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The easiest way to track your goals – whether personal or business – is through creating a to-do list. You can check your progress, see exactly where you need to be, and hold yourself accountable. Creating tasks on this list is easy with the To-Do List app for Mac. By designing an easy interface you can get your productivity on track in no time.

Why Use a To-Do List App and Not Pen and Paper?

There’s nothing wrong with a paper to-do list, but going digital has benefits. Paper is fine if you enjoy writing by hand, crossing off tasks in ink or pencil, and drawing arrows to show when priorities and deadlines change. A to-do list app lets you write, organize, and reprioritize your tasks more efficiently. They also let you attach notes, links, and files to a task, and many let you see when someone else has completed a task. In many ways, a good to-do app is the ultimate productivity app.

How We Choose the Best To-Do List Apps

To-do list apps are a dime a dozen, and few of them stand out as being much better than others. For example, there are plenty of apps that are excellent for Android or iPhone, but they do you no good when you’re working on a laptop and need to jot down a thought quickly without picking up your phone and losing your place.

Todoist iOS app screens

Todoist’s mobile app

That’s why for this list, we only include apps that you can access on both desktop and mobile devices. After evaluating around 25 possible contenders, we tested and evaluated them and selected the highest-scoring apps to list here.

One of the major points of consideration when testing and scoring is how well these apps help you organize and stay on top of your tasks. We also consider collaboration, meaning the ability to share a to-do list with other people, though we see it as a bonus feature and not a requirement to be included. 

We also looked for apps that fit different user profiles, such as people who follow the Getting Things Done (GTD) method of organization (OmniFocus 3 and Toodledo are good choices), or those who prefer writing down tasks using a stream of consciousness (Workflowy is the app that fits the bill there).

One of the most popular to-do list apps, Wunderlist, was acquired by Microsoft in 2015 and taken out of commission five years later. Microsoft’s stated ambition was to build a replacement app for Wunderlist from the ground up, cloning all its best features in the process. The new app, Microsoft To-Do, frankly took too long to come to market and arrived half-baked, but it has improved noticeably since its debut and maybe a good option for people who use other Microsoft apps.

Microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do

What to Look for in a To-Do List App

There are a few qualities to look for in a to-do app. The top three are:

  • design,
  • tools for managing and organizing your tasks, and
  • collaboration option.s

Design is extra important in this category of apps because you end up looking at your to-do list app often. How are you going to get anything done if you can’t stand looking at your ugly app? A good design also allows the app to feel intuitive so you can write down things that come to mind quickly.

Every to-do list app comes with tools and features for organizing your tasks and lists, and in an ideal world, these features match up with the way you think. For example, if you are a highly visual person, you might find that color-coding your lists or tasks to show priority is important. If you are a deadline-oriented person, you’ll want an app that sorts your tasks by the due date and or shows them in a calendar view. If you’re forgetful, you might want an app that sends you reminders on different devices.

As for collaboration, it’s always handy to have the option to share a to-do list. For home use, a collaborative to-do list means you can assign chores to other people or track when someone has purchased items off a shared shopping list. In business settings, collaborative task management makes working together easier and more transparent.

Best Mac to-do list app to make Apple Reminders more powerful

GoodTask (macOS, iPhone, iPad, Watch)

GoodTask screenshot

Reminders are great but not exactly feature-rich. GoodTask is unique in that it uses Reminders as a backend: add anything to GoodTask, and it will show up in Reminders and vice versa. So what’s the point? GoodTask offers features that Apple doesn’t in Reminders.

First, there’s Calendar integration, meaning you can see your calendar appointments and your tasks in one place. You can also create smart lists, allowing you to filter your tasks using things like tags, due dates, and locations. You’ll have to spend some time setting this up before it’s any better than Reminders, but if you’ve got a specific overview of tasks in mind, you can probably design it here. GoodTask also offers an assortment of widgets for Big Sur’s new notification center, and so far as we know, is the first app to do so.

Integration with Reminders means all your tasks sync to the iPhone and iPad without the need for any other software, though there are versions of GoodTask available for those devices if you want the same power on them. And there’s a universal keyboard shortcut for adding events—that alone might make this app worth using over Reminders. Overall, this is a nice upgrade over Apple’s default app, so check it out.

GoodTask for Mac price: $19.99 with a 14-day free trial. GoodTask is also available on Setapp, which is a $10 a month subscription service with access to dozens of Mac applications. There’s also an iPhone and iPad version available for free, with an in-app purchase of $9.99 to unlock all features.

Best fully-customizable Mac to-do list app with multiple syncing options

2Do (Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android)

2Do screenshot

2Do fits right in on the Mac desktop. It looks a little cluttered at first glance, but it’s also really powerful. You can create lists, then put projects or checklists inside those lists. You can add tags and due dates. You can create smart lists, allowing you to view your tasks however you like. And there are way more options than that if you’re willing to put the time in. This is a power user’s to-do list, which you can bend to just about any workflow. It’s going to take you a while, but it’s going to be worth it.

There’s no calendar integration, which is unfortunate, but there are plenty of other integrations with the rest of your system. A universal keyboard shortcut makes it quick to add new tasks, notifications let you know about upcoming deadlines, and there’s even a handy Today widget for quickly checking off tasks.

Syncing is unique here because there are multiple options. You can sync to the iPhone or Android version of 2Do using iCloud, Dropbox, Yahoo Calendar, Fruux, Toodledo, or any CalDAV server. You can also access synced tasks on any of those services, albeit without the 2Do-specific features. It’s a wide range of syncing options, beyond what any other app here offers, so give it a spin and see how it all works for you.

2Do for Mac price: $49.99, and there’s a 21-day free trial. 2Do is also available on Setapp, which is a $10 a month subscription service with access to dozens of Mac applications.

Best text-based Mac to-do list app for managing with only your keyboard

TaskPaper (macOS)

TaskPaper screenshot

Wondering why to-do lists have to be so complicated? TaskPaper isn’t. This text-based option means you can just start typing to create your to-do list. Projects end with colons; tasks begin with a hyphen; tags start with the @ symbol. It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly powerful once you get used to it, especially with the filtering and search options.

There isn’t an iPhone version, but the third-party application Taskmator ($4.99) is compatible and syncs using Dropbox. Alternatively, you can set up TaskPaper to sync over items from Reminders.

Taskpaper price: $24.99 with a free trial. Taskpaper is also available on Setapp, which is a $10 a month subscription service with access to dozens of Mac applications.

Best cross-platform to-do list app that feels native to the Mac

TickTick (Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, Android, Windows)

TickTick

TickTick is a straightforward to-do application you can run on every platform on earth. Unlike other cross-platform applications, however, TickTick feels like a native Mac application. Some of these are good design choices, but some features make TickTick stand out: menu bar icon with a miniature version of your list, integration with appointments from Calendar, and native notifications. There’s also a keyboard shortcut for adding tasks from anywhere.

Organizing your tasks isn’t complicated: you have lists, tags, due dates, and that’s about it. But there are a few features here that other applications don’t offer, including a built-in Pomodoro timer. Try out TickTick if you’re looking for something straightforward, particularly if you need to sync over to non-Apple devices.

With TickTick’s Zapier integrations, you can automatically create tasks in TickTick whenever you do things like save a message in Slack or start a new email.

TickTick price: Free, but premium features like a monthly calendar view and custom smart lists require a $2.99 per month subscription.

The best free to-do list app for Mac

Microsoft To-Do (Android, Windows, macOS, iPhone and iPad, Web)

A screenshot of the Microsoft To Do Mac app

Is it weird for a Microsoft app to show up on a list of Mac apps? Sure. But for a long time, no list like this would exclude Wunderlist, and Microsoft To-Do is that app’s spiritual successor. It’s also completely free and the prettiest to-do list app for Mac. 

Users can add as many custom lists as they want, and even sort those lists into groups. Every list has a custom background, which is a nice touch—it looks good, sure, but you also always know which list you’re looking at. There’s also support for due dates and the ability to share lists with other To-Do users. Mac users are less likely to care about this, but To-Do is extremely integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem—tasks can sync with Outlook, for example. 

There are downsides. One big one: there’s no universal keyboard shortcut for adding tasks. But it’s by far the nicest to-do list for Mac you can find for free.

Microsoft To-Do integrates with Zapier, which means you can do things like creating a task in To-Do whenever important tasks pop up in your other apps. Here are some examples to get started.

Microsoft To-Do price: Free. 

Reminders

Mac task list apps - Reminders Scheduled

There’s no better place to begin this list than with an app that comes with your Mac. Reminders were overhauled in 2019 with a fresh appearance and feature set making it more robust. And with iCloud, you can sync with your other devices, so your to-dos are with you no matter where you go.

Reminders notable features:

  • Share lists and to-dos with others in your home or office.
  • Set up recurring tasks and alerts that are fully customizable.
  • Create location-based reminders for your other devices.
  • Attach files, images, and URLs.
  • Add priority and notes to reminders.

If you aren’t sure which to-do list app you should try first, as a Mac owner it simply makes sense to check out Reminders. It may just have everything you need built right in and doesn’t cost a dime.

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch
  • CostFree

TickTick: Things & Tasks To Do

TickTick Green on Mac

A favorite in this category of apps is TickTick. The app is also available on mobile devices so you’re always in sync. It offers a customizable appearance and flexible settings to help you manage your tasks.

TickTick notable features:

  • Share lists and to-dos with others in your home or office.
  • Set up recurring tasks and alerts that are fully customizable.
  • Create location-based reminders for your other devices.
  • Attach files, images, and URLs.
  • Add priority and notes to reminders.

TickTick is a terrific app for managing your to-dos. It’s flexible, robust, attractive, and gives you everything you need at no charge.

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch
  • CostFree with a premium upgrade that gives you calendar widgets, custom Smart Lists, task durations, historical statistics, and much more

Todoist: To-Do List & Tasks

Todoist Home Project on Mac

Todoist has been around for many years and offers a great way to manage projects, tasks, and subtasks. You can access it on all your devices or the web. Plus, you can view how productive you are at getting things done with a click.

Todoist notable features:

  • Share and assign lists and to-dos with others in your home or office.
  • Add priority, flags, and comments to tasks.
  • Use filters to spot important tasks.
  • Search for specific to-dos or lists.
  • Choose and use project templates.

While Todoist does have good features for projects and tasks, it does lack basic reminders which is a paid feature. But if you want to make managing your to-dos a bit further, Todoist might be the right app for you.

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, and the web
  • CostFree with a premium version that gives you reminders, labels, file uploads, and more

Microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do My Day on Mac

If you have a Microsoft account or are a former Wunderlist user, then give Microsoft To-Do a try. Similar to TickTick, this app has a nice visual appearance and is super easy to use.

Microsoft To Do notable features:

  • Share lists with others in your home or office.
  • Set up recurring tasks and alerts that are fully customizable.
  • Attach files, images, and notes.
  • Add Steps to your tasks as subtasks.
  • Move to-dos to the My Day view to see your daily agenda.

Microsoft To-Do might be missing a feature or two that the other apps have. For instance, you can only create location-based reminders with Cortana. But if you’re only using it on Mac, that’s a feature you might not miss. And Microsoft To-Do is currently completely free with no in-app purchases.

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Windows, and the web
  • CostFree

Any.do

Any.do Personal Project on Mac

One more free task list app for Mac you should take a look at is Any. do. This app offers a terrific design, cross-platform syncing, and a built-in calendar to help you stay on track.

Any.do notable features:

  • Share lists and to-dos with others in your home or office.
  • Set up recurring reminders.
  • Attach files, images, and notes.
  • Add a priority tag for important tasks.
  • Create subtasks for projects.

With Any.do, you get a simple interface that lets you concentrate on your to-dos. And you can connect your Google Calendar to stay on track with your events and appointments.

  • Availability: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, and the web
  • CostFree with a premium version that gives you recurring tasks, location-based reminders, colored tags and labels, and more.

Conclusion

To-Do List is a simple and elegant task manager to help you get things done. It gives you the freedom to create your visual system for personal productivity, and then it plugs into the apps you use every day.

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