TaskPaper: Simple Productivity

When it comes to task managing applications, I’ve tried them all. The Hit List, Things, Omnifocus etc. But I just couldn’t get myself into a system that worked. For a while I turned to .txt files. Simple and ultra-portable.

And then I found TaskPaper. TaskPaper is basically steroids-driven .txt file. After testing it for a while, I think I’ve found an application that will stick.

The Basics


Projects, tasks, notes, and tags/contexts. The beauty of TaskPaper is its auto-formatting. Type a word followed by a colon(:) and it is automatically transformed into a project. If you type a dash and then a space, the text you type after is a task. Simply typing words defaults to a note.

Tagging in TaskPaper is what you’d probably expect, an @ followed by your tag. Clicking on a task’s hyphen(-) will automatically strike them off, and add a @done tag. Your projects and tasks can be dragged too.

If this system seems strange, imagine yourself typing in something like this in a text file:
– Milk
– Eggs
– Sugar

TaskPaper has been made to take the cues that you already use. The way it handles things is intuitive and very easy to pick up.

The Steroids Part

Okay, so right now TaskPaper is looking a bit bare-bones. Not to worry, because it is packing some pretty GTD-savvy techniques. First off are the keyboard shortcuts. Virtually everything in the menu is controllable through keyboard shortcuts, making for a super smooth workflow.

For example, hitting command backslash will let you transfer your selected task(s) to another project on the fly. A few other possibilities are: Going to specific projects or tags, adding a @done or @today tag, and traversing throughout your projects. And on top of that, it has a quick entry window. With it you can append tasks or notes to existing projects or even add entire new projects.

Quick Entry

Quick Entry

TaskPaper lets you split a single list into different views in the form of tabs. Each tab has it’s on search bar for independent filtering. Additionally you can add a project sidebar. Clicking on a project’s name will filter in only the tasks from that project.

Tags and Searching

To take TaskPaper further into the realm of GTD, you can use the tagging/context system. Optionally in your tags you can supply a priority level. TaskPaper has a powerful search query system for filtering your task list. You can use simple queries like ‘@today’ or delve into the more complicated like ‘project inbox and @today’ – it’s up to you how far you want to take it.




TaskPaper supports theming, but the system is complex. The developer is working on a purely CSS based system, which should bring more themeing options to the table. Right now, TaskPaper ships with six themes. You can pick up a couple more over at the user group and wiki.

Using Themes

Using Themes

The Applescript capability in TaskPaper is extensive. Over at the wiki, there are over 20 different scripts available for your consumption. These include simple things like deleting all archived tasks, to adding Quicksilver support.


TaskPaper is good solution for just getting things done. It isn’t lacking in features, but it isn’t swimming in them either. Obviously TaskPaper isn’t for every one. If you need hardcore tagging, due dates, or more structure, check out Things, OmniFocus, or the still-in-beta The Hit List.