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Highly Opinionated Android To Do and Note Apps Comparison

Summary

I've been using Google Keep for both notes and tasks for a few years, now. I've been codifying my productivity methods, and decided it was a good time to look at what apps were out there. Maybe I'd find a better all-around solution.

The short answer is a tentative maybe. Surprisingly, Microsoft To Do has an important (to me) feature no one else does: a Today view ("My Day") that isn't due-date driven. Keep doesn't have task links at all, and the ability to link to other tasks in a master Today list is something I'd love. But I shouldn't have to assign a due date to have that.

However, I may end up staying with Keep because of its flexibility. I love that with CTRL-Shift-8 I can switch back and forth to checkboxes. It makes it easy to copy/paste lists into a text editor for more sophisticated editing.

"OK, Dude, why don't you write your own?"
Time.

The list below isn't exhaustive...it's just the results from several "best of" sites. If it helps you out, great.

Contents

Needs and Wants

These are notes I jotted down about what I'd like in a "perfect" application.

To Do

  • Keep, but better.
  • Desktop UI.
  • List(s) that can include items from other lists.
  • List/task export. Ideally quickly select a bunch.
  • Easily move from list to list.
  • Per-list: completed in place, moves to bottom, or hidden. If restored, returns to previous location.
  • Tasks from other lists show the list name.
  • Good widget
  • Would love storing/sorting-by effort/estimates

Notes

  • Easy long-form writing
  • Ideally uses or imports/exports MD
  • Not sure...

General reactions

  • Most To Do apps follow the same format:
    • Inbox
    • Today/Tomorrow/Next Week
    • Lists
  • My consistent interests:
    • Price
    • Allows Google Account?
    • Today aggregate list
    • Completion
    • Subtasks
    • Grocery List usage
    • Widget
    • Browser/desktop version
    • Sharing

TO DO APPS

Microsoft To Do

  • Microsoft To-Do: List, task & reminder - Apps on Google Play
  • Free
  • Uses MS Account
  • My Day feature that's easy to pull from other lists, or add to from list
    • Not due-date driven. This is the only app where that's true
  • In-place completion, but can hide (setting per list). Reshowing completed puts in original location
    • Wish you could clear completed tasks
    • Wish you could put completed tasks to bottom (setting per list)
  • No subtasks
  • Groceries - No leading space for headings, but otherwise good
  • OK widget
  • Nice browser app
  • List Sharing via link, full edit.

Todoist

Any.do

  • Any.do: To-do list, Calendar, Reminders & Planner - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/$3 per month
  • Google account
  • All list aggregates other lists.
    • Lists have three views: Today/Tomorrow/Upcoming/Someday, simple List, High/Regular priority.
  • Regular completed tasks move to bottom, restore moves to top.
    • Subtasks have In-place completion, manual clear completed.
  • Yes, subtasks, but no indication on task that they've been added.
  • This app made no sense when it came to a grocery list.
  • Good widget
  • Good browser version
  • Task-level sharing
  • I liked the GTD organization per list, but it works against flexibility (for my taste).

Wunderlist

  • Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks - Apps on Google Play
  • Free
  • Google account
  • Today is due-date driven.
  • Completion hides. Restore moves to bottom.
    • Subtask completion is in-place.
  • Substasks. Task indicates them via icon labeled "Attachments".
  • Groceries - No leading space for headings, but otherwise good
  • Good widget
  • Nice browser interface
  • List sharing
  • Eventually being replaced by Microsoft To Do

EveryDay ToDo List

  • EveryDay ToDo List Task List - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/$3 per month
  • No account required (no sync without it), Google available
  • Today is due-date driven
  • In-place completion
  • Best app for grocery list. Subtasks show as indented, can be expanded or collapsed.
  • Widget only with subscription
  • Browser version with sign up
  • Shared lists
  • Task entry is nice. A pleasant app to use.

Tick Tick

  • TickTick: To Do List with Reminder, Day Planner - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/Premium $28 per eyear
  • No account required (no sync without it), Google available
  • Today is due-date driven
  • Completed moves to bottom, but unchecking restores to previous location. True for regular and checklists.
  • Subtasks are called "checklists"
  • Nice widget
  • Browser version
  • List sharing via Collaborate
  • Has a Pomodoro timer
  • Lots of features for premium.

Remember the Milk

  • Remember The Milk - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/Pro $40 per year
  • Custom account
  • Today is due-date driven
  • Completion removes task. Restore goes to original position.
    • Looks like in-place completion, but the checkbox is a selector. Confusing!
  • Subtasks are Pro
  • Grocery list hard to tell. Hiding/restoring completed might be nice.
  • Widgets are Pro
  • Browser version
  • Sort order is Pro, and default is by date, not drag/drop
  • Way too many features I'd consider standard require Pro account.

Ike

  • Ike - To-Do List, Task List - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/Pro $2 one-time fee
  • No account
  • No sharing, no "linked" tasks or aggregate views.
  • No browser version
  • Uses the four quadrant priority system (I didn't know it was "invented" by Eisenhower)
  • Great if that's how you want to live, but not if you want a grocery list.
  • Otherwise, a really nice-looking app. Lots of people will like this, but doesn't work for me.

GTasks

  • GTasks: Todo List & Task List - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/Premium $5 one-time fee
  • Google account (syncs with Google Tasks or Tick Tick)
  • Today is due-date driven
  • In-place completion
  • Indent for subtasks
  • Good for grocery list
  • Nice widget
  • No desktop version (I guess use Google Tasks, but no extra features)
  • No sharing, but can send list via email, etc.
  • Task short name is the first line, but a task can be a full note. I like this.

Tasks: Astrid Clone

  • Tasks: Astrid To-Do List Clone - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/Pro $5 one-time fee
  • Today is due-date driven
  • In-place completion
  • Subtasks through indent
  • Grocery list OK
  • OK widget
  • No browser/desktop version
  • No sharing
  • It's an odd app. There's only one list, but you can use tags to effectively create multiple lists.
  • Open source

Trello

  • Trello - Apps on Google Play
  • Free
  • Custom account
  • No aggregate board (so, no "today")
  • Completion is via moving cards to Done
    • Checklist completion is in-place
  • Subtasks are called Checklist
  • Excellent browser version
  • Uses kanban board approach
  • Good for basic project work
  • Connects to new GMail sidebar
  • Trello is one of the most well-known board-style apps out there.

NOTE APPS

I know, I know. "Where's Evernote? Where's One Note?" I've tried both of those more than once over the last fifteen years and never enjoyed them. Sorry, fans.

FiiNote

  • FiiNote, note everything - Apps on Google Play
  • Free/various levels starting at 0.50 per month
  • Custom account
  • All tasks can be viewed in the virtual ToDo notebook, but no explicit linking that I found.
  • Desktop and browser versions
  • Very interesting. OneNote-like. Full-featured.

Omni Notes

  • Omni Notes - Apps on Google Play
  • Free
  • No account
  • Not happy seeing this in the reviews:

    Beware, the last update deleted all of my notes. All of my backups were gone as well!

  • Checklist notes are just like Keep, ability to enable/disable checkboxes.
  • In-place completion
  • Weird, seems like there's a folders intent, but I don't see a way to make them.
  • Merge notes
  • No way to link tasks.
  • No desktop or browser app
  • This would be a good Keep replacement, except for no browser app
  • Open source

Simplenote

  • Simplenote - Apps on Google Play
  • Free
  • Custom account
  • Ability to "publish" a note via a link.
  • Just text-based notes, which will be fine for many people but not me
  • Desktop apps
  • Open source

Tid Bits: VS Code: Orange Icon Resurrection

   

I never understood why so many developers--people who generally have no visual design sense--decided that the orange Visual Studio Code icon was where they would take their stand.

I liked the orange, for a few reasons:

  1. It stood out from my purple Visual Studio icon.
  2. It was bold.
  3. I don't have some childhood trauma related to orange.

On Windows, it's not practical to change the icon completely back to orange. That would require modifying the code.exe file. But you can get most of the way there. The steps below will change the icon for:

  1. Right-click folder/file > Open with VS Code
  2. Right-click pinned shortcut > Visual Studio Code
  3. Shortcut

It won't change the icon in the VS Code editor, or in context menu Right-click pinned shortcut > New Window

Here's a 7z file with the orange icons and Powershell script.

vs-code-orange.7z

Replace the VS Code icons

There are three icons in C:\Program Files\Microsoft VS Code\resources\app\resources\win32. Backup and replace all three with the same sizes and names. For the .png files, Paint.Net will work. For the .ico file, I like Greenfish Icon Editor Pro.

Update the Registry

There are four registry keys that point to Code.exe for the icon. Change these to C:\Program Files\Microsoft VS Code\resources\app\resources\win32\code_file.ico.

Here's a Powershell script.

$path = "C:\Program Files\Microsoft VS Code\resources\app\resources\win32\code_file.ico"

New-PSDrive -PSProvider registry -Root HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT -Name HKCR
Write-Output "Setting..."
Set-ItemProperty -LiteralPath "HKCR:\*\shell\VSCode" -Name Icon -Value $path
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKCR:\Directory\Background\shell\VSCode -Name Icon -Value $path
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKCR:\Drive\shell\VSCode -Name Icon -Value $path
Set-ItemProperty -Path HKCU:\Software\Classes\Directory\shell\VSCode -Name Icon -Value $path
Write-Output "Finished."
Pause

Use a Shortcut to Open VS Code

  1. Right-click in a folder, choose New > Shortcut
  2. Item location: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft VS Code\Code.exe"
  3. Name: "VS Code"
  4. Right-click the shortcut, click Change Icon.
  5. Select C:\Program Files\Microsoft VS Code\resources\app\resources\win32\code_file.ico

You can now drag this icon into the task bar to pin it.

Tid Bits: Use Visual Studio for Git Diff/Merge

The instructions below are for Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition. Substitute Professional or Enterprise as needed.

[difftool "vstudio"]
  cmd = 'C:/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft Visual Studio/2017/Community/Common7/IDE/CommonExtensions/Microsoft/TeamFoundation/Team Explorer/vsDiffMerge.exe' $LOCAL $REMOTE Source Target //t
[mergetool "vstudio"]
  cmd = 'C:/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft Visual Studio/2017/Community/Common7/IDE/CommonExtensions/Microsoft/TeamFoundation/Team Explorer/vsDiffMerge.exe' $LOCAL $REMOTE $BASE $MERGED //m
  trustedExitCode = true


# To use as default
[diff]
	tool = vstudio
[merge]
	tool = vstudio
	conflictstyle = diff3
[mergetool]
	keepBackup = false

Command line use:

git mergetool
git difftool

git mergetool --tool=vstudio
git difftool --tool-vstudio

Variables, prefixed with $, are specifying file paths. Note they are enclosed in quote marks, so that spaces in file paths won’t break the command. Source and Target are just labels Visual Studio will use for the files . The /t flag will open the diff in a temporary tab instead of a persisted tab. The /mflag denotes it is a merge in contrast to diff.

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