Reminders is a minimalist and free Get Things Done app from Apple that is available for your iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It has a web version you can access on Windows if you have an Apple ID. We’ve covered the iPad version of this app, this review is for the macOS version. They are slightly different.
You can create a new reminder in any list using one of these four ways:
- Shortcut: Cmd+N
- Plus icon (top right corner)
- On the toolbar, go to File > New Reminder.
- Use the touch bar
You can then do the following with your new reminder:
- Name it
- Add some notes if there are ideas you want to note down about the reminder.
- Set a date: choose a deadline date for the reminder.
- Today: Cmd+T
- Tomorrow: Opt+Cmd+T
- Weekend: Cmd+K on Fridays (the day before your weekend), weekend means the next weekend, not the next day.
- Set the time for your reminder.
- Add Location if you want the reminder to be triggered by your location:
- Leaving: tap on the information icon (which Apple calls the inspector icon) to change add this option. A shortcut to switch between arriving and leaving would make this switch easier.
- Getting in Car
- Getting out of Car
- Flag the reminder to add it to your Flagged smart list.
The information/inspector icon (Cmd+I) has more options for your reminders.
You can set reminders to get reminded when messaging someone in Messages. Tick the When Messaging a Person option and Add Contact from your Contacts app.
You can set your reminder to repeat:
- Every Day
- Every Week
- Every Month
- Every Year
- Custom, for which you can determine the:
- Frequency: Daily, Weekly (pick day of the week), Monthly (pick date or day) and Yearly (pick month and day).
- Every so often (pick a number).
Your repeat has to end at some point, right? Tap on end repeat to set that date, e.g. you can set a reminder to repeat every day for a year.
You can use natural language time phases like tomorrow, next month, next week and Apple Reminders will set a date for you. It adds that special something to your user experience in the app. Reminders also recognise phrases like every day, every week, every month, etc. When the app doesn’t get it right, you’ll need to make many tiny adjustments. It’s better than creating everything from scratch and it rarely happens.
Priorities, URLs & Images
You can set priorities for your tasks: None, Low, Medium and High. Exclamation marks at the beginning of your reminder’s title indicate priority levels:
- One for low
- Two for medium
- Three for high
You can add a URL and up to ten images. What are the chances you will need more than ten images? You have to drag & drop them into your reminders though. Apple should add an insert button for us in this window. It’s much easier to just click a button when you’ve selected multiple images. You can also add the following from your nearby iPhone or iPad:
- Take Photo
- Scan Documents (PDF)
- Add Sketch from an iPad that has Apple Pencil Support.
You can’t delete the images you add to your reminder, but there are ways around it:
- Go to Edit > Undo Add Attachments (Cmd+Z). It’s an undo option, meaning once you make more changes to your reminder, this option disappears.
- Cut the image. We should have a clean option to just delete the images we’ve attached to our reminders. Let’s hope Apple can add that for us in the future.
You can create subtasks in reminders, but on the Mac, this is not as straight forward as it is on the iPad version of Apple Reminders. On the Mac, you must create your subtasks as main to-dos and then select the ones you want to make subtasks to:
- Drag them onto the main reminder you want them subbed to
- Right click > Indent Reminder if they are already under the task you want to sub them to. This is not a very convenient way to add subtasks to your reminders.
Creating Reminders From Other Apps
You can create reminders from other apps: Apple Notes, Appstore, Apple Calendar, and Messages for example.
As you mark your tasks as completed, they disappear from your list, which declutters it. You can choose to see the completed tasks though. The app shows them at the bottom of that list, slightly dimmed. Dimming completed tasks is not the best way to differentiate them from incomplete ones. This is why we prefer hiding completed tasks altogether.
The working space and landing page are one thing in Apple Reminders. The left sidebar is for navigating the app, and your reminders in each list appear on the right. You can search through your reminders and your results are grouped according to lists. Apple Reminders searches through your completed tasks as well.
You have Smart lists for:
- Assigned to Me
Each displays the number of reminders it contains. All shows all the reminders in the app (both dated and undated). Flagged tasks are those that require your immediate attention. Scheduled shows only your dated reminders. Assigned to Me is for the tasks you or other people have assigned to you in your shared lists. You can hide these smart lists or rearrange them as you like.
Below your smart lists, you have the groups and lists you have created in the app, labelled My Lists. A group is a collection of lists, and you can toggle it to show or hide lists. A list is a group of tasks/reminders. Lists either be in a group or exist independently. In Apple Reminders, you can have up to three levels of organisation:
For each list, you can see when you’re collaborating with someone and the total number of tasks in it. You can rename it and Edit its colour and icon. You can also move your list to a different group.
You can collaborate on your lists with other people. You can send them via email, phone number, or share a link that is accessible to anyone who sees it. It’s best to invite individuals via email and phone numbers. That way, you have more control over who sees your list. When you create a new task in a shared list, you can assign it to anyone in the group. You can assign a task to one person at a time though.
Creating New Lists and Groups
When creating a new list, you can name it and start adding new reminders immediately. You can then edit its details later, which is great when you’re in a hurry. To create a new group, you have to select at least two lists then create a new Group for them. It’s not the most ideal option, especially if you prefer creating empty groups.
You can add a widget with one list from Apple Reminders. It would be more useful if we could tick off completed tasks from the widget without needing to open the app.
Apple Reminders is a powerful planning app. It’s free, minimalist, very intuitive and syncs across your devices if you’re in the Apple ecosystem. It’s certainly worth trying out before you get a paid Get Things Done app.