You don't need to travel far to find a good to-do list app on your iPhone: iOS comes with its own free Reminders app for keeping track of your to-do items.
But if you're looking for something a bit more robust that can help you manage complex tasks or collaborate on projects with colleagues, you still have plenty of apps to choose from. Our recommended apps all do a solid job of helping you stay on top of tasks, but each manages tasks differently: Some excel at reminding you of upcoming tasks, others stand out for helping you take notes, and a few shine in managing group tasks.
Nearly all our picks come in free versions -- and if not free, are at least available as a free trial -- so download one, use it for a bit to see if it matches your style, and then if it's not a good fit, go on to the next app to see if it suits you.
What to look for in a to-do list app?
The most useful apps can track your to-do lists, help you schedule and manage tasks, remind you of upcoming events, keep you organized so you can make the best use of your time, and let you collaborate on tasks with colleagues. Many also let you set location-based reminders to nudge about something when you reach -- or leave -- a destination.
It's handy to have a task manager that works across different platforms, so make sure the mobile app has a Mac or Web counterpart and even whether it's available on Windows and Android devices if you are working with a team of people.
Can you sync tasks across platforms?
If you work on more than one device, look for a to-do list app that syncs wherever you check your tasks. Most of your picks have iPhone and Android versions, and if you get stuck you can usually manage your tasks via a website; most of our choices have extensions for Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox, so you can see your tasks in your browsers . And some also work with the Apple Watch, letting you view notifications on your wrist.
Can you share tasks and to-do lists with others?
A checklist app won't replace robust project-management software, such as Microsoft Project, but if your team just needs to keep track of tasks, share documents, record notes, and assign items, an app like Todoist and Remember The Milk comes with collaboration tools for tracking group projects and might just be all that you and your team needs.
What about free versus paid?
If you just want to stay on top of your own simple to-do lists and write a few notes, free to-do list apps, such as iOS's Reminders app or Google Keep, should work.
But if you are managing a lot of tasks, consider paying for premium features, which can include recurring tasks, subtasks, and tags.
A subscription may also include collaboration tools -- such as team scheduling and project-management -- to help you track tasks across a team. Annual subscriptions start at around $25.
Can you manage your to-do list online?
Nearly all of our picks let you manage your tasks and lists via a Web browser -- or a browser extension -- on a PC or Mac. A few even have Mac apps as well, such as Things from Cultured Code.
Can it work across iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows devices?
You want to check your list wherever you are, so our picks are available, of course, for iPhone and iPad, via a website or as a browser extension, in most cases for Android, and and in some cases as MacOS and Windows apps -- with everything synced across devices.
Can I manage a to-do list in another app like Gmail?
From Apple Mail, which lets you create reminders via the Share button to Todoist, which lets you access your tasks from Gmail and Google Calendar via plug-ins, many of our picks work well with other apps, so you can manage your time in a way that makes sense for you. Some also come as browser extensions, so you can keep tab on your items right from Chrome or Firefox.
The Any.do app comes in a free version of the task manager that can handle to-do items across iOS, Android, and the Web version. For $26.99, you can unlock the premium version of the well-designed app and gain the ability to assign tags to tasks, set project colors, share lists with collaborators, create recurring tasks, and set location-based reminders.
It's more than a to-do list manager. Evernote can capture your notes, create checklists, track tasks, set reminders, and save websites you want to visit later. The digital notebook syncs everything it holds across your mobile devices and desktop machines. And you can set reminders to keep track of events.
With the free version, you get a monthly upload limit of 60MB and can sync between two devices. Move to 10GB a month for $69.99 a year and sync across every device you have.
3. Google Calendar
With Google's free Calendar app, you can track upcoming events. But if that is all you're using it for, then you're missing out on some of its most helpful features -- from setting reminders and creating to-do lists to managing long-term goals. And it works in tandem with Gmail and Google Keep, so you can manage events across other Google apps on your iPhone or Mac.
4. Google Keep
The free Google Keep app is a simple way to take notes, keep lists, make drawings, and store voice recordings and images and then access them anywhere on your iPhone and iPad, through Gmail, via Keep's webpage, and with Keep's Chrome extension. You can also set location-based reminders for your notes, if you want to be notified about something when you arrive at your destination.
5. Remember The Milk
Don't let the name put you off: Remember The Milk is a powerful to-do list app that won't break a sweat helping you remember your grocery items. Create lists, share tasks with coworkers, and build smart lists that automatically update based on criteria you set.
Sync your tasks with Microsoft Outlook, view tasks in Apple's and Google's Calendar, and create reminders in Evernote that will be added automatically to Remember The Milk lists. For $39.99 a year, subscribe to the pro version to create subtasks for complicated items. Like Microsoft To-Do, Remember The Milk has an import tool for moving your Wunderlist tasks over if you are looking for a new task manager with Wunderlist's impending retirement.
iOS's own Reminders app may be all you need to create to-dos, manage projects, and create lists. You can use it to create a reminder in another iOS app and have Siri create a reminder for you. All your to-do items are synced across all your Apple devices.
A well-designed and good-looking to-do list app for Apple users, Things from Cultured Code is a handy way to manage projects on iOS and Mac devices. If you are looking to collaborate with colleagues on non-Apple devices, you will want to look elsewhere.
TickTick offers a rich collection of task-management tools to help you track individual and group lists and projects across platforms. While the free version of TickTick offers simple project tools for managing personal tasks and lists, if you are looking to manage group tasks, you'll want to subscribe to the $27.99 edition to unlock essential team scheduling and project-management tools.
Todoist can easily manage your projects and keep you on schedule. It's available on Mac, iPhones, iPads, Windows, and Android and via the Web and browser extensions, so you can check off tasks from almost anywhere. Todoist comes with collaboration tools, so f you work on a team, you can use the app's group tools to manage projects, share files, assign tasks, and track progress. Everyone on the team needs a Todoist Premium $28.99 account.
Wunderlist from Microsoft is a free, simple, and popular way to keep track of to-do lists and projects. Unfortunately, Microsoft plans to retire Wunderlist, moving its efforts over to its own to-do list software, Microsoft To-Do. While Microsoft intends to keep Wunderlist going for a while, if you use Wunderlist you have the task of moving to another to-do app someday.
Microsoft offers an importer tool to transfer Wunderlist data to To-Do. And Remember The Milk has an import tool as well for bringing your data in from Wunderlist.
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