mostly use Reminders with Evernote coming in second. Right now I’m trying out Wunderlist and Pragmatic! ToDo.

  • It’s Omnifocus and Wunderlist for all my to-dos. For quick to-dos and reminders, I tend to use the latter more often.

  • Clear. Everytime, since it came out I have religiously used this brilliant application

  • Anybody that knows me can quickly tell you I prefer a plaintext system. Separate lists for each project/aspect of life and then a Master archive file for completed tasks.

    The beauty of the plaintext system is that it’s universally cross platform, future proof and easily searchable. Apps like TaskPaper, FoldingText, Todo.txt make using plaintext to-do lists a breeze and joy.

  • The short answer is Trello.

    For many years I was devoted to RTM, playing with various Mac native apps which supported it, but mostly relying on GMail and Google Calendar widgets. Has the advantage of being integrated into all sorts of other apps and platforms, including SMS and Twitter. Good mobile app too. Ultimately though didn’t show enough innovation over the years and I got bored.

    I then discovered more kanban focused tools which is when I ended up using Trello in a pseudo-kanban style. Whilst there are a few basic native clients that support Trello, I’ve settled into using the web interface, with two tabs permanently open in Chrome for work and personal boards. Mobile app is fair too, but lacks offline support currently. Hence if I’m in a non-connected pinch and want to add a task to my list (since I very much adhere to a GTD style of adding tasks to my list promptly) I use Google Tasks and have a little Zapier workflow that picks that up when my phone synchronizes and adds it to Trello for me.

  • A true semi-Luddite:

    My memory is crap and my life’s cluttered with literally hundreds of TD’s at any one time. So deadline/appt stuff goes into any e-Calendar that will send me a far and close reminder (usually Google’s). However, I’ve tried 20 or more digital TD apps and none work for me at all. Outta sight is outta mind. Period.

    So the rest is done with cheap pens scribbling QUICKLY on the backs of used envelopes (recycle, baby!) – always in front of me on my desk, in my coat pocket, briefcase, etc,, i.e., wherever I can get to them in a few seconds.

    If it’s sitting in some app that’s not open, always and everywhere, too much trouble to get at it, and I don’t. I run several small businesses, run a home, run my side creative career and more – with all more priority-oriented than time-oriented- and so need lots of separate lists (so maybe 5-10 envelopes) – and find the lowly asterisk and arrows pointing to things moved up do the re-org job until it’s time to pull out another envelope, and, gasp, re-write…..

  • Things for to-dos and Evernote for note taking.

    At first, I didn’t really understand Cultured Code’s philosophy for Things but as I got used to it I got much more appreciation out of it. And frankly, I still do. To me, Things is the best to-do app out there with it’s feature execution in a minimalist way. Also they have a lovely UI.

    Even though I was fond of Evernote’s feature set I was thinking about switching to Apple’s own Notes app instead of Evernote but Evernote 2 really struck me in terms of UI so I stayed with Evernote.

  • it’s one of the few things that still requires a piece of paper and a pen.

  • Wunderlist 2. The subtask feature is great. There are a few things I wish they had (tags for example). I was switching between Reminders and Wunderlist but once Wunderlist 2 came out I stuck with it. Also, the fact that it works on every platform is a huge plus, I don’t like to lock my self into a particular product if I can help it.

  • For projects and the big picture, I use Curio because I can add and connect any kind of organizational structure: outlines, mindmaps, sketches, whatever… I’d use a wall and thumbtacks if I had a big enough wall, but Curio is a good stand-in with its infinite virtual wall.

    For daily or even weekly to-do’s, check this out:
    I’ve tried ALL the GTD apps, list managers, and day planner apps. Waste of money and time. For the ultimate in convenience, simplicity, efficiency, flexibility, and durability try http://www.riteintherain.com and a Space Pen (kinda pricey though;)

  • I was doing 2Do for awhile and then Doit.im. I’ve recently switched to Teambox since my entire office uses it. Great for group collaboration as well as single todo/task management.

  • Worth mentioning – every todo app will fail if you dont invent some GTD methodology which fit best for you so I am currently in the middle of search ;)
    I tried Emacs Org-Mode – very powerfull but configuration is a pain to adapt to my need.
    I need an app that can store my todos and add them quickly by system shortcut.
    I need an app that create an archive of done things, and app that can manage large projects with collection of subtasks, especially when cooperating with other people.

    For now i Found OmniFocus to be the best but still struggling with its enormous power ;) I also started to use TaskPaper as main outliner with one main note connected by symbolic link to folder when nValt also have access. I think the whole point is to have system that syncs and join several tools – it’s the tricky part that most of developers cannot do right way. So for now I tend to duplicate my todos into Fantastical/BusyCal. BusyCal can access iCLoud calendars even on Snow Leopard, you may create todos in BusyCal that sync immediately with iOS Reminders, very handy. I can also interact with Fantastical and TaskPaper via ALfred.

    It would be nice to find a way of automatic conversion between plaintext note formats like TaskPaper,TaskWarrior, Todo.txt. That would be magical – one system for todos accessible from different devices, different tools – no conflicts, no issues with compatibility etc.

  • I use Things. All the way.

    As a programmer friend of mine said, Things is “Hot. Simple. Deep.” Looks and feels great. Intuitive and easy to use. Powerful and full featured, with Cloud sync for my iPhone. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

  • At the beginning, I use 2Do. It is beautiful. However, it try to do too many thing, which make it doing nothing well (IMHO).

    Some point in time, I try Putting Things Off. It’s fun to use, but quite limit. I also believe that it is dead already, since there is no word from the developer.

    Then I switch to Things (on iPhone, iPad & Mac). It’s the perfect solution, balancing between feature and ease of use. It is the best app for GTD (if you read the whole book and follow the guidelines in the book).

    However, just recently, I simplify my life and switch back to Clear (on iOS & Mac). It has just a few features, however it help me get more done by switching from focus on the system to focus on the getting stuff done. My current system is in between ZTD and GTD.

  • The Hit List (Potion Factory) is my favourite, because:
    – Macs & iOS synced via Webservice
    – customizable Workflow
    – comprehensive tags & contexts customization
    – great support for keyboard nav & edit
    – collect new items from anywhere at anytime
    – repeat tasks
    – support for links
    – beautiful design
    – multiple databases (sqlite)
    – and many more
    Though its timer-function is not very useful, THL saves me lots of time. I even use it for quick notes, I just collect everything into THL first and process later. That’s also the reason, why my I always have about 1000 items in it ;)