Todoist and Things 3 are some of the most popular todo apps on the market. Both have their pros and cons – Todoist is available on all platforms and has powerful sorting features, whilst Things 3 is beautifully designed and has a great interface.
So, which one is right for you?
I’ll mostly focus on the mobile apps in this review – however, please note that this applies to all platforms, including desktop (and web for Todoist) and on tablets.
You can also view in-depth reviews on both apps.
Interface & Design
Firstly, the interface of both apps. This is an important aspects – as with task apps, it’s important that the interface doesn’t clutter your tasks up too much, and in addition to this, doesn’t stress you out with the tasks you need to do.
Things 3 has a great interface. It’s uncluttered, easy to see what you have going at a glance, and doesn’t stress you out. The interface for Things 3 is a huge draw to the app. Many people, including me, found that the Todoist interface was simply too cluttered and stressful. However, with the Things interface, you don’t get this, even on the iPhone app.
Things 3 also has calendar integration, allowing a small screen with your events to show at the top of your task list. It pays attention to calendar colours, and therefore is a really nice touch as it lets you see what you have upcoming along with your various tasks.
Everything looks great in Things. From adding tasks using the bubble icon, to searching, everything has a small touch to it and a tiny animation that just makes using Things a pleasure.
The Todoist interface is too cluttered for me. Whilst there is more spacing between text in each tags, there’s something that just puts me off. It shoves the tasks in my face, and also makes it stressful when you have an overdue task. I also find that the task overview is too cluttered, with all the tasks shoved in together.
Here, Things wins by far. The interface isn’t cluttered, and lets you focus on your tasks, and it doesn’t make you feel stressed when you have overdue tasks. In addition to this, Things makes it easy to find your projects, whilst Todoist is quite cluttered.
Of course, it’s important to be able to get tasks quickly in both Todoist and Things 3. Both apps offer the ability to add a task from the widget the app offers, however each has different ways of inputting dates and times you want the task to be due for.
Whilst Things 3 has a good system of always being able to add to your inbox, I do find that it can be quite cumbersome to add dates, tags and add it to the correct project quickly. Whilst I know that the main premise of Things 3 is to add it to the inbox and sort it out later, I usually want to put it directly into my projects.
Things 3 does offer natural language input, but only after tapping on the calendar icon and searching for a date or time frame. Natural language input is not offered in the main task input line, and therefore can be quite cumbersome to add various dates to your tasks. In addition to this, placing the task in the correct project, tagging it, and setting dates, can take some time compared to the amazing input in Todoist.
However, I do think that Things 3 has a better date picker than Todoist. It’s easy to see various dates and where you are, so it’s a lot easier to know where to place your task.
The input in Todoist is the best I’ve ever used. The natural language support is simply amazing, allowing you to set dates, labels, project, priorities and more right along with the task title. This is one of two features of Todoist I miss since using Things 3, as Todoist just made it so easy to quickly and efficiently add tasks to your list.
Along with the quick add feature, you can also open an ‘Add+’ view, that allows you to view various aspects of your task in more details. This lets you have more power on where your task should appear, and what you want to apply to it.
Todoist is by far the winner here. The ability to rapidly add tasks with all their information in, along with the amazing natural language input that Todoist has, makes it the clear winner in usability and ease of inputting new tasks. Whilst Things does offer natural language input, it’s hidden behind multiple levels of menus that make it more cumbersome in Things.
Both apps offer similar features, however Things has the edge on a few of them, and Todoist also has other powerful features that aren’t available in Things 3.
Viewing calendar events in-app
As I’ve touched upon earlier, I really like the ability in Things 3 to view calendar events in app. This makes it easier to plan out your day, and I also like the way they are in the upcoming view, to make it even easier to plan out your upcoming days.
Scheduling, and Start Dates
My major gripe with Todoist was that I couldn’t set both a due date, and start date. If I wanted a task to appear in my Today list, I had to set it as due that day. This meant that I kept losing when I needed to hand a task, and rushing to complete a task as I thought it was due on that day, despite it in reality being due in a weeks time.
The best feature in Things 3 for me is the ability to set both a due date, and schedule it to show up on a certain day. This lets me not complete a task if I don’t have time that day, as I can see when the task is due and therefore do not have to rush to complete it. Things lets you reschedule tasks, and if your task is due today or overdue, will show the due date in red. This let’s me keep on top of, and on time, with all my tasks.
Mail to Things
For those who are Windows users, you’ll be glad to know that you can at least add tasks to Things from your desktop. Each user gets given a ‘Send to Things’ address, which allows you to forward emails to your Things account. I do wish that you could set the project, date and tags like you can in Todoist instead of the task going straight to your Inbox, however I doubt this feature will be added.
Search in Things is there, but not that powerful. You can search through your whole account just by swiping down, and you can also search by tag.
Whilst this is useful, you can’t search using wildcards, or by search date. There is room for improvement in search. In addition, there are no smart filters or searches.
You can, of course, tag tasks with multiple tags in order to have another layer of organisation in Things. I have all of my tasks related to school tagged with ‘school’, and this lets me simply search for the tag ‘school’ and then see all the various tasks I have that are school related.
For those who are on Mac or iPad, you’ll be glad to know that you can use Things completely from the keyboard. This is true for both the MacOS application, and for the iPad app. This lets you really easily manage your tasks without touching the screen or mouse, and as someone who uses keyboard shortcuts a lot, this is a really welcome feature.
Today view widget
I use widgets a lot on my phone and iPad, and Things allows you to manage a number of tasks right from the today view. Not only can you check tasks off and see when they are due, you can also add new tasks from the widget. This makes it easy to check off tasks and quickly add new ones to your inbox.
A stellar feature of Things, projects allow you to manage temporary tasks within the app. You can add notes to a project, as well as nest it under an area. In addition to this, tags can be given to the project, as well as a due date and a start date.
A really nice touch is the circle indicator on a project, showing you how completed the project is. With this, it’s really easy to at a glance see your progress on a certain project.
The Daily Review in Things has been around for years, since Things 2. Whilst I preferred the way it was implemented in Things 2, the morning review allows you to see what new tasks have appeared in your today view. This lets you see what you have coming up today, and you can either choose to the tasks today, or reschedule them for another date.
Whilst I do use dark mode, I only use it when it’s dark. I don’t really see the point of using it in the day as it just makes the tasks harder to see. However, after a while, Things eventually added dark mode to the app. Many people love dark mode, so you’ll be glad to know that all versions of Things have it.
Things allows you to easily automate tasks on your Mac using AppleScript, and also on your iPhone and iPad by using the Things linking system. With this, tasks can easily be added, and I use this to generate a project for every blog post.
Natural language input
My favourite feature of Todoist is natural language input. It makes it really easy to add tasks quickly to the app, and to have them all sorted so you don’t need to go back later and add in cumbersome details when you really want to just get down to managing your tasks.
Availability on all platforms
The one reason I am considering Todoist again is the availability on all platforms. Whilst I don’t mind managing my tasks only on my phone and tablet, I do miss managing them on the big screen. Todoist is available for Windows, Android, web, and so much more.
Todoist labels are very much like Things tags. They add another layer to organising your tasks within Todoist, and I have written an entire post on using Labels in Todoist.
Filters are a great feature of Todoist, allowing you to use powerful queries in order to show or hide certain tasks based on due dates. Once again, if you want to know more, I have written a post on filters in Todoist.
An example of a filter would be only showing the next 7 days of tasks, if they have a certain label on them. Labels are a really good feature in Todoist, as they let you filter your tasks depending on how you want to see them.
Whilst I have never used collaboration in Todoist, it does offer powerful features to collaborate with others. You can share projects, assign tasks to various people, and comment on tasks. You can upload file attachments into tasks in Todoist too, which is helpful even if you are not collaborating with others.
Email to Todoist
Like Things, Todoist allows you to email to add tasks to your Todoist account. However, it is a lot more sophisticated. Firstly, you can add labels, due dates, and projects right from the subject line to categorise your task with ease. Attachments are also carried forward and uploaded to your account.
One of the more interesting features of Todoist is Smart Schedule. With this, you can select multiple tasks, and Todoist schedules them in so that you don’t have a huge amount of tasks on one day and a small amount on others. Smart Schedule takes into account your habits, urgency of the tasks, the day, your goals, and so much more when scheduling these tasks. If you want to find out more about Smart Schedule, you can do so on the Todoist site.
I can only imagine how useful this feature would be if start dates were implemented, which would bring it to a whole other level.
An interesting feature that Todoist has is the Karma feature, which essentially is a collection of statistics about your account and your habits. This is used in Smart Schedule, but it’s also interesting to see when you complete most of your tasks, and you can set goals in Todoist for the amount of tasks you want to complete every day.
In addition to this, at the end of every year, Todoist do a ‘Year in Review’. In this, you can learn some really interesting facts about how many tasks you have completed, and statistics about your account. I really looked forward to the Year in Review from Todoist as they were always really interesting to see your statistics of your tasks.
You can read more on Todoist Karma here.
A brilliant feature in any app, location reminders in Todoist allow you to set a radius around a certain area, and get notified when you leave or enter that area. This is helpful for remembering things you leave at work or school, and reminding you if you need to hand in an assignment as soon as you turn up to school.
Room for improvement
Whilst both apps offer great features, there is still room for improvement. There are features I would like to see added to both apps in order to really bring them to the next level.
- Support for images in tasks really needs to be added to Things. This is a huge feature that is lacking – at the moment I link to an Evernote note, however this is not ideal, and I really wish the developers would listen to the users and add support for attachments to tasks. Whilst this would bring complications to Things Cloud (a brilliant and fast service), I think many users would be willing to pay a small yearly subscription for this feature.
- Windows/web support. Whilst I know that this will likely never happen, it’s worth a try as it’s quite a requested feature.
- Natural language input in the task line. This would make it a lot quicker to add tasks into Things.
- Better search. Whilst search works, well, in Things, it would be great if it was more powerful, allowing us to search for certain due dates.
- Filters. Being able to quickly bring up a customized view, like in Todoist, would be a amazing addition to Things. I often find myself wanting to see tasks that are due in the next 7 days with the school tag, however I cannot do this in Things.
- Better reminders. Currently, reminders disappear on the notification screen after a while, and do not stay there. In addition to this, location reminders would be a great addition.
- Markdown in task notes. Often, I want to include a little more information about a task. Things only allows you to add notes in plain text – the ability to use markdown would be great.
- Add start dates, along with due dates. This would make me consider Todoist a lot more, as this is the major feature missing for me.
- An option to have more padding in the interface would be great.
- Locking reminders behind Premium is something that puts many people off trying the app. Even if it was just time reminders, reminders are a critical aspect of a task app and should be available for free users.
- Better today view. It would be great to get a feature similar to the daily review in Things, and I want to be able to see my calendar above my tasks.
- Better handling of sub tasks. Whilst you can fold away tasks under the main task, it’s hard to tell how indented the tasks are.
Both apps offer different pricing structures. Things is a one time, seperate, purchase for each platform, whilst Todoist offers two tiers, free, and a premium subscription. With this, you can use a more limited version of Todoist (most notably without reminders), and if you like it, you can choose to upgrade to premium. Or, you can stick to the free tier.
Things is different – it’s a one time purchase for each platform, and is quite expensive if you want to get it for all three platforms:
Frankly, Todoist is more powerful and offers more features. It’s available on tons of platforms, offers support for attachments, and has powerful sorting abilities.
However, it doesn’t have the two features that Things has – start dates, and a better interface. Because of this, Things is the better app. It doesn’t stress you out with your tasks, and makes it a lot easier to manage dates.
So which one should you go for?
If you mainly use the Apple ecosystem, go for Things 3. I use Windows on my PC, but an iPad and iPhone on the go, so I just manage tasks on my phone at my desktop. Therefore, I am happy to go for Things. If you use Mac instead of Windows, even better for you.
Unfortunately, I doubt that Cultured Code, the developers of Things, will release an Android, Windows, or web client. Therefore, if you aren’t a user of Apple, Todoist is the only choice.
Both apps are a great choice, and Todoist is free, so you can always try it out and see. Hopefully this comparison helped you make an educated choice on which app you would rather use.