Looking for a good app or service to manage the items on your to-do list?
You need an easy way to keep track of all the tasks you have to accomplish. And you want to be able to do this from your PC and your mobile device.
Microsoft To-Do is a skilled app for managing your to-do items. But it’s not the only game in town. You can try such programs as Google Tasks, Wunderlist, and Todoist. How do these free programs work and what features do they offer? Let’s check it out.
I wrote about Microsoft To-Do in this article “Keep Track of Your Tasks with the Microsoft To-Do App.” But I’ll start with a brief overview of this app before moving onto other programs.
Microsoft’s To-Do service is simple but effective. For each task, you can set a due date, reminder, and detailed notes. You can sort and view your items by name, due date, creation date, or status. You can create and manage multiple lists for different types of tasks. And you can access the service as a Windows 10 app, an iOS app, an Android app, and a website. Since you use your Microsoft Account to access the service, your tasks automatically sync among the different apps and the website.
From the start, easily create a task by clicking on the link to Add a to-do. Type out your task. Select it and add a due date, reminder, or note. The reminder is created as a Windows reminder, so the app doesn’t need to be open for you to see or hear the alert.
When the reminder arrives, you can respond by marking it as Complete or choosing to snooze it, in which case the alert pops up again in another five minutes. If you don’t set a reminder, just check the task to indicate when it’s been completed.
You may want to create more than one list to manage different tasks, for example, personal and professional. That’s easy enough. Click on the link for New list and give it a descriptive name. You can then apply a unique theme to each list to distinguish them all visually. To better view your tasks, sort them by such criteria as name, due date, creation date, and completed. You can also add specific tasks to the My Day folder, which displays them all in one shot.
Google Tasks is a no-frills to-do service with basic features.
However, it’s missing certain options offered by other to-do apps. You can access the program as an iOS app or an Android app and through the Gmail Tasks webpage. And if you use Chrome, you can add an extension to tap into Google Tasks directly from the browser. Since you use your Google account to sign into the service, your tasks automatically synchronize among the mobile apps, the website, and Chrome.
To get started in the mobile app, click on the icon to Add a new task. Type your task. Tap on the + sign to add a due date and details on the task and save it. After you create a task, tap on it to add or revise the due date and details. From here, you can create subtasks if you need to break down the main task.
You can generate multiple lists to store different types of tasks and rename or delete a list. You can move a task from one list to another. You can sort your to-do items by date or by the order in which you created them. Check a task to indicate that it’s been completed, which strikes it out. You can also delete all completed tasks if you no longer wish to see them.
So what’s missing? In several ways, the Gmail Tasks webpage is more robust than the mobile app. From Gmail Tasks on the web, you can sort your items by date, by the order in which you created them, or by completed tasks. You can move a task up or down in the list. You can easily turn a task into a subtask or vice versa. You can even print a list.
From the webpage, you can add a Gmail email to your Google Tasks list. I saw no option to do that from the Gmail mobile app. Also, Google offers no way to set a reminder within the Google Tasks app itself. I’d like to see Google beef up the mobile apps and integrate notifications or reminders. If you use Gmail, you may find Google Tasks sufficient. If not, consider one of the other apps.
Wunderlist is a robust to-do service with several advanced features. You can access it in Windows 10, on an iPhone, on an iPad, on an Apple Watch, on an Android device, on a Mac, on an Amazon Kindle Fire, and on the Web. Create an account or use your Microsoft Account to sign into the service to sync your tasks among the different platforms.
After you create a task, select it and you can set a date and reminder, add a note, write a comment, attached a related file, and insert a subtask. You can set a recurring task for every day, week, month, or year. You can also prioritize different tasks.
You can create multiple lists to manage different types of tasks. And here’s a neat trick. You can set up shared lists if you need to work on the same tasks with other people. You can assign items to anyone who’s a member of the list. You then receive a notification when the task is complete.
You can sort your tasks alphabetically, by due date, by creation date, by assignee, or by priority. You can also change the view of your tasks to see them by list, by week, or by other criteria. You can even add a link to your to-do items to calendars in Outlook, Google, Calendar, or Apple’s iCal. A helpful array of settings lets you configure notifications, change the background, and create smart lists to view specific types of items. Wunderlist is my favorite among the bunch.
Todoist is another full-featured to-do service with lots of options. You can tap into Todoist from Windows 10, the Mac, iOS, Android, an Apple Watch, an Android Wear smartwatch, and a website. You can even save web pages and emails into tasks through specific extensions and plugins. Whew! Todoist is available as a free version and a $29-per-year Premium edition.
After you set up your account, select a color theme, and you’re good to go. Add your first task and you can choose a one-time or recurring due date and pick a priority level from 1 through 4. You can also set up an item as a parent task or a subtask. You can easily edit a task, mark it as complete, archive it, create a hyperlink to it, duplicate it, and move it to a different project.
You can’t create multiple lists in the same way you can in other programs. But don’t worry, Todoist offers a similar capability, just with a different name. You can categorize and organize a task by assigning it to any one of a number of projects. The service comes with several predefined projects, such as Personal, Shopping, and Work. And you can create your own project names.
You can share a project with other people to collaborate with them on specific tasks. Those people can also add, delete, and complete tasks. And you receive a notification whenever someone else takes action on a task. You can sort your tasks by name, date, priority, and assignee. You can also move tasks up and down a list by dragging and dropping them. You can even print a list.
Here’s a cool feature designed to motivate you. Create goals based on the number of tasks you complete and how fast you complete them. You then win Karma points as you meet those goals.
The Premium edition of Todoist offers more features, such as creating reminders, adding comments to projects, exporting projects as templates, emailing tasks to projects, and generating progress reports of completed tasks.