My white whale of GTD apps for Mac?
August 3, 2007 12:07 PM   Subscribe

GTD-filter: I'm trying to organize my (academic) work life using GTD. I've read through the book, and it sounds like it can help me a lot. I am thinking of using my Macbook as my folder system, but I can't seem to find an app that works the way I want.

I've tried a whole bunch, now-- kGTD, Midnight-Inbox, Journler, and maybe a couple others, but they nothing seems to work the way I am hoping them to. I may be searching for some sort of non-existent "dream app" here but I thought I'd ask around and make sure I'm not missing out on something.

Basically, I want a program that plays nicely with iCal and I don't want an all-out harvesting of everything that comes into my e-mail inbox, because a lot of that has nothing to do with me organizing things, or else they are little things that I can deal with in two minutes without having to file them. Furthermore, I use iCal to schedule my time, which often involves a block of time that is just "Reading" or "Office hours." Midnight Inbox, for instance, just harvests EVERYTHING from both of these apps and I'd rather not waste time going through each little thing that comes into my inbox twice (once to deal with it in Mail, and then again in Inbox).

I also want something that easily lets me create little notes of things that I can easily drop into my tickler file. In my case, I'll get an idea for a paper that I can't do anything about right now, but I might be able to work with, say, next year. So I might have a little note that says "Write paper on so and so." That'd be great for my tickler file, as I want to have a reference for it, but I don't want to have to go through any hoops to create what is essentially a sticky note that gets filed away.

Ideally, this app would also have folders for me to file other documents (ie Word docs, PDF files, and so on) into, and associate these on projects. So, if one of my projects is "write this paper," I can just drop in a PDF file into that folder be done with it.

Finally, it'd be nice to be able to rank actions. I schedule my time in chunks, as I mentioned, so I might have three hours in the morning where I read, and then three hours where I deal with some of the tasks in the folder. It'd be nice to have them prioritized for me.

Last requirement: free or cheap. I am a grad student, after all.

Honestly, if there's a way to get to do complex nested folders, let me know, as that might be the easiest thing. I am not sure. Simplifying the sheer number of applications I have running is appealing. But any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
posted by synecdoche to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at iGTD? It integrates with iCal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2007

It also integrates with Mail through the not-free-but-inexpensive MailTags.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:10 PM on August 3, 2007

If you're willing to use an online app, Todoist, is just awesome. I have tried everything, including Remember the Milk, but Todoist is simple and doesn't take away from concentration.
posted by sholdens12 at 12:19 PM on August 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you can wait a bit, OmniFocus should be worth checking out. Omni Group, who make excellent apps, are working with Ethan Schoovner (of Kinkless/kGTD note) and Merlin Mann on it.
posted by mkultra at 12:46 PM on August 3, 2007

Todoist is currently saving my life. And the developer is a cool guy who is very responsive to new feature requests and bugs (which are few and far between).
posted by phrontist at 1:26 PM on August 3, 2007

I'm a huge fan of Tracks. I use a free online version called It generates RSS and iCal feeds for just about everything, so it might play well with iCal (I don't know).

As for creating notes for your tickler file, why not use your favorite word processor or text editor? A GTD app only needs to organize your next actions by context and project (Tracks goes one better by letting you put due dates on them, but there's no method for prioritizing, as that's something you do on the fly, depending upon context and time available), not your files as well.

For the different time allotments, those sound like different contexts to me. You might have "@reading: short" and "@reading: long" etc. But, in my case, the context for reading is "@anywhere" unless I need a computer handy, in which case it goes under "@computer"

A combination of Tracks and Backpack might be the perfect thing for you: Tracks for the next actions, and Backpack for free form pages of notes to which you can attach files. Tracks (via is free and Backpack has versions at various price points (but the free version doesn't allow you to upload files).
posted by wheat at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

This comprehensive roundup of Mac/web GTD applications may be a good start.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:23 PM on August 3, 2007

I have to say, as someone who may have tried every single GTD app in existence, both for the PC and the Mac, I just adore

What has been missing for me ever since I got into GTD was a way to separate Projects and Next Actions (as The David recommends), yet to remember that projects have next actions that also have contexts. allows you to see all your next actions divided by context. However, the ones that are connected to a project have the project's name next to them. Brilliant.

Thank you, thank you, thank you wheat for suggesting this!
posted by 4ster at 1:20 PM on August 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

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