Mac ToDo Apps: Things, iGTD, Midnight Inbox, Merlin, What ToDo, iTaskx, OmniPlan, OmniFocus, kinkless GTD

I got lots of things to do. Now that I have migrated to a Mac, i discover that built-in iCal as its limits. I have found some excellent ToDo widgets for my dashboard, but i still crave a few desktop features:

  • I must have multi-tiered ToDo lists (you know, with sub-tasks) – iCalendar data format supports them, Apple iCal server supports them. The fact that desktop iCal does not have this most obvious of features is… obscene.
  • My ToDo app must integrate with Mac OS iCal (for ease of synchronization, widgets, iPhone, etc.)
  • I do not trust purely Web-based solutions – you loose connectivity right when you need it most.
  • (minor) I distrust applications that try to take control of everything: calendars, projects, data, my life. They are sort of like universal printer/fax/scanner/copier/coffeemaker machines: Jacks of all trades, masters of none.

The following are my personal notes. They are written for my own benefit. Your priorities and opinions will be unavoidably different.

What ToDo – very nice and easy to learn. Multi-tiered ToDo – check!  “Works with .Mac” but does not with iCal. Not for me.

Things – has been making waves even before its official release. Very sexy and clean interface. iCal – Yes. Sub-Tasks – No. (Funny how I can haver either or, but never both. Well, not very funny. Stupid and infuriating. Bad for my mental health.) Not for me. Next!

iGTD – it’s freeware and lots of people swear by it. But it has been a loong time since the last Alpha of iGTD2, so I wonder if the developer(s) are drifting away. I just do not want to commit to an application that might die…

Midnight Inbox – now this is a very powerful “Getting Things Done” tool. iCal integration is in the works, and the UI is clear and feature rich. If you are an office drone with the need to push data and coordinate tasks all day long, this might be the perfect app for you: it will guide you step-by-step while your mind slips away and frollics in the grean meadow of imagination only to return into your body at the end of the day and discover that things actually got done for a change. Me, I am weird. I found too much structure annoying. Oh, well…

iTaskX – this is definitely an overkill for simple ToDo management. It’s like calling in the Army and the Navy (all of it) to get rid of a mouse. iTaskX is a full-blown project manager. Granted, I do manage large projects on occasion, so I gave it a twirl. It imports from iCal and exports to iCal, but those are manual operations, so i decided to pass (at least till I have a large project at my doorstep).

Merlin2 – another tool for real Project Managers, you know, the guys who have certifications and derive their daily sustenance from Ghant charts. It actually syncs with iCal, handles events flawlessly, but finds ToDo’s a bit more difficult (they are working on it as I write this). Not for me yet.

Kinkless GTD – is well respected set of scripts that works on top of OmniOutliner. But it is not being developed any more – the author has joined OmniGroup. Good luck, man! Hopefully you will translate your expertese into more great products!

Kinkless GTD broght me to OmniFocus.

OmniFocus is simple, straightforward, integrates with iCal (although the updates scared one omy Dashboard Widgets – I’ll have to watch out for that). Thee is an iPhone version coming. And there is handling for parallel/sequential tasks – a nice bonus. The only real problem I see so far is the limited depth of the Task hierarchy. on the other hand, if I start doing four layers deep, maybe it’s time for some real project management. (OmniGroup has an OmniPlan product but it does not have native iCal integration).

I am going to give OmniFocus a try and will definitely write here if it annoys me to the point of dumping. Until then – I might have found the Task Management solution that’s Right for me.


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