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Peter Akkies

What’s the best to-do list app?

Published 20 days ago • 4 min read

Using the right app to manage your to-dos and projects can be life-changing. But what’s the best to-do list app?

Here’s my list, depending on your needs:

Best for Managing Personal and Team Tasks Together: Todoist

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Syncs with Google Calendar and integrates with other calendar apps like Fantastical
  • View your lists in whatever way you like: list, (kanban) board, calendar
  • Slice and dice your to-dos with customizable filters
  • Attach files and comment to tasks
  • Use it for your personal as well as your team tasks (Team Workspaces)—together but separate
  • Available on all devices and on the web
  • Very active development, great communication from the devs

Cons:

  • No start dates

Great for: managing your personal and team tasks all in the same place. See also: my Todoist course.

Best Design & UI: Things 3 (Apple only)

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Very easy to use
  • Every single detail is well done
  • Intuitive scheduling: When, Deadline, Someday
  • Intuitive organization: Areas & Projects system

Cons:

  • Apple-only, not available on the web either
  • No location-based reminders
  • Can’t attach files to tasks
  • Can’t complete repeating tasks ahead of time. (I know they’re working on this, but am not sure when it will improve.)

Great for: people in the Apple ecosystem who care about excellent design. See also: my Things 3 course.

Best Advanced App: OmniFocus 4 (Apple only)

Pros:

  • Very customizable, from which tasks and projects you want to see to which attributes of to-dos should show in each view to endlessly nestable folders
  • Lets you plan your to-dos and calendar events around each other
  • Helps you review your projects regularly
  • Has “sequential projects” that hide tasks you can’t work on yet—for less clutter
  • Excellent support for attachments

Cons:

  • Apple-only, web version is limited
  • UI not as intuitive as other apps
  • Scheduling a task ahead of time could be more intuitive

Great for: people in the Apple ecosystem who want to customize their to-do app exactly to their liking. Also great for people who want to closely follow the GTD methodology. See also: my OmniFocus 4 course.

Best Minimalist App: Tweek

Pros:

  • Very minimalistic: forces you to focus on the most important tasks
  • Supports notes and sub-tasks, but it’s hard to spend an excessive amount of time organizing your to-dos when you’re using Tweek
  • Looks clean
  • Plan your to-dos and calendar events around each other
  • Looks like a paper planner; has a beautiful printable version

Cons:

  • Very minimalistic: makes it hard to track tasks like “buy pet food”. It’s not the most impactful tasks of the week, but you have to do it, and until you do it, it’s there in your mind, potentially distracting you.
  • Limited options for repetition schedules

Great for: people who want a digital to-do app that feels like a paper planner.

Best First-Party App: Apple Reminders (Apple only)

Pros:

  • Comes with your Apple devices
  • Templates feature lets you create re-usable lists
  • Smart lists let you see just the to-dos you need to see
  • Excellent integration with some other Apple apps, e.g. sharing from Notes or Maps to Reminders
  • Very easy to capture to-dos to Reminders with Siri

Cons:

  • Apple-only, of course; web version on iCloud.com is limited
  • Smart lists not as customizable as in other apps
  • No integration with your calendar
  • Interface sometimes finicky; it’s not always intuitive what happens when you click or tap somewhere

Great for: people in the Apple ecosystem who prefer to avoid third-party apps when possible. See also: my Apple Reminders course.

Best for Integration with Microsoft Tools: Microsoft To Do

Pros:

  • Lets you turn emails into to-dos
  • Lets you turn Outlook emails or Teams messages into to-dos
  • Has a built-in view showing your flagged emails
  • “My Day” is handy: automatically shows due tasks but you can also add other tasks to your day
  • Intuitive organization with groups and lists
  • Suggests tasks based on what you’re doing in other Microsoft apps
  • You can collaborate by assigning tasks to others. To Do will also show tasks assigned to you in Microsoft Planner.

Cons:

  • I’ve never been a fan of Microsoft’s design. For example, every time I click on a view, it prompts me to add a task. I often just want to view my tasks, darn it!
  • Not enough custom repetition schedules
  • Limited integration with Outlook calendar: you can see to-dos on calendar dates, but you can’t time block

Great for: people in the Microsoft ecosystem who get many of their to-dos from emails and from Microsoft Teams messages.

Best for Lightweight Task Management with Google Tools: Google Tasks

Pros:

  • Lets you turn Gmail emails into tasks
  • Lives in Gmail
  • Really lightweight and easy to use
  • Available on all platforms

Cons:

  • If you’re like me, you’ll find it a bit too basic
  • There’s just lists, tasks with optional subtasks, and time-based reminders
  • Not even a “today” view
  • No attachment support

Great for: people in the Google ecosystem who get many of their to-dos from emails and need nothing more than a couple of very simple to-do lists.

Best All-in-One Solution: Notion

Pros:

  • You can store everything in Notion, not just to-dos
  • Link your to-dos to notes, documents, databases
  • Very customizable
  • Great for collaboration with others; you can get your whole team on Notion as a one-stop-shop
  • Very active development
  • Available on all platforms

Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve
  • No quick entry
  • For pure task management, dedicated apps will offer better and more intuitive features

Great for: people and especially teams who want to use one app to manage all of their information. See also: my Notion task management tutorial.

Best Detailed Collaborative To-Do App: ClickUp

Pros:

  • Super customizable
  • Supports task dependencies
  • Handy quick open feature for fast access to to-dos, projects, etc.
  • Has a built-in goals feature
  • Also lets you create documents
  • Excellent automation support for both internal actions and integration with other apps
  • Available on all platforms

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve
  • Interface can feel overwhelming

Great for: teams who want to manage their projects and to-dos in detail.

A note about pricing

You’ll notice I haven’t commented on prices. You should decide for yourself what a to-do app is worth. I’ll just say that better productivity and organization can be worth a lot.

And whichever app you use, I recommend that you learn how to set it up correctly.

Have a productive day!

Peter Akkies

Productivity Teacher

Hi, I’m Peter from Amsterdam. I’ll help you get organized and be more productive. Every Sunday, I send a productivity-themed newsletter to 9,000 people. Join us!

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