The Best To-do List Apps for Your Desktop
Utility • Sept. 13, 2019
The busier that life gets, the harder that it becomes for us to keep track of everything. Managing your time and tasks efficiently is without a doubt one of the hardest things in life. So, why not make it easier?
To-do apps are designed for exactly that purpose. We can use them to take notes, set goals, schedule our day, week, month, and much, much more; depending on how creative one can get.
That being said, the truth is that there are a ton of to-do apps out there and all of them have their pros and cons. So, finding the best one isn’t exactly an easy task.
That’s why we made all the research for you and picked some of the best To-do list apps that you can find at this moment.
Our selection includes the best To-do apps for Mac and iOS users, Android, Windows, and something that can handle a little bit of everything as well.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
Best for Cross-Platform: Todoist
Do you have a plethora of different devices? And do they come with different operating systems? Then chances are that you’ll love Todoist.
Todoist has been one of the most popular To-do apps for a while now and for a good reason. Apart from the superb UI that’s extremely easy to use, it also offers very wide cross-platform support. To be more specific, it works with:
- Mac OS
- Apple Watch
- And Android Wear
One of the other amazing features that this app offers is that it doesn’t require you to create everything from scratch.
Right after the installation, you’re ready to setup the weekly and daily schedule without having to mess around with settings.
That being said, creating a weekly schedule can become very messy in no time. For this reason, Todoist allows you to manage everything in projects and tasks, priorities, and also custom labels.
Ease of use is only one thing. Let us not forget about features as well. Just to mention some of them:
- Automatically backups everything to the cloud and syncs with different devices that are logged in
- Task sharing
- Different themes
- Option to install additional plugins
- And more
Now, with all of that being said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. And we say that because some of the most useful features are hidden behind a paywall.
A small paywall, but a paywall nonetheless. To be more specific, the reminders and the label system are two very useful things that require at least the paid, premium plan.
We understand that developers need to get paid, but we’d love to see at least the reminder system work for free as it does on so many other apps.
+ Extremely easy to use
+ Ready to use right after the installation
+ Compatible with pretty much all popular platforms
+ Great UI
+ A few themes to choose from
+ Easy to share tasks
+ Collaboration options
+ Works offline
– Some useful features require you to buy the premium version
Overall, Todoist has a whole lot of positive to offer without any major downsides. Of course, with that being said, we understand that the lack of the reminder may be a massive deal-breaker for some.
And while there are other To-do apps that offer similar features without asking for a price, like MS To-do (more on that later), there is also no doubt that they are not as easy to use.
So, read through the rest of our picks, weigh your options, and choose whatever fits you best.
Best for Mac and iOS: Things 3
For those of you who own an Apple device and are looking for a good To-to app, then Things 3 is quite possibly the ideal choice for you!
Things 3 offers a UI that will make both Mac and iOS users feel right at home. That being said, if you’re using Android or Windows, then move along because only Apple devices are included. To be more specific:
- And Apple Watches
Just like Todoist, this app feels very easy to use and works right after the installation without you having to sign in with an email in order to use it.
But, with that being said, do not forget that this is strictly a paid app. While we do get a free trial period of about 15 days, any further access requires us to pay for the full version.
At about 10 bucks, the mobile version is rather cheap. But, if you want to use it on your Mac, then you better get ready to reach deep into your wallet as the Mac version asks for a whopping $50.
Other than that, if you’re someone who needs a web app, like a student or an employee who doesn’t have the permissions to install an app on his work computer, then sorry to let you know that Things doesn’t offer one.
Still, as far as To-do apps are concerned, this is one of the best that you can get for the whole Apple ecosystem.
Clean UI, Mac-like design, easy and straightforward to use, offers features likes reminders and tags. Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with it.
Not an ideal option if you’re looking for a freebie. But, if you want to invest on an app that works across all of your Apple devices, then that’s probably the one.
+ Great for Apple users
+ Mobile version is rather cheap
+ The design is as straight forward as it can get
+ Has that Apple feel to it
+ No subscription service (You still need to pay once, though)
– Doesn’t offer collaboration features
– Not available for other popular operating systems like Android and Windows
Since Things 3 offers a free trial, do give it a spin and then you can decide if it’s worth it or not. For the rest of you who own more than just Apple devices, keep on reading!
Best for Windows and Android: MS To Do (Previously Known as Wunderlist)
MS To Do comes from the colossal Microsoft. So, this is the first and last big name that we’ll be checking out.
One of the best things about this particular app is that it’s completely free to use and it works for both Android and Windows devices.
In terms of features, you can expect to find the standard stuff. Task and sub-task creation, custom lists, reminders, stuff like that.
True, MS To Do is not quite as good as Todoist in terms of productivity. Especially for professionals who want to work with a lot of collaboration-related tasks.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that it gets the job done for us without asking for a penny.
Now, with that being said, do keep in mind that if you like adding details to sub-tasks, then you can’t do that just yet with this app.
For example, say that you create the task: ‘Groceries for the day’, and you add the groceries in the sub-tasks. But, one of the ingredients needs an extra note. Ex: ‘Spaghetti (Note: 2 packs size 11 and 1 size 9)’.
It’s in cases like that one when we truly miss the option of adding descriptions to sub-tasks. Obviously, we can always add the info on the sub-task title itself or in the notes. But, that’s also not as tidy.
Regarding the ease of use, well, it is a little bit tough to get used to it at first. But, once you get the hang of it, MS To Do really becomes a pleasant tool to use.
+ Great integration with Android and Windows devices + MS services
+ Completely free
+ Works across multiple platforms (Including iOS)
+ Beautiful design
+ Relatively easy to use
– Not as feature-packed as other options
– Has a slightly longer learning curve
Overall, if you’re looking for something that gets the job done without asking for money and works with the most popular operating systems, MS To Do is most likely your go-to choice.
Those were our best picks. But that doesn’t mean that there are no other good options out there. In fact, there are quite a lot.
If you didn’t like the above-mentioned apps, here are a few more to choose from:
This is one of the most popular To do apps that are out there at the moment. And believe us when we say that its popularity is justified.
You can find it for Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Alexa, Web, Apple Watch, and more. Oh, did we mention that it’s also completely free?
If you’re someone who loves having a ton of features to play with, then do definitely consider checking out TickTick.
It admittedly has a tiny bit of a learning curve, but at the end of the day, it’s a great option for professionals.
That being said, the free version is rather restrictive. So, be prepared to spend a bit of extra money for the premium version.
This is another To-do app that is filled to the brim with features. It’s most popular with Mac users, but it’s also available for iOS and Android.
One of the reasons that this one didn’t make it to the top 3 is because the overall navigation felt a bit too chaotic, if that makes sense. But, that’s something that definitely comes down to personal preference. So, give it a try for yourself.
Trello is a bit more of a business tool rather than a traditional To-do app. You can use it to collaborate with your co-workers by adding tasks, links, descriptions, etc.
Thankfully, this one is free to use and it’s available not only for Android and iOS devices but you can also use it alongside other platforms like Slack and Evernote.
Definitely worth checking out.
This is quite possibly the most minimalistic To-do app that you’ll ever see. It’s primarily made for Mac and as far as simplicity goes? Well, let’s just say that it doesn’t differ too much from a traditional paper task manager.
Overall, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t overwhelm with a ton of features and offers a simple design for your Mac, do definitely check out TaskPaper!
That’s all for now. Hopefully, you managed to find the best To-do app for your needs with our help.
Choose the best to-do list app for you from the list to make task management easy and simple. All these apps also let your teamwork with tightly aligned coordination, which helps improve productivity.
At the end of the day, time is money and we need to spend it wisely. That’s why we need an app that works for us; not one that makes us work for it. Till next time!
Extra tips: paper task managers VS to-do apps
Still not satisfied with the best To-do apps that are out there? If that’s the case, have you tried trying out the traditional method instead?
Both paper and digital apps have their own pros and cons. Portability, ease of use, features, flexibility, etc.
Let’s make a small comparison and see which one is the best.
Taking notes with a pen and paper (or by printing a page straight from the computer, if you’re into that) is the traditional approach of taking notes.
This method has served people for hundreds of years without any issues. And you know what they say: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’, right?
Here are some of the best things that paper does which digital apps just can’t compete with:
- Full flexibility
- No distractions
- Always open by your side
One thing that no digital can compete with is the flexibility that paper offers. After all, most apps have a certain design and set of rules on how they work. And if you don’t like that? Well, too bad.
Paper, on the other hand, allows you to be as creative as you want. Sections, sub-sections, task placement, you name it. When it comes to flexibility? Nothing beats paper.
The second positive thing about paper is that it can not distract you. Think about it.
Any time you pull out your phone to check your tasks, chances are that it’ll bombard you with social media notifications, emails, messages, etc. It’s hard to focus on your tasks with so many distractions. Thankfully, paper task managers have none of that.
Last, but not least, paper task managers don’t require you to scroll through other apps. They are always there waiting and all you need is a peek to check out everything.
Nothing in this life is perfect and paper task managers are not an exception to that rule. Overall, despite all the advantages that paper offers, it’s also:
- Not very portable
- Doesn’t offer any alarms
- You can’t share it as easily
First of all, as you can probably imagine, paper isn’t as portable as digital apps. After all, our phone follows us everywhere no matter what.
A piece of paper, on the other hand, no matter how small, is always an additional item that we normally don’t need to carry. So, that’s a clear loss for traditional paper task managers.
The second downside is that compared to apps, a piece of paper will obviously not offer any alarms. So, you better make sure to remember to complete everything on time.
Not to mention that it can make life harder for professionals. After all, sharing something with your team by using an app is as easy as pressing a single button. Good luck doing that with paper.
To-do List Apps: Pros
To-do apps are getting more and more popular – and with a good reason. There are plenty of advantages to going digital:
- Extreme portability
- Faster to use
- Makes it much easier to share notes
First of all, apps are extremely portable. Most of us carry our phones everywhere. So, by using a digital app, you don’t really have to worry about always carrying an extra item with you and potentially losing it as well.
Not to mention that syncing will automatically send everything to your computer and tablet as well. So, that’s another big bonus point for To-do apps.
Then there is also the ease of use. A good To-do app allows you to create tasks with sub-tasks in a matter of seconds. Add the fact that typing is several times faster than physically writing and we have a clear winner here.
Other than that, apps can also keep our schedule tidy. After all, there is no need to draw lines everywhere or anything like that. You just tick on a task and it’s out of view forever.
Last, but not least, sharing notes, tasks, and ideas is much easier with digital apps. All you need is the press of a button or two and that’s about it.
And let us not forget about alarms and notifications. With that feature, even if you forget about something, your device will remind you about it.
To-do List Apps: Cons
Paper isn’t perfect, and apps aren’t either. Here are a few downsides to using digital apps compared to paper task managers:
- Not as flexible
- Sometimes a bit annoying
Our phones can do everything. And for this reason, they can also get a bit distractive. You open a phone or tablet to check out the tasks for the duration of the day, and before you know it, you’re watching a YouTube video with funny animals. Not very productive.
Then there’s also the design aspect. Developers make their apps in a certain way and as far as To-do apps are concerned, you have no choice but to adapt. So, not the most flexible thing in terms of creativity.
Other than that, there are times where simply opening an app can get a bit annoying. You have to type a password, maybe scroll through some other apps, open the To-do list, find the right category, and… Why did I open this app again?
Overall, there is no clear winner. Each solution has pros and cons. The great thing about taking what you want from these tools and tips is you can come up with something that works perfectly for your unique situation.
Let yourself experiment and find the ways both digital to-do tools and paper-based managers suit your needs.