22 Comments

Summary:

I’ve been looking for a new GTD app since moving back onto a Windows laptop. Things, the brilliant GTD app I was using on my Macbook, fitted my mental model of what a GTD app should be. For a GTD app to really work, it has […]

I’ve been looking for a new GTD app since moving back onto a Windows laptop. Things, the brilliant GTD app I was using on my Macbook, fitted my mental model of what a GTD app should be. For a GTD app to really work, it has to fit perfectly with your working style: using it has to be second nature. Since moving back to Windows, I’ve been looking for a new GTD app.

ThinkingRock, the app I used to use on Windows, just doesn’t feel right, and Gmail Tasks, while a neat little to-do manager, isn’t fully-featured enough for GTD. So when Cioaca Virgil of Veetosoft emailed me to tell me about uTodo, a new GTD app, I thought I’d give it a try to see whether it might fit my needs. uTodo is a lightweight version of Veetosoft’s more feature-rich GTD app, uOrganized.

The first thing to notice about uTodo is that it’s a teeny 1.3 MB download. uTodo can easily fit on a USB stick, so even if you’re not taking your laptop with you you can still bring your GTD app. It’s also worth noting that uTodo is at version 0.9, so you probably shouldn’t consider it to be a finished product yet.

Installation

When you first install uTodo, it comes with a bunch of tasks and projects already set up, which is helpful to see how the app works. One of the projects is entitled “uTodo tips.” Each of the items in the list is a tip about using the app, with a note attached giving more detail. It’s a nice way to introduce users to the app.

uTodo as installed

uTodo as installed

uTodo also comes complete with a GTD template, on which you can base your own GTD setup.

uTodo's GTD template

uTodo's GTD template

Getting Things Done

I set uTodo up with a few projects and some actions. One of the first things that I noticed was that while uTodo is very keyboard-friendly, unfortunately it doesn’t have a global hotkey, like Things and ThinkingRock do. I like being able to add tasks to my task inbox whenever a thought strikes with one key press, without having to open up or switch to my GTD app and enter it. Having to switch apps does tend to break up your flow.

uTodo supports most of the functionality you would expect from a GTD app: you can group actions under projects (uTodo calls them “Lists”), set due dates, assign priorities, attach notes to tasks and tag actions at will. However, uTodo does not support hierarchy (task A must be completed before task B, etc), which, depending on how you like to work, might be a show-stopper. uOrganized, uTodo’s “bigger brother” does support hierarchy, so that might be a better option, if a lack of hierarchy is a problem for you.

To use uTodo for GTD, you collect new tasks in the app. Then, when you conduct your review, move them into the appropriate list (“Next action,” “Deferred,” “Delegated”) as required. To move tasks from list to list, it’s a case of simply dragging and dropping, but this is still more manual than the process with some other GTD apps, which can automatically determine next actions, etc.

uTodo in action

uTodo in action

uTodo does have some slightly quirky functionality. When dragging and dropping tasks, for example, you can’t drop them onto the title of a list in the main pane; you have to drop it into the list of tasks under the title. When adding a due date, you have to make sure a check box is checked before the due date. You’d probably learn to deal with these quirks pretty quickly, but they mean the app is not as immediately intuitive as I would like.

uTodo has some nice touches. You can assign new icons to the lists in the left-hand “Lists” pane to make each list readily identifiable. You can turn any task into a “sticky note” that you can leave on your desktop (perfect to leave a reminder for those really important tasks).  It also auto-saves the database, so you don’t have to worry about saving the state of your GTD.

Conclusion

Overall, while uTodo is a neat little to-do manager, the lack of a global hotkey, no hierarchy, and some slightly unintuitive behavior are enough to stop me from using it day-to-day, and that’s what I really need from a GTD app. So I’m still looking for my perfect Windows GTD app, and I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly. However, it’s fast and lightweight, available with a 15-day free trial (a full license costs $19.95) and it’s a tiny download, so if you’re looking for a Windows GTD app, you might want to see if it fits your working style, especially if you’d prefer a simple to-do list manager that doesn’t try to do too much automatically.

What app do you use for GTD?

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I really like this app, it’s tiny and fast, i’ve download it yesterday.

    Yes, it needs global hotkeys, but it stays on tray and i like the speed of filtering the tasks from Ctrl key

    PS: I don’t know why doesn’t work to you but I can drop the tasks to the List and
    Tags pane…and the checkbox from the due date is always checked for me, strange.

  2. OK, it sounds like a product I’d be interested in. But, now you’ve got to review uOrganized (it’s only $15 more than uTodo) and tell us if it’s closer to what you’re looking for.

  3. @RP bit rude don’t u think saying he’s got to review uOrganized?

    How about not being an unappreciative, demanding douchebag.

    Thanks for the review and I too would be interested in a review of uOrganized.

  4. OK, so imagine that I was smiling when I said that. Changes how you think of it, doesn’t it? Then you don’t have to call anyone an unappreciative, demanding douchebag. Actually, that wasn’t necessary anyway, but there are a lot of angry people
    out on the Internet. Guess you’re one of them. Cya.

  5. BTW, this IS a truly good, truly useful site. I’ve got the RSS feed on my first iGoogle page. (Happy, Dima?)

  6. uOrganized is not so keyboard friendly but there are few editable hotkeys from what i saw in the Options.

    But has more features so…

    Something notable are the Layouts (which i never seen on any other program), when you start uOrganized for the first time you have the possibility to select the interface you think it’s good for you, but you can change later if you don’t like.

  7. Thanks for the review Simon.

    You’ve outlined the most important features, however, i think it would be nice for readers to know that uTodo can also:
    – hide on system tray (near the clock)
    – it has 21 themes to change the interface appearance
    – data export to HTML and text files
    – you can change items font size and date format

    Since you downloaded the program we’ve made some updates, Ctrl-U is the global hotkey to minimize and restore the app, unchecked check box issue was fixed and we added multiple tags selection when holding Ctrl key down.

    Cheers

  8. It’s a really nice tool.

    If you want something goal-oriented, you may check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and has time tracking. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

  9. What is a GTD application? APA: use acronyms after spelling out the words they represent. After doing it once then use the acronym. This is a common fault everywhere but techies do it alot. I usually just Google the acronym but why should I? Thanks for the reviews!!

  10. I’ve been using ToDoList (http://www.codeproject.com/KB/applications/todolist2.aspx) which is free and quite well featured.

    It allows multiple projects in tabs, a tree of tasks and sub-tasks, a whole bunch of states and tracking on tasks, it minimises to task bar, etc. It also has some more advanced abilities such as sharing projects across computers and integration with FreeMind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page).

    Worth checking out.

Comments have been disabled for this post