A task manager for the Apple universe

Tomas Ahlbeck
5 min readApr 25, 2022

Since many many years I have been using the app 2Do as my main task manager. It was-and still to some extent is-a very capable app with many ways to customise the way you want to show, add and work with your reminders.

Because that is what tasks are to me: reminders. At least in my workflow. But lately it has been falling behind other apps, and the development seems to have if not died at least been put to a halt.

I see two reasons for this:
* The company behind 2Do has acquired the two apps BusyCal and BusyContacts, but still only one person is working with the development of 2Do.
* The app is coded in Java (according to their support) and need to be totally rewritten for MacOS.

While other apps have developed not only widgets for Mac and iOS/iPadOS and support TouchBar on Mac, and added new features, 2Do hasn’t changed much for several years. There was a dark mode update for Mac, that’s about it. Not even dark mode on iOS or iPadOS. No widgets either on any of the platforms.

Although I think it is important to support independent developers, I feel the development of 2Do is in more or less limbo, and I don’t know if I dare to take a chance on it actually working in future updated versions of iOS and macOS. And the new versions-if and when they are released-will be paid upgrades. Which makes at least me even more interested to try an alternative already and not wait and see what happens with 2Do.

Since I have been trying to organise myself with the time blocking ideas of Carl Pullein, it is important for me to choose a task manager that isn’t in the way for my productivity. One that fits in to my way of planning my day, week and future days. One that does what I want it to, and doesn’t make me spend time clicking around to find out what functions it has that I’ll never use anyway. Remember: the app is just a tool, it doesn’t do the work for you. That you have to do yourself.

So I have now been checking out alternatives. And there are many.
The first and most obvious alternative is the built-in Reminders-app. Once a very limited app, today it is mature enough to use for simpler things like family lists for shopping and other simple things. But is it good enough to replace 2Do for project if you are freelancer, consultant or for your workplace?
Well, to be honest, I don’t think so. I use a task manager for projects for my standup, and for my freelance writing. But for many people it is really adequate. A few tips on how to use it you can find HERE. If you think this is what suits your needs, then go for it. Since it is a native Apple app, it will work. And that is important.

But if you feel Reminders isn’t the solution for you, there are a lot of options to choose from. Before you choose you ought to think about how you will use it.Are you in an all-Apple environment, or do you need to share it with other persons who use Windows/Linux?
Those who need a share-solution should probably try Todoist, TickTick or Microsoft Todo.
Todoist has been around for many years, and costs from 3 Euros/month. It is available as a desktop app (Mac and Windows), Mobile (iOS and Android) and also as a browser extension. It supports Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
Microdoft Todo has also been around for long, but the original version wasn’t really an option. They acquired the popular app Wunderlist, and many of the features from Wunderlist were implemented in Microsoft Todo. It is available for Mac, iOS, Android and Windows.
Yet another option is TickTick. I did actually try this one since it is getting quite a lot of attention among people who are searching for 2Do-alternatives. It has a lot of functions, including a pomodoro timer. It syncs across most platforms.

However, I chose to go with Things 3. I don’t need to integrate with Apple Reminders, if I needed that I would probably just go with Reminders (or GoodTask if you need to be able to add start dates) or use the reminders function in BusyCal (or Fantastical if that is your calendar of choise). And I don’t need a pomodoro function either. And I don’t need to share my tasks with other platforms.

But what I DO need is a way to work with different projects in an easy way. And I want to be able to easily add info from my email to my task manager. And I want to have a task manager that simply does what I do, and not makes me spend a lot of time that I could use for something better that fiddling about trying to find out all clever functions that I never will use anyway.
And I want it to look nice.

A big plus to me is that Things is developed by a company, not a single developer. That makes me feel more certain that it will be around in future OS updates. An in-depth review of Things3 you find HERE.

So what do I recommend? Which app is best?
Well, I am sorry to disappoint you. I will not answer that question, since ”best” depends on what you need and how you use it. What is best for me may be useless for you. Before deciding on any of them download their trial versions.

But as for me: I tried the trial version of Things 3, and then purchased all three versions (MacOS, iOS and iPadOS), which cost me a lot. But I chose Things 3 in front of the others because it’s a capable app. And it just let’s me spend my time being productive instead of poking around trying to find out what this and that little button does. And in the end, that is why we use these apps, isn’t it?

/Tomas A

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Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”