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I'm searching for a todo-list application for Mac OS X which can do the following.

  • list tasks
  • organize them in "projects" (à la GTD)
  • assign a start date and a due date to each task
    and also understand "today" "yesterday", +3="in 3 days", ....
  • create recurring tasks (on fixed dates or x days after last completion)
  • have a priority field, which makes it possible to emphasize some tasks (like a star or flag or similar)
  • allows to define and quickly use custom filters for different views on the data (based on the criteria like date, priority, ...)
  • sort tasks according to criteria with custom filters
  • access all relevant features via keyboard shortcuts

No web applications, please! I want "real" software which saves its data (only) on my computer.

share|improve this question
so you are not afraid to loose you data then? – froderik Oct 27 '11 at 21:02
@froderik: What do you mean? Because I said "only on my computer"? Well, I did not say that I'd never make a backup (also with copies stored in an external place far from the desktop, maybe even online), but I want to decide where my data are stored and how they are encrypted. – MostlyHarmless Oct 28 '11 at 3:56
yep - you have a good point there! – froderik Oct 28 '11 at 6:30
Your question may be better suited for – Jan Doggen Feb 24 '14 at 12:12

If you really want a quality GUI desktop application you're going to have to shell out some cash. Right now there are two leading options on the Mac OS X platform:

OmniFocus ($80.00)

Omnifocus is a personal task manager put out by the OmniGroup. It was developed with the GTD methodology in mind, so projects and next actions can also be assigned specific contexts. A global hotkey can be used to capture items to your inbox from any application; later you process these items into projects and actions. OmniFocus can do all of the things you listed in the question, and is notable for it's powerful filtering capabilities. (OmniFocus calls these Perspectives and it is a very powerful feature that Things mostly lacks).

Be prepared to invest a few days learning the program and refining your workflow because all the fine-grained control OmniFocus gives you means there are a lot of knobs to pull and buttons to push. Until you get your workflow figured out there is a great temptation to spend all your time fiddling with the program instead of actually getting things done.

Here's one guy's explanation (with screenshots!) of how OmniFocus makes him a more productive worker.

There is a paid iPhone application for syncing your data across to a mobile device.

Things ($49.99)

Things by Culture Code. This app first came out in 2009 and got a lot of good press, especially for it's slick interface. I only used the trial briefly and found it frustrating that I couldn't enter due dates on the date picker without pointing-and-clicking, although they may have fixed this since I used it back in 2009. Many people swear by Things and say that it's relative simplicity is a strength over OmniFocus.

However, Cultured Code has taken fire more recently for the sluggish development cycle of their iPhone app, so you may want to look into the status on that if mobile syncing is important to you. At one point syncing was completely broken, and they had a lot of angry customers on their hands. Draw your own conclusions.

Check out the free trials

Both of these apps have free trials, so you should download them and make your own decision. I know that if I were choosing a GUI app today OmniFocus would be my choice because of the more fine-grained control it provides. But if you want a simpler and prettier interface, Things might be the way to go.

Or you may find, as I did, that even the best GUI app will never compare to a text-based design for portability and ease of use. In that case, I second the suggestions of others that you look at open source projects like Emacs Org-Mode and Taskwarrior.

share|improve this answer
@mOuntain: thanks for your detailed answer. I'm watching those 2 candidates(OmniFocus and Things) for a long time and also already tried them out but - I admit - I did not try to put all my tasks into them and that was not enough to be sure it was the right tool (that's not to blame on the tools, for sure!!). So I finally was not willing to pay the price for at least one of them to really try it and I felt exactly what you wrote: _the best GUI app will never compare to a text-base design for portability and ease of use" - so that's why I'm currently trying to learn Emacs and org-mode. :D – MostlyHarmless Feb 6 '12 at 1:33
Wow, I feel silly that I didn't notice you ARE the OP. I'm glad you've found happiness with Org-Mode; it's a great tool. I'm still a relative org-newbie, but I love it so far. Maybe this answer will help some future googler, though, so I don't regret writing it. :) – jurassic Feb 6 '12 at 2:42
don't worry! :D Your answer is surely helpful for others, but I have already tested those 2 tools. As you described, OmniFocus seemed much more flexible and adaptable to my personal needs but the high price and the fact that it is Mac-only made me search another solution.. – MostlyHarmless Feb 6 '12 at 9:37

Taskwarrior has all of your listed features. It is accessed via the command line and stores the data in a human-readable local file. Put that file in your dropbox: Instant sync over all your machines (Linux, OSX, Windows+Cygwin). If you are afraid if the command line: Have a look in the tutorial, it's quite good.

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thanks for your suggestion. I've tried taskwarrior(at least the 30 seconds tutorial) and I can not imagine using it for my task lists (maybe I'm not ready yet?) - I think I want/need a standalone GUI application which has at least a permanent window with the task list (I'd prefer several filtered lists in parallel) which is updated directly if something changes. Adding a task and then having to type task ls to display the changed list seems quite complicated for me. – MostlyHarmless Oct 21 '11 at 19:53
You could instruct taskwarrior to create a shadow file (basically an automatically updated report) and display this shadow file via geektool on your desktop or in an editor like textwrangler. Unfortunately, you can only specify one shadow file at once. But I'm quite happy with a set of 2 to 3 reports, but thats a personal preference. – 0x6d64 Oct 21 '11 at 23:31
gotta love the command line! – froderik Oct 27 '11 at 21:01
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It seems, that Emacs org-mode is what fits best my needs.

I'm currently trying it and it is very powerful and flexible, my only problem is to get used to it and to the many keyboard shortcuts for selecting and editing text in Emacs, etc.

I'll update this answer when I have more experience with it.

share|improve this answer
I love org-mode, but if the OP thinks taskwarrior is too complicated then an emacs extension probably isn't what he's looking for. Emacs+orgmode has a steep learning curve for the uninitiated. I would not recommend it to somebody seeking a GUI application. – jurassic Feb 5 '12 at 20:24
@mOuntain: In general, you're absolutely right: someone who does not like taskwarrior might also dislike emacs. However: I AM the OP and finally answered this myself, because that is my current solution :-) I'm not generally against command line etc. and during the last weeks I had some successful encounters with the command line for automating tasks which made me start liking the plain text format. Furthermore I'm searching for a better LaTeX editor where also Emacs is a good candidate.. (see also my comment to your answer) – MostlyHarmless Feb 6 '12 at 1:29
just one more thing: what I especially like about org-mode (at least from this very early point of view) is that it is like a notepad where I can note everything and place todo's, appointments, etc. directly in between my notes where they belong. That feels very powerful and it is a bit like a database, where it is possible to note everything at one place and then extract the wanted parts of the information with structured queries ("agendas" in org-mode). We'll see how long my enthusiasm lasts, but I'm quite optimistic to finally have found something that works for me. – MostlyHarmless Feb 6 '12 at 1:41
How do you install it on linux? – Enthusiastic Student Nov 16 '14 at 9:48
I don't have much experience with Linux yet. Did you see the org-mode manual section about installation: ? Hope that helps. An older version of org-mode should be bundled with an emacs installation, but I'd recommend getting the current org-mode version with git, copying to a path in your home directory and then loading it in .emacs during startup like described in the above mentioned manual. – MostlyHarmless Nov 16 '14 at 10:22

I quite enjoyed using for a year before switching to plain text files. It does have all the features you request. It's a bit odd though because it is an application, but saves on the server (and locally).

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