Things is a well-thought to-do app that is both minimalistic and functional, but not impressive for its price.
- Add start and deadline date
- Create to-dos via email
- Integrates with Apple Calendar
- No collaboration
- Doesn't integrate with Google/Outlook Calendars
- Can't add images
- Can't add attachments
Things 3 is a to-do list app that is available for your iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Mac. It costs $9.99 for your iPhone and Apple Watch, $19.99 for your iPad and $49.99 for your Mac. All these are one-time purchases. The Mac version has a 14-day free trial. This review focuses on the iPad version of Things 3.
Like the other planning apps we have reviewed (Apple Reminders and Apple Calendar), the homepage in Things 3 is also its working space. The left sidebar is the navigation area of the app. From the top, you can navigate to see the to-dos in your:
You can add a new list using the big Plus icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. Your new to-do opens up on your screen for renaming and you can add some notes for more details. You can set a date and reminder for your to-do. Setting a date for a task in Things doesn’t mean the app will notify you about it. Things only notifies you when you set a reminder for a to-do. When you tap Add Reminder you can choose a time for your reminder. The date you set first is called the When Date. It is the date you start your to-do. You can set a reminder so you don’t forget to start. You can also set a Deadline for the to-do.
You can add tags to your task. Managing your tags in Things is very simple. You can either Edit, Delete or Add new tags. Tags add a layer of organisation to your lists. You can then filter them to display tasks with certain tags only.
You can add sub-tasks to your list in case your to-do list has smaller tasks to complete. For example, you can have shopping on your to-do list then add all items you need to buy, at the supermarket, under the shopping to-do.
You can repeat tasks when you have a recurring routine. Your repeated to-do could be After Completion of an already set task, or Regularly, regardless of incompletion. When you want to repeat your tasks after completing the previous one, you can set your app to repeat after a certain number of days, weeks, months or years. You can set a task to repeat 2 days after you’ve completed it, for example. For your regular tasks, you can repeat them every day, week (on specific days of the week), month ( on specific dates or days) or year (on specific dates, days and months). Planning apps are amazing for automation, especially for recurring tasks. You can set them once a month or once a year even.
Once you’ve decided the frequency for your regular task, the app shows you the next date for it (which you can change if you want). You can also set the End Date (for the repeating task) on a specific date or a certain number of repetitions. Your deadline can be for the same day as the When Date for the to-do or a few days earlier so your task appears in your Today list a bit earlier. You can also set a reminder for each copy of your repeating tasks.
Creating To-dos From Other Apps
You can add new to-dos from a number of different apps. These include, but are not limited to: Apple Notes, Agenda, App Store, Safari, Contacts, Books, iTunes, Maps, Podcasts. The feature works with any app that supports exporting text to other apps. Things can extract text and links from apps to create tasks.
Adding To-dos Using Apple Reminders
Apple Reminders can work as an input method for Things. You can view or import your to-do lists from Apple Reminders into Things. When just viewing your reminders, Things lets you choose only one list to display. Importing to-dos deletes them from Apple Reminders. You’ll then have one copy of your to-dos, on your iPad in Things. Things doesn’t support some features supported in Apple Reminders. When importing your data, you can’t import lists containing the following:
- Location-based reminders
- Messaging someone based reminders
Even though Things does support list groups, sub-tasks and recurring to-dos, it can’t read them from Apple Reminders. As a result, to-dos containing such data also don’t get imported into Things. When you import to-dos with flags and priorities, Things doesn’t see the tags priorities. You have to tag your tasks again after moving them into Things, which can be a lot of work. For an advanced Apple Reminders user, this integration between Apple Reminders and Things is useless.
Creating To-dos Via Email
You can create to-dos by sending an email your Things Cloud account and they appear in your Inbox. The subject of your email becomes your to-do and the email body, your note. You must enable Mail to Things in your Settings > Things Cloud > Mail To Things. The app then creates a new @things.email address for you. Any emails you or anyone sends to your email address appears in your inbox. It’s best to keep le email address private! This feature allows you to use Things on other operating systems: Android and Windows. Creating to-do via emails has a few limitations; you can’t:
- Add more than 2000 characters to your note.
- Attach files; if there are any in your email, the app simply ignores them.
- Send more than 50 emails in a day. You are only limited to 50 emails every 24hrs.
Things doesn’t support native geofencing for location-based reminders. However, you can set these kinds of ‘reminders’ using Apple Shortcuts. They are not really reminders, just automation workflows for when you Arrive or Leave places. You can choose to see a certain list and filter the tags that show. It’s not a proper reminder, when you think about it. In this sense, you can also trigger actions in Things for:
- Time of Day
- Messages: all the items in your Personal Automation options can be used to trigger reminders from your Things app.
You can select multiple to-dos to:
- Change When Date
- Move them to a different project
- Mark as Completed
- Set Tags
- Set Deadline
Once you delete a to-do, it’s gone forever. You can’t recover it. Is a recycle bin too much to ask for? You can shake your iPad immediately after deleting a task to recover it when you make a mistake. That’s all you’ll be recovering in Things – your last deleted task only. You can share your lists to other apps.
Your to-do list can stand alone (in your Inbox, Someday or Anytime section) or be part of a bigger project. A project is a group of tasks and an Area is a list of projects. You can have Areas for personal, business, financial and religious goals, etc. The bottom Plus New List icon lets you add a New Project or New Area.
When creating a new project, you can rename it and add notes to it. The options you get for your to-dos are similar for your project. You can also open a project in a new window. Things supports multiple instances in iPadOS 14. It also supports dark mode and Scribble.
You can add a New Heading to organise your project. A project on Things to buy can have several headings: Apps, Gifts, Devices, Personal, etc. When you set a When Date for your project or add them for Someday they become inactive until the start day arrives. They will not appear on the sidebar of your app (where your active projects are).
In your Areas, you can add projects and in turn add to-dos to the projects. Tapping on the three dots lets you tag your Area. Things creates new projects independent of any area. You then have to drag projects into the areas you want them in or move them into those areas. In Things, you can easily rearrange your to-dos, projects and areas by dragging them from one place to another. It is a fast and efficient way to organise your content in the app.
You can quickly search your to-dos in the Quick Find search tool at the top of your left sidebar. You can search through your to-do lists, projects and tags. Your search popup window also lists sections you recently opened. You can drag down the screen with two fingers to quickly bring up the search tool.
Inbox displays to-do lists from your Apple Reminders and Things Cloud email. You can also add to the inbox tasks you’re thinking about but are not sure when you’ll want to get started on them. It gets them off your mind until you figure out when to do them.
The Today section shows your schedule for the day. It shows you:
- Tasks you must start today
- Reminders set for the day
- Deadlines for the day
All the things you need to, either start or finish on that day, appear here. The app has an option to set some of today’s tasks for the Evening to move them out of the way without losing track of them. Things automatically carries your to-dos to the next day if you don’t complete them. Your Deadlines show on the right side of your to-do, letting you know the number of days left before your deadline or the deadline date.
Above Things’ today list you have a section showing events from your Apple Calendar. It has a time stamp on the left, indicating the calendar your schedule is from (if you can recognise it). This section only shows your calendar events. Unlike for Apple Reminders, you can’t import events from Apple Calendar or interact with them in Things 3. You can decide, however, what calendars you see in Things.
Upcoming shows you the next week at a glance, starting from tomorrow. You can also see the rest of the month up to the next 4 months. Your upcoming events from your Apple Calendar also show up here.
Anytime shows all the to-dos that you haven’t scheduled for specific dates; tasks without deadlines or start dates.
Someday is sort of similar. You have to set a task for Someday for it to appear here.
Logbook shows all the tasks you have completed. If you accidentally tick something off that you haven’t completed, this is where you find it.
What’s Missing in Things 3?
- Collaboration feature: you can’t collaborate on specific tasks with someone. You can only share the Things Cloud account and they can see all the content in that account. Not very convenient.
- Direct integration of your Google/Outlook Calendars. The only way to see these calendars in Things is to have them in your Apple Calendar first. Makes you question when then you’d want to buy Things.
- Support for images and attachments for your to-dos: you can only add text and links to your tasks, which can be a bit limiting.
Things Cloud syncs your app across all devices. Mail to Things lets you send tasks to your things email to add them to the app’s inbox.
You can add some Siri Shortcuts. However, since the iPad and iPhone apps are different, the shortcuts you create on one device won’t work on another device. That is just inconvenient. You can, thus, create different shortcuts for each device or create a single one that works on both devices.
Calendar Events lets you choose the calendars that appear in Things from your Apple Calendar. Reminders Inbox lets you select a list in Apple Reminders to appear in Things. You can only display one list at a time unlike with your Apple Calendar where you can see all the calendars in Things. Appearance gives you options for dark mode: Dark or Black.
General has settings for:
- Badge Count
- Things URL
Badge Count lets you choose which items get counted for the badge on the app’s icon. The app can count none, deadline only, today or today & inbox. You need to turn on your notifications to see this count, otherwise, they will not show. If you don’t like notifications and prefer opening the app yourself to find out, you can turn just choose None.
You can also choose how you want your information presented for your Today’s list: Allow Any Order or Group by List. Grouping your tasks adds some organisation to help you prioritise your work.
You can choose when your completed tasks get moved to the logbook: Immediately, Daily or Manually. On Immediately, which we think is the best option, when you check off your to-dos they disappear from your Today list. Your list gets shorter and you’ll probably feel good about it. You can also choose when your week starts.
Things URLs allows developers of other apps to send commands to Things. Or if you’re a pro user you can enable this to receive an Authentication Token, because some commands require it. The keyboard works for those that have a physical keyboard for their iPad.