These eight to-do list apps are trusted by those who know how to get stuff done across industries and find the breathing room to be there for their families, friends, and themselves. With these productivity apps, the end of disorganized chaos is near (and organized, streamlined chaos is on the horizon!). Check out these to-do list app reviews to see which would work best for you.
Best App for Syncing Across Multiple Devices
Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
Offered By: Doist
What It Does: From your phone to your Apple Watch to your laptop, Android devices, and Windows and Mac computers, Todoist is a powerful to-do list app for anyone requiring seamless integration across multiple devices. Here are some of its most notable task management features:
- Task manager works across devices with real-time synchronization, from your watch to your laptop.
- Add tasks using voice commands (or typed).
- Allow multi-user access to allocate tasks to family or co-workers.
- Assign team or family member responsibility for daily to-dos.
- Attach relevant files to that task, so you have everything you need in one place.
- Manage up to 80 active projects at a time.
- Prioritize tasks so you don’t lose track of what’s important if you move a task down your list.
- Schedule daily reminders.
- Create recurring to-do lists, so you spend less of your to-do list managing your list.
- Monitor your progress with its built-in graphs.
- Cclean, easy-to-use interface.
- Break down large tasks into small, manageable ones with the help of “subtasks.”
- Get reminders about deadlines and recurring tasks with due dates
Why You’ll Love It: This app is great for people who just can’t get started. Itamar Shatz is a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University who writes a procrastination-busting blog; he loves Todoist because it motivates him toward action. Todoist lets him create a distinct separation between projects while allowing him to design a meaningful hierarchy and structure within each task by adding subtasks. He also appreciates the auto-reminders, which keep him on top of daily, weekly, and monthly deadlines. “I especially like the clean, uncluttered layout and the fact that the software works so well on both my computer and mobile device,” he says.
Best App for Time Management
2. Be Focused
Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Mac App Store | SETAPP
Offered By: Xwavesoft
What It Does: A powerful tool for gig workers, Be Focused is a great to-do list for freelancers that need an individual plan or anyone who works more efficiently when there are clear delineations between the daily tasks. The app is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which separates your day into 25 minutes of focused attention, followed by five-minute breaks. Here are some of its most notable features:
- Pomodoro timer helps you track the hours you work.
- Set alarm sounds and vibrations to keep you on track.
- Chart your progress over customized timeframes to keep self-imposed deadlines.
- View pie chart reports in a focus mode that lets you easily visualize your time on specific tasks.
- Build in long or short break intervals to breathe when needed without sacrificing progress on your daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
- Pause an interval, so if something unforeseen comes up, you’re not completely thrown off track.
- Synchronizes between iPad, iPhone, and Mac requires a separate paid license for each device).
Why You’ll Love It: It’s perfect for people who tend to scratch their heads at the end of the day, wondering where the time went. Kelan Kline, who runs The Savvy Couple finance blog with his wife Brittany, loves this to-do list app because it helps him keep track of his working hours. This app actually helps you figure out where you’re spending your time by doing the how-many-hours-did-I-spend-on-that-task math for you. If time has a way of getting away from you, Be Focused will give you a clear and concise picture of where you’re putting your time each day.
Best App for Visual Learners
Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play | Microsoft
Offered By: Trello, Inc.
What It Does: Making projects and tasks easy to identify and visually stimulating, Trello is excellent for individuals or teams wanting advanced team collaboration features with a flexible interface. Here are some of its most notable features:
- Complete visualization tools like cards, lists, and Kanban boards.
- Helps you track who on your team is doing what with the Trello board view.
- Allows teammates to make notations on projects.
- Integrate with apps such as Slack and Evernote.
- Time tracking and calendar integration..
- Seamless tool expansion as your team grows.
- Access to advanced automation tools for you and your team.
- Sign up for free to see how it works for several users.
- Offers multiple browser extensions for Chrome instead of needing to open a new window.
- Perfect for Omnifocus tasks.
Why You’ll Love It: Trello uses graphs, boards, and checklists to provide easy snapshots of projects and task list presentations on a clean and simple interface, fostering team productivity. If you prefer visual aids over scrolling written lists, you’ll want to use Trello for planning vacations, home projects, and work-specific tasks. Take it from Angelo Frisina, founder and CEO of Sunlight Media. Not only does he swear by Trello’s simple interface, but his very efficient senior high school intern also loves it for organizing and managing her homework and study needs with the project management tools. Alistair Clay, the co-founder of Class PR, calls this app a lifesaver and a stress-beater. “I love that in one snapshot, I can get an overview of where I'm at with all the different moving parts of a project and see which are the priority jobs,” he says. Need more validation? Individuals, project managers, and teams at these companies choose Trello: Google, Grand/Hyatt, coinbase, Visa, Zoom, and eBay.
Best App for List Lovers
Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
Offered By: Purple Cover, Inc.
What It Does: If you need a to-do list app about lists, period, Anylist is an excellent choice. While it has many features that make it the perfect shopping list tool, you can use it for all kinds of list-making and list sharing. Here are some of its most notable features:
- Easy-to-use streamlined minimalist interface: perfect for grocery store shopping, vacation planning, organizing home projects, and school or work tasks.
- Share your lists with family and friends and assign user roles. Note: If you’re looking for a team collaboration to-do list, other tools on this list have much better features, but this tool is perfect at what it does.
- Add items on the fly with Siri voice command.
- Add photos of products, prices, quantities, short notes, and sale details, making it simple to identify exactly what you want from others. This is a terrific feature for parents (and spouses) who allocate shopping to family members who don’t always get it right the first time.
- Keep track of your subtotal as you shop so you can stay on budget and avoid surprises at the register.
- Create a separate list for each store to remember what you get where: home improvement, office supply, grocery, warehouse club, etc.
- Receive a location notification when you’re near a store that has an item on the list.
Why You’ll Love It: If all you really want from your to-do list app is the simple ability to make comprehensive lists, you will love Anylist. Just ask Jennifer Boaro, founder of The Cat Ball, a cat bed manufacturer. Boaro used Anylist for shopping and loved the ability it gave her to share out her list with others. Then, when her husband was hospitalized suddenly, Boaro used the app to help her keep track of hospital requests and follow-ups. The app helped her by allowing her to focus on her husband rather than on her to-do lists. You can also use Anylist to keep track of to-do lists at work. (Think: invoicing, phone calls you don’t want to make but have to return, and buying supplies.)
Best App Overall
Available for Download On: Google Play | Apple App Store | Google Assistant | Chrome Extensions
Offered By: Any.do
What It Does: This award-winning app manages tasks and lists using smart reminders that learn how you work best and does the grunt work of managing a list for you. If you purchase extra features, this is one of the pricier to-do apps on this list, so it may not be suitable for everyone. Here are some of its most notable features:
- Automatically sorts and prioritizes tasks.
- Allows you to add multiple subtasks to intuitively and systematically complete larger and longer-term goals.
- Attach documents to keep all relevant resources available to complete the task.
- Share and assign tasks with due dates to friends, family, or team members and track their completion.
- Sync across multiple devices.
- Free forever plan with the basic version and more limited features.
- Use customizable filters to sort tasks by color tags in the "List" view.
Why You’ll Love It: Those who’ve tried other popular to-do list apps, including some on this list, say this one is 100 times better. Director of Corporate Engagement Brett M says, “It’s wonderfully simple yet robust. It easily connects to your Google Calendar and your Apple Calendar, and the ‘Plan your day’ feature is key. Any.do is affordable, considering what it provides. I’ve not used it in a team fashion but as a personal and professional tool.” Sales Manager Samantha M shares his enthusiasm: “Organizing my tasks is simple and fast…When I am on the move, it motivates me to get things done faster.”
Best App for Fun Habit-Forming
Available for Download On: App Store | Google Play
Offered By: HabitRPG, Inc
What It Does: Born out of Kickstarter funding, this personal to-do list app uses a role-playing game (video game) style reward system to motivate you to complete the tasks you set up for yourself. Not completing to-do list items on time causes damage to your game avatar, while completing tasks levels them up and earns special abilities you can use in the app’s gameplay. Choose in advance the number of points you earn or lose for completing tasks based on their priority. Here are some of its most notable features:
- Gamify your to-do list and stay motivated with positive reinforcement and penalties.
- Categorize goals by health, self-care, school/work, personal, finance, etc., to track goals effectively.
- Focus on only one category at a time to avoid getting distracted by personal tasks at work or vice versa.
- Create custom rewards for completing streaks of tasks, like buying a new pair of shoes or binging your favorite show.
- Use points you earn to upgrade your game characters and take them into battle.
- Track user statistics to see how you’ve improved with specific tasks.
- Mobile versions for iOS and Android.
- Desktop versions for Mac and Windows.
Why You’ll Love It: If you play games on your phone, computer, or console, the leveling-up system will feel natural and fun but with real-world implications. Micah Saviet, MSW, LMSW, says, “Habitica offers users a fun, exciting way to harness the power of play to accomplish tasks and implement wellness and other goals…Individuals who struggle with time management, goal attainment, organization, and productivity may particularly benefit.”
Best App for Fans of Microsoft
7. Microsoft To Do
Available for Download On: App Store | Microsoft | Google Play
Offered By: Microsoft Corporation
What It Does: This app seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft productivity tools and your Microsoft account – and works the way Microsoft users expect based on their experience with other products. Here are some of its notable features:
- Create a new task directly from Outlook Tasks by turning an email into a task.
- Manage emails through the app.
- Track progress with subtasks and due dates.
- View lists of daily and weekly items to see what’s coming up.
- Set and flag priorities.
- Take notes on a task.
- Manage actions using Cortana Voice Assistant.
- Send tasks and files to collaborate with others.
- See smart suggestions in My Day view.
- Integrates with Microsoft OneNote.
Why You’ll Love It: To Do isn’t the best all-around tool, but how it works with other Microsoft products can make it exactly what you need if you’re a Microsoft user. IT administrator Leslie K shares, “[I love] the clean, easy-to-use interface. How easy it is to add tasks to the mobile app. It helps me fulfill my verbal commitments by helping me remember them.” For Microsoft users, it’s easy to see how this could become their favorite task management app.
Best App for Team Collaboration
Available for Download On: No mobile application yet. Instead, the service is integrated in other apps you use regularly.
Offered By: Bit Tech Labs Inc.
What It Does: Helps teams and individuals collaborate, create, and organize in one place. Teams can create dynamic notes, projects, client deliverables, documents, and knowledge bases while integrating with your other apps. Some key features include:
- Works for individuals, small teams, and entire organizations
- Bit's smart living documents
- Smart editor with text formatting toolset for rich text editing
- File attachment capability
- Extensive third-party integrations for cross-platform support
- Free project templates
- Multiple export options
- Real-time updates and project comments for workflow management
- Unlimited activity history
- Advanced yet simple editor
- Unlimited storage
- Work with external collaborators
- Automatic backup and high security benefiting risk management
Why You'll Love It: Bit.ai includes task and project management. It’s an all-in-one platform with a dedicated toolset designed specifically for document creation, replacing Google Workspace with premium features made for GTD teams managing group related tasks. For a single user, it's a well-rounded daily planner app for new lists, an internal task calendar, and task filtering. You can label tasks, divide them for dedicated subtask management for other paid users, and use real-time chat functionality when editing documents. Powerful markdown and keyboard shortcuts open up dedicated features in the Bit editor to add footnotes, superscript, and subscript. Users are notified when others access their documents, see what changes have been made, and have a timeline view. Documents are easily exported to numerous file types.
6 Questions To Help You Choose the Right To-do List App for You
Plenty of highly useful task list apps exist, but the goal is to rely on a single app. You’ll want to find something with enough functionality without feeling overwhelmed or like a chore. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down which app to test out first:
1) Does it meet your needs?
Figure out what you want your app to help you accomplish. What problems are you hoping to solve by using an app? What app features can’t you live without? Which app features are unnecessary?
2) Do you like its interface?
Is it easy to use with a simple to-do list? Are necessary details presented in an easy-to-read manner?
3) What’s the developer's history?
Is the app’s developer well-established with a good track record of to-do list software or project management apps?
4) Are there positive user reviews?
Read app user reviews to get the inside scoop on how good the freeware really is and any bugs that just won’t quit.
5) Is customer support sufficient?
If you need help, can you access advice? Is there an easy-to-use help function?
6) Do you need advanced functionalities?
Does your organization have more complex needs with many users, like more robust task list presentations?
Using a to-do list app can help streamline your workload, but choosing the right one is a big to-do in itself. Do your homework to figure out what you really need. Reading the writeups above and scrutinizing the reviews of your favorites is a great start. Considering these are free apps, you can always try one for a month; if it doesn’t meet your needs, move on to your next favorite.
Originally published on January 3, 2019.
Updated on June 18, 2021.
Updated on June 27th by: Leigh Clayborn.
Image courtesy of iStock.com/baona