I have been advised by many people in my life that the best way to keep myself focused and organized on a day-to-day, week to week and greater basis is to keep a to-do list. When I was younger I had a paper planner that had a special section meant for to-do lists. Unfortunately, I failed one of the basic tenets of to-do lists which is that a to-do list is not much use if you don’t check it a few times a day — otherwise, how will you make sure you are doing what you need to do?

Since I got an iPhone last year, I have been looking for some kind of software that would have a good to-do function that could also have its data viewed on any computer with Internet access — such that I could add to my to do list whether or not I was using my phone. It certainly is easier to type a lot of information on a big keyboard versus the iPhone’s considerably smaller digital keyboard.

I found Springpad while looking at various iPhone apps that were listed as very good and free — that had to do list functionality. I suppose I should have realized from the description on the web site that I should have kept on looking.

Bookmark? Picture? Take a quick note? All of the above? Now you can. All in one place. And all easily accessible. Whether on your computer or from your phone, Springpad is a free app that helps you remember stuff today — places, websites, books, recipes, ideas, anything — so you can make better decisions tomorrow.

There’s nothing at all about making to do lists. Really should have been the flag. Nevertheless I downloaded and installed the software and from the start, I was overwhelmed with choices. All I wanted to do was to create a to do list and I wasn’t sure what to do. Since I first started using the software there has been an update which has made it a lot easier to use — but it is still not quite what I need. This is the case for a number of reasons.

There are two sections related to do lists. There are the lists and then there are the items on the lists. To do list items can be created independently from creating to do lists, which completely confuses me. Why would I want to create a to do list item if I do not have a list to which it should be attached?

Here is a screen capture of my various To Do lists that I have created. Each time I create a to do list I specifically have to write in that it is a to do list for the date of whatever date I want it to be. I created the To Do list for July 1st on June 30th. This overview is a screen capture taken on July 1st — why is the July 1st entry marked as “yesterday”? It is because I had created the list on the prior day.

My interests in to do list functionality are fairly simple — or so I think. I want software that will assume that I make a to do list every day, and mark it as such. When I am looking at a to do list for today, it should be marked as today’s to do list, not yesterday’s. All I want to do is to create items to do every day, and to be able to shift items from one day to another if I am unable to complete the item — to change the due date, so to speak.

Ultimately, the biggest issue with Springpad is that I am just not ready for such a complicated bit of software that wants to do so much. Perhaps when I am in the market for what the Boston Globe calls “a scrapbook powered by the Internet, in which you can save all the bits of information you use every day — appointments, photos, contact information, recipes, maps, and coupons” — I will return to the Springpad. Until then, I will continue to look for the right pared down simple to use To Do List software.


  1. Thank you for this intriguing review, Gordon.

    Have you thought about using Google Tasks? It’s a pretty good To-Do function that lives in your email, but also gets added to your Calendar events, too.

  2. I like Google Tasks but would like it more if there were a standalone Google Tasks app that would have its data actually on the phone so I could add tasks while offline and then have it sync. 🙂

  3. Gordon – after reading countless blogs, your’s hit my problem right on the nail – “Unfortunately, I failed one of the basic tenets of to-do lists which is that a to-do list is not much use if you don’t check it a few times a day — otherwise, how will you make sure you are doing what you need to do?”

    Thats why my attempts at moving to the digital to-do list hasn’t worked yet. But I recently got the iPhone and am giving it another chance. Evernote is almost there, but has limitations, and you’re right about Springpad.

    Your post is old, and I’m wondering if you have an update to your quest for the “right” To Do app?

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