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Summary:

There’s never a shortage of applications to track your task list, from online choices like Remember the Milk to full-blown GTD applications like OmniFocus and Things to simple lists like Today or the built-in tasks in Mail.app on OS X. Lately, though, I’ve found myself looking […]

There’s never a shortage of applications to track your task list, from online choices like Remember the Milk to full-blown GTD applications like OmniFocus and Things to simple lists like Today or the built-in tasks in Mail.app on OS X. Lately, though, I’ve found myself looking for a middle ground: something on the client side, not just a simple list, but not as complex as the high-end applications. I’ve found two OS X choices that fit for me: What ToDo and ActionGear.

Both of these applications supply ample organizational tools for treating your tasks in strict GTD fashion or reducing them to a flat list: they both allow having a hierarchy of groups and tasks, they both support contexts and tagging. Either one can help you keep track of what you’re intending to do, and remind you when you’re lagging.

What ToDo - Rails/Open SourceWhat ToDo offers the easiest way ever to build a hierarchy: if you add a subtask, the parent task becomes a group. You can choose what to show on the left-side shelf, from whole projects to single actions, giving you easy access to whatever is important in your mind at the time. You can sort the overall view by project, context, or due date. It supports creating tasks by dragging links in from your web browser, and includes .Mac and Quicksilver integration.

ActionGearActionGear hides itself behind a menu bar item and a hotkey (unlike What ToDo, which is a full application). It includes groups which can have nested items within them, though there’s no apparent way to see all of the items in your entire database at once. It also supports embedding files or adding “reference notes” that are not action items. Integration with Growl and Quicklook makes it feel well-integrated with OS X. ActionGear also includes the ability to create smart groups, searching by due date or tag, among other things.

Of the two, I’m liking ActionGear slightly more, though its lack of decent documentation makes figuring out some parts of the interface a bit of a challenge. Both of these applications are available in limited trial versions, and either one can be registered for $29.

  1. You should also take a look at Opal which has its roots in the 80s-era ‘Acta’ outliner for the Mac. (Acta is a free download from the site, by the way.)

    http://a-sharp.com/opal/

  2. Mike, I am the programmer behind ActionGear. Thanks a lot for the write-up!

    I’m currently working on version 1.1 right now and a much needed iPhone version. There’s definitely a need for some documentation, I’ll get working on that soon.

    Thanks again,
    – Hugh

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