The 8 Best Apps to Manage Your Lists

As our lives become more digital, we are always on the lookout for something to enhance the way we organize tasks, wishes, and many other thoughts. Thankfully, there are a lot of apps for this. The problem with having a lot of apps is you have to sort through them to find the one you’re willing to use daily. That’s why we’ve gathered the ten best apps for the job. In this roundup, we’ll detail the pros and cons of each app and give you a chance to decide which is best for your personal needs.

Text-Based

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Simplenote

First we have the app I currently use for all my lists. Now owned by Automattic, the creator of WordPress and Gravatar, this note-taking service has a number of unique abilities. For one, it’s incredibly fast at syncing, and there are apps available for every platform (if not, there’s always the Web app, which is great). You’re right: it’s a notes app, not a dedicated list manager. In fact, there quicker ways to manage your lists. I mean, with this service you’re essentially adding bullet points to a text document and dragging things around if you want to move them. Definitely not for to-do’s. The reason I still use Simplenote, though, is because it has one thing most of the others don’t: history. If you delete something from a list, you can look at all the previous revisions and bring it back. I’ve been using Simplenote to organize my life since 2011 and it’s been great.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.8 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: Automattic

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FoldingText

If you like working with plain text, FoldingText is the app for you. Its $25 price tag does hurt the wallet, but a true plain text user wouldn’t be bothered by it when he sees the simplicity and usability this app has. You can use it for more than just lists; the app supports outlining, collapsible sections (hence the “folding” bit), plain text to-do lists with checkboxes, and even scheduling using the .timer extension. It’s a very smart app and worth the money if you’re an advanced user, or if you really want to start making plain text lists more beautiful with Markdown and other intelligent features the app has. If not, Simplenote is still works for free lists.

Price: $24.99, free demo available
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: Hog Bay Software

TaskPaper

TaskPaper

From the same developers as FoldingText comes TaskPaper, a more to-do-oriented textual lists app. This one doesn’t support Markdown (shame), but it has its own version of collapsible text in the form of “projects”, which are in-text hyperlinks. Its list management capabilities aren’t that great unless you’re hoping to organize the way you do things. While it doesn’t have live checkboxes like FoldingText, TaskPaper organizes things by “done” and “today” to help you understand your overall development in a project. Remember that, for $25, it’s a very niche product.

Price: $24.99, free demo available
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Hog Bay Software

Minimal GUI

silo

Silo

From PopSweet, a small iOS and Mac developer, comes a nice-looking way of organizing your life. The interface is very basic and similar to most apps out there, but this one offers things Cheddar and the like don’t: sharing and tagging. Simplenote has both, but it’s not quite as easy to start using as Silo. The latter’s iPhone app is great, too. If you are accustomed to the colors of Clear, you’ll be glad to know that you can change the background and text color of the app. This makes the experience a bit more interesting than the average monochrome look.

Price: $5.99
Requires: OS X 10.8 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: PopSweet

Snail

Snail

It’s often difficult to actually do work on a computer nowadays. You have Twitter and Facebook trying to distract you around ever turn and there’s always a new email you need to reply to. Snail aims to fix that by helping you manage time better. It’s a low-footprint menu bar app that makes your to-do list come alive. Rather than looking at a list and wondering what you should do next, you can pick one of the tasks and press the start button to begin doing it. You can assign each task its own amount of time for completion to keep yourself on schedule. All this takes place in a modern user interface that takes a few minutes to pick up.

Price: $6.99
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: Vadim Sitel

Wunderlist

Wunderlist

A lot of people think this is “the list app”, but I never really enjoyed using it. It seems overly-complicated when you first start putting your information into it and apps like Cheddar make its UI look outdated. When you actually start using Wunderlist, though, you may just enjoy it. The app may take a while to understand, but once you understand its little quirks, it can be a very handy tool. It’s easily the most powerful free lists app — just don’t let those silly backgrounds distract you. Unlike most of the other apps available, Wunderlist has full collaboration features, allowing you to share tasks and entire lists with coworkers or friends. It works very well if you need to organize an event or work on a project with friends and doesn’t cost nearly as much as Basecamp.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.7 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: 6Wunderkinder

Powerhouses and Getting Things Done

Omnifocus

OmniFocus

If you like the productivity methods explained in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, The Omni Group’s apps are exactly what you need to help you maintain your constructive lifestyle. OmniFocus helps you create contexts for when you might be able to do certain tasks and syncs with your iPhone to make your task management system available all the time. This isn’t so much a lists app as it is a way to manage your life — Getting Things Done is a lifestyle. Right now, the app is at version 1.10.6, but the developer teased version 2.0 at a special event in San Francisco early this year and it’s expected to release very soon, so you may want to wait before spending $80.

Price: $79.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.8 or later
Developer: The Omni Group

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2Do

There are only a few “ultimate to-do” apps on the Mac and this is the top one. It can sync with Dropbox, Reminders, and iCal, remind you when you’re supposed to be doing a task, help you organize your work with comprehensive tags, and much more. The best part about 2Do is its simple user interface. It is one of the most powerful list apps out there, but it maintains a beautiful, color-coded interface that doesn’t confuse you at all. If you want to organize your daily life a bit better, it’s great for half the price of OmniFocus, but if you’re willing to invest in a new way of being productive, the Getting Things Done method that OmniFocus offers is hard to beat.

Price: $39.99
Requires: OS X 10.8 or later with a 64-bit processor
Developer: Guided Ways Technologies

What Are You Using?

Those are just some of the the best apps to organize your life in list form. There are some cool ones releasing each month, so we’d love to know if we missed one of your favorites. Let us know what you prefer in the comments.


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