Microsoft To Do vs Apple Reminders

Both Microsoft To Do and Apple Reminders are excellent free to-do apps, which you should try before deciding to purchase a GTD app or subscribe to one.

Why Microsoft To Do?

  • Available on Windows & Android
  • Set start and due dates
  • Better notes
  • Serves justice to completed tasks
  • Customisable theme
  • Integrates with Outlook
  • Add any file type to your tasks

Why Apple Reminders?

  • Tags
  • Custom smart lists
  • Add multiple accounts

Pricing & supported OS

Apple Reminders and Microsoft To Do are both free to-do apps for managing your tasks. They are available on iOS, iPadOS, macOS and on the web. Microsoft To Do is also available on Windows and Android (Apple Reminders is not), which makes it ideal for anyone who doesn’t like being restricted to ecosystems. With both apps, it is easy to move between devices (to pick up where you left off on supported operating systems).

AppApple RemindersMicrosoft To Do
PriceFreeFree
Size10.2 MB82.1 MB
DeveloperAppleMicrosoft
Type of appGet Things Done, To-doGet Things Done, To-do
Supported OSiPadOS, iOS, watchOS,
macOS, web app
iPadOS, iOS, watchOS,
macOS, web app, Windows,
Android

Orientation & navigation

Both apps are minimalist, with one screen serving as both the homepage and workspace. Their workspaces divide into two columns, with sidebars and the bigger columns for displaying your tasks. For both, you can turn your smart lists on or off. In Apple Reminders, you can even rearrange them; something you can’t do in Microsoft To Do. You also can’t turn off the My Day smart list in Microsoft To Do (which you can in Apple Reminders, only it’ll be the Today smart list).

Smart lists

Microsoft To DoApple Reminders
My DayToday
ImportantFlagged
PlannedScheduled
AllAll
Completed
Assigned to meAssigned to me
Flagged email
Tasks

You can also create your own lists in both apps (below the smart lists). Apple Reminders also uses tags, which Microsoft To Do does not.

The look you prefer comes down to personal preference. Microsoft To Do’s user interface looks more minimalist and that makes it look more professional and pleasant to work with. The tabs in Apple Reminders make the app look cluttered.

Creating to-dos

Quick tasks

Microsoft To Do has fewer steps for quickly creating tasks. You can name your task, add it to your day, and set a reminder & date (this is your start date). Apple Reminders has more options for quick tasks. Of course, you don’t have to use them all, but, you can create more detailed tasks without needing to go to the inspection icon. Only you can decide if that is something important for your workflow. You can add the due date & time, location, tags, assign the task, flag or add an image to it.

Adding more details

For most of these features, you have to tap the task to access them in Microsoft To Do. It’s not a deal-breaker, but something to note. You can then add subtasks, a due date, files and some notes. You can also repeat your tasks. The inspection icon in Apple Reminders lets you add notes, a URL, a Messaging-based reminder and priorities.

Subtasks & notes

You can not set start and due dates for your task in Apple Reminders, which Microsoft To Do does. Apple Reminders does not have start dates, only due dates.

You can add more details to your subtasks in Apple Reminders than you can in Microsoft To Do. Reminders treats your subtasks as it does with main tasks, so they can each have their own notes and dates, repeat cycle, etc. On the other hand, Microsoft To Do has more format options for your notes. You can add a body and lists to your notes. You also get format options to make it bold, italic or underlined.

Subtasks and notes are more easily accessible in Apple Reminders than in Microsoft To Do. Apple Reminders displays them right below your task, giving you all the details about the task at hand. In Microsoft To Do, its minimalist approach means you must tap your tasks to see their details.

Adding URLs

You can add multiple URLs to both apps. Apple Reminder’s URL slot only supports one URL, but you can add more links in the notes section of your reminders. Microsoft To Do has a better way to package your URLs. Of course, you can just add them plainly, but, you can also add them to meaningful text. It looks neater.

Apple Reminders only supports image attachments. In Microsoft To Do, you can add any file type to your tasks; photos, PDFs, word documents, audio files even videos; as long as they are 25MB or less.

Creating to-dosApple RemindersMicrosoft To Do
Start date
Due date
NotesBasic textMore formatting
Subtasks on repeating to-dos
Subtasks with notes & deadlines
Images
URLMultipleMultiple
Tags
Flag tasks
Location-based reminders
Messaging-based reminders
Create to-do in other apps
Create to-dos via emailFlag them in Outlook
Integrate with CalendarYes, Microsoft Calendar

Creating lists

When creating a list in Microsoft To Do, you can name it and choose a theme colour/photo for it. For Apple Reminders, you can name your list, pick a colour for its icon, and the icon/emoji itself. You can create custom smart lists in Apple Reminders by choosing a certain number of filters; tags, date, time, location, flag and priority. Custom smart lists are awesome!

Both apps have a three dots icon for editing your list to rename, sort your tasks (Apple Reminders lets you sort your tasks manually) or print it. You can also select multiple tasks for editing. Apple Reminders has more options for that, than Microsoft To Do. It also can show your completed tasks at the bottom of your list.

Microsoft To Do can add or remove your list from a group. In Apple Reminders, you simply drag it into a different group to move it. You can change the theme, in Microsoft To Do and you can duplicate a list (super useful) or send a copy of it to someone. Apple Reminders limits you to just printing your lists, but it effectively does the same thing.

Microsoft To Do does justice to completed tasks. It ticks, strikes out and moves them to the bottom of the list. It can even play a completion sound! The dot and dim for completed tasks in Apple Reminders feels inadequate. Also, the steps for showing and hiding completed tasks are also a bit cumbersome. Microsoft To Do’s setup is much better for this, where you can simply toggle the completed tasks.

Both apps can delete your completed tasks. Apple Reminders has a specific feature to clear completed tasks, whereas, in Microsoft To Do, you have to manually do it. Let’s hope they can make that easier in the future. Both apps don’t have a recycle bin, so the tasks you delete will be permanently removed from the apps.

Collaboration

You can collaborate on your lists, from either app by sharing their links. You can then assign tasks to different people on your team and they can also assign tasks to you. You can view those under your Assigned to me smart list. Collaboration is a very important part of our workflow in 2022, it’s a must-have. We hope to get more interactions for our collaborations though. Like comments, and the ability to respond to them. Both apps don’t have this yet.

Creating listsMicrosoft To DoApple Reminders
Ease of creationEasyEasy
Completed tasksToggle
★★★★★
Hide/show
★★
Collaboration
Edit multiple tasks
DatesStart & dueDue only
Recycle bin
Tags
Custom smart lists

Integration with email

Microsoft To Do integrates with Outlook. When you Flag your emails for follow-up, they appear in the Flagged email smart folder in your To Do app. This feature seems to only be available on the iPhone version of the app, though. Not sure if it’s a bug or if they are discontinuing the feature. The app, however, does not integrate with the Microsoft Calendar app. Apple Reminders doesn’t integrate with both the Mail or Calendar app.

Organisation

Both apps have two levels of organisation; groups and lists. Apple Reminders also has tags that add a third dimension to how you organise your tasks. Both apps have minimalist organisation, which means you can’t use them to manage big projects (with many moving parts).

Accounts

In Microsoft to do you can only have tasks from one Microsoft account at a time. Apple Reminders, however, allows you to add multiple accounts and see all your tasks in one place.

Searching

Both Apple Reminders and Microsoft To Do can search through your tasks.

Microsoft To Do is the better of the two apps. It clearly has much more to offer than Apple Reminders. That is why our team stopped using Apple Reminders for Microsoft To Do. Which one suits your needs better?

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Comments · 4

  1. We are trying to find a workflow for our small company to collaborate and share to do’s, deadlines, projects etc. Tried out Teams but is complex, clunky and tries to do to much with too many apps all connected. Teams is certainly hard to organize. Sometimes it just doesn’t work – create a to do and it disappears only to appear 20 minutes later after you have already created another. I agree that I wish reminders would be just a little more robust but the interface is definitely cleaner than Microsoft. Not sure why the author thinks there are cluttered tabs on Reminders as the interface on my computer is actually cleaner than teams.

    1. Reminders and Microsoft To Do are primarily effective for personal tasks. I suggest you give ClickUp a try for what you’re describing. You can use it for free, but a monthly subscription is required if you want more capabilities. Another choice is Asana, which has a cleaner user interface than ClickUp but a little higher subscription cost if you decide to unlock all the features. You can use our affliate link for ClickUp below. https://clickup.com/?fp_ref=ropsie72

  2. I’ve been a user of Microsoft To Do for a number of years and recently started playing with Reminders again. Obviously much is dependent on a person’s workflow, but one aspect of Reminders that I feel should have been mentioned is integration with Siri and integration with location services. Being on a web page and being able to tell Siri to remind me about this later is incredibly powerful especially with the deep linking features of iOS. Location-based reminders are also fantastic as I’m always remembering something I need to do at the office just as soon as I get home, or I remember something I need to take care of at home just as soon as I sit down at my desk at work. Depending on configuration, it may also be possible to set the default account in Reminders to the account used by To Do and then you can possibly have the best of both worlds. Ultimately, both apps are great because their simplicity makes them both incredibly easy to use.

    1. If don’t mind Apple constantly tracking your location and Siri constantly listening in on your conversations, then those are excellent features

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