You usually have a general idea of what you’ll work on during the day, that’s why GTD apps work: you schedule ahead of time what you want to get done through your day, so that you don’t forget about it. But what about the tasks that come up during the day? You know, suddenly you remember that you told someone you’d give him a call, or that you haven’t washed the car in weeks.
That’s what the app that we are reviewing today, Alarms, is useful for. It’s a simple app that lets you create quick and simple reminders without interrupting what you are doing.
Interested? Read on to find out more.
Alarms is as simple and pretty as apps can get. It will run in your menu bar, showing up by way of a little bell icon. If an alarm goes off, the bell will continuously vibrate and make a sound until you snooze the task or get around to doing it.
Once you complete something, you’ll have to notify Alarms by going into the app and checking the task. If you click the little bell, a timeline will drop down where you can schedule new tasks and interact with the ones that you already have. You can also drag pretty much anything to the bell and make it into a task.
That’s pretty much Alarms in a nutshell, but let’s take a slightly deeper look…
As I mentioned, Alarms is very pretty and it goes along with your Mac well. If you click the Menu Bar icon, Alarms will bring up a timeline divided into three parts.
The first one is a box that has all the things that are due now. There you can check tasks as done or view them (if your task is a link, for example, it will bring up the page). You can also drag the tasks that are due to re-arrange them for a later time.
In the second part, there’s the timeline itself. Here you’ll see a bar broken down into hours. This is where all the other tasks that are due later in the day live. The third part is a small calendar that is positioned to the right part of the timeline, and with it you can jump between days so that you can schedule tasks ahead of time.
Adding New Reminders
Adding new reminders or tasks is, like anything in this app, very simple. You can jump into the timeline and double click on any hour and create a task there. Once your task is created, if you want it to be at a more specific time (say, 2:15 instead of 2:00), you can slowly drag the task to the time that you want it to be in. I’d much prefer to just type in the time that you want the task to be in, but there doesn’t seem to be any option to do that.
Another option to create a new task is simply to drag something into the app. I tried this with folders, files and links and all of those seemed to work. You just need to drag something into the bell icon, and the timeline will open. Then you’ll be able to drop what you are dragging to a particular point in time.
Once an alarm goes off, you’ll be notified by an alarm sound, a Growl notification (if you’ve selected this as an option), and the little bell icon will begin to “vibrate”. You can then go into the app and view the task, mark it as done or move it to another time.
The sound will continue to play every minute or so, and the little bell won’t stop vibrating until you complete the task, so if you want to avoid all this annoyance, you can snooze the task by quickly moving your cursor to the left and right 4 times.
Once snoozed, the alarm will stop bothering you for some time, but it will come back to remind you again a little later.
Other Features and Settings
Alarms also has a few additional features. If you click the bell and drag it down, a timer will activate, which you can control by moving your cursor further down or up. The timer notifications work very much like the reminders, and it’s a handy way to quickly set a timer. Maybe you’ve started boiling an egg, and want to be reminded to take it out after a few minutes…
You can also transfer your tasks from iCal, and birthdays from Address Book to quickly create reminders related to particular calendars or events. Under the applications preferences, you’ll find lots of options. You can change sounds, set shortcuts for the snooze feature, and even stop the alarm sound from repeating after it sounds the first time.
Alarms can make a great little companion to your GTD software of choice. Even though it doesn’t have a “History” feature and lacks some features, the sleek simplicity makes up for that. It might not replace your current GTD app, but I don’t think it’s really trying to.
Think of Alarms as a reminder app that gets you through the day, used for quickly setting up tasks that you have to get done by a certain time. Handy, reasonably priced, and worth looking into if you regularly get interrupted with tasks and to do’s during the day!