Todo list managers come and go and the bar is set low for the apps most of us need. Here’s how I found the most useful Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch todo app. Again.
Todos and task list apps are a dime a dozen. Yes, that many are free, and most of them barely cover the bar Apple sets with Reminders and Notes, both of which work well, sync well, and have just enough features to please a large proportion of Apple’s one-billion or so customers.
A few years ago I set out to find the perfect Mac todo list manager, task manager, and personal project manager app I could find. It took a year and I settled on one app with all the features I wanted. More on that in a moment.
In the end, after a long trial of half a dozen highly rated and recommended todo apps I realized the one feature most needed– sync between devices– was the one feature than many apps did poorly (put some blame on Apple’s iCloud, too).
Here’s what I want in a personal task management app (and pretty much in order of priority).
- Alarms – the app must remind me when a task is due before the task is due. Notifications are important.
- Sync – I’m on my Mac for hours a day, iPad, too, and iPhone goes with me everywhere, so a Watch app is important.
- Todo, Tasks, Projects – my view of projects is that they’re just a collection of tasks to be done within a specific category or project. Todo’s are the minor items unconnected to a project (but still tasks)
- Quick Entry – very important to be able to enter a new task, assign it to a project, set an alarm or due date with alarm, and be able to edit on the fly.
- Backups – needs to have a copy somewhere, not just the one that’s in-sync at the moment (stuff happens).
- Password protection – this once wasn’t a big deal, it is now. Touch ID makes it better.
Those are the basics and you would be surprised how poorly many todo list managers and task managements apps handle that. I’ve used Things for years and it’s a great todo and task manager that does project management, too. No alerts.
I tried the popular Tasker based on a recommendation. It’s very good. Sync between devices is problematic, though. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not; but too often it’s the latter, which means both #1 and #2 on my list were not fulfilled.
In the end, I settled on an app I used a few years go. The new and improved 2Do for Mac (and iPhone, iPad, and Watch). What’s old is new again.
Tasks and checklist are a breeze, but tasks can be folded into projects for easier management, and a quick project view function is the best ever. Everything can be tagged (and necessarily so because anyone with many projects and lists needs to focus and filter).
2Do even manages tasks with locations, and alarms and notifications have worked flawlessly on all my devices and that’s tied into sync, of course, and the Dropbox option has always worked better and faster for me than iCloud. The Watch notifications are perfect (though I want more control over alert sounds; too many apps use the same one). Is 2Do worth the money? Yes, though your mileage may vary, because 2Do on Mac is not inexpensive; fortunately I’d purchased it years ago and it’s been updated and upgraded and deserves the thousand or so four and five star reviews.