Do I want a unicorn? To-do lists (Oct-2014).
October 21, 2014 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a cross-platform to-do list/outliner with the option to work offline/save locally on desktop (Mac) and Android, and to export to Google Calendar and Excel (or Word) for Mac 2011. I hate Evernote. More within!

I want a hierarchical but flexible structure that can accommodate the accumulation of notes, let me copy / paste, etc. I need it to feel like Word's Notepad view or Taskflowy. I like those, except Word for Mac crashes constantly, and Workflowy doesn't hit other requirements.

I need this for research and project management lite (distractable student leaning on tools). I don't need to collaborate with others within this. I would like to export to something locally saveable (in MS Office) (so it's secure, so I can share stuff with people working on Windows. I want to be able to use it on my Android when I'm on the subway.

I want to be able to sync this up with Google Calendar so I can set dates for things easily.

Additional desired features:
- Moveable subtasks (option for expandable notes would be nice).
- Stable. Does not crash. Is supported. This is really important.
- Several levels of prioritization (but not essential if the actual outlining bit does its job well).
- Uncomplicated syncing.

Out of the running:
- Scrivener: not outliney enough (dislike the Corkboard and folders), obviously not portable
- OneNote for Mac: reviews aren't encouraging
- Circus Ponies, OmniOutliner: Mac only
- Evernote: I honestly feel like it's a mess. Or maybe I'm too much of a mess for Evernote. Idk. I hate the folders.

I'm on a MBP running Mountain Lion until I know for sure that Yosemite is essentially bugless.

If I'm not thinking about things the right way or should consider more than one product, do let me know! Do I need a local outliner + cross-platform task list + Word? Something else?

Thank you in advance!
posted by cotton dress sock to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
At my new job and we use Asana. I just checked and you can sync to Google Calendar, I use it on an android. Coworkers say the tutorials are very good. And you get a colorful flying UNICORN when you complete a number of tasks.
posted by jennstra at 8:50 PM on October 21, 2014

I gave up on Evernote -- their inability to properly copy and paste text drove me up the wall. I settled on OneNote, where I primarily use the OSX version with iOS occasionally. However, I use it as a place to dump all my random notes, mostly just text based things. I have no idea if it has all the features you're looking for, but if it does don't dismiss it just because of some bad reviews. It's free, so it doesn't hurt to try.

Also, I should note that evernote's new web beta seems a bit better, and they finally learned how to copy and paste. Of course, this all comes after I finally switch everything over, so boo on them.
posted by cgg at 9:18 PM on October 21, 2014

I love Todoist for my to do lists and I think it meets almost all of your criteria, although some of the features are only available in the premium version ($30/yr, has been well worth it for me). I'll try to address your criteria one by one.

You can: use it offline once the tab is loaded, export to save locally (it's a .txt file but you could open it in Word), autosync tasks to your Google Calendar*, copy and paste, move subtasks, add notes associated with tasks*, add several layers of prioritization (flags, also using project lists), nest task items hierarchically, and sync easily. (* = only available in premium)

Some of the view options might not be quite hierarchical enough for you. The "Today" and other date-based views don't look like outlines; the task/subtask hierarchy gets flattened out in those views so you just see stuff that's due that day. However, you can always view each list by project and the nesting will all be preserved. I'm not sure if there are enough indenting options for you (you get four indents to use for nesting), but organizing by project gives you another layer of organization too.

I'm not certain the export option will suit your needs either. You can export/back up to a .txt file which you could open in or copy/paste into Word, but the formatting looks sort of wonky in the txt file so it might be more work than it's worth.

Hope that helps!
posted by dialetheia at 9:53 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I LOVE Workflowy, but it does not sync to Google Calendar yet. One of the things I like about it is how basic and versatile it is. Lots of friends of mine use and love Asana.
posted by Brittanie at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at Checkvist? The mobile version is just a web site (they suggest you make a shortcut out of it), so that might be a dealbreaker for you, but they say you can work offline in the mobile site.

Features (in the free version):
- infinite nesting (like Workflowy)
- adding notes to task items (like Workflowy)
- hoisting/focusing (like Workflowy)
- tagging
- due dates
- priority indicated by text color
- export to OPML, HTML, TXT
- view your outline as a numbered list (1.2, 1.3.1, etc.)

If you do a paid subscription, you get the calendar integration; you can also embed images and have recurring tasks.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:43 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

google tasks. Multi-platform, hierarchical structure, works offline, works with google calendar/gmail and there are enough apps in android/mac store to add and modify tasks.
I personally use gtasks in android and the webapp shortcut for chrome in windows.
posted by radsqd at 1:52 PM on October 22, 2014

I just started Wunderlist. I am pretty happy with it. i don't know about its functions across software platforms. Like I said i just started using it, so i have not harnessed its power.
posted by Jewel98 at 9:00 PM on October 22, 2014

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