If pen-and-paper to-do lists aren’t helping you get your tasks done quickly and more reliably, it might be time to consider a to-do list app. These digital organizers can structure your day, keep you focused, and help you reprioritize tasks more efficiently.
Whether you’re a student or a professional, having software to organize your endless list of tasks can make your workday more manageable. Read on to learn more about the best to-do list apps on the market.
What is a To-Do List App
A to-do list app allows users to write and organize tasks while attacking relevant notes, links, and files. Some task software enables collaboration, allowing users to share and complete tasks together.
The Benefits of Digital Tasks
As people grow busier, digital task lists are becoming more popular – and for good reasons. Here are the benefits of using the best to-do list apps to streamline your workday.
Easy to use: Digital task lists are perfect for use on the go, and you can easily sort them according to your preferences. You can also add sub-tasks or use built-in templates.
Cross-gadget syncing: App-based to-do lists are accessible from any device and can be helpful if you work on a hybrid schedule. Access your tasks from your mobile device, tablet, or computer.
Notifications: There’s no one to remind you when a task is due with a pen and paper list. With to-do apps, you can get notified of a task before your deadline.
What Makes a Great To-Do List App
No two people use a task list app the same way. However, some defining features make an app worth it for most users:
Intuitive interface: Ideally, you don’t want to spend more than a few seconds adding a task to your list. Pick an app with a clean interface that is easy and quick to use.
Multiple uses: While a simple to-do list app might satisfy your basic organizational needs, others that provide extra features like color tags, task sharing, and media uploads can help you create a system that works best for you.
Cross-platform support: If you use different platforms, an app that allows cross-device syncing will work in your favor.
Reminders: What’s a task app that can’t remind you when something is due? A reliable app should notify you of upcoming tasks via text or email.
What to Look for in a To-Do List App
You know what makes a powerful task app, so what else should you look out for? Here is what you should keep in mind.
Design: A task list is something you look at multiple times a day. If you don’t like what you see, that app may not be for you. Look for something with a clean interface that feels intuitive.
Tools and additional features: Basic features can only take you so far when picking an app. For instance, if you are a visual worker, an app with color codes might make your tasks more manageable. Detail-oriented workers might prefer something that enables sub-tasks. If you tend to forget when assignments are due, an app with calendar integration might come more in handy.
Collaboration options: While to-do lists are highly personal, sharing them with household members or teammates will allow you to coordinate your schedules and check in on each others’ progress.
Customer service: Most task apps are instinctive, but you never know when you’ll run into a bug. Pick an app with robust customer service channels in case something goes wrong.
While they appear to serve the same purpose, task apps and project management software are not the same things. Using one over the other may be more appropriate, depending on your needs. Below are a few instances where using a task app may be more helpful than project management software.
Individual tasks: Using a simple task manager will suffice if you’re not working on a multi-layered project. You can add sub-tasks to more complex assignments or share your lists with other participants if necessary.
One-time projects: If you’re working on a small-scale or one-time project such as an event or workshop, investing in full-blown project management software may not be necessary. Instead, you can use a task manager with a few advanced features like color-coding, task delegation, and progress insights.
Meetings: If you host regular meetings, task apps can keep you on top of discussion points. Add notes within tasks for easier reference.
On the other hand, a productivity app with project management features might be more beneficial for:
Long-term projects: If basic lists can’t keep up with all the moving parts of your project, you might be better off with project management software. These tools provide advanced features like document sharing, conversation threads, groups, and more.
Visual planning: It’s easy to overlook basic lists, especially if you have a lot on your plate. If you’re a visual worker, project management software with kanban boards allows you to lay tasks out in a more graphic manner.
How We Choose the Right Apps for You
To pick the right app for tracking tasks, we don’t just look at what is popular. We also consider these factors:
User types: Some users prefer basic, no-fuss lists. Others prefer customizable smart lists with rich features. As such, we recommend apps that are versatile and cater to different needs.
Device syncing: Having a task app that performs well across gadgets is imperative if you use multiple devices to work. Some apps have advanced capabilities, such as sending reminders to your Apple Watch or another wearable device. Others can even send location-based reminders when you’re away from your desktop.
Affordability: While most task apps are free, some come at a small price. We consider applications that suit all budget ranges.
Our Top Picks for the Best To-Do List Apps
Here are the top ten best to-do list apps that we recommend.
If you’re an avid Google user and don’t want to go too far out of your way to find a task management app, try Google Tasks. The app integrates with Google Calendar and has a relatively simple interface, allowing users to create lists and subtasks with due dates. The functionality and convenience of Google Tasks can be improved with Integrately automations.
Google compatibility: For Google Calendar and Google Keep users, Google Tasks is your most logical option for noting daily tasks. It integrates seamlessly and saves time flipping through your entire calendar.
Clear completed tasks: While it may seem standard, not many other apps have this function. With Google Tasks, you can prevent clutter by mass deleting finished assignments.
Subtasks: Batch and schedule your tasks to make your day more manageable.
Limited key features: Google Tasks is relatively bare-boned and hasn’t undergone significant updates since it first launched.
No recurring tasks: While you can import recurring reminders from Google Keep into Tasks, you can’t create repeating tasks directly in the app.
Poor offline syncing: Google has been working on offline syncing for years, but don’t expect quick updates with Google Tasks.
Google Tasks is free but offers premium app features at $39.99/year.
If you want an app with highly customizable features, we recommend TickTick. It integrates seamlessly with your calendar software, and you can edit tasks on a daily or weekly basis. This app is ideal for users who prefer a get-things-done (GTD) interface.
Affordable: Compared to other premium apps, TickTick is more cost-effective.
Additional app features: Beyond its standard daily planner, TickTik also boasts impressive additional features like a Pomodoro timer, habit tracker, and white noise generator.
Multi-view: You can view your tasks as a list, calendar, or kanban board.
No separate task reminders: If you have multiple tasks due in a single day, you receive only one compressed reminder.
Free plan is limited: Unless you aren’t picky about syncing your calendar with TickTick, you won’t get this feature along with many others on its free plan.
No email notifications: Unfortunately for avid email users, you won’t be getting any notifications through that channel.
TickTick offers free plans, while premium plans start at $28/year or $2.79/month.
For Mac and iOS users, Things is a straightforward app with an attractive and minimal design. Its calendar integration is highly intuitive and easy to use. You can even add it as an extension if you’re a Google Chrome user.
Templates: If you have recurring tasks, Things’ template feature can make scheduling them far easier.
Projects-from-tasks: Is your task taking longer to complete than expected? You can turn it into a project in just a few clicks.
Apple integrations: Avid Mac users will love how easy it is to sync up Things with other apps like Mail, Calendar, and Reminders.
Not compatible with Windows/Android: If you aren’t an Apple user, there aren’t any native calendar integrations other than Mail.
Few natural language processing capabilities: Unfortunately, there are no NLP capabilities for projects and tags.
Separate subscriptions: If you want to use Things on your desktop and mobile, you’ll have to pay for two individual subscriptions.
Depending on what iOS device you use, expect to pay a one-time fee of $50 for a Mac, $10 for an iPhone or Apple Watch, and $20 for an iPad.
Try Microsoft To-Do if you’re looking for a free to-do app that feels like a premium option. It has a highly intuitive UI and, unlike other free apps, includes native language processing. You can also automate certain processes in the app through Integrately.
Completely free: No more paying for additional features like calendar syncing or file uploads – Microsoft To-Do is completely free!
My Day feature: Get a quick overview of your day’s assignments. Sync tasks automatically or add them manually.
Android widgets: If you’re using Microsoft To-Do on an Android device, you’ll love the Quick Add widget tool for easy access.
No smart lists: As there are no tags or customizable filters, you have to manage your lists manually.
Limited calendar integration: Unfortunately, Gmail or Apple Mail users won’t be able to sync their accounts to this app.
No natural language processing: While it isn’t the end-all-be-all of to-do apps, you might miss out a little on NLP.
OmniFocus is for you if you prefer an app that can help you get through complex projects with a GTD approach. Underrated features like color-coding and tags within tags make it even easier to manage your tasks.
Defer tasks: Have too many tasks to work on all at once? You can defer start dates for a later time.
Detailed lists: If you’re working on a project with dozens of moving parts, you can easily color-code them, create forecasts for potential assignments, and even make tags within tags.
Multi-device sync: Do you use Omnifocus on more than one device? Sync everything up in just one click.
Expensive: If you want a premium plan with OmniFocus, expect to pay a lot more than you would with other apps.
Hard to use: Because OmniFocus is hugely loaded with features, there’s a steep learning curve.
Jargony: Sometimes OmniFocus complicates things when it doesn’t have to – for example, using complicated terms like “forecast” instead of calendar view and “defer dates” instead of “start dates.”
Standard one-time payments for Mac and iOS users cost $50. Pro plans for iOS users cost $75 and $100 for Mac users.
While less of a to-do app and more of a habit-developing app, Habitica is useful for staying on top of repetitive personal tasks. Modeled after a role-playing game, you can level up your characters by completing tasks.
Enjoyable: This gamified app makes fulfilling mundane tasks more enjoyable. You can even equip your characters with weapons and clothing.
Charming design: Enjoy a blast from the past with this app’s 8-bit design.
Completely free: Just download Habitica on your mobile device or desktop and you’re good to go.
Potentially distracting: If you consider yourself a GTD type of person, Habitica’s playful features might be distracting.
Not ideal for large-scale projects: Habitica may not be useful for complex, active projects. It lacks sub-task capabilities and calendar views.
You can cheat the system: You might be tempted to level your character up instead of finishing your tasks by completing a task before it’s actually done.
Todoist is a fan favorite for good reasons – it has hundreds of integrations and goal-setting features, plus it’s beautifully designed. This comprehensive to-do list app also offers cross-platform support and syncs reliably with your other apps. Connect Todoist with dozens of platforms with Integrately.
Dozens of powerful features: While Todoist is one of the best-equipped project management apps out there, it doesn’t come with too steep a learning curve. Even professional project managers recommend it as an entry-level app.
Siri and Echo integration: If you rely heavily on voice commands, you’ll be pleased to know that Todoist works with Siri and Amazon Echo.
Productivity reports: Want to see how you’ve fared over the past week, month, or year? Create a productivity report and pinpoint where you can improve.
Subtasks aren’t intuitive: It’s easy to overlook subtasks because they don’t indent in inbox view.
Custom views have a learning curve: If you want to categorize and arrange tasks according to your household, job, or other projects, using Todoist’s custom filters might require a bit of extra effort.
Free plan is limited: The best way to make the most out of Todoist is to get a premium plan.
Todoist comes with a free plan but costs $4/month for a premium account.
If you’re looking for a task manager with a wide range of capabilities, Toodledo could be right for you. With it, you can streamline your daily routine, write notes, create custom lists, and even track daily chores.
Device sync: If you are an avid user of multiple devices, Toodledo can sync data on your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet. It is also compatible with Android, iOS, web, and extension users.
Mass updates: Update multiple tasks at once and save time sorting through file attachments, due dates, and more.
Task prioritization: Assign priority levels to different tasks.
Paid collaboration: Collaboration features are only available to paying users.
Ugly interface: If you’re looking for an app with a beautiful user interface, Toodledo might disappoint. It’s a little cluttered and not very visually appealing.
Steep learning curve: Toodledo’s mass of complicated features make it difficult to learn.
A standard Toodledo plan costs $2.99/month, while a plus plan costs $4.99/month. Business plans have pricing available upon request.
Picking the To-Do List App That’s Right for You – Get Organized Today!
While investing in the best to-do-list apps might seem frivolous, they can be helpful when your plate is full. Especially for people who rely heavily on their devices, the best to-do list apps can help keep you organized and always on top of your assignments.
Make your task management app even more efficient by automating actions with Integrately! Use more than 8 million commands to make your workday as efficient as ever.
For fans of Google, accomplishing tasks doesn’t get any better than with Google Tasks. This comprehensive to-do list app syncs with all your Google accounts and even has dozens of powerful third-party application integrations.
Which is better: Todoist or TickTick?
If you’re a power user looking for robust project management apps, you’ll likely be caught between two options: Todoist and TickTick. These apps are so powerful that professional project managers design courses around them. But which one is “better” will ultimately depend on your preferences.
Both apps are relatively similar – they each have dark mode, multiple sharing options, and additional productivity tools. However, some nuances like TickTick’s Arrange Tasks functionality or Todoist’s hyper-efficient interface might sway your decision.
How do you organize your to-do list?
Depending on what app you choose, there are many ways to organize your lists. You can use custom filters, kanban boards, Gantt charts, or calendar views.
Is there a to-do list feature on Google?
Yes, you can use Google Tasks as an extension alongside Google Keep and Google Calendar.
Does Apple have a to-do list app?
Currently, the only built-in to-do list app for Apple users is Reminders, which has limited features. However, some apps on this list have excellent Apple integrations.
Author - Abhishek A Agrawal
Abhishek is the founder of Integrately, CompanyHub, and Dreamwares. He is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. He is always looking to leverage technology for the growth of the business. He has a deep understanding of how businesses work and uses this knowledge to build products that help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.