7 Simple Mac To-Do List Apps

We’ve previously covered a range of complex task managers for the Mac, but what if you’re looking for something much simpler? Today I’ll be investigating a number of basic to-do list applications that can help with managing a straight-forward set of tasks.

Most are desktop applications, but a few are really fantastic web apps combined with a site specific browser called Fluid. As the New Year rolls in, these should offer a great place to store that list of goals and aims for 2010!




SimpleTask for Mac brings both a beautiful interface and an unparalleled ease of use to a to-do list. It looks great, and keeps things simple with a colourful and friendly appeal. Search is fairly powerful, with the ability to filter by color as well as pending/completed tasks.

It’s also great at syncing with their iPhone version of the software over Wi-Fi.

Price: Free
Developer: SimpleTask Team
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later




Anxiety’s aim is to “provide a streamlined, easily accessible interface to add and check off your tasks, while remaining poised to melt into the background at a moments notice.” It does it well, and keeps everything in sync with Mail and iCal.

A simple menu bar icon toggles the interface on or off, and it can be placed anywhere on your screen. Very lightweight for simple to-do management.

Price: Free
Developer: Model Concept
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard 10.5+




Another remarkably simple, free app, TaskMate follows the same trend of a small footprint and minimal configuration. It doesn’t offer any advanced features of syncing or integration with iCal/Mail, but does a good job of offering a simple place to store a quick list.

Price: Free
Developer: Ryan Conway
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later




EtreTask is a small, fast, easy-to-use to-do list manager. It offers a very, very minimal feature set, but does so deliberately. The developers believe that having features such as “sort by due date” encourage you to work on tasks in an illogical order.

It’s starting to look slightly dated, but could be perfect if you want something with no frills, and no distraction from the app’s primary purpose.

Price: Free
Developer: EtreSoft
Requires: Mac OS X

Check Off

Check Off

Check Off

Check Off is a quick to-do list that sits in your Mac’s menu bar. The interface is starting to look a little dated, but it has several appealing features. It mirrors the colour scheme of Finder labelling, can sync with your iPod through the Notes function, and can organize tasks into folders.

Worth a look, though possibly not worth paying $13, considering all the excellent free alternatives.

Price: $12.95
Developer: Second Gear Software
Requires: Mac OS X Leopard or greater




DoIt is another simple app, though has the interesting feature of allowing you to associate a file or email with a particular to-do item. Although this is a common feature in expensive task managers, it’s not so common for a free app.

Unfortunately the quirky interface lets the app down a little, not fitting in with the standard you’d expect from an OS X app.

Price: Free
Developer: Jim McGowan
Requires: OS X 10.4 of Later




We don’t usually cover web applications here (that’s reserved for Web.AppStorm), though I felt the need to mention this one. Mac lovers take pride in design, and this is one of the simplest and most effective designs I’ve seen for a to-do list interface.

Combined with Fluid to turn the web application into a desktop tool, it’s a brilliant option if you need something that looks great.

Price: Free
Developer: Fictive Kin
Requires: Fluid


I’m completely aware that these aren’t all the to-do list apps available for the platform. The fact is, it’s probably one of the first applications any developer makes when learning to develop for OS X! If you know of, or use, another, please feel free to share in the comments.

  • Jacob Andersen

    I think JustNotes is worth a mention if you are a user of SimpleNotes on iPhone. JustNotes syncs perfectly with your SimpleNotes account and lives ind the menubar. Price? That is free :-)

    • Dom

      LOVE the JustNotes!!! thx Jacob!

  • Grey Stockton

    The links for the first one “SimpleTask” are dead. Other than that, I was trying to look around the Internet the other day for a good checklist app and today when I came to check this site (as I do daily) I was very happy to see this.

  • http://www.thecakeisapie.com MattieTK
    • Grey Stockton

      I think the key thing for this list is “free or almost free”. $29.99 is a lot to spend on a task app.

  • http://www.lycosman.info João Oliveira

    I’m currently using Organizator widget. It integrates easily with Mail, iCal and, consequently, with Mobile Me. It has a great loot and feel too. :)

  • http://vangenie.com Leonard Schwarz

    Spark is missing here! sparkmac.com/

  • http://www.grapicriver.net/user/oreius Tanner

    I have only used simple task and have it for my iPod and iMac
    its really great

  • http://karlroos.se Karl Roos

    Where’s “Things”? The best GTD application ever!

    • http://thebookofjoe.com nanochrome

      But it’s not a “Simple” GTD App!

    • Diego Carvalho

      Karl, I do agree with you… Where’s Things???

      • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

        Things is outstanding (and my task manager of choice), but it doesn’t fall under the category of a “Simple To-Do App”. It’s pretty darn powerful!

  • http://grandviewphotographyaz.com Eric Taylor

    How on earth could you leave out TaskPaper from this list?

  • Robin Lundgren

    Anxiety is my favorite. It fits the OS so well, just sitting there in the menu bar.

    Click, it shows up. Click somewhere else, it’s gone. Lovely!

  • Runar

    All urls seems to be broken in this article. Someone apparently used ” instead of “.

  • http://twitter.com/IntrepidDNA Jo

    I just go with iCal ToDo, there is many applications (such 2Do for the iPhone) that can sync with it and is all good.

    Go iCal!

  • Mac_Cain13

    I love Taskpaper* from Hog Bay Software. A very simple, textbased and paper-like solution. The paper-like structure is perfect for me and I really like the no-nonsense interface.

    And with a cool theme** it’s simple AND beautiful.

    * http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/taskpaper
    ** http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/wiki/HelviticaLove

  • http://blog.burninghat.net burningHat

    oh? all the external links return a 404 error… :-/

  • kev

    Links are broken in the article.

  • http://truelo.com Rokurosv

    I liked SimpleTask a lot but I always use Remember The Milk, it’s web based and there are a lot of apps for many platforms so I can see my tasks even at work since we use Windows there or in my mobile at anytime.

  • Al

    I think all the links are broken… another to-do on your list :-)

  • http://imagineeye.com Michal

    I’ve tried half of these before this article posted and I still prefer TaskPaper as my to do list of choice even though there is no way to sync with iphone but for the desktop this app is amazing.

  • http://webneedz.com Webneedz

    Thanks, I will give Anxiety a try for simple and little tasks.
    For more indept task management I use Things with iPod Touch Sync.

  • http://codeaplus.com/quickie/ Aleksandar

    TeuxDeux is great, really nice service and design, perfect for what I need. I really hope they make an API soon, as I would love to integrate my to-do iPhone app with it – even sent a feedback request for it on the first day or TeuxDeux launch :)

  • http://www.productivedreams.com Gopal Raju

    Doomi is also a good and simple one!

  • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

    Thanks to all those pointing out the broken links. We had a few issues with WordPress and quotation marks!

  • Erica

    I’ve been using Todoist, but Anxiety I keep finding myself back in, it’s so beautiful and simple.

  • http://inspiredbywordpress.co.uk Daniel Groves

    Your missing Things! Been using it for about a month and absolutely LOVE IT! 10/10

  • http://collegethrive.com Dan Northern

    I am definitely going to have to check some of these out. The old paper and pen method is failing me. ( I keep forgetting to do the things on my to-do-lists). Hopefully one of these apps will solve this problem.

  • http://b7og.com K.D.

    You should also check out Codo http://www.getcodo.com

    It’s free and overall very minimalistic, but with a flexible built-in tagging functionality, so even power users shouldn’t feel let down.

  • Dr.Theopolis

    I WANT to like DoIt, but i get a security warning saying the certificate can’t be trusted. It also takes Activity Monitor to quit.

  • http://www.twitter.com/secondfret Joshua Johnson

    Glad you mentioned TeuxDeux. I found that app the other day and loved the simple design and functionality. Great article!

  • http://www.todoTweet.com Alex Wolfe

    Here’s a great to-do list app for those of you who use twitter

  • http://www.todoTweet.com Alex Wolfe

    Here’s a cool app I made for those of you who use twitter

  • http://wilnichols.com Wil Nichols

    What of Spark? :'( sparkmac.com

  • http://basicblogger.de Ahmet Topal

    I’ve developed another nice Free Task management APP for Mac, next week i will offer it for download (Free) :) Thank you for this nice List of apps

  • AdWho

    Things is a great task app that syncs with the iphone for us compulsive list makers on the go : )

  • Vita

    Things is great indeed, very powerful with some nice features. What it does lack that you can’t share it with your collegues…

    Does any of these “simple” apps mentioned above have a team-feature, where you can share your todo lists with others?

  • http://delicious.com/vpachecomendez Victor

    Hey what about Omnifocus…..check it out.

  • Steven

    http://www.sparkmac.com seems to be missing from the list. It’s a nice, small, no-frills to do list that sits on the menubar. Highly recommend it.

  • http://stevelosh.com/ Steve Losh

    I use a command-line todo list manager I made myself, called t: http://stevelosh.com/projects/t/

    It’s as simple as possible. It doesn’t support tags or any other real kind of organization. The only way to make my task list prettier is to finish some tasks.

  • http://www.m65jacket.com m65

    taskpaper should be on the list

  • http://www.itoody.com Gilad

    See also http://www.itoody.com, can’t get simpler then that.

  • http://www.nghiblog.com Nghi Nguyen Huu

    Thanks a lot. Based on my need, Anxiety is no.1 choice for being able to sync with iCal & Mail.

  • Laurice

    I personally love Remember, by Lighthead. It’s simple and I find it better than Anxiety because you can arrange tasks manually. Anxiety doesn’t allow you to do that, so as a consequence, you’d have to think of the order of importance of your to-do items as you type them in.

    This is the link to Remember. :)

  • http://www.kleinraum.de/ sven

    Thumbs up for TeuxDeux (in combination with fluid)! Exactly what I need and I love the minimalistic look and feel.

  • Justin

    I use Do It, I highly recommend it, really simple

  • Dorian

    Thank you for this article. I have a question, do you know of a good one where you can alot to a task how long it will take to be done?

  • PeterBreis

    Qu-s is absolutely gorgeous and blends into your desktop so you can’t miss your to do lists.


  • http://blog.endel.me Endel

    There is also http://doit.im and http://www.rememberthemilk.com as free applications.

  • qtmedia


    couldn’t be simpler, accessible on iphone and desktop

    free :)

  • http://www.ruconnected.nl/ Ruben

    Nice post, also in the comments were some great tips. Now I have no more excuses to stick to text editor, because that’s what I’m using right now. :)

  • chris

    Simple, elegant and improving. http://www.6wunderkinder.com/wunderlist/

  • http://www.frieauff.com Markus

    I’m looking for a special app with a limited but particular task: I want something to keep track of which step will be next in relation with each of my clients (their design jobs for me). I have to remember in each case wether it’s me to still send a draft or them to get back to me with their reply or them to discuss something internally etc. Looking up these things by going through mails and notes on paper is time-consuming and irritating. I’d like to pin that down in something like a “what’s next”-task-list. But it has to be simple, must be able to handle a lot of projects simultaneously and allow me to note things like “next step: client to respond on draft” very quickly.
    Can anybody suggest something? Synchronisation between Mac and iPhone would be nice, but isn’t mandatory. Simplicity is.
    Thanks in advance!

  • David Perry

    Is there a todo list app that is reorderable by clicking and dragging items up or down?

  • John Smith

    David check out ListAppy for Mac at http://samurasolutions.com, they have just released a version that supports reordering and drag and drop of tasks and subtasks. The apps also syncs with their iPhone app.

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  • http://www.appleumbrella.com Apple Umbrella

    interesting and useful todo apps and most the persons talking about Things!, i just try this is complicated and not easy for use.

  • ShoutDone To Do List Software

    Just wanting to signpost a new mac-compliant, GTD-ready desktop app that breaks the mould somewhat, with a rich interface designed to move away from the long, linear list-based approach many other apps take. There is a free version too, for anyone on a budget. Search ‘ShoutDone’.

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  • Troll
  • mt

    Minitask is missing in the comments: http://minitask.org/

  • George Grubber

    I used To-do Lists by Antlogic for a while (you should check it at http://antlogic.com.ua/apps/todo-lists or in AppStore). Very nice application, and really goes to ‘simple’ category.
    Handy, configurable, synchronizable, whatever else.

  • Ali

    Producteev! Producteev! Producteev! It’s AWESOME! … and free…!!!

  • http://zulhilmizainudin.com/live/ Zulhilmi Zainudin

    I’m new Mac user. Thank you for sharing this article. I’m using TaskMate now. :)