Things 2: Tasks in the Cloud

Some say this day would never arrive, some even called it abandon-ware, but Things 2 is finally here. Cultured Code, the developers behind Things for Mac, iPhone and iPad released an updated version of their suite of productivity apps today. Also arriving with the set of updates is Things Cloud – Cultured Code’s sync service that keeps your copies of Things updated on all of your devices.

Let’s take a look at Things 2 for Mac as well as Things Cloud and explore what’s new since we first covered this task manager back in 2009 and what might tempt you to make the jump from another task manager.

First and Foremost, Things Cloud

This update has been nearly two years in the making and shows it with the level of polish and speed at which their new sync engine works. If you’ll remember, when Things launched on the iPhone and Mac you needed a Wifi network that supported Bonjour to sync. It was limited to local network syncing and required both apps to be open to initiate a sync. In late 2010, Cultured Code announced in a blog post that they were working on a new cloud based syncing solution. Unfortunately, it was a far way out. Cultured Code didn’t start open beta trials of its syncing solution until May of 2011. On top of the long wait, they announced that it would only be available for Mac-to-Mac syncing first.

The poster Cultured Code made when they announced their Over-The-Air syncing solution.

In August of 2011 Cultured Code announced the limited availability of cloud syncing with iOS devices. Through a hidden feature launched with a pervious version of Things, you were able to shake your phone on the settings screen to activate the beta features. In February of 2012 they announced the open public beta of their cloud syncing solution, meaning that anyone could try out the new Things Cloud service, even if they weren’t the first few to sign up for the beta when it was announced in May of the previous year.

I began testing the beta of Things Cloud back in early August 2011 on my iOS and Mac devices and found it to be incredibly stable and miraculously fast compared to other Over-The-Air syncing solutions out there.

The Things Cloud preference pane

Setting up Things Cloud can now be done from the preferences screen of any of their apps and requires just an email address and password. Things Cloud is a completely free service.  One of the best features of Things Cloud is how invisible it is: instead of having to press a sync button, Things will automatically sync every time you make a change to any to-do, create or edit a project, Area of Responsibility, or reorganize your tasks. The only way you’ll have any idea that Things Cloud is working is a small cloud icon that appears next to the Full Screen button in the title bar.

Once you have Things Cloud set up, you can just forget about it and know that your tasks are backed up and synchronized with every change.

Daily Review

In Things, you can easily organize what you need to get done by the end of the day in the Today list. Items used to get moved into Today automatically when they become due as well as well as when they are scheduled for today. In a slight departure, Things 2 separates these tasks, placing them into a “Daily Review” list. That way, you can easily mark the tasks that you actually need to to today and which you can delay until later.

The Things Daily Review card

I found the Daily Review list to be an integral part of using Things. Every morning all of the tasks that I have either postponed until today or are actually due today appear in the Daily Review. I can easily reschedule tasks that I don’t have time for as well as mark the important ones for completion today.

Reminders Integration

Adding tasks via Siri is one of the coolest features of Apple’s built-in Reminders app. Things 2 now has integration. In Things’s preferences, you can have the app monitor tasks that are on a specific list and load them into Things’s inbox. This way you can enter tasks via Siri and have them show up in your Things suite. You can also have Things export your Today list to another list if you so choose.

The sync panel in Things’s preferences.

Other New Features

There are a few other features that are important to note in this 2.0 release. Full screen mode is now enabled and the app is Retina-ready for those with the new MacBook Pro. Things is also now sold exclusively through the Mac App Store, with a trial still available via their website.

Things in fullscreen mode

Wrap Up

The app hasn’t changed a great deal, in terms of user interface design and I for one am really glad about that. The app remains one of the most beautiful ways to manage your tasks on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. Now powered with a brand new cloud backend, you’ll never be out of sync. Daily Review provides another great way to quickly power through your scheduled and due tasks and the Siri integration works quite well.

I would highly encourage you to check out Things for all of your devices. Let us know what you think in the comments!


A beautiful and powerful task management solution.



Add Yours
  • Thank yo for this review.

    I have been working with Things since its inception on Mac and iPhone. The inability of cloud syncing was annoying since most of my other mac software pieces were extended to this functionality. But Things is designed beautifully and motivates its users withots Gui apart from the sync shortage.

    Recently I have switched to Omnifocus on Mac and iPad: Also pricy, allows subfolders for projects, better structuring and tagging, timeline view for open tasks, better capabilities for project planning, also pure mac experience, lack of “today” view. I’ll stay with Omnifocus, Things has taken to long to improve and still lacks folder stacking.

    • I did exactly the same as you. I started using Things since the beta and loved it. I bought the app when it was out and kept using it. But after getting more experienced managing projects, tasks and the need to share with other people I decided to move to OmniFocus. Yesterday out of curiosity I installed the Things update anyway to have a look and I went – meh. It felt like meeting my ex-girlfriend of the 90s; we have nothing in common anymore.

    • Well, same for me, I met my ex (Things) after a long time- she still looked well-designed, so I gave her a second glimpse- being overwhelmed by the folder in folder in folder danger one runs into when having too many projects in OmniFocus… well, and I missed the simplicity of the today view.

      What can I say? We fell in love again… at least until OF receives its new surg- ah…. interface in 2.0…. I guess…

      It’s a good way of completely reviewing Your whole list of tasks;-)

  • I’ve used Things for a long time (os and ios app). Very nice interface, clean simple. However now everywhere I look there are so many cloud based to-do lists, I stopped using Things for a while now and been using Astrid (Free Web/iOs app, syncs with Google Tasks, can share to-dos with family/friends), Astrid was great for a while until I discovered, this is also free and takes it to another level. There are other free cloud based task managers which I am also trialing (eg. Asana), their web interface is also nice, simple and social (share tasks).
    Would be good to see what ‘Things 2’ brings to the Cloud Market for a fee.

  • Cultured Code should do some screencasts on how properly use things, i know people could use things in multiple ways but having a guideline showing you a framework on how to get the maximum out of things is very needed.

  • I absolutely love Things. I use it for my personal projects and responsibilities, as well as freelance web design projects. As Jan mentioned, OmniFocus is still kind for complex projects, such as the ones that my business, Avalux Web Development, takes on.

    However, I don’t think Things is geared toward the enterprise level. The only feature I wish Things has was the ability to group projects. I believe that could help me make the switch from OmniFocus to Things for more enterprise-level projects.

    • I group projects with tags or throwing them into the same area of responsibility. Not ideal but close enough. What did you envision?

  • I love things, I just think its a bit ridiculous that I paid $50 for the desktop version and $10 fro the iPhone version, and to get the iPad version, I have to dish out another $20. Some sort of customer loyalty program would be nice, discounts on bundled software.

    • Yes. Discout will be nice.

    • Things seems me nice in try period on mac. I have iPhone version $10 for it, ok. $20 for iPad version? hmmmm no way.

  • I use Things for about 2 years. First I use it on my iPhone. The function is good but entering data is so much pain so I stop using it. Then when iPad version is out, I switch back to use it again. It works very well and I think I will not have to buy Things for Mac. However after a year past, I bought the Mac version because entering data and managing everything on Mac is easier. With cloud sync, I know that my system is up to date.

    @mark I understand your point. However, Things is based entirely on the GTD method (Getting Things Done). Personally, I think if you have complete the book, you get a lot more than enough on how to use Things. However, if reading a whole book is not an option, you can search on the internet for the summary of what the GTD workflow is and you should be able to adapt GTD with Things. (or vice versa)

    @Jeremy Buff I agree with you that Things lack project grouping. Anyway, I still prefer Things to OmniFocus. The reason is its simplicity. Moreover, Project Grouping/Subproject is not that important to me. My “Area” divide into role like “Self”, “Business Owner”, “Investor”, etc. Suppose I have quite a big project, I choose to divided it into a few project with the same prefixed. It may have a problem if I work in a big team environment, however, my work usually involve only a few people, I can use @name to tag each task.

    • Actually Things doesn’t seem very GTD to me at all. Omnifocus basically makes you use contexts, which as you should know is pure GTD. I love the maps view on the iPhone because I can see a list of tasks sorted by location-base contexts (I even have a Publix context that searches for a nearby Publix grocery store). Things also does not have a review section. The new daily review is not exactly GTD review because it’s a one-time thing (either do today or defer to later). With Omnifocus you review different projects at whatever interval you choose.

      I tried switching back to Things, but the maps feature in Omnifocus save me.

  • @mamjed Can’t agree more with you. However, I do buy all 3 versions. Since I buy the iPhone version first, the iPad version feel like a usability upgrade. The mac version is the last one I buy and it’s already integrate into my workflow.

    So, it’s expensive. Yep, but Cheaper than OmniFocus. It’s ridiculous to have to paid for all 3 version. Yep, just like OF.

    Please note that I know and understand that OF has more features, but as a (quite) pure GTD user, that features has no use on my GTD implementation.

  • I used things on the mac and iphone and loved it. I switched to Android, and since Things doesn’t think an Android app is worth their time. I’ve moved on to Producteev. Which is FREE by the way and in a lot of ways is a better product.

    • I switched from Things to Wunderkit and found that Producteev is not only free, it is intuitive, easy to use and it’s cloud sync works reliably

  • Things 2 no longer allows ical export/sync for anything other than ‘today’. That’s an annoying feature downgrade in my view.

  • I was really looking forward to Cloud sync until I saw the Terms of Service: “you grant Cultured Code (and those we work with) a worldwide, non-exclusive license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such Content, without any compensation or obligation to you.”

    Seriously? Publicly perform? Publicly display? My content?

    Ummmm? No.

  • Its sad that Things still have the most beautiful UI in all the task management apps but I dont get it why there still isn’t customized notification for individual tasks and no undo option. These are so basic feature for such a pricy app :S

  • Long time user of Things, and without a blink, I uploaded Things 2 on both my mac and my IPhone. out the box, i received this error code, ” there was a problem connecting with the server I have searched everywhere, and tried various functions, with no success, only effort that closes this dialogue box is turning of the cloud sync. Now I cannot get my phone updated. My life is at a standstill. any help any one. soon please otherwise i must stay indoors.

  • @ss

    Yup. Do NOT understand why everyone is so eager to CLOUD their personal data. Not sure where you fond that TOS, but it is what I would have expected.

    I found the bonjour syncing to be perfect for my needs. Do not understand why they would dump users like me by removing.

    Unfortunately, there don’t appear to be any decent TGD Mac apps that do not employ a cloud.

  • I used Things one year back and really enjoyed it. I still love their clean and simple interface, but the Wifi sync was a real pain as everyone stated above. Then moved to Omnifocus. It’s a gorilla to do app. Again the cloud sync is not smooth and I really hated the “Loading the database” window. Then only I found Appigo’s Todo. Simple and lightweight todo apps for Mac and iOS apps. I purchased the complete suite for $20. I really like it, but the interface is bit boring. I really wish if Things has the feature to remind task geo locationally as Omnifocus and able to set due time with date.

  • As you can see, a lot of people love this app but switched to an other one in the end… And I am one of them. I mean, this app is great but just need a few more things done : mainly Undo and Project sharing (that would be a huge selling point).