Apple

The five best Mac task management apps

Erik Eckel recommends the five best apps that he has found for doing task management on Macs.

Despite all the Apple versus Microsoft, OS X versus Windows, iOS versus Android and similar debates about who does it better, productivity always comes down to actually getting things done. Task management software improves critical tracking projects, managing tasks, and maintaining typical to do lists. Here are five of the best task management apps for Mac business users.

Reminders

Apple includes basic task management capabilities in its OS X Mountain Lion OS. Reminders provides simple, integrated reminder lists similar to Tasks found in Microsoft Outlook. Leveraging iCloud, Mac users can synchronize Reminders across multiple Macs and iOS devices with relative ease. Simply checking iCloud Preferences and checking the Calendars & Reminders options enables the synchronization.

Once a new reminder is created, users can opt to specify that they be reminded of the task either on a specific day and time or at a specific location. Task repetition can be set, as can Low, Medium or High priority, as can notes.

Outlook Tasks

Many Mac users, of course, employ Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook. Besides Outlook's Mail, Calendar and Contacts features, the personal information program also includes Tasks. As with Apple reminders, tasks can include due (or reminder) dates, recurrence and a few basic priorities. But Tasks also supports applying categories, marking follow up flags, and applying start dates.

Outlook users can also readily convert email messages to tasks. Simply clicking an email message's flag icon creates a task from the email message. Alternatively, clicking a message's flagged icon marks the task as complete without having even to navigate to Outlook's Tasks view.

Todoist

Occasionally Mac users also operate Windows machines, potentially a Chrome book, iPads, an iPhone or even Linux workstations. In such cases, turning to a Web-based task management application, such as Todoist, enables compatibility and synchronization across all such devices. The Web-based tool, for which there's also corresponding Android, iPhone and even Chrome, Firefox and Thunderbird integration, also includes an offline synchronization feature.

Unlike some other task and to-do list tracking software offering more advanced functionality, Todoist provides a simplified interface for tracking tasks, assigning deadlines, setting priorities, and assigning color codes. Todoist's attractiveness is in its simplicity and cross-platform compatibility. By keeping the application simple, Todoist's developers have kept it light, lean, and efficient.

Toodledo

Mac users seeking cross-platform compatibility, including Blackberry support, and enhanced categorization, collaboration, filtering, hotlisting, and alarms will find Toodledo up to the task. The customizable application supports a variety of filtering and list views that make the program a powerful task management tool.

Toodledo, despite possessing a more fanciful name that belies the application's prowess and capacity, has built quite a following. The program's forums reveal healthy interaction between users and Toodledo administrators.

OmniFocus

The Omni Group's OmniFocus program, while Apple-centric, is a full-featured application. The software stores to-do list items within an inbox, provides a quick-access console for administering tasks. The app's context feature, meanwhile, helps sort tasks by type, such as phone calls to be returned, proposals to be drafted, etc.

Using OmniFocus, a user can synchronize task actions between multiple Macs, an iPhone, and an iPad. Synchronization can be fueled using a free sync server provided by Omni or any standard WebDAV server or even over a LAN. Because the program enables assigning tasks to actionable tasks, and sorting by projects and contexts as well as customizing data views, the application can actually change the way users manage workflow. Anytime a sub $100 software program can do that, and add efficiency, you know you've found a good investment.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

9 comments
Korowaj
Korowaj

What about SmartTM?

Winner of the Evernote Devcup 2013 award for Best Business Integration, SmartTM is front-end software that syncs with the popular online cloud storage medium Evernote to provide a task-based productivity solution based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology.

From within SmartTM’s ‘Inbox,’ you can create tasks and organize them by assigning context- sensitive notes, priority and attitude — as in, how you feel. While the focus of this app is clearly on the individual rather than a team, the inclusion of a comprehensive productivity ethos and a ‘Smart Review’ feature that tracks your performance offers an experience that’s quite unique.

While it lacks an Android version, and regrettably an online version as well, SmartTM has a contemporary look with native iPhone and iPad apps. It also utilizes a fairly sleek weekly/monthly calendar.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

I love how almost every comment here is spamming a different application.  I've used Remember the Milk and Toodledoo , but I didn't like their requirements for a monthly subscription to get access to the feature I needed. I have wanted to try Omnifocus for a long time , but I didn't have a Mac until now. How do you think that Omnifocus stacks up against Reminders( which I'm using now )? 

Sofye
Sofye

Hi Erik, You selected good apps for task management. I use my Mac all the time but personally, for organize task, follow-up projects, team.. I prefer use my iPad, I found that better than a laptop. So with my iPad I use Beesy: http://www.beesapps.com/uncategorized/visualize-your-work-to-get-more-productivity/. I can use actions templates, drag & drop notes, generate meeting minutes in 1clic and sync all datas with DropBox and Evernote. It's a good productivity tool too.

Kingdaddy
Kingdaddy

I use it daily. I just wish Microsoft would bring it up to par with it's Windows counterpart. They actually used a different software team to create it, and it shows.

jmgarrity
jmgarrity

I know this is not on topic...hoping you might have some insight on the possibility of Intuit ever creating a robust, full-featured version of Quicken for Mac. I keep an old Dell up and running just for that purpose, but it is "old"...Don't really want to do Boot Camp -- I left the PC world for a reason!

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

@Sofye This article is about personal task managers, not team task managers.

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