7 Overlooked Online To-Do List Managers

Online to-do list managers are a dime a dozen these days. That’s good and bad: You get lots of choices, but many interesting contenders get lost among the latter pages of your Google search.

The top 3 contenders in this field right now are Toodledo, RememberTheMilk, and Ta-da List. Each has its strengths, but none completely satisfies me. Toodledo and RememberTheMilk are both feature-packed freemium services. Toodledo has what I would consider a horrendous interface. RememberTheMilk is a bit slicker and has great keyboard shortcuts, but is still overly-complex for my purposes. Ta-da List, made my 37signals, goes in the complete opposite direction to offer a super-stripped-down interface that sadly skimps on some features I need.

You may find what you need among those 3, but there’s a host of lesser-known to-do list managers worth taking a look at. I collected my initial list of 7 based on just a quick visual evaluation. My most important requirements were an easy-to-use interface and decently good aesthetics. After all, I don’t want a tool I’ll have to use everyday to be a complete eyesore.

After registering for each to-do list service and entering in my sample Summer 2011 to-do list, I’ve rated the services from worst to best.

7. Wipee List

This one’s got an interesting name for sure. Its interface looks great and makes great use of rich AJAX interactions, which unfortunately made the service very buggy in my Chrome 12 browser. The service falls back further due to lack of due dates or multiple lists, and some unobtrusive ads.


6. gubb.net

This was the least-attractive to-do list of the seven, but it uses an interesting layout that is more customizable than others’. It offers a rich and useful feature-set that is unfortunately encumbered by a drab and unsmooth interface.


5. Startino

This is an extremely well-designed to-do list manager. With a giant Google searchbox up top, it’s also destined to become your browser start page. I personally don’t find the Google Custom Search useful, but it provides a interesting revenue source for the friendly developers. It’s beautiful and AJAXy, but forgets to implement both reordering tasks and due dates. In addition, the categories feature feels unnecessarily complex.


4. Todo.ly

This service made its debut not long ago as a Chrome app, but of course it can also be used straight from the website. What’s interesting about this one is that it’s functionally almost identical to Todoist, which you will see next. I’ve contacted the developer and he did not say the two are related in anyway. The few interface changes compared to Todoist make Todo.ly brighter but ultimately a little bit more annoying to use. The two are structurally similar and both freemium, so it’s up to you whether cutesy icons and colorfulness are worth the sacrifice of Todoist’s keyboard shortcuts and task filter. I’d say, Todoist has the upper hand.


3. bTodo

This service has an extremely clean interface and offers an agenda view that lists upcoming tasks from all categories (multiple lists). It eschews extraneous features for dead simple usage. The only user options are task name, due date, and category. This is a great choice if you just need something basic. A slight drawback is that it only allows tasks to be ordered based on due date.


2. Todoist
This is the service I had been using even before I set out to find other overlooked to-do list services. To my satisfaction, Todoist remains my to-do list manager of choice. It has a beautifully simple interface that doesn’t miss any features and offers a unique filter system that puts tasks into an agenda view based on user query. In addition, Todoist has great keyboard shortcuts, task hierarchy, and multiple levels of task priority. This is the to-do list manager I can best recommend.


1. Paprika
So if Todoist is so great, why is it not number one? Because of this thing.. called Paprika. It’s not even a to-do list manager. It’s a “productivity app” and it just feels right. I discovered the service by chance about 3 months ago, and I’ve still yet to hear it mentioned anywhere on the internet. This app brings an innovative concept and great design and definitely deserves more attention.
Rather than the proprietary interfaces that most to-do list services use, Paprika teaches you a simple plaintext syntax that you use to build your own task lists and notes. The service then turns your text into clickable elements and checkable to-do boxes. It’s quite boon for anyone who keeps to-do lists in plaintext or on Simplenote. I’ve not used Paprika extensively, but I love the look and the concept. The only potential problem I see is that it may become inconvenient to constantly flip between viewing mode and plaintext editing mode.
Live every week with GIM (goal-in-mind)