Organize your Gmail Tasks using the GTasks application

Scott Matteson explains how to plan out your priorities using Gmail Tasks with the free GTasks mobile application.

I am a full-time system administrator, part-time tech writer/consultant, father of three school kids, husband and homeowner. As you can imagine, I have a ton of tasks that need my attention during the course of any given day, week or month. Dropping any of the balls I keep in the air generally means they all become impacted. So, it's with much attention to detail that I create tasks to stay focused on my priorities and obligations.

Working with Gmail tasks

I've been using Gmail tasks to keep my life organized and track what I need to do. I log into my Gmail account, click the red "Gmail" link in the upper left and then choose Tasks. (Figure A)

Figure A

I have task lists named "Work" and "Home." Here's what my "Work" tasks typically look like. (Figure B)

Figure B

I can easily add tasks using the + sign, mark them completed by clicking the box to the left, or delete them entirely using the garbage can icon.

Clicking "Actions" brings up the following options to help me sort by due date or view my completed tasks. (Figure C)

Figure C

At the main task window I can add details such as due date by selecting the task and clicking the ">" arrow at the right. (Figure D)

Figure D

I also have options to manage my task lists by using the bulleted icon in the lower right. (Figure E)

Figure E

Addressing Gmail task limitations

This environment works well to keep my duties in line, but there are a few things missing: task reminders, recurrence, and the ability to set priorities. It's also not easy for me to quickly access my Gmail tasks via my Android. Google recommends managing tasks via the browser at, but I find this method sluggish and nonproductive. Good thing there are plenty of free apps available to link your Gmail tasks with your mobile device!

I've been working with GTasks, a very handy free ad-supported task management program (there is an ad-free paid version available as well). There are versions for Android and iOS. GTasks fills in the gaps that the native Gmail task interface leaves out.

To start using GTasks, access the Google Play store. (Figure F)

Figure F

Search for GTasks. (Figure G)

Figure G

Select GTasks. (Figure H)

Figure H

Click Install. The app will prompt you to accept and download. (Figure I)

Figure I

Click "Accept and download" to continue. (Figure J)

Figure J

Click "Keep Shopping." (Figure K)

Figure K

Once the installation has completed you can open the application. The GTasks icon will also appear on your main Android screen. (Figure L)

Figure L

When you open GTasks for the first time it will request permission to access your Google tasks. You'll need to allow access to proceed.

In the examples below, I'll open the app and demonstrate how to configure my tasks. (Figure M)

Figure M

GTasks starts by displaying my Work tasks. I can view my Home tasks by clicking the diagonal arrow to the right of "Work" (or swipe from left to right). (Figure N)

Figure N

I can add tasks using the + icon as with Gmail. To configure a task I just tap to open it. (Figure O)

Figure O

I can add more detail as needed. To set further task options, I'll tap the ">" arrow to the right of the task. (Figure P)

Figure P

Here I can set the due date, recurrence and priority (you may need to scroll down a bit to see the priority setting). (Figure Q)

Figure Q

If I click the diagonal arrow next to the "No reminder" field I can set a reminder for when the task is due. (Figure R)

Figure R

Clicking "Set" then "OK" will save the change. I can configure audio, pop-up, and vibration reminders with snooze options.

I can set a task to recur by clicking the diagonal arrow to the right of "One-time event" under the "Repeat" section. (Figure S)

Figure S

As before, clicking OK will save the setting.

To configure priority, I can tap the flag in the lower right of the screen to mark the item as urgent. Once I click OK the task then appears with a red box next to it. (Figure T)

Figure T

As with Gmail tasks I can mark the finished items as completed by checking the box, or delete them by pressing the task until a toolbar at the bottom appears, then selecting the trash can icon.

Bottom line

GTask offers many other features, such as the option to move tasks underneath one another to create subtasks, the ability to send tasks to other people, and a search function. This quick tip should get you started with the basics; you can always expand into the more advanced functions once you get comfortable using the app.

GTasks isn't the only task management tool for mobile devices, nor is it even the only one that synchronizes with Gmail. However, I was attracted to it based on its simplicity, ease of use, and positive ratings. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to manage your workloads across all walks of life, I recommend you check it out and see what it can do for you.

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Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.

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