How do I use a second monitor as a large typeface to-do lists that I can see at a glance from across the room?
May 13, 2012 4:52 PM   Subscribe

I want to use a second monitor as a large typface to-do/task list, but I have no idea where to start.

I have an iMac 21" and an external DVI monitor connector for it, and I have access to a 20" and 23" Apple HD Cinema Display (the old ones with the clear/silver plastics and the proprietary ADC connecter) and a single AC/DVI adapter to use to power one of of them and use it as a DVI monitor.

The ideal scenario is to have the second monitor be used as sort of a constant to-do or task list that I can see at a glance from far away, almost like a whiteboard. It will sit on a shelf above the iMac and get used for nothing else.

I've seen full-screen to-do and task list type things for iPads that look similar to what I want, but I have no idea what they are. But basically what I want is to have the second monitor just display a very large type list of a blue typeface with a black background. The nicer it can look, the better. And being able to see it from across the room is ideal. I'll probably be using the 23" monitor for this (but I have a scenario where I might use the 20" as well).

Where do I start? What possible applications for the Mac do this sort of thing?
posted by smallerdemon to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Setting up your Mac to work with a second browser should be trivial (I haven't done it). I believe you can just drag any application (just like you'd move it around) into the second monitor.

My todo list is browser based. You can easily customize fonts and font sizes by installing the Stylish extension (available for Firefox and Chrome but maybe other browsers too) and add in some custom css in the preferences. Example: This is what mine looks like.. You can customize it as much as you want.

Next, launch your todo list on a new Chrome window (or any other full-screen browser).

Run browser on second monitor in full screen mode.
posted by special-k at 5:13 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

By second browser, I meant second monitor.
posted by special-k at 5:16 PM on May 13, 2012

For the application side, I like Wunderlist.

Clients for all platforms, including iOS and Android, so you can check things off on your phone when you're out and about getting things done. It's multi-user, so you can share task lists with your partner, colleagues, etc. It's free. Suports limiting your tasks to Today/Tomorrow/Next 7 Days/Later, if you're a heavy user who wants to focus on the near-term. Is really quite nice.

Type size is fixed — if you want big type, you can either run that monitor at a lower resolution or, instead of the native app, use the web interface in a dedicated browser, like Fluid, set to full screen with large type. Wunderlist has themes, but none exactly like you ask for. Maybe something acceptable, though, unless blue-on-black is a must-have. Try it out and see if you fancy it.
posted by mumkin at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2012

I would do it as a simple website.

Maybe hosted on dropbox for easy editing.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:25 PM on May 13, 2012

You'll find all the help you need here, but I was just imagining the setup you're aiming for. The ideal one being a big screen that displays a full screen todo list, with what I imagine to be a really clean interface.

There are some really cool apps on the market that let you swipe away completed tasks and an array of intuitive swipe features. Saying that, if you ever get access to a touch screen monitor, that'd be the ultimate way to handle this.

That way you can be in another room and still see it, like you said above, and can just walk up to swipe away completed tasks and whatnot.
posted by shmup at 5:26 PM on May 13, 2012

Still within a second browser window on the large monitor you could display a Google Doc (with large fonts) that you'd then be able to edit from any other device if required.
posted by dirm at 5:55 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hm, a combination of What special-k and mumkin are talking about might work with using Wunderlist (that I already use and like) and the Stylish Extension.

But, keep 'em coming folks. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 6:10 PM on May 13, 2012

I personally can't use apps - anything with too much power either turns into a calendar or a list of notes for me. I've always preferred a plain-text document with a strict one-liner-only policy. So if you're like me:

I'm going to 2nd dirm - you could use a Google Doc if you like to keep it simple. Create 2 headings: "To Do" and "Done." Then start numbered lists under each. Just add a new line to the numbered list under "To Do" for each task, and when you finish something move it down to "Done." "Done" is important to me - it helps me remember that I've accomplished something useful, but you may not need that.

As dirm said, you can edit this from iOS, Android, anything with a web browser, anywhere. And if you leave it sitting open on your computer, you can still edit it at the same time and all your changes will be synced.
posted by Tehhund at 6:53 PM on May 13, 2012

Another option just occurred to me (might make life a lot easier for you). I love Workflowy but I primarily use it to create insanely long nested lists of things, outline writing projects etc. But it is meant to work as a todo list (you can create nested items and complete them (on a mac the keyboard shortcut is control + enter).

The default text is highly readable but again I used Stylish to change the font and font size. Here is a screenshot of a dummy list I made for you in full screen. (Be sure to see it in full size).

My custom Stylish css for that page.
posted by special-k at 7:03 PM on May 13, 2012

I used to use Geektool for a similar purpose. I just had it display a text file I used as a todo list, and I could style it anyway I wanted.

Here are some examples of what you can do, as well as scripts to accomplish various tasks. And here is a tutorial with a todo list, although it's a little old--the interface has changed, but it should still be pretty close.
posted by kethonna at 10:20 PM on May 13, 2012

Geektool may end up being perfect, kethonna.
posted by smallerdemon at 9:21 PM on May 21, 2012

Thanks to all for your answers. Geektool is sufficing for now (although I wish it could be a little different). It's pretty good for a stopgap until I can dig up something a little richer.
posted by smallerdemon at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2012

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