Available on many platforms. Clean, simple interface. Neat productivity charts with Premium account. Good task classification tools. Collaboration supported. Location-based reminders. Offline functionality.
A few important features not available to free users.
- Bottom Line
With a clean and simple UI, excellent collaboration features, and support for plenty of platforms, Todoist is one of the most feature-rich to-do list apps, and a clear Editors' Choice.
If you're looking for the best to-do list app, one that works on all your devices, has great features for monitoring your productivity, and lets you geek out on the organization of tasks, Todoist is for you. This excellent and reliable app is available across a wide variety of devices, is easy to use, and has great core features. Although the free version of Todoist is very good, it's much better at the Premium level, which is competitively priced. If you need organizational help and are willing to pay, Todoist will keep you happy and productive.
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As mentioned, Todoist is a freemium product, like most other apps in the to-do list space. A free account gives you a good experience, but the Premium level unlocks features that people with productivity on the brain will want to use. With the free app, you get all the core features for making tasks, including subtasks, but you miss out on task labels and reminders, location-based reminders, the ability to add notes and upload files, and a productivity chart that's unique to Todoist. The free account lets you make up to 80 projects for organizing your tasks, and you can share a project with up to five people.
A Premium account costs $28.99 per year, with no monthly option available. It adds full collaboration capabilities, location-based reminders, labels and reminders, the ability to add tasks via email, and more. You can organize up to 200 projects and have up to 25 people in each of them with a Premium account as well. PCMag has not yet evaluated Todoist for Business, which also costs $28.99 per user per year and adds some centralized management, log-in tracking, and priority support.
A competing service called Any.do charges a little less than Todoist for its Pro account, at about $27 per year. Collaboration features are restricted to Pro subscribers, although free users have access to some limited sharing capabilities, which are worth exploring if you're looking to use a to-do list among household members.
Remember the Milk has a Pro subscription for $39.99 per year with no monthly option. It has limited collaboration capabilities in its free version: You can share a list with up to two other people.
Previously, Wunderlist was one of the most popular to-do list apps, but it's no longer being supported as of April 2017. The app was purchased by Microsoft, which has since released its own, rather disappointing task-management app called Microsoft To-Do. Microsoft To-Do is missing a bunch of features that I consider core to a task-management tool, although it's fine if you're doing little more than jotting down a handful of things you need to remember to do each day.
Very small businesses looking for a task-management app would do fine with Any.do or Todoist, as both have a business-grade plan. But another app worth considering is Asana. Asana costs a lot more, about $119 per year per person, but you get much more than simple to-do lists. Asana is a complete workflow management tool in addition to being a very rich task-management app. It might be overkill for personal use, but it's an Editors' Choice for communication and collaboration tools for small businesses.
Design and Features
Todoist is a very capable task-management tool. One of its selling points is that it has apps for so many platforms, from iOS and Android to plug-ins for Gmail and Thunderbird. Apps for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile are available, too. Within the past year, Todoist also finally added support for Slack, meaning you can send a task to your Todoist account from Slack by typing in a few simple words of text.
Todoist is a cloud-based service, so all your tasks and notes from one app automatically sync to all the other places in which you have Todoist installed. I've used the iPhone app for more than a year and syncing has been reliable, but I often had to force syncs in the browser.
To manage and conquer your to-dos, Todoist lets you create projects and add tasks to them. Projects can be color-coded to help visually differentiate them. Tasks can have subtasks, as well as due dates, reminders, flags noting the tasks' urgency, and more.
Todoist supports natural language inputs, so if you want a task to be recurring "every two weeks" or "every Friday," typing those words into your task title makes it happen. Other shortcuts include using # and @ symbols to assign a task to a particular project or add tags.
The desktop and Web versions also have manual options for entering recurring tasks that some people prefer to natural language entry for making sure they don't introduce errors. For example, "today and every Friday" turned out to be invalid in my testing, although "every Friday" or "ev Friday" did the trick. I'd rather have the ability to choose my options precisely from a set of selections. In the mobile app, there is no way to do that. You can, however, add a time to your due date, right down to the precise minute.
In the Todoist mobile apps, quick action buttons appear when you swipe on any task. These buttons let you change the task to be due today, tomorrow, next week, in a month, or to any date you choose.
If you invite collaborators to access your tasks and projects, they'll need to sign up for a Todoist account, but they don't need to upgrade to Premium. With collaborators on board, you can assign tasks to other people, or they might assign tasks to you. To any task, you can upload a file and add comments, which might pertain to information you need or information one of your collaborators need.
Todoist also gives you a lot of ways to filter your tasks. You can filter by priority, assignee, or due date. You can also create a custom filter. In general, the options for customizing Todoist are pretty good, though you can't customize the badge count on macOS or iOS. The badge count always shows the number of tasks that are due today and those that are overdue.
Todoist has good reminder options. Email notifications are included, as are a few notifications that are specific to mobile devices, including push notifications, SMS notifications, and location-based reminders (which are Premium only). Other task-management apps with location-based reminders include Apple Reminders and Any.do. Remember the Milk doesn't have them at all, although in that app you can tag tasks that you want to do in a location. It's just that you won't automatically get a reminder about it when you reach that location.
By default, notifications are enabled for everything, making it a setting I recommend changing immediately upon setting up the service. Another setting I had to change in the Todoist Mac app was the keyboard shortcut to show or hide the app. The default is the same as the shortcut for reopening the last closed browser tab (ctrl+shift+T), which is a combo I use frequently. If you're a fan of shortcuts, however, Todoist has plenty to keep you busy.
I love that Todoist keeps automatic backups of your data. When I explored this section, I found eight backups with time and date stamps going back a few minutes to about a week. I also appreciate that Todoist works offline, syncing your changes to other places where you use the app when you have connectivity.
Good Productivity Karma
Todoist has one unique feature called Karma that I like very much. It's a small report showing your productivity (that is, how many tasks you crossed off) this week based on your color-coded projects. It gives me a clear indication of whether I'm spending my time working on the projects that I have decided should be the priority. Every now and again, I notice my Karma report shows I've been working too much on projects that are not important rather than focusing my time and energy on those that should be priorities. It also draws your attention to which days of the week you tend to get the most done. The Karma report is limited to Premium users.
No other to-do list app I've seen has anything like this report. It's similar to a very lightweight version of a reporting tool you might see in a project management app.
If that sounds like a useful report, you should definitely check out RescueTime, which is one of my favorite productivity tools for monitoring time usage in this same way. If you like the productivity tracking in Todoist, you'll probably also like RescueTime.
Todoist, or Not Todoist?
The paid Premium version of Todoist is one of the most feature-rich to-do apps I've used. It also has a simple and functional interface, support for collaboration, and apps for many platforms so that you can get to your to-do list no matter where you are. For all those reasons, Todoist Premium is an Editors' Choice for to-do list apps.
Jill Duffy is a contributing editor, specializing in productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the weekly Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life. Her first book, Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Messy Digital Life is available for Kindle, iPad, and other digital formats. She is also the creator and author of ProductivityReport.org. Before joining PCMag.com, she was senior editor at the Association for Computing Machinery, a non-profit membership organization for… More »
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