It’s 2019. Smartphones and phone apps have been around for at least a decade.
But we’re still lagging behind in a key area…there’s no clear and obvious software choice to use for personal productivity.
Many of the popular to-do list apps are overwhelming and a poor fit for most. They have a structure and you either have to go with it or not.
And if your preferences change, then tough luck. They impose their structure on you without any room for customization.
If you go into the app store, a quick search will show you hundreds of options. How are you supposed to decide?
So what is the best to-do list app to really get things done?
In theory, there are advantages to a to-do list app. The potential is there to do way more than what pen and paper can do. A to-do list app should feel like a superpower in your pocket.
You should get more things done, more easily than you would without it. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Note: See even more productivity apps to help you!
In this post, we’ve researched some of the best to-do list apps, and listed out a few pros, cons and notable features below. Most of these mobile apps will work for Android devices and iPhones.
Check out below for how some of the top to-do list apps can help you:
In most of the apps listed here, you’ll have to pay extra for things like notifications, tasks or assignments.
With ClickUp, you get the power of a full-on productivity platform and a personal task management app, with loads of integrations such as Google Calendar. ClickUp has a simple interface that’s easy and intuitive to use. ClickUp has a lot of powerful features, but you can customize the statuses and spaces to use only what you need and set reminders for when you need them.
Take notes. Write notes right inside your app and record ideas and tasks as you work. It’s also perfect for an online to-do list to help keep track of your tasks.
Use ClickUp everywhere. Use ClickUp on your phone, desktop, web–wherever you go, ClickUp is right there with you.
It’s also great for storing information, like recipes, planning a birthday party or managing tasks or tracking contacts for networking. Here are some great ways you can use ClickUp in your life.
ClickUp also helps you stay in sync, because you can use it across devices and even connect your Google calendar.
Here are some of the incredible features you get for free when you use ClickUp as your personal productivity platform and to-do list app.
- Lists — Create lists to set up your life. Like one project could be “Home” and then you have all of the pertinent activities that you need under th
- ere, such as “Bills” or “Grocery List.”
- Start Times and Due Dates – Specify both time and day, and get notified when tasks are past the deadline. You’ll get automatically reminded when something is due. Or if you have a task in the future, you can set a start time. Very convenient if you need to plan something out weeks in advance or once you arrive somewhere on your vacation.
- Multiple Assignees – Bring your friends or family into ClickUp as users and even assign them tasks to help them remember to do something.
- Custom Statuses – Customize your lists with statuses to fit each individual project. You can customize your statuses for different areas. For instance, a home renovation project would need a different status than planning your vacation.
- Rich Text Editing – With ClickUp’s intuitively beautiful rich formatting interface, there’s no need to limit a task to only basic text.
- Multiple Views – List View and Board View gives you the options to view your tasks as a board in order or as a Get Things Done task list. No to-do list app gives you these type of options!
- Prioritize – What’s the important task on your list today? Flag it as urgent or low priority, instantly.
- Drag and Drop – Drag and drop tasks no matter where they are in ClickUp – Board, List, or Box view.
- Smart Search – Forgot something? No worries. You should search for it. The more you use it, the smarter it gets (that’s some top-notch AI stuff right there).
- Integrations – Have calendars in Google Calendar or other personal documents like in Dropbox? Of course you do. Connect them with ClickUp.
What’s up with ClickUp? Bottom line, it has the features you’d love to have for your to-do list and task management, with the power to do more. Oh and all those great features? Absolutely free. Why not go for it? Use it as your primary task management application, project management software or your basic to-do list app, all in one!
On the premium versions, you get more storage and more advanced features.
Sign up here to start with ClickUp!
Pricing: Free to $5 per user/per month
Todoist was recently named the best to-do app by The Verge and it’s easy to see why.
The simple, elegant interface puts the focus on the tasks at hand. Just type in the action you need to do, set a due date and it will remind you of when your deadlines are quickly approaching.
It shows you tasks that are due today, tomorrow and within the next week. For simple reminders, it’s great.
For example, I used Todoist to help me remember to buy anniversary presents for my wife.
I put in the items I wanted to research, and then the app prompted me to do them quickly. I’ve never tried to do a big project in Todoist, but I don’t need it for that. I need it to tell me when to do follow-ups or to pick up laundry.
What’s nice though is that Todoist integrates with Google calendar, and so your tasks and events can meet up themselves. That’s the hard part of most to-do mobile apps.
It also works great for everyday tasks like sharing a grocery list with your significant other or splitting it up among roommates.
Another nice perk? Todoist suggested projects for me to add to like shopping, personal or even movies I want to watch. That’s a handy reminder that doesn’t really need deadlines but is a convenient feature.
Bonus: Todoist will show you the task history, so you can see what you’ve finished and helps you set goals for each day to stay productive. You gain karma points for completed tasks and projects that give you a little more incentive. It can also be translated into a basic task management tool for your teams.
- Recurring due dates
- Task priorities
- Active projects
- You have to upgrade to Todoist premium for advanced features like task comments, labels/tags and reminders.
Currently using Todoist but want to try ClickUp? Import your tasks.
Pricing: Free to $5 per user/month
3. Remember The Milk
This task management app has been around for a while, and it’s still a solid choice. Its name kind of says it all–it’s a place to dump all of your random ideas into a central place. Like getting milk after work, or calling a friend on their birthday. The simple stuff.
Their smart list feature is really nice, which lets you write out the details and due dates in one line with natural language. It will also send you texts, emails or other notifications to customize how you want to receive information.
Remember The Milk opts for tags and lists over the more formal “projects” which I think is a good choice for a personal app like this. Sample tags include work, personal or “bananas.” In other words, you can make tags for anything.
However…Remember The Milk has made a lot of their essential features premium, like subtasks or getting mobile notifications. You get many of those things for free in other programs. But if you like the interface or are already in the Remember The Milk universe, then upgrading probably makes sense.
Remember The Milk Features:
- Get reminders by email, text, Twitter and other mobile notifications
- Share your lists
- Task priorities
- Due dates
- Recurring tasks
- Location-based tasks
- Attachments (Premium)
- Sync with Outlook (Premium)
Pricing: Free to $39 per year
4. Google Keep
I asked a friend of mine the other day which to-do list app he uses, and he mentioned Google Keep. This surprised me because I use Google Keep too–just as a note-taking app, not a personal to-do list.
But it makes sense in a lot of ways, especially if you’ve been wedded to pen and paper for most of your life. It’s kind of the same, just with quicker formatting. You can title your list, save it and then come back to it later.
You can also set reminders (I should do this…) and come back to notes or other items later. Labels serve as “tags” in this scenario.
This is good if…you’re enmeshed in the Google or Android world. It fits in seamlessly with the collaboration tools you’re probably already using to organize your life. It’s also a native part of every Android phone.
Personally, I like the “pinned” posts option which keeps important things top of mind–rather it’s a to-do list item or not.
Google Keep Features:
- Set reminders
- Draw or type
- Leave voice reminders
- Save articles
- Multiple devices
- Pin posts
This to-do list app is new (neaux?) to me but it looks cool. It’s well-designed, with big bold fonts but in a clean non-flowery way.
Tasks are laid out in a weekly view, showing the highest priority tasks you need to do for each day of the week. It’s also simple to move tasks from calendars and lists and back again.
Here’s the good part: If a task isn’t done one day, it simply rolls to the next day. That’s amazing and makes a whole lot of sense.
Something different? Teaux-Deaux bills itself as a “design” app, meaning they appeal to creative types. One way they do is by adding markdown features to their tasks. That means you can bold or underline if you need a little extra push.
- Tasks roll over to next day
- Recurring tasks
- Custom task lists
- Markdown support
Pricing: $3/month or $24 annually
6. Things 3
Things 3 takes a minimalist approach and gives you a lot of white space to add details for your projects or chores. You start with a big list and then add smaller elements underneath.
This is like if you’re scheduling a big event–like a vacation–and need to do several things to prepare. As a task manager, this allows for more nesting and helps you separate into more categories. The advantage of headings is that you can move the whole set of tasks, mark them complete or change the due dates.
You also get checklists, like if you’re packing for a trip or need to make improvements.
Here’s the thing: It also has a magic button, which isn’t as glorious as it sounds, but is still a convenient way to add tasks, no matter which category they fall in. If you do use headings, Things has nice visual cues to show progress–and how much work you have left.
And it’s only for Macs and iOS.
Things 3 Features
- Easy to add tasks
- Natural language processing
- Progress charts
- Touch bar support
Pricing: $9.99 to $49.99
Wunderlist is beautiful and it looks accessible. It has more visual cues than typical to-do list mobile apps in a contemporary format.
It’s also easy to share task lists and responsibilities with your partner, family or co-workers to streamline your life. Their tagline is “keep your life in sync.” That’s a promise that anyone can get behind.
Wunder what they’re up to? Wunderlist is slowly moving into the project management space, with assignments, file storage and even note-taking capabilities that make it a blend of Evernote, Google Keep with simplified project management.
Also, Microsoft purchased Wunderlist and has made Microsoft To-Do (see below). That doesn’t make too much sense, so don’t get too invested with this one.
- Due Dates
- Browser extension
TickTick harnesses the power of traditional task management into an app-first interface. TickTick has broader capabilities like location reminders, voice input and data synchronization across platforms that helps you stay on task.
You can also share lists, which your team can use in a work environment if you need a smaller program that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. With their calendar, it’s easy to schedule your tasks for certain times of the day.
- Smart dates
- Voice input
- Location reminders
- Start and due dates
- Multiple platform support
Pricing: Free to $24.99 per year
If you need your app to fit the way your life works, then Toodledo may be an option for you.
You can make your own workflow or work within their systems.
Toodledo gives teams and people the flexibility of task management with a simple to-do list.
However, the interface looks a little clunky compared to more cutting-edge tools.
- Track habits
- Smart sorting
- Hotlist priorities
- Natural language processing
Pricing: Free to $4.99 per month
Think of Bear as your essential to-do list meets note-taking app. It’s handy to add checklists, add detail to your tasks and take extensive notes if necessary.
It’s perfect for flipping from the board room to the grocery store; Bear can handle all of it.
Their hashtag functionality links tasks, notes and files all together. You don’t have to worry about putting your tasks in the right place with that functionality.
Bear lets you write the way you want, and create outlines or a few simple tasks. If you need to add more than just a due date, then Bear may be the right app for you.
- Rich text editing
- Support for images
- Organize with hashtags
- Select from multiple themes
- Create PDFs or Word docs
- Export to multiple files
Pricing: $1.49/month or $14.99 per year
11. Microsoft To-Do
This is from the creators of Wunderlist, but a little different. In fact, it integrates with Office 365, giving you access to part of the ultimate productivity suite.
You can even create and add tasks from Outlook.
For some people and teams, that is enough reason to switch over to Microsoft To-Do.
But need more? Microsoft To-Do gives you lots of customization options to spice up appearances.
Its best feature? The “My Day” focus list tells you exactly what tasks to care of, ranked not only by your due dates but also by your labels.
T0-Do is free and is a heavyweight competitor to all the other to-do list apps.
To-Do App Features:
- Task management in your pocket
- Reminders and due dates
- Daily focus list
- Outlook integration
- Sharing and invites
Evernote is a bit beleaguered these days, but it’s still one of the most popular options for an online to-do list app.
Their hashtagging system has revolutionized notes as a way to organize and their handwriting detection and search is an amazing addition too.
Their WebClipper is also a popular option if you find yourself browsing and saving tasks and notes from the web.
In addition to that, it gives you a freeform writing space to create checklists, meetings notes, grocery list and sync across devices. This works well if you’re at your work computer, but want to refer to something on your phone later–Evernote has you covered for that.
- Sync everything
- Share with friends, family or coworkers
- Save from across the web
- Take notes in your own handwriting
Pricing: Free to $14.99 for business
13. Google Tasks
For a little more power centered on tasks rather than notes, Google Tasks may be a smoother option instead of Google Keep.
Their user interface is reliable and maintains the same steady, minimalist edge that Google maintains across its products. With Google Tasks, create a task, add in any subtasks and then set a due date. This subtask capability is something you won’t get in Google Keep and many other apps charge for.
They have a list hierarchy that serves as a project list, and you can create as many lists as you need.
Bonus: Create tasks from emails as well. This is a killer feature considering the popularity of Gmail for work and personal use.
Google Task Features:
- Tasks from emails
- Due dates and notifications
Conclusion: Try a Productivity Platform, Not Just a To-Do List App
What are the key features that the best to-do list apps have?
- Set reminders
- Manage tasks
- Easy-to-use calendar
- Track due dates and deadlines
- Team collaboration for co-workers and families
One factor that you may not think about: Most to-do apps lock you into a certain way of doing things without any flexibility.
That’s what sets ClickUp apart and that is what most people and teams overlook!
You get all of the features in the free version which is different than most to-do list apps. ClickUp is more than a to-do list for your shopping list.
It’s more than only productivity and task management software. It’s a productivity platform. It’s a way to keep your whole life in order–whether it be personal or for work.
Try a better way for your to-do lists with a productivity platform like ClickUp. I’ll repeat: it does way more than the traditional to-do list app, for the same price (that’s free).
Because of ClickUp’s flexibility, you’ll be able to manage your life the way you want to…not like how a certain system wants you to.
Interested? Go here to read more about why ClickUp is a top productivity platform.