This post continues my series on useful tools and utilities. Here we’ll be covering Microsoft’s To Do application.
There’s a famous quote “If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.” A “To Do” list is a great way to capture tasks or information you need to remember. Some people use paper, or a variety of other devices or applications. For me, Microsoft To Do is the place to capture this information.
Some of you may remember Wunderlist. Microsoft bought Wunderlist a few years back, and have transformed it into Microsoft To Do.
I use a variety of devices and platforms on a regular basis. One of the things I find useful about Microsoft To Do is the availability of apps on almost all platforms.
There are apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. On Linux (or other platforms), you can access Microsoft To Do in any web browser.
I also found a blog post that describes an application called AO that runs on most Linux distros. It’s basically a wrapper around the To Do web page. I use it on my Kubuntu laptop for working with Microsoft To Do.
Using Microsoft To Do
I’ll quickly illustrate the various uses of To Do with some screen shots. (Note that you can see a bigger version of any of these images by clicking on them.) The first one shows the basic layout of To Do.
The default view of To Do is “My Day”. To Do allows you to designate tasks for immediate action called “My Day”. More on that in a moment, but here you can see one task for a new Pluralsight course I’m currently working on, the SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher.
The menu of actions appears down the left side of the application. To add a new list, simply click the “+ New List button”. This is very simple, it just brings up a page and you can start typing in your tasks.
You can rearrange the list by clicking and dragging the tasks into any order. Note that by default new tasks are added to the top of the list, but you can go into the settings menu to change this behavior so new tasks are added to the bottom (which is what I do).
Microsoft To Do can be used for simple lists. Here you can see a grocery list.
To Do makes generating a grocery list like this easy. I can enter my list on my computer, where I have a full keyboard. To Do then syncs my list to all of my devices.
When I pull out my phone in the grocer store, I can simply mark each item off as I put it in my grocery cart. Completed items are moved to the bottom of the list, making it easy to see the items I still need to get.
When I get home, I can either delete each completed task individually, or right click on the “Completed” header and delete them all at once.
Another use for To Do is project tracking.
Here is the list for my current project, the Mobile Report Publisher course I’m working on. This list is a high level view of the tasks I need to complete for the course.
For each task, I can create a list of sub tasks that need to be completed.
When I click on the task, a pane pops out on the right. I can enter a series of steps for setting up my virtual machine. Installing Win 10, Installing basic tools, and more.
Here is the detailed information for another task in the list, Create Data Source in the Report Portal.
This task only has one step. However, I’ve clicked on the “Add to My Day” which will add the task to the “My Day” screen To Do opens to.
With To Do I can also set a Due Date. To Do makes it easy, I can set it today, tomorrow, next week, or I can pick a specific date. I can also set a reminder, so To Do will remind me when a task is coming up.
I can get an overview of all my tasks with due dates by clicking on the Planned link on the left side of To Do.
Here you can see the one task I planned with a due date. The nice thing about the planned tab is that it shows tasks coming due across all your lists.
For example, I could have assigned a due date for an item in my grocery list so I’d be sure to have an ingredient for a planned meal. Or perhaps I have another list for planned blog posts.
All tasks with due dates that haven’t been marked as complete will show up here on planned, making it easy for me to get an overview of upcoming tasks no matter what list they are on.
To Do and Multiple Accounts
To Do allows you to manage multiple accounts. By clicking on the account name it will show you a list of all To Do accounts you’ve logged into.
Here you can see I have two accounts logged in, one I use for work, the other for personal items such as grocery lists. This makes it nice as I don’t have to mix work and personal lists.
It’s also useful when I work with multiple clients, when the client provides me an account to use in their organization. I can easily keep each client’s task list separate from each other a well as my personal lists.
The final item I’d like to show is list management, accessible by right clicking on a list.
Some items are pretty obvious, such as deleting or renaming a list. You can also duplicate a list, or print it out.
The biggest feature I like is the “Share list” option. You can share a list with another Microsoft To Do user. A good example is the grocery list. I share mine with my entire family. When another family member needs a grocery item, they can simply add it to the list.
There’s no need to tell me, or send a text, or anything else. When I get to the store, there’s the item on the list. If it’s something odd or unusual, they can click on the item and in the pop out pane on the right add a note to the item to explain why it is needed.
Another use is for small projects with your coworkers. You can assign a task to another person. They will see the task as assigned to them, and as they mark the task, or each step in a task, complete the others that the list has been shared with will be updated automatically.
This makes it nice for a project manager, as they can easily see the teams progress for each task.
As you can see, Microsoft To Do is a great tool for managing lists, or for tracking progress of your smaller projects. The multi-platform capability makes your data easily accessible across any device you are using.
There are many more uses you can put To Do to. I’ve used it for managing home repair projects. I even have some lists for favorite recipes, that list includes the ingredients as well as cooking instructions.
If you can think of more uses for Microsoft To Do, then by all means leave a comment so we can all learn.