10 Best To-Do List Apps

Best online, mobile, and desktop apps for managing your To-Do Lists

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To-do lists are essential for helping many of us stay organized and productive. Sometimes even just the act of writing something down can help you achieve your goals or at least reduce the weight of that task from your mind. Here are a few of the best online, mobile, and desktop applications for managing your tasks, chosen because of their multi-platform capabilities, their ease of use, and their rich features sets.

Desktop To-Do List Apps

There are only 2 desktop apps in this list, both Microsoft products, and both very useful as standalone personal information managers (PIMs). Unfortunately, as proprietary applications, they sometimes don't play as well with other applications.

  • Microsoft Outlook is the king of desktop calendar, task management, contact lists, and email software. All those features seamlessly integrate with each other; you can flag an email message as a task (with a follow-up date), for example, and view tasks on your calendar. For integration with other apps, however, such as Google Calendar, you'll need to rely on 3rd-party syncing tools, and those might not be available. Outlook tasks only sync well with Windows-based mobile phones, so taking your to-do list with you can be tricky if you use a different mobile platform.
  • Microsoft OneNote is an organizational tool with many list management features built-in, like the ability to insert checkboxes into tabbed pages and integrate them with Outlook's tasks list. OneNote syncs with Office Web Apps, but only on a very basic level.

Online To-Do List Apps

There are many dedicated to-do list apps online, all very capable of maintaining your tasks lists. The problem is they don't interact with each other, as there isn't a universal "to-do" item format (yet), in which you can easily export and import tasks or sync them with other programs. Still, the online, cloud-based to-do list apps win for overall accessibility -- as long as you have an Internet connection, you have access to your list of things-to-do.

  • Remember the Milk (or RTM) is one of the most popular Web-based to-do list managers, and for good reason: The interface is intuitive, it works with multiple emails, SMS, and IM services, and has a host of other features like task reminders, saving task searches, tagging tasks, prioritizing and estimating task time, and more. It even has apps for mobile devices and other online apps like Google Calendar. The smartphone app is free, however, you'll need to upgrade to a Pro account for advanced features like Outlook syncing.
  • ToodleDo is similar to RTM. Though the interface is a little more cluttered, ToodleDo offers more functionality and integration that other online to-do list services, including setting project/task goals, OpenID integration, and exporting/importing from CSV and Excel. Free 3rd party syncing apps like Got 2 Do on Android make this a more Android-friendly to-do list solution.
  • Producteev - This online task management tool implores you to get your to-dos out of your email inbox. It is a robust online app that lets you add tasks via email, IM, Google apps, and iPhone apps, and the tasks can be color-coded, flagged, prioritized and otherwise finely managed. A Mac desktop app is also available.

Mobile To-Do List Apps

If your mobile phone is your task organizer of choice, you have a lot of list-making apps to choose from. Besides task or to-do list apps, there are apps for creating shopping, wedding lists, and more. If you don't want to be restricted to accessing your list only on your smartphone, your best bet is to use one of the online apps above with a mobile app or their mobile website. The mobile apps below, however, excel at helping you track your tasks on your smartphone, specifically.

  • 2Do - This to-do app for iOS and Android has one of the most elegant user interfaces and an assortment of features, including colored tabs, geo-location task sorting, projects, and checklists, drag and drop task management, multiple calendars, syncing with MobileMe, ToodleDo, iCal, and Outlook, and more.
  • Got 2 Do - If you're an Android smartphone owner and a ToodleDo online task manager user, then the Got To Do app is ideal for you since it syncs with ToodleDo. Even if you don't use ToodleDo, however, Got 2 Do is a feature-rich mobile to-do app, with task reminders, task contexts, and folders, sorting by multiple categories, tagging, and more.