Have you ever searched the Mac App Store for task management apps? If not, go check real quick; we’ll wait. Surprising, isn’t it? There’s literally hundreds of results. Outside of the mainstays (Things, Omnifocus, and Wunderlist to name a few) there are some diamonds in the rough out there, great apps that might not be as polished but deserve more than simply being ignored in the App Store. Onlytasks may just be your diamond in the rough.
By implementing several unique features—such as Evernote sync and Calendar integration—Onlytask provides an appealing option in the task management category. Odds are, you’ve never tried it before, so let’s take a look.
Setting Up Onlytasks
Onlytasks is developed by Juan Miguel Escribano who initially developed the app out of the desire to provide a task management solution that integrated with Evernote. (To check out some of Juan’s other projects visit his blog.) So if you need to sync your tasks across multiple Macs or with the iOS versions of Onlytasks, your first step is going to be syncing with Evernote.
On first sync, login to an Evernote account is required. If you already have an Evernote account you will be able to choose which notebooks you want to sync. If you use Evernote separate from your GTD or task management system, chances are you will not sync all or even most of your notebooks. Note titles will become tasks and the body of the note will become a task note. In my testing initial sync took a couple of minutes, but sync was very fast afterwards. Initial sync will sync all of your tags in Evernote, but you can hide the tags you will not be using. After syncing for the first time all newly created notebooks and tags will sync with Evernote and Onlytasks.
If you don’t have an Evernote account, setup is quick and free. If you use Evernote and want to keep your GTD system and notes separate, creating a new Evernote account is also quick and free.
What Makes Onlytasks Unique?
With so many task management app options out there, it is worthwhile to point out where Onlytasks is unique. The first thing that stands out opening Onlytasks is the three-pane window.
After using Onlytasks for a few days, I noticed a couple of advantages of having a three-pane window. First of all, notes are visible without having to open the task. Second, adding the third pane means several customizable viewing options allowing users to customize the view to their heart’s content.
Another very valuable feature in Onlytasks is the integration with both the native Calendar app and the native Reminders app. When adding a new task, clicking the option at the bottom of the Add window allows you to send the task to a calendar or a Reminders list and set an alarm—without having to open either app. This is extremely flexible because you do not have to choose a predefined calendar or Reminder list to send tasks to.
Powerful filtering is another feature that sets Onlytasks apart. Using the Command key, you can filter as many lists, notebooks, and tags as you want. This translates into the most powerful filtering tool I have seen in a task management app (and that is saying something because I have tried them all). What makes this filtering option even better is that when you filter tasks in a way you find useful, creating a saved search will remember the filters and they will be just one click away.
Other Nice Features
There several other features available in Onlytasks that are not necessarily unique, but for me—and many other task manager app users according to reviews and message boards I have read—are very useful. For example:
- Access to the app in the menubar. The menubar shows tasks due today and has a shortcut for adding new tasks.
- A universal shortcut for adding new tasks.
- Customization options for font styles, font sizes, icon sizes, etc.
- Plenty of options for sorting tasks within lists.
- An Instructive, built-in Help menu.
In today’s busy world your tasks should go where you go. An app that does not sync across devices is a deal breaker for many. Thankfully, Onlytasks also sports a universal iOS version. Additionally, tasks are synced to Evernote for backup and editing. In my testing, sync between the Mac and iOS versions as well as Evernote was accurate and fast. I encountered no sync errors. That is not to say the integration is complete. The ability to send tasks to your calendar or create a reminder in the Reminders app is absent in the iOS version of Onlytasks. You can set reminders in the iOS version, but they do not communicate with the Mac app. The developer informed me in an email that integrating the notifications between iOS and OS x is on his list. The powerful filtering tool is also missing from the iOS version.
A Couple of Setbacks
While I was impressed overall with Onlytask’s feature set, there are a couple of things missing. I have several tasks that need to be completed on a quarterly, monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis. Unfortunatley, Onlytasks is not helpful for this aspect of task management as it lacks the ability to set up repeating tasks. Also, new tasks that require a due date cannot be added completely from the keyboard, which is a drawback for keyboard enthusiasts. Finally, the interface for Onlytasks is a bit unrefined and cluttered. The current version is a big improvement over previous versions, and hopefully this will continue to improve as the app matures.