Let Google Tasks Make Your Life Easier

Use the task manager hidden inside your Gmail inbox

To Do List on Notebook Page With Laptop and Coffee Mug

Constantine Johnny/Getty Images

Google Tasks takes the procrastination out of getting your to-do list organized because it's built into your Gmail account. There's no need to download specific task software to use it, so you can jump straight to making lists and checking items off. While Google Tasks is a simplified version of a task manager, it has all the features most of us need to get started creating to-do lists.

How to Use Google Tasks in Gmail

Google Tasks exists alongside your Gmail's inbox, so before you can use it, you need to open Gmail in your web browser. Google Tasks works in all major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Edge. 

  1. Open Gmail in a browser.

  2. Select the Google Tasks icon — the blue circular icon — in the narrow panel on the right side of the Gmail screen. If the panel isn't visible, click the arrow at the bottom right corner of the screen to open it.

    Gmail screen showing location of Tasks icon
  3. In the Tasks window that opens, choose + Add a task to enter a new task to the list or click a circle to mark a task complete.

    Adding a task to Google Tasks
  4. Hold your cursor over any task on the list to show a pencil. Click the pencil to edit a task, add subtasks, or assign a date and time to a task. Reorder the task list by clicking and dragging entries.

    Editing screen for Tasks lists in Gmail
  5. To add a new list, click the name of the current list and select Create new list. You can make as many different lists as you like.

    Creating a new list in Tasks

How to Access Google Tasks in Calendar

One of the features that makes Google Tasks so useful is its integration with Google Calendar as well as Gmail. You can add to your Google Task lists from your Gmail inbox or assign a date to a to-do, and the information is displayed in Google's Calendar app alongside your other events, meetings, and notifications.

By default, Google Calendar shows Reminders instead of Tasks. To turn on Tasks in the Calendar:

  1. Open Google Calendar and log in to your Google account

  2. Check the box next to Tasks in the left panel. If you want to assign a color to tasks, select the More icon next to Tasks and pick a color. Any Tasks to which you assign a date appear on your calendar.

    Google Calendar weekly view
  3. Open the Tasks list in Calendar the same way you do in Gmail, by choosing the circular blue icon in the narrow right panel.

    Calendar view with Tasks
  4. Make new entries or edit existing entries, just like you do with Tasks in Gmail. Any changes you make appear in Tasks in both places.

How to Use Google Tasks as a Task Manager for Work

If you mostly send and receive work correspondence through Gmail, Google Tasks makes staying organized easy. One of the most powerful features of Google Tasks is the ability to attach an email to a specific task. You can do this any time you have an email message open:

  1. Open an email (or add a check to the box in front of an email).

  2. Click the More button — three vertically aligned dots — at the top of the Gmail screen.

  3. Choose Add to Tasks from the menu. 

    Adding an email to Tasks

When you add an email message as a task, Google uses the email's subject line as the task title. It also provides a related email link that takes you to that specific email. 

The ability to go through your task list, mark off completed items, and immediately pull up a related email message makes Google Tasks a good work manager for people who use Gmail regularly.

Using Google Tasks on Your Mobile Device

Google Tasks is an excellent list editor for many of the same reasons it is a good task manager — accessibility and integration with both Gmail and Google Calendar. Your spouse can email you that you're out of eggs, and you can add eggs to a grocery list using Google Tasks.

However, to be a good shopping list manager, you need access to Google Tasks (and your grocery list) on your smartphone. Tasks apps are available for both iOS and Android mobile devices. They work similarly to Tasks on the desktop, and any changes made on the smartphone apps sync with Gmail and Calendar.

  1. Tap the Tasks app to open it.

  2. Tap the three horizontal lines at the bottom of the screen to select from all your to-do lists.

  3. Select a list (in this case, the Grocery List).

As you shop, tap the circle in front of each item. Never get home without something on your list again.

Google Tasks app on iPhone