If you're looking to manage tasks and to-do lists on your PC, Microsoft gives you a running start on keeping organized with its own Microsoft To-Do app and the popular Wunderlist app, which it acquired in 2015.
If you want help managing tasks, staying on top of to-do lists, being reminded of upcoming events, or collaborating on projects, our picks for the best to-do apps are up to the task. Our choices all do a good job of covering the basics, but each approaches managing tasks a bit differently. Some are focused on handling your individual lists, others excel at reminding you of upcoming activities, at least one shines as a note-taking app, and a few do a great job of managing group tasks.
In the end, the best task manager is the one that helps you get stuff done.
The good news is, all of our picks come in free versions, so download one, try it out for a while to see if it matches how you work, and then don't be afraid to dump it and move on to the next one if it doesn't meet your needs.
What should you look for in a to-do list app?
The best apps can help you keep track of your to-do lists, manage upcoming -- or missed -- tasks, send you reminders about upcoming events, make the best use of your time, and help you work on projects with family members or coworkers. Some also track your location and let you set location-based reminders if you want to be reminded of something when you reach a destination.
You also want an app that works across platforms, so make sure the mobile app is available across platforms and via the Web, either through a webapp or a browser extension.
Can you sync tasks across platforms?
Keeping a task list won't do you much good if you can't check it. Look for a to-do list app that syncs your items everywhere you keep track of tasks. All our picks have apps for Android and the iPhone. You can also manage your tasks via a website; many of our picks have extensions for Chrome and Firefox to let you view your tasks with a tap. And some, such as Todoist, also work with the Apple Watch and Google Wear, so you can view your notifications on your wrist with a smartwatch app.
Can you share tasks and to-do lists with others?
A checklist app won't replace a full-featured project-management or team-management service, such as Microsoft Project, but if you just need to track tasks, share files, write notes, and assign items to teammates or family members, apps like Todoist and Remember The Milk have collaboration tools for managing team projects.
What about free versus paid?
If your needs are simple -- you just want to keep track of your own to-do lists and write a note now and then -- one of the free to-do list apps such as Google Keep or even the free version of Todoist should be up to the task.
But if you really want to take control of your tasks, you'll want to consider paying for the premium features of an app, which will let you create detailed recurring tasks, create subtasks, and assign tags.
A paid version will also get you collaboration tools to share and manage tasks across a team. TickTick and Todoist, for example, have premium features designed specifically for team scheduling and project management. Annual subscriptions start at around 25 bucks.
Can you manage your to-do list online?
It's handy to have a to-do list application on your phone to add tasks and receive alerts and notifications. But for some activities, such as writing notes, it's better to have a physical keyboard. All our picks let you manage your tasks and lists via a Web browser on a Windows PC. A few even have desktop apps, such as a Windows app for Microsoft's To-Do.
Can it work across devices?
The real value of a to-do list app is that you can check it wherever you are. Our picks are available for Android and iOS, via a website or as a browser extension, and in some cases as Windows software -- with all your lists synced automatically across platforms.
Can I manage a to-do list in another app like Gmail?
From Google Tasks, which sits in the right-side panel in the Web version of Gmail, to Todoist that 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. And for Windows users, Microsoft To-Do can coordinate with with Outlook Tasks.
1. Any.do (Windows)
The free version of the Any.do app does a solid job of tracking your to-do items across iOS, Android, and the Web version of the task manager.
A $26.99 premium version of the well-designed app unlocks more interesting and useful features, such as the ability to assign tags, set colors, share unlimited lists, create detailed recurring tasks, and set location-based reminders.
2. Evernote (Windows)
Much more than just a to-do list, Evernote helps you make checklists, set reminders, take notes, track tasks, and save websites. Everything in the digital notebook is synced across your mobile and desktop devices. And you can set reminders to keep track of events.
The free version has a monthly upload limit of 60MB and sync over two devices. Moving to 10GB a month costs $69.99 a year and lets you sync across all your devices.
3. Google Keep (Windows)
The free Google Keep app -- -part of Google's suite of productivity apps -- is a quick and easy way to take notes, keep lists, make drawings, and store voice recordings and images and then access them anywhere on your Android device and iPhone and iPad, through Gmail, via Keep's webpage, and with the Keep Chrome extension.
From Keep, you can copy a note or list to Google Docs. You can also share a note with a collaborator. You can set location-based reminders for your notes, if you want to be notified of something when you reach a destination.
3. Microsoft To-Do (Windows)
In 2015, Microsoft acquired the task-manager Wunderlist app and started building its own to-do list based on the ideas found in the popular app. Microsoft's To-Do app, the free successor to Wunderlist, gives you an easy way to track tasks and stay organized. It even has an importer tool if you want to move your Wunderlist data over to To-Do.
Unfortunately, it lacks some of the features that made Wunderlist popular but you can share your to-do lists with anyone who has a OneDrive account. And it works with Outlook Tasks, so you can view your to-do items in both apps.
5. Remember The Milk (Windows)
Don't be fooled by its name: Remember The Milk is an unexpectedly powerful and usable to-do and management app that is capable of much more than just helping you remember your grocery list. Create lists, share tasks with colleagues, sync across platforms, and even create smart lists that automatically update based on criteria you set.
You can sync your tasks with Microsoft Outlook, view your tasks in Apple and Google's Calendar, and create reminders in Evernote that will be added automatically to your Remember The Milk lists. For $39.99 a year, you can go pro and create subtasks for complicated items by breaking tasks into individual 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 retirement.
6. TickTick (Windows)
TickTick offers a powerful set of task-management tools to help you keep track of personal and group lists and projects across platforms. You can also create reminders based on location to receive alerts when you arrive at a place you designate.
While the free version of TickTick offers basic tools for managing personal tasks and lists, if you want to manage tasks across a group, you'll want to look at paying the $27.99 annual subscription to unlock useful team scheduling and project-management tools.
7. Todoist (Windows)
Todoist can easily manage your projects and keep you on schedule. It's available on Mac, Windows, and mobile phones and via Web and browser extensions, so you can check off tasks wherever you are. Todoist understand some natural-language terms, so you can schedule a task by typing "next month" and have the app schedule the task for the first day of next month. And you can collaborate with others.
If you work on a team, you can use Todoist's group tools to manage projects, share files, assign tasks, and track progress. Everyone on the team needs a Todoist Premium $28.99 account in order to do this.
8. Wunderlist (Windows)
Wunderlist from Microsoft is an easy, free, and popular way to keep track of your to-do lists and projects. If you are a user of Wunderlist, you know this. Unfortunately, you probably also know that Microsoft plans to retire Wunderlist and has moved its efforts over to its own to-do list software. 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.
To help you move, Microsoft offers an importer tool to transfer your Wunderlist data over to To-Do. Remember The Milk also has an import tool for bringing in your data from Wunderlist.
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