I tried out a few “to do list” applications for the iMac and thought I’d pass on what I learned. I wanted to see if anything was more useful or more interesting than Reminders, supplied with the iMac. Conclusion: No, but one app has promise once they get it to work for syncing to a Linux machine (if you can parse the data files) because it uses Dropbox, and one app does something rather special and I’ll use it along side Reminders. I was surprised that there were not more options, but there were several. In this case, my first criterion for an app was that it was free. This eliminates a lot of possibilities (and I don’t object to paying for an app that is really good and not too expensive) but it is a good start.
One of the most promising apps was Nozbe To-do and Project Management. It looked like Nozbe was going to take information about things to do, including scheduling information and priority information, and make a short list of things to focus on and get done next. Maybe it does that. But when I installed it and started the app, it simply asked me for my log on information for my Nozbe account. I don’t have a Nozbe account and don’t want one. So that App goes in the trash.
Then I tried iProcrastinate – Craig Otis This app has, by far, the best name of any app ever. It also claimed to sync with iPads etc using dropbox, which would be different than using the braindead iCloud, and thus, might allow me access to it via a Linux machine.
The iMac version seemed to work fine. It does not handle times to finish tasks as far as I know, but it does allow tasks to be dated, and to have repeating tasks. When I went to install the iPad device, it cost $0.99, and was not a HD app (designed for the iPhone, and not the iPad). That is a bit disappointing but maybe that will change over time. Anyway, I was able to sync my iMac version of iProcrastinate to dropbox, where the software makes a directory at the top level (I have no choice in where this directory goes) in which it puts a text file with piles of data in it which is probably parsable. The iPhone version I have on my iPad, however, will not sync to anything. Or at least, if there is a way to make it sync, it is not apparent in looking at the software or the company’s web site. Ooops. So, iProcrastinate is OK if I don’t want to sync, as advertised, across devices. Oh, there is an esoteric way to sync across devices not using Dropbox but it requires a Masters Degree in Network Management. Which I would love to have. I’ll put that on my list of things to do.
Next we have Wunderlist – 6 Wunderkinder. Like Nozbe, Wunderlist required me to have an account, but unlike Nosbe, it gave me the option of easily and freely creating one. The iPad version of the app is free, and it is an iPad app. (iPhone versions are also available.)
Wunderlist’s interface is hokey and cute, which is annoying, but simple. You poke at it and add thigns. You can add a date for the task, and there is plenty of room to add notes. There are hotkeys, information about which is annoyingly supplied to us as a series of list items.
When the iPad version was installed, I logged on and there was my list, which I had previously synced to my account by pressing “sync.” It may be the case that you have to manually press the sync button to make the thing sync.
Wunderlist also lets you have distinctly different lists, each with its own tasks. You can print and email the lists. I didn’t try printing but I did try the emailing and it works great. People may be getting lists from me.
There is a little cloud button you can press and this scary message appears:
Are you sure to publish your tasks?
This feature allows you to share your list with CloudApp. If you click yes, your list gets uploaded to CloudApp and a seret URL will be generated. You can use the URL to share your tasks easily with others who don’t have a Wunderlist account or share them public on Twitter. Hint: This is permanent. Anyone who knows the URL will be able to see your current list . It gets deleted automatically after 30 days.
THere are also buttons to display only today’s tasks, tomorrows, the next 7 day’s worth, and so on.
So, for a basic, sync-able to do list, Wunderlist is fine. The others reviewed so far are not.
Then, we have something completely different. DoItNow! by ganglion software runs as an item on your menu bar. That is a plus. Then, it allows you to specify date and time for when to do something. Now. Then, it allows you to optionally link a file to the task. You type in what you want to be reminded to do. When the time comes, the file opens up and your computer’s voice tells you what to do. It does not appear to have an OS5 version. I certainly don’t want all, or even most, of my things to do on this sucker, but the whole idea of the computer tossing a document in my face and telling me out loud what to do has a certain attraction to it. I’ll use this app until I kill it.
Are any of these better than Reminders, which comes with OS X Mountain Lion – Apple? For a basic list, I don’t think so. Reminders works across devices, has an alarm, lets you specify both time and date, lets you put in notes, etc. I think I’ll continue to use Reminders though Wunderlist is a contender. However, DoItNow now resides on my menu bar. I’ll try it out for specific tasks and see how it goes. I’m particularly thinking of blogging embargoed materials. If I get an embargoed paper, I’ll attach it to DoItNow with the time and date of the embargo set. If I don’t get to writing up a blog post on it, DoItNow will remind me at the last second. If I do, DoItNow will remind me that my post must be self-posting at that particular time, so I can go check to see if it looks OK, tweet it, etc. Note to self: Avoid scheduling DoItNow tasks while Huxley is likely to be sleeping in the next room.