I’m a big fan of the “Getting Things Done” methodology from David Allen. I’ve been following it for most of my professional career, and I attribute it to being able to stay organized and on task with my full-time job and writing here at 9to5Mac. With that being said, I don’t put everything in my GTD app. There are a lot of items like grocery lists, home repair plans, or even simple weekend tasks that end up in a list app. I want it to be easy to add to, easy to mark off, easy to organize, and simply get out of the way. It’s the heaviness of my GTD app that allows my simple list app to be light. I’ve tried a bunch of apps, so here’s my round-up of the best list apps for iPhone.
I’ve written about Apple Reminders in the past. I think it’s one of Apple’s most underrated apps. It works well, supports multiple lists, and syncs over to all of your devices. If you have Apple Family Sharing set up, you’ve already got shared lists between your family members as well.
I previously wrote that one feature Apple needs to add is natural language input.
I currently use Todoist to manage all of my tasks. One aspect that is perfect is their natural language input. I can type: Print off expense report #Work Tomorrow at 8 AM. Todoist will then put the task in my Work project with a due date of tomorrow at 8:00 AM. While the macOS version of Reminders has natural language support, iOS doesn’t. I’d love the macOS to get an app-wide app dialogue box where I didn’t have to pick the list ahead of time. With Todoist, I set up a quick trigger for new tasks and put it into the right place without every touching the trackpad.
The one knock for Reminders, in my opinion, is that it’s slow to add new tasks and create new lists. Its design is looking dated, so I hope it gets some attention in the near future. Apple Reminders is worth taking a look at since it’s free and syncs over iCloud.
Do! is an interesting looking app. It has a paper feel to it (it reminds me of Apple Notes), but it’s not overly skeuomorphic. It’s fairly simple to add new tasks, but the overall app is not one of my favorites. I found the user interface to be confusing especially compared to Apple Reminders. It’s a free app, and it includes in-app purchases to remove ads and to have unlimited groups.
Do! is a free app on the App Store.
CARROT To Do
I love CARROT Weather, so the design of its list app immediately worked for me. Like all of the CARROT apps, the to-do app has “personality.” You “please” the robot by marking things as complete, and as you do, you unlock new features. While I think this is a pretty fun way to unlock features, I’d rather just be able to make a small in-app purchase.
One negative to the app is that it doesn’t offer an option for multiple lists. This fact alone would keep me from using it for a simple iPhone list app over some of the other apps I tried. The app still does lack native support for iPhone X and newer screen size as well.
CARROT To-Do is a free app on the App Store.
Any.Do is a free app with a subscription for unlimited collaboration, recurring items, location-based reminders, and more. It’s a really great looking app, but it’s overkill for what I want in a simple list app, though.
One of my favorite aspects of the app is how multiple lists are broken out. If you are looking for a new task system, I would definitely check out Any.Do. But when it comes to a simple list app for iPhone, I feel like there are better options.
MinimaList comes close to being the perfect simple list app. I has a minimal design, which I like, but I find the UI a bit hard to navigate. I originally couldn’t find out how to have multiple lists, but then I finally fiddled around enough to find a place to upgrade to MinimaList Premium for $5.99. The in-app purchase unlocks FaceID, custom fonts, multiple lists, location reminders, and more.
MinimaList is a free app on the App Store.
Clear, in my opinion, is the absolute best list app for the iPhone. While I probably prefer the UI of MinimaList, Clear is just lightning fast on everything. It’s extremely easy (and fast) to add a new list, add new items to it, and mark items as complete.
While it was missing in action for a year or two, it’s under new ownership and they’ve been actively developing it. When it comes to creating simple lists that I don’t want in my GTD/task management system, Clear is my go-to app.
While there are a lot of good simple list apps for iPhone, Clear is my favorite, and I’d probably put Reminders as a runner-up. Reminders being built in certainly helps it, but Clear edges it out since it’s so fast to enter in new items. Do you have a favorite list app I missed? Let me know in the comments!
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