Topics on this page:

The Best Free To-Do List Apps

Laptop computer with screen covered in multicolored sticky notes.

These seven 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. The end of disorganized chaos is near (and organized, streamlined chaos is on the horizon!). Read through these to-do list app reviews and see which would work best for you.

Best App for Syncing Across Multiple Devices

1. “Todoist”

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Offered By: Doist
  • What It Does: From your phone to your watch to your laptop, Todoist is a management app for anyone requiring seamless integration across multiple devices. Here are some of its most notable features:
    • It works across devices, from your watch to your laptop.
    • You can add tasks using voice commands (or typed).
    • It allows for multi - user access so you can allocate tasks to family or co-workers.
    • You can assign team or family member responsibility.
    • You can attach relevant files to that task so you have everything you need in one place.
    • You can manage up to 80 active projects at a time.
    • You can prioritize tasks so you don’t lose track of what’s important in the event you do move a task down your list.
    • It sends you daily reminders.
    • You can create recurring to-do lists so you spend less of your to-do list managing your list.
    • You can monitor your progress with its built - in graphs.
    • It has a clean, easy-to-use interface.
    • You can break down large tasks into small, manageable ones with the help of “subtasks.” Subtask management lets you stay on top of the small details, without letting go of the big picture.
    • It reminds you about deadlines and recurring tasks with due dates, such as weekly reports or ongoing tasks like clearing out your inbox.
  • Why You’ll Love It: This app is also 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 and says 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 great gig - economy tool, Be Focused is a boon for freelancers or anyone who works more efficiently when there are clear delineations between the tasks required each day. 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:
    • It uses a timer to help you track the hours you work.
    • It offers alarm sounds and vibrations so nappers and daydreamers will be able to stay on track.
    • You can chart your progress over customized timeframes.
    • It provides pie chart reports that let you easily visualize how much time you’re spending on specific tasks.
    • You can build in long or short break intervals so you can breathe when you need to, without sacrificing progress on your daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
    • You can pause an interval, so if something unforeseen comes up you’re not completely thrown off track.
    • It fully synchronizes among iPad, iPhone, and Mac, but it requires a separate paid license for each device.
  • Why You’ll Love It: It’s perfect for people who tend to scratch their head at the end of the day, wondering where the time went. Kelan Kline, who runs The Savvy Couple finance blog with 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. Time has a way of getting away from you. With Be Focused, you’ll get a clear and concise picture of where you’re putting your time each day.

Best App for Visual Learners

3. “Trello”

  • 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 great for individuals or teams. Here are some of its most notable features:
    • It offers an unlimited amount of visualization tools like cards, lists, and Kanban boards.
    • It helps you track who on your team is doing what.
    • It allows for teammates to make notations on projects.
    • It integrates with apps you probably use and love, such as Slack and Evernote.
    • It tracks your time and supports your calendar.
    • The tool expands seamlessly as your team grows.
    • You’ll get access to advanced automation tools for you and your team.
  • Why You’ll Love It: Trello uses graphs, boards, and checklists to provide easy snapshots of projects and tasks. If you prefer visual aids over scrolling written lists, you’ll want to use Trello for planning vacations and home projects, as well as work - specific tasks. Take it from Angelo Frisina, founder and CEO at 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. Alistair Clay, co-founder of Class PR, calls this app a lifesaver and a stress - beater. “I love the fact 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 and teams at these companies choose Trello: Google, Grand/Hyatt, coinbase, Visa, Zoom, and eBay.

Best App for List Lovers

4. “Anylist”

  • Available for Download On: Apple App Store | Google Play
  • Offered By: Purple Cover, Inc.
  • What It Does: If what you need is a to-do list app that is just about lists, period, Anylist will be a great choice for you. While it has a lot of features that make it the perfect shopping list tool, you can use it for all kinds of list - making and sharing. Here are some of its most notable features:
    • It’s easy to use and streamlined, making it perfect for grocery store shopping, vacation planning, organizing home projects, and for school or work tasks.
    • You can share your lists with family and friends. 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.
    • You can add items on the fly with Siri voice command.
    • You can add photos of products, prices, quantities, short notes, and sale details, making it simple to identify exactly what you want to 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
    • It keeps track of your subtotal as you shop so you can stay on budget and get no surprises at the register.
    • You can create a separate list for each store so you remember what you get where: Home Improvement, Office Supply, Grocery, Warehouse Club, etc.
    • It sends 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 supplies to buy.)

Best App Overall

5. "Any.do"

  • 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. This is one of the pricier apps on this list if you choose to purchase extra features, so it may not be right for everyone. Here are some of its most notable features:
    • It automatically sorts and prioritizes tasks.
    • It allows you to add multiple subtasks to intuitively and systematically complete larger and longer - term goals.
    • You can attach documents to keep all relevant resources available to complete the task.
    • You can share and assign tasks with due dates to friends, family, or team members and track their completion.
    • It syncs and works across multiple devices.
  • 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. Easily connects to calendars, 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 both 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

6. “Habitica”

  • Available for Download On: App Store | Google Play
  • Offered By: HabitRPG, Inc
  • What It Does: Born out of Kickstarter funding, this 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 tasks on time causes damage to your game avatar while completing tasks levels them up and earns special abilities you can then 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:
    • You can gamify your to-do list and stay motivated with positive reinforcement and penalties.
    • It allows you to categorize goals by health, self - care, school/work, personal, finance, etc., to track goals effectively and focus on only one of the categories at a time to avoid getting distracted by personal tasks at work or vice versa.
    • You can create custom rewards for completing streaks of tasks like buying a new pair of shoes or binging your favorite show.
    • You can use points you earn to upgrade your game characters and then take them into battle.
    • It tracks user statistics so you can see how you’ve improved with certain tasks over time.
  • Why You’ll Love It: If you play games on your phone, computer, or console, the leveling up system will feel very 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 works like Microsoft users will expect based on their experience with other products. Here are some of its notable features:
    • It allows you to create a new task directly from Outlook by turning an email into a task.
    • You can manage emails through the app.
    • It tracks progress with subtasks and due dates.
    • You can get a list of your daily items and a weekly view to see what’s coming up.
    • You can set and flag priorities.
    • It allows you to take notes on a task.
    • You can use Cortana Voice Assistant to manage actions.
    • It sends tasks and files so you can collaborate with others.
  • Why You’ll Love It: To Do isn’t the best all - around tool, but the way 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.”

5 Questions to Help You Choose the Right To-Do List App for You

There are plenty of highly effective to-do list apps out there, but the goal is to only rely on one. You’ll want to find something that has enough functionality without being overwhelming or feeling like a chore to use. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you 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, or is it confusing?

3) What’s the developer's history?

Is the app’s developer well - established with a good track record?

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 the customer support sufficient?

If you need help, can you access advice? Is there an easy-to-use help function?

Final Thoughts

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. Then, analyze the “What It Does” lists and decide which one is best for you.


Originally published on January 3, 2019.
Updated on June 18, 2021.
Updated on June 27th by: Leigh Clayborn.


Image courtesy of iStock.com/baona


Last updated on Jul 01, 2022.

Originally published on Jun 30, 2022.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

How we use your email address