5 To-Do List Apps Head-to-Head

There nothing more satisfying than checking items of a to-do list.  Or perhaps there is: trying out a new to-do list app.

This week, I have had problems with my go-to to-do list app, Wunderlist, which has not been syncing across devices (thought there was a quick and easy fix).  Wunderlist is a beautiful and feature rich free app, and it’s been working very well.  However, the syncing problems are, apparently, the result of the company switching its syncing process, but sitting in car pool today provided me with the opportunity to try out some other to-do apps.  The five apps are now installed on as many devices/ platforms as the apps allow and I own: iPhone, iPad, desktop, Chrome, and Gmail plugin.  All accounts are the free versions.

WunderlistScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.29.40 AM

  • Arguably, Wunderlist has the most attractive interface (there are a handful of simple backgrounds; I have chosen a stunning photo of Berlin – it is a German company);
  • You can add notes, photos, comments and files to list items in the free version.  (This is particularly helpful when shopping for an item and you need a visual reminder of what you are looking for);
  • You can add list item reminders: you will be sent an email when the item is due.


  • The company seems to have periodic syncing issues: this recent one dates from May of 2014, but they apparently had a similar issue last year.  Simple communication could fix this as the solution to the issue was merely logging out of all devices then back in again;
  • The Chrome extension only adds the current webpage to a list: it does not allow you to manage lists or add other items;
  • Similarly, the Gmail plugin only adds the email to a list.  Moreover, the plugin is slower than both Any.do and Todoist; its occasional (5 second?) pause to load is a deterrent to using this feature.


Any.do Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.38.01 AM

  • The decent Gmail plugin allows you to add list items from emails as well as to see what is coming up.  It even automatically adds a bar at the end of emails asking “What’s next?”
  • List items can repeat for recurring tasks;
  • There are plenty of options for reminders;
  • It has a clean and simple interface.


  • Though you can add sub-tasks, there is no option to add photos or files to list items;
  • No iPad app (how is this possible?!)
  • The interface is a little too sparse;
  • There is apparently no sidebar for jumping quickly between various lists.


TodoistScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.27.35 AM

  • Simple and clean interface;
  • Very nice welcome email which provided details of apps for every possible platform
  • This is the best Gmail plugin.  Not only does the pop up window appear immediately, and allows you to add a list item, but it also provides access to all your other list items in a pop-up similar to the Chrome extension.


  • Adding notes, photos, files, voice messages to list items is a premium feature ($28.99/ year)

Google KeepScreen Shot 2014-07-02 at 12.04.10 PM


      • Simple, colorful tiled interface;
      • Reminders can be set for all tasks


      • No native iPhone/ iPad app.  There are some third party apps, but they are slow.
      • These are just like Post-It notes: there is no sidebar to jump between lists.
      • No Gmail plugin.

Google Tasks (added through Gmail)Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 12.02.44 PM

      • Tasks is integrated automatically into Gmail and a small bar or window can be kept open at all times.
      • It is also integrated with Google calendar and can be kept open in the right sidebar at all times.
      • You can make any Gmail a task to-do item by clicking the “More” button


      • Again, there is no native iOS app.  The third party app GoTasks, however, works well, though it is not one of the most attractive interfaces.
      • You can add notes, but not photos to list items.
      • Jumping between lists is through a single button; the lack of sidebar sometimes leads me to forget about other list categories.
      • The interface is rather basic.


Clearly, personal preference, priorities, and the available platforms are important in choosing a to-do list.  Personally, while I really enjoy the simplicity  and ease-of-use of both Keep and Tasks, the lack of iOS apps rules both of them out.  The lack of an iPad app is one reason for ruling out Any.do, but I also find it a little too sparse, and the inability to add photos makes my time in Home Depot even more difficult.  So, it’s down to Todoist and Wunderlist, and while I love Todoist’s Gmail plugin, Wunderlist is the victor because of the ability to add photos and notes to the freemium version.  And since I resolved the synching issue, it has been working brilliantly.