iPhone To Do List Applications – Some Good Choices

Toodledomain ListinglyMain

I’m a huge fan of To Do lists – obsessed with them nearly. A good task management / to do list application is an absolute essential for me on any mobile device. So finding a to do program that worked well with the iPhone was one of my first missions once I realized there was no in-built tasks program (I still find this a bit of a shocking thing to leave out!).

Coming from being a long-time Windows Mobile user, and a heavy reliance on programs like Pocket Informant, Agenda One and others over the years, I did not feel real warm and fuzzy about changing to an online application for managing tasks.

I’m happy to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy I’ve found it to switch though.  Luckily, there are a number of very good online ToDo applications out there to choose from, that work very nicely with the iPhone – so my transition has not been as painful as I expected.

Here’s the shortlist of todo applications I’ve tried out over recent weeks:

  • Listingly
  • pTasks
  • TaDa Lists
  • Toodledo
  • Vitalist

Read on for lots of screencaps of some of the contenders I’ve tried out, impressions of each of them, and a few words on my favorite iPhone-friendly todo list application …

First, here’s a little table with a brief overview on: what you can specify when creating a new task on the iPhone, what are your options for sorting your tasks view, can you export your list (this seems a key feature to me when working with an online app), and what are some of the general, notable features of each.

Name New Task Options Sorting Options Export? Other Notable Features
Listingly task name, group, due date, notes None – sorts by due date No Sharing of tasks, skins
pTasks Just task name None No By default, shows items under these groups: Tasks, Appointments, Items To Send, Expected Items
Ta-da List Just task name Drag and Drop, from desktop browser only No Sharing of tasks, email yourself any of your lists, RSS notification of changes
Toodledo task name, folder / group, due date, repeat options, priority, notes Sort by due date, priority, folder, alphabetical – and can be set on iPhone as well as desktop browser Yes – from desktop only Sharing, create task via email, import options, export as iCal, XML, CSV, folders, goals, scheduler, booklet printer, Google gadget and Firefox extension
Vitalist task name, context, project, priority, due date, notes, reminder, repeat options projects, contexts, priority Yes – but via a clumsy, XML-only method GTD based – offers contexts, projects, Netvibes and Google gadgets, email reminders, allows 10 each of contacts, contexts, and projects in the free version

Now for a quick rundown on each of the 5 apps mentioned above. Please note, I have not (by any means) comprehensively tested each of these applications. I’ve tried each of them out a bit, got a good feel for their features and capabilities, and then used some more than others as they worked for me and felt comfortable to use.


In a Nutshell: The prettiest on the iPhone.

Listingly looks gorgeous on the iPhone, with its black background and sharply colored main screens.  It’s easy to navigate around with its large arrows and sharp graphics, and is pleasant to work with, especially for simpler lists like its built-in ‘Grocery Smart List’.

The smart part of the grocery list is that once you have typed four letters, it will start making suggestions – so ‘toma’ will get you Tomato soup and other helpful choices.

It allows easy sharing of lists (see screencap below) and has recently added a Due Date field for tasks on the Create New Task screen.  You can also specify a group when adding a new task via an easy drop-down.

Listingly has very few options / settings that you can configure for it right now. The settings page on a desktop browser even starts by telling you "We’re keeping it simple folks." So settings consists of a password change function and a Skins setting on the iPhone.

The biggest thing missing in Listingly right now is an ability to set priority on tasks and sorting preferences on your lists. The To Do List, for example automatically sorts by due date, but that is not always what is wanted.

listinglyaddnewtask listinglysharingtasks

Above are the Listingly Add New Task and Sharing Lists screens.

Listingly is at:


The iPhone site is: listingly.com/iphone


In a Nutshell: The bare-bones solution.

pTasks is a good choice for those who want no frills at all. It allows you to enter tasks with a single tap, add them under a sort of general tasks heading or under its default sections: Appontments, Items To Send, or Expected Items.  You can also mark a task as urgent, which will highlight it in red so it stands out on the page.

And that’s just about it.  It has no further options at all for the moment – for assigning a due date, or sorting your tasks, or anything really. The stark, bare bones feel of it also hits home when you use it within a desktop browser (as everything sits in the middle of the screen as if it is still working within the iPhone screen space).


Above is the pTasks main screen.

pTasks is at: www.ptasks.com

* Same web address as above for the iPhone.

Ta-da List

In a Nutshell: Strong on ease of use.

Ta-da List is made by 37signals, the well-known company behind popular online applications like Basecamp (for project management) and Highrise (simple CRM). It’s described by the company as ‘just ultra-simple, easily sharable to-do lists.’

That description is accurate. Ta-da List is very easy to work with.  All its screens fit well on the iPhone and feature a simple, minimal design feel. It uses large buttons to help you quickly add a new task, edit an existing one, and switch back to list views.

Currently you are not able to add a priority, due date, or notes to a task. Also, if you want to re-order your lists you need to be on a desktop browser, where you can just drag and drop to re-arrange all items on a list.

From the desktop, you can also mail yourself a copy of a list, and subscribe to be notified of changes to a list via RSS.

If you want more power for your todo list management than Ta-da List offers, the suggestion from 37signals is to move up to the full version of Ta-da Lists included within Basecamp or even to use Highrise. I have tried out Highrise a little bit, but its screens are not at all optimized for the iPhone. I’ve not tried Basecamp as I don’t need project management features.


Above = an individual list’s main screen.


Individual task selected – with buttons for editing, completing, or deleting it visible.

Ta-da List is at: www.tadalist.com

On the iPhone, go to: http://tadalist.com/iphone


In a Nutshell: The silliest name, but the most powerful features.

Toodedo was the first major online todo list that provided optimized support for the iPhone, and that head start seems to have been put to very good use.

It is absolutely packed with features, on both the iPhone and desktop browser interfaces. Here’s just some of what Toodledo lets you do:

  • Use folders, due dates, priorities, tags, contexts, and goals to organize and search through your tasks
  • Export your lists in iCal, Palm PDA, XML, CSV and TXT formats. You can also import in all those same formats, or use email to create new tasks.
  • Use the Booklet Printer feature to print a foldable booklet that fits in your pocket.
  • Attach contexts and goals to your tasks
  • Use its Google Gadget to display your tasks on your personalized Google home page, or install its Firefox extension to add several handy capabilities when you’re in the Firefox browser


The Firefox extension for Toodledo is something I only recently discovered and absolutely love. I am a huge Firefox fan, and this extension makes Toodledo super-fast to use with FF. It adds a sidebar showing your Hotlist items, which I’m not using much as I don;t like losing the screen space for this. But … it also adds two very slick right-click items that I am using freqently. Right-click on any link in Firefox and choose ‘Toodledo This Link’ from the menu, and it will bring up a neat, little New Task window, where it has auto-populated the full link URL into the Task field:


Even better, you can also just right-click anywhere within a Firefox screen and choose ‘Toodledo Something’ from the menu, and go straight to the small Add New Task window shown above.

The very best thing about Toodledo is that so much of its power is still available to you within the iPhone interface. It manages to offer tons of features without sacrificing anything in terms of ease of use. In fact, I have found it the easiest and most comfortable to work with.  Here’s some of the screens showing off Toodledo’s power:


The Add Task screen.


Choosing a task’s priority.


The Sort By / Options screen.


The daily Hotlist email.

Toodledo is at: www.toodledo.com

Their iPhone site is: http://www.toodledo.com/slim/


In a Nutshell: Based on the hugely popular Getting Things Done (GTD) system of time and task management.

For an intro to GTD, see this ‘What Is GTD’ page: http://www.davidco.com/what_is_gtd.php 

Vitalist is a very nice option if you are a GTD follower. Like Toodledo, it has a very powerful set of features and has been well-designed for use on the iPhone.

It has Google and Netvibes gadgets for displaying your tasks on your home pages for each of those. It offers a Dashboard main screen from which you can jump out to see what’s up via individual screens for projects, Inbox, actions list, contacts, shares, and more.

Navigation in Vitalist on the iPhone is good – with a quick + button at the top of all screens to add a new task, easy one-tap access to edit existing tasks, and Group By and Filtering options via buttons at the top of the Actions screen.

webot, todo apps, widgetop, installer 021

Above = the Vitalist main screen.


The Add Action screen.


And the Filters screen.

Check out Vitalist at: www.vitalist.com

For the iPhone, go to: http://iphone.vitalist.com

Some General Points

All of these online applications have shown pretty good page load times when I’ve used them, even on Edge. And all of them offer a ‘Remember Me’ option so that you don’t need to re-enter your login credentials each time you visit their sites.

In terms of security, I believe Vitalist is the only one that offers an https site option. I haven’t looked at that subject much, as nothing I’m doing with these apps is top-secret and I don’t store any confidential information associated with tasks or anything of that nature.

The ‘Local’ Option

If you have done the ‘jailbreak’ on your iPhone and use the Installer app, there is a tasks program that can be installed to the iPhone – MobileToDoList from Include7.

MobileToDoList is at a very early stage of its development (Version 0.21) and is being updated frequently. It is currently pretty bare on features, but it works nicely and the developer’s site shows that hot wish list items they will look to add soon include syncing with Safari (which would be very nice), showing priority in the todo table, and preferences for sorting by priority etc.


Above = the main screen.


More info on MobileToDoList at: Include7

Or just check it out via Installer.

Final Thoughts

As with a lot of things, the choice of which todo list application works best for you is a very personal one. I think all of us who use this sort of program heavily sort of develop our own little ways of working and methods that work best for us over the course of time.

So your own preferred ways of working will go a long way towards determining which app is the best bet for you. With that in mind, some quick conclusions:

  • If you’re a heavy GTD follower, Vitalist is for you.
  • If look and feel and slick design are paramount, Listingly is likely to be your best choice.
  • For those who want no frills and a very basic feel, I’d go with Ta-da List.
  • If you don’t want an online solution, then MobileToDoList is the only game in town right now, and works well

My overall favorite though is Toodledo, by a good margin. It has it all as far as I’m concerned. Tons of features and options, superb ease of use on both the desktop and the iPhone, great customized layout for iPhone, and a really slick Firefox extension.

I’m sure there are probably a lot of other good programs out there in this category. Please let me know your thoughts on any of these that you have tried, and on any good ones that I’ve missed!

*** If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out our new sister site, Just Another iPhone Blog, which is focused on all things iPhone:


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  1. #1 by knaak on September 24, 2007 - 12:12 pm

    Hi Patrick, congrats with you new blog. Looks great!

  2. #2 by knaak on September 24, 2007 - 12:13 pm

    Hi Patrick,

    Congrats with your new blog. Looks great!!

  3. #3 by PatrickJ on September 24, 2007 - 12:15 pm

    Hi knaak. Thanks! Very glad to hear you like it. Are you an iPhone user?

  4. #4 by knaak on September 24, 2007 - 12:18 pm

    That’s strange?! First comment was refused: a error message saying I entered the wrong anti-spam word (although I did enter the correct one). When entering the ” second ” comment the first one wasnt there yet. After I submitted the second comment, the first message suddenly showed as well.

  5. #5 by PatrickJ on September 24, 2007 - 12:53 pm

    Not sure what happened there. Have not seen any other comment issues though – so hope it was just a ‘fluke’ …

  6. #6 by Tom Limoncelli on November 6, 2007 - 2:21 pm

    One of the best features of DateBk 6 for the Palm is that you get, essentially, a Todo list for each day of the year. If you don’t finish something today, it gets moved to tomorrow’s list.

    Do any of the iPhone products have that kind of workflow?

  7. #7 by PatrickJ on November 6, 2007 - 6:38 pm

    Hi Tom
    I don’t know that any of these automatically move an overdue task to Today, though Toodledo has a range of views including one that goes by Due Date, so you can see all, or Overdue which would catch anything prior to today. It also sends you a mail each day which shows your Hotlist (which incorporates overdue items). Another online plus iPhone optimized version to-do list app that I’ve tried recently – called Remember The Milk – does slot yesterday’s non-completed tasks over into its Today view.
    Hope that helps a little …

  8. #8 by Sunny Bains on November 12, 2007 - 1:07 pm

    I’ve found a workaround for to-do lists that might suit some people. For me, web apps are not an option because I often organize my stuff on the underground (tube) on the way to work. I also don’t want to faff around with new syncing solutions. The whole point of switching was to find a PDA that was actually compatible with my Mac! So here’s what I’ve done.

    1. I’ve created a calendar called ToDo that shows up in black in iCal (to make it stand out from my other stuff).
    2. I dragged the ToDo items in my list to this new calendar on the date that they are currently due.
    3. I made them “all-day” events.
    4. I changed their name so that they have *** in front of them. Like:
    ***Change light bulb.

    Now, my tasks show up at the top of every day, and I just move them manually to the future if I want to (or delete them if they’re done). I could also move them to a Done calendar if I wanted to keep track.

    Also, if I search for *** in the calendar, I can see the whole list at once.

    OK, it’s not fabulous. But it may hold me until the ToDo lists in Leopard mail are (hopefully) integrated into the iPhone.

  9. #9 by PatrickJ on November 12, 2007 - 1:12 pm

    Sunny – nice one! That’s a cool workaround. I like a lot of the bells and whistles of a to-do list manager app – one click to sort by due date, or switch to view by priority, or decide to look at only tasks belonging to one folder or group at a time – so I need a real app, but your method sounds good if you’re able to work that way.
    And yeah – I’m hoping Apple or a 3rd party after Feb. will give us some native alternatives as well …

  10. #10 by John on November 13, 2007 - 8:20 pm

    Thanks, your summary proved helpful.

  11. #11 by Michael (Nozbe) on November 19, 2007 - 9:40 am

    Did you try iNozbe – iPhone based interface to Nozbe – a GTD web application – it’s like a Backpack but with GTD methods and the iPhone interface feels like a native iPhone application.

    Please let me know what you think!


  12. #12 by PatrickJ on November 19, 2007 - 2:32 pm

    Michael – I have heard good things about Nozbe, but had not heard there was an iPhone optimized version at the time of writing this post. I don’t find GTD to be my preferred method of working, so haven’t got round to checking Nozbe out yet – I hope to give it a look soon though.

  13. #13 by Sunny Bains on November 22, 2007 - 10:57 am

    Just an FYI. I goofed on one point in my workaround. Unfortunately iCal will NOT search on punctuation. I tried the searching bit with a previous iteration of a prefix (probably something like ***ToDo) and, when that worked, I just assumed that anything would work.

    If all you want is the task to show up well on your iPhone, then the *** is fine. If want to be able to see all your tasks together by searching on iCal then you need a common string search for. I am now using “Task> “. Hope this helps!


  14. #14 by rewman on February 23, 2008 - 3:52 pm

    Umm…that’s great but you missed the only OFFLINE to do application. It can sync with your account too (in order to get your notes on any machine)

    noter is hands down the best, easiest and most organized app I’ve used.

  15. #15 by PatrickJ on February 23, 2008 - 5:22 pm

    rewman – thanks for the comment. I mentioned MobileToDoList, which at the time of this post was the only native, truly local, app for this purpose. Noter is interesting looking, but it strikes me (as its name would suggest) as a Note-taking app. I could use Notepad as a task manager if I wanted to, but that doesn’t make it a to-do list program. Noter as far as I can see has no categories, due date, ability to sort tasks, ability to interface with iGoogle or NetVibes, or much of anything that says ‘task manager’ to me. Maybe I’m missing something …

  16. #16 by med on February 28, 2008 - 4:01 pm

    Thanks for the blog

    Signed up for toodledo but mine doesnt display as well as yours on my iphone.

    For example, dont see any options for “sort by” screen etc. DO you have a premium account? Or is there another way to disply these options?

  17. #17 by PatrickJ on February 28, 2008 - 4:38 pm

    med – Nope, I use the regular version, no Premium for me. I think it may be a combination of settings that got me my favorite view on the iPhone – I set it to sort by Priority on the desktop browser version, and then on the iPhone client, I go to Settings > Default Start Page, and have it set to show my Hotlist …

  18. #18 by med on February 28, 2008 - 5:51 pm

    i’ve set it up exactly the same as you. BUT still doesnt display like that.
    Don’t see ‘sort by’ option etc on iphone. Also, even though on the desktop browser i’ve set it to sort using Priority the same order is not how they are displayed on the iphone.
    Are you accessing the site on iphone via toodledo.com or the specific iPhone site- thats the one i’m using

  19. #19 by med on February 28, 2008 - 6:07 pm

    I presume it is because toodledo updated their iphone interface as per your other blog? Mine appears similar to the one in the link below


  20. #20 by PatrickJ on February 28, 2008 - 6:41 pm

    med – true that link above is the newer Toodledo iPhone interface. I think I preferred the original iPhone UI. But I’ve now switched to using Remember The Milk as my primary task manager. I do think this one still lets you sort by Priority if you set it to open your Hotlist though …

  21. #21 by dannielo on April 16, 2008 - 11:11 am


    For implementing GTD you might try out my application for time management and productivity,


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.

    Hope you like it.

  22. #22 by dannielo on July 27, 2008 - 10:22 am

    One of the most appreciated features in http://www.gtdagenda.com , the Checklists, just got better with visual representation of checklists progress. You’ll see at a glance what the progress towards your goals is.

  23. #23 by lithivm on December 16, 2008 - 12:32 pm

    I tried varios web-based todo list options but finally settled doing it with Gmail:

    Here’s a guide:

  24. #24 by Joseph on March 10, 2009 - 3:27 am

    I was recently looking for a To Do list application for my iPhone and came across Skratch List (http://www.skratchboard.com/?page_id=646). It's simple and easy to use and it's on my iPhone all the time. It also has this cool flick and shake gesture that makes it fun to use too!

    I highly recommend it.

  25. #25 by Mark Williamson on April 21, 2009 - 4:57 am

    Check out this very easy to use and intuitive to do application: ToDoMaster: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=311475416&mt=8

  26. #26 by Sammy on July 6, 2009 - 4:48 pm

    I recently came across What Do I Need To-Do?

    This app is simple and easy to use, very different to the other todo apps out there.


    or more details on


  27. #27 by Michelle on August 22, 2009 - 11:17 am

    I just downloaded an app named TaskCard, it is quite handy and no need to enter status of task… just simple drag to the specific category… I really love the idea..


  28. #28 by dean on November 1, 2009 - 8:48 am

    If you want to fully sync your tasks between your mac, PC, and iPhone using the same open standard that iCal (mac) and Mozilla Sunbird (PC) use the check out eTask on the app store.

    eTask allows you to view, edit, create, delete, and sync your Tasks on several popular Groupware (e-mail) servers. Currently these include: Kerio Mail Server (KMS), DAViCal, Oracle Beehive, Cosmo Chandler, Yahoo, SOGo (for primary calendar folders only).

    If you don’t have a Groupware server you can create a free account on Yahoo (see the web-site for details). Once setup you can use the web-interface, iCal/mail (mac), Thunderbird/Lightning or Sunbird (mozilla.org) on windows to view and modify your tasks. Modifications to your tasks are automatically synchronized between all clients so you never have to do any extra sync step through iTunes or other special software.

    Here is the URL: http://sites.google.com/site/dfaworks

  29. #29 by Mat on December 8, 2009 - 3:49 pm

    At the moment I use “Things” for iPhone, however I’m not a Mac user, so I would love to find something else because I can’t sync my to-do list.

    I looked through every application on this page, including those mentioned by people in the comments, and I cannot believe you all want to look at such poorly designed apps!

    And the ones in the review post – without wishing to sound rude, they are ugly! Not one could pass as a native iPhone app. Cluttered interfaces, poor use of colour, bad spacing; a to-do list should help you clear your mind not add to the stress.

    Even “Listingly”, which is apparently the prettiest, is a little bit of an interface botch what with the non-standard colour schemes and all.

    Until I find an app that doesn’t look pokey and poorly put-together, I’m actually happy using Things just on my iPhone, with no ability to export or sync.

  30. #30 by Pete on January 31, 2010 - 8:02 pm

    You may find some of the todo apps introduced here either too simple to be useful or too long-winded where it takes years to add tasks and appointments. You don’t want your to-do app to actually take away your time that could have been spent actually getting things done.

    Why don’t you try Todew – a task management app that won’t waste your time?

    You can see the screencast here: http://somaticcontact.com/todew
    iTunes App Store link: http://bit.ly/dn2DBo

  31. #31 by Daniel Wood on April 15, 2010 - 7:05 am

    These apps are so old now but Google still ranks this post really high for ‘todo list iphone’

    Try a new todo list with a twist. Dunnit is free and integrates OpenFeint to make productivity fun.


  32. #32 by javikr on April 30, 2010 - 8:07 am

    For sharing task and projects I recommend you Todo Group! It’s a great iPhone (and now iPad) app for task management in team or alone. You can create private projects or shared projects and create shared todo lists.

    I use it for my small developer team and it works great for sharing tasks and ideas.

  33. #33 by Samuel on December 25, 2010 - 5:37 am

    Try out Todoist Wall which is an iPhone shell over the Todoist.com services:

  34. #34 by Evelina on May 5, 2011 - 3:02 am

    This article is great, and I guess new ,,Plan” app should be here also. I’m planning everything with this, finally I don’t forget anything :) It’s easy to navigate, I can fix my events in one move, it even tries to suggest my events time.


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