The Best To-Do List Apps for the iPhone

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To Do List

Your iPhone probably follows you most places you go, which makes it a great place to store your to-do lists. To-do list apps have come a long way since the days of the PDA.

Once developed with just business executives and technology enthusiasts in mind, to-do list apps these days cater to all sorts of users. Whether you are looking for a simple place to store grocery lists or want to manage complex projects, you can find just the right app for your needs in this selection.


Open Things and what you first notice is its simple, clutter-free interface. Underneath the simple exterior, though, lies a solid app that can manage even the most complex to-do list setups. This versatility makes Things an easy app to recommend to just about anyone.

To start using Things, you create projects and populate them with tasks. You then move each project or task into one of four areas: Today, Next, Scheduled, and Someday. The idea is to get as much as you can out of your head and recorded within these four categories. Once you’ve organized everything pulling on your attention, you should find it easier to get back to your Today list and focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.

If you wish to organize further, you can add tags to sort out your projects and tasks. You can also consolidate your items into custom areas other than those provided. For times when you’re too busy to organize, there is an Inbox area where you can quickly enter items you wish to process later.

Things is available for $9.99 on the iPhone App Store, with iPad and Mac versions available as a separate purchase.


Omnifocus is easily the most function-packed to-do list app for the iPhone. Designed for users looking for an app that can bend to their every whim, it does little to simplify things for beginners.

Once you get the hang of Omnifocus, though, you begin to appreciate its power and flexibility. At its core, Omnifocus works much like Things in that you’re working with projects and tasks the same as before. Explore the app further, though, and you find a plethora of features built upon that shared foundation.

With Omnifocus, you’re not limited to adding just simple text notes to each to-do item. Here, you can add relevant photos, voice recordings, files, and map locations. Also, you can organize your items further, creating folders, sub-projects, flagged items, and forecasts. The downside to all this choice is that even after setting up the app, you might catch yourself experimenting further instead of getting started on your tasks.

Omnifocus is available for $19.99 on the iPhone App Store, with iPad and Mac versions available as a separate purchase.


Evernote is a popular note-taking app that is often overlooked as a to-do list manager. If you’re looking for a simple tool that works much like the pen and paper you’re accustomed to, Evernote is a great choice.

There isn’t much to wrap your head around in Evernote. You simply open a new note, select the checkbox tool, and start entering tasks. From here, you can set a due date for the note itself, which puts it in your list of Evernote reminders. This setup works even better if you also use Evernote’s note-taking abilities to create a database that stores information relevant to your tasks.

Evernote is available free on the iPhone App Store and most other platforms, with a premium subscription available for $4.99 per month.

Remember the Milk

You’ve looked at Things and Omnifocus, but don’t much fancy the idea of grouping your tasks together into projects. Evernote looks too simple and doesn’t provide enough of an upgrade for you to ditch your favorite diary or journal. If so, you might want to give Remember the Milk a try.

In Remember the Milk, you enter your to-do items the same as you would on a page in your diary—by creating a new list and adding tasks. From here, though, Remember the Milk provides additional functionality that would be cumbersome, if not impossible, to replicate with just pen and paper. For each task you add, you can attach a priority, due date, duration, location, tags, and additional notes. When you’re done, you get a useful overview of your week that shows all the tasks falling due over the next seven days.

Remember the Milk is available free on the iPhone and iPad App Store, with a pro upgrade available for $24.99 per year.

Which of these apps should you go for? To decide, look at your daily routine and consider the extent of organization you require. Don’t look to create and maintain the most elaborate system possible; the best to-do list setup is one that stays in the background and only nudges you when something needs to be done.