If you’re anything like me, then making a to-do list looks a little something like this… You write each to-do on a Post-It. By the end of the week, you’ve got a Mount-Everest-sized pile of little colored papers that looks so daunting you end up sweeping it into the trashcan in a moment of panic.
While writing down your to-dos on paper is certainly an option, it often ends up taking more time to sort through them than to actually do them. However, when you find the best to-do list app out there for your work style, it can boost your productivity tenfold.
I’ve researched, downloaded, and tested some of the top to-do list apps on the market so you don’t have to.
It’s time to put down your pen, back away from the Post-Its, and check out some of the best to-do list apps in 2021.
What makes the best to-do list app?
Everyone has different criteria for the best to-do list app. Here are just a few of the things that I considered when putting together this list of the ultimate task management apps:
Easy and quick to add tasks. Perhaps the most important feature in a to-do list app is the ability to quickly and easily add tasks to your list. Ideally, you should be able to add and organize your to-dos in just a couple taps.
Multiple ways to organize tasks. The best to-do list apps offer different ways to organize or categorize your tasks. Things like tags, lists, projects, and due dates are all helpful ways to keep your tasks organized so you can prioritize and get stuff done.
Ability to add subtasks. Do your tasks have tasks? The ability to add subtasks to your to-do list items makes it easier to keep your more complex tasks organized. Subtasks also allow you to break down biggers tasks into more manageable chunks so you can actually get them done.
Ability to add reminders. The best to-do list apps have the option to set up app notifications or reminders (text, email, etc.) so that you never forget about a task or miss a deadline.
Syncs between platforms and devices. If you’re accessing your task list on multiple devices, you’ll want to make sure you choose a to-do list app that syncs between them. The best to-do list apps sync between mobile, desktop, and tablet so that you’re ready wherever you are, no matter what device you’re using.
Offers collaboration features. While some people may be looking for a to-do list app just for their own personal tasks, others may need to find an app that allows them to collaborate. To-do list apps that offer collaboration features are great for managing work-related to-dos.
Top 10 to-do list apps in 2021
There are a LOT of to-do list apps out there. (Like a LOT a lot.) Luckily, you don’t have to waste time doing the research and testing because I’ve done that for you. Below is a list of the best to-do list apps:
1. Todoist [Best overall]
Todoist has made its way onto plenty of lists as one of the best to-do list apps. I only needed to test it out for a few minutes to figure out why: It offers the perfect balance of power and simplicity. Not to mention, the app itself is beautiful and it runs on virtually every platform.
With over 10 million users, Todoist makes it easy to get a clear overview of everything on your to-do list. Adding a task takes just a few seconds with the quick add option, and you can even set recurring tasks to help you build habits.
You can keep your tasks organized with sections and subtasks, adding deadlines to ensure you get the tasks done on time. Todoist also allows you to set priorities to highlight your most important tasks and mark tasks as favorites to keep them top of mind.
This app gives you the option to personalize the way you organize your to-dos to fit with your workflow and processes. Use the Boards option to get a Kanban-style board with cards you can drag and drop into different categories. You can also label your tasks to make them easier to find later.
Whether you’re sharing a grocery list with your partner or a work project with your coworkers, Todoist makes it possible to share your projects and tasks with others. Delegate tasks to other people and get notified when the task is completed or the person posts a comment.
Todoist also integrates with Zapier. That means you can automatically create tasks in Todoist when a certain action is taken in another app. For example, you might add new Google Calendar events to your Todoist tasks.
Compatibility: Web, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Pricing: The Starter plan is free with paid plans starting at $3/month (billed annually).
2. Remember the Milk [Best free app]
Remember the Milk has been around for a long time, but it still pulls its weight in the category of best to-do list apps. This app is simple, yet effective and has one of the best free versions of any app on this list.
Adding to-dos to your list is fast and easy with Smart Add. This feature allows you to enter the task and its properties all in one line. For instance, in addition to writing out the task, you can also add the due date, priority, and any repeat tags all at once.
Organize your to-dos into lists, using colorful tags to categorize your tasks. You can also add subtasks to break down the larger tasks, and add subtasks to your subtasks to break them down even further.
Find the tasks you’re looking for with the search wizard by typing in keywords, sorting by due date, or filtering by the assignee. The app also has a Smart Lists feature that allows you to pull up a list of tasks based on certain search criteria. For example, you might make a list of tasks you’ve already postponed five times.
Remember the Milk may not have complex collaboration options, but you can share your lists with others and assign them tasks. (This is great for dividing up chores or creating a shared grocery list with your family or roommates.)
Remember the Milk syncs across devices and even allows you to work offline when you don’t have an Internet connection. You can add tasks in a variety of ways outside of the app, including by email, tweet, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri.
Compatibility: Web, macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire
Pricing: Free version with the Pro plan priced at $39.99 per year.
3. Asana [Best for teams]
I’ve been using (and loving) Asana since 2013. While it is more of a full-fledged project management tool than a simple to-do list app, I thought it would be a disservice to not include it in this list.
Founded in 2008, Asana is an app designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work projects and tasks. It’s ideal for teams who need to collaborate on to-do lists, but you can also use it for your own personal to-dos if you like the features and functionality of the app.
One of the greatest benefits of Asana is that it offers a variety of ways to organize and view your tasks. You can use the Board view to organize your tasks like sticky notes, moving them from one category/stage to the next as you progress through the project. You can also view them in a list, timeline, or calendar format, depending on your preference.
In Asana, you organize your work into projects, breaking down your to-do list into separate tasks so it’s easier to manage. Add sub-tasks to any task to break it down further, and assign those tasks to team members so it’s clear who is responsible for what. You can also add dependencies and due dates to your tasks.
The notification system is also helpful in that it gives automatic updates about projects, conversations, and tasks you are involved with in your Asana inbox. You can also set up notifications to email you with these updates.
Asana syncs your tasks across the desktop and mobile apps while also letting you access the platform from your web browser.
Compatibility: Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android
Pricing: Basic plan is free forever with paid plans starting at $10.99/user/month (billed annually).
4. Any.do [Best for people who forget their to-do list]
Any.do markets itself as “a to-do list you’d actually use,” and I can’t think of a more accurate description. This app is focused on features that encourage you to actually stick to your to-dos, making it the best app on this list for people who tend to forget their to-do list.
One reason why this app is great for those who forget to-dos is its unique notification features. Set up one-time, repeat, or location-based reminders for your tasks. You can get push notifications every morning about what is on your to-do list for the day. You can also set up recurring reminders for weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks.
The “Plan My Day” feature is also a unique one that encourages you to stay on task. With this feature, you can schedule when you will accomplish various tasks during your day. (It’s a great way to force yourself to actually get stuff done!)
Any.do makes it easy to keep your tasks organized by list or project. You can use colored tags to create categories and set priorities. You’ll be able to access your tasks anywhere you are because Any.do keeps them synced across all devices (even your watch!).
This app offers some other unique features that make it easy and fun to use in your day-to-day life. You can swipe tasks to complete them, shake your phone to delete tasks, and add tasks to your list through voice command.
The app design itself is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. It also integrates with Zapier, allowing you to automatically add tasks to Any.do whenever a task, note, or calendar event is added to another app like Google Calendar or Evernote.
Compatibility: Web, macOS, Windows, Android, iOS
Pricing: Free version available with paid plans starting at $2.99/month for 12 months (billed annually).
5. Things [Best for the highly organized]
Things blends functionality and beautiful design to offer an app that’s simple and attractive without sacrificing must-have features. If staying organized is important to you, and you want a simple way to do it, Things might be the best to-do list app for you.
With a drag-and-drop interface, Things makes rearranging your to-dos quick and easy so you can prioritize what’s important. If plans change, you can also reschedule events on your calendar by dragging and dropping them to a different date.
The biggest reason why I chose this app for the highly organized is that it allows you to view your calendar events and to-dos together. This makes it easy to plan your day without forgetting a single task or event. (Not to mention, you won’t have to switch between applications during the day since it’s all in one place.)
Add tasks, notes, checklists, and reminders to your to-do list in just a couple of taps. Keep everything organized by projects which can contain headers or tasks. You can also use subtasks to break things down even further.
While other apps offer similar features to Things, what makes Things unique is its design. Even though there is a lot going on, it never feels cluttered or confusing because of the way it’s designed.
Unfortunately for Android and PC users, this app is an Apple-only application.
Compatibility: macOS, iOS
Pricing: The app is $9.99 in the Apple Store.
6. OmniFocus [Best for those who follow the GTD method]
OmniFocus is one of the most comprehensive to-do list apps on this list, and it’s the only to-do list app that is built around the Getting Things Done (GTD) method of productivity with its five stages: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. If you use the GTD method or are interested in a more structured way of accomplishing things, this may be just the app for you!
Adding tasks to your list is just a keyboard shortcut away. The OmniFocus inbox allows you to quickly add to-dos whenever you think of them. You have the option to assign a project, set a due date, and add tags later on when you have time.
Batch editing helps you save time while editing similar tasks. You can select multiple tasks and edit them at once, including adding or changing tags, due dates, and more.
This app has a lot of excellent organizational features. You can organize tasks into projects and projects into folders. Then, create and assign multiple tags for tasks like priority, time commitment, or location.
The Forecast feature shows you what’s coming up in your day by displaying your tasks and calendar events in order on the screen. You can tap on an upcoming day to review what’s coming up or start planning in advance.
With OmniFocus, you’ll never forget another task or event as you can set notifications for when an action is due or when it’s tagged to your current location. Apple watch users will be able to see notifications on their watch as well.
Designed for Apple users, OmniFocus allows you to add tasks to your list using Siri. This makes it easy to add tasks on the go or while you’re working on something else.
Compatibility: macOS, iOS, web
Pricing: An individual subscription is $9.99/month or $99.99/year. Mac users also have the option to purchase a traditional license at $49.99 for traditional or $99.99 for Pro.
7. Habitica [Best for those who want to make it fun]
Like playing games? Wanna make your to-do list tasks more fun? Then Habitica is probably the best to-do list app for you!
Habitica is unlike any other app on this list as it uses gamification to motivate you to achieve your goals. Using in-game rewards and punishments as well as adding a social network aspect, this app will inspire you to get stuff done and build healthy habits while having tons of fun.
You add your tasks, daily activities and habits to the app. These all become little monsters that your character has to conquer. When you complete the tasks, you level up, and when you slip up, your character takes damage.
As you continue to check things off your to-do list and build up your habits, you earn in-game currency that you can use to buy offline rewards like snacks or in-game rewards like cool gear for your character.
To add another level of accountability and motivation, you can collaborate and compete with your friends as well. Fight monsters with your friends. When one person forgets to complete a task or slips up with a habit, the monster hurts everyone. There are even challenges that allow you to compete with friends and strangers for special prizes.
While Habitica certainly won’t appeal to everyone, it is a very unique take on the to-do list app that may be just what you need to FINALLY check things off your to-do list. If you’re competitive or just more likely to get things done when they’re fun, then I’d recommend checking this app out.
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Pricing: Free version is available with a paid plan starting at $4.99/month.
8. Microsoft To Do [Best for Microsoft users]
If you’re a Microsoft user, and you’re looking for a to-do list app that plays well with other Microsoft programs, then Microsoft To Do is a great option. The app has a clean UX and is user-friendly without sacrificing flexibility.
The most powerful feature of this app is its integration with other Microsoft programs. You can sync your tasks from Outlook to Microsoft To Do, which saves you the time of not having to rewrite them all. If you’re a Windows user, you can also easily add tasks by using Cortana or typing a command in the start menu like “add bread to my shopping list.”
The “My Day” list is my favorite feature of the app. It gives you easy access to the tasks that are due for the day. The app also offers suggestions, recommending your most important tasks of the day so they get done first.
Another unique feature of the app is the ability to set custom background images for each list so you know which list you’re viewing at a glance. (And it doesn’t hurt to have something nice to look at if you’re gonna be looking at it all day!)
Like a couple of other apps on this list, Microsoft To Do integrates with Zapier, allowing you to connect it to other apps you use every day. You can make a Zap to automatically add things in Microsoft To Do when a certain action is taken in another app. For example, you can create tasks from starred emails in Gmail or Google Calendar events.
Compatibility: Web, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Pricing: It’s free!
9. ClickUp [Best for those who like to visualize their to dos]
Like Asana, ClickUp is geared more toward project management and team collaboration than simple to-do lists. However, it’s packed with helpful features, easy to use, and could very well change the way you manage your to-dos, making it a welcome addition to this list.
ClickUp features different apps that you can use to add functionality to your ClickUp boards. These allow you to customize the way you use ClickUp and get more out of the platform. For example, you can use the Automations app to save time by automating tasks or use the screen recording app to add more details to your ClickUp tasks.
This app is great for those who like to easily visualize their to-dos. ClickUp offers multiple views for visualizing tasks and subtasks, allowing you to customize the way you see your to-dos every day.
The core views allow you to view your tasks as a list, board (Kanban style), or calendar. The advanced views allow you to see tasks by location, activity, box, Gantt, mind map, table, timeline, and workload.
It’s easy to keep things organized with ClickUp. Add custom statuses, fields, and tags to categorize and organize your tasks. You can quickly rearrange tasks by dragging and dropping them and assign priority so you know what you need to complete first.
Have a bunch of tasks you need to edit or update? With ClickUp, you can edit tasks in bulk using the Multitask Toolbar.
ClickUp is also great for team collaboration. You can add relationships and dependencies to tasks and subtasks. The app’s unique Time Management feature helps you assess your team’s workload with time estimates.
Compatibility: Web, iOS, Android
Pricing: Free plan is available with paid plans starting at $5/member/month (billed annually).
10. Google Tasks [Best for Google lovers]
If you’re looking for a simple, no-fluff to-do list solution, Google Tasks is where it’s at. This app is ideal for those who are already using Google apps as part of their workflow, especially Gmail and Google Calendar.
If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all the features and functionality of other to-do list apps, the simplicity of Google Tasks might appeal to you. You can quickly add tasks, due dates, lists, and subtasks. However, there is not much else you can do, which can be a comfort to those who just want something simple and easy to use.
With Google Tasks, you can easily add tasks from your email or calendar to your to-do list. You’ll also be able to see, update, and check off your tasks each day in Google Calendar. You can even add a time to a task, and it will show up on your calendar with the time blocked off for you. This feature allows you to save time and hassle switching between apps because you can see all your tasks right in your calendar.
The Zapier integration for Google Tasks helps you automatically move information from other apps you use daily to your task list. For example, you can connect Google Tasks to Trello and automatically create new Trello cards out of your Google tasks. You can also create new tasks from saved Slack messages, saving you time from copying the tasks again.
While Google Tasks may not have a robust feature list, it’s very convenient for those who have Gmail open on their computer all day.
Compatibility: Web, Android, iOS
Pricing: This app is free!
How to choose the best to-do list app for you?
With all of these great options, you really can’t go wrong with any app that you choose. Picking the best to-do list app for you will depend on how you like to manage and organize your tasks.
You can start narrowing the list by identifying the apps that are compatible with your device. Then, think about which features you need to get the most out of a to-do list app, and test out all the apps that offer your must-have features.
For example, if you’re looking for a simple, free app, then Remember the Milk is going to be your best bet. But if you want something a little more feature-rich, you might want to check out Todoist or Asana. Habitica and Any.do are a little different than your average to-do list app, so if you’re looking for something new, give these a try.
If you’re looking for other productivity apps that help you tackle your to-do list, browse AppSumo deals for annual or lifetime access to the best apps on the market.