Dozens of task managers exist for Mac, from iCal’s spartan task list to powerful project- and task-management tools such as the Omni Group’s OmniFocus. I currently use two task managers: OmniFocus for managing complex projects and Hog Bay Software’s TaskPaper for simple, day-to-day task management. Appigo’s Todo for Mac (Mac App Store link) sits somewhere in between these two programs, offering some of the complexity of OmniFocus along with some of the simplicity of TaskPaper.
It’s easy to create tasks and lists in Todo. Lists are a bit like iTunes playlists: There’s an All list that shows all tasks you’ve added to the program, and you can create and name as many of your own lists as you need. But there are also “smart” lists: The Starred list picks up any tasks that you’ve flagged with a star, and the Focus list uses limited criteria (that you configure in Todo’s preferences) to display just those tasks you need to focus on. There’s also an Inbox list, which contains tasks you need to process in some way.
Tasks can have due dates and due times, and the program can display alerts at specific times before the due date/time. You can also set priorities (Low, Medium, or High), but these settings don’t appear to be used anywhere other than as a visual indicator of each task’s priority. For example, you can’t display a single list of all high-priority tasks, which would be very useful.
ToDo offers a feature called task zooming, where you drag a slider at the bottom of the program’s window (or use a menu command or keyboard shortcut) to alter the amount of information displayed for each task. At the minimum, you see just the name of the task; zoom a bit and you see the due date, priority, and context; at full zoom, any notes you’ve added to tasks show, as well.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system is popular among people working with complex projects, and while Todo is not wedded to this system, it allows GTD users to feel at home. For example, you can add tags and contexts to tasks, and the program lets you easily view all tasks with a particular tag or context.
You can also create projects—groups of tasks, each with its own checkbox—within a list. (The process for doing so isn’t intuitive: You must create a task, then choose Edit: Convert To Project or right-click the task and choose Switch To Project.) Once you complete all the tasks within a project, the project itself is complete. However, you can’t see the tasks in a project unless you expand the project. The workaround is to open multiple Todo windows: one for all your tasks, and another for viewing the tasks within a project. Ideally, I’d like to be able to open a project in its own dedicated project window, especially when a project contains many tasks. Another oddity is that if a task within a project is overdue, Todo displays the entire project as overdue, even if the task and the project have different due dates.
For adding tasks, Todo offers a handy Quick Add window, which you can call up with a systemwide keyboard shortcut. However, you can’t set a context or priority from this window, nor can you add the new task to a particular list—the task gets added to the Inbox, so you need to later switch to Todo to apply any additional information to the task.
You can sync your lists between Macs, or even between Macs and the excellent Todo for iPhone and Todo for iPad apps, via Appigo’s own cloud-syncing service (which also provides Web access to your lists), but this service carries an annual cost of $20. Todo also supports syncing through the free Toodelodo, which provides a similar service with a slightly less attractive Web interface. I’d also like to see the capability to sync using Dropbox. (I tried to use Dropbox by placing Todo’s support files in my Dropbox folder, with aliases to those files in the standard location in
~/Library/Application Support/Appigo Todo, but the program crashed.)
Another feature I’d like to see is customizable text styles. One thing I like about OmniFocus is the capability to change fonts, font size and weight, text color, line spacing, and more, making the various items in my lists more readable and easier to distinguish. For example, using a different color for tasks that are due soon makes them stand out. You’ll either like the font display in Todo or you won’t, but you won’t be able to do anything about it. Another complaint is that Todo has no manual, and the online documentation is sparse, so learning some of the program’s finer points depends on trial and error.
If you manage complex projects, a program such as OmniFocus is probably a better, though more expensive, choice—Todo’s limitations make it impractical for complex projects. But if your needs are somewhere in between complex project management and simple lists, Todo is a fine program. Its limitations won’t affect most users, though I’d like to see better documentation and font and style options.
Note: Although Todo for Mac is sold only via the Mac App Store, Appigo provides a demo version you can download from the company’s website—an option that more developers should provide when selling exclusively through the Mac App Store.
Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just Macs on his blog Kirkville and on Twitter. Kirk is the author of Take Control of Scrivener 2.