Best TRO tools for Mac / iPhone users?

edited February 2011 in TRO General Discussion
I recently switched from a Windows PC and Blackberry to a Mac and an iPhone.  Whoa!

As a can't-live-without-my-TRO user I've had to adapt my tools and methods somewhat.  Since the most advanced TRO development so far seems to be for Windows platforms, I wanted to share ideas and advice for others in this boat.

Caveat #1:  My company still has a Windows server running Exchange (2007) which is required for my current setup.  For individuals or folks in a non-Exchange based environment, you can still get an individual hosted Exchange account for $20 a month or so with most Web hosting companies.  For the time being, I'd say it's worth it.

My current setup is:  Exchange, Outlook 2011 for Mac, and TaskTask on my iPhone.
Here are the instructions for using Outlook 2011 to do TRO (at least the way I've been doing it):

TaskTask for the iPhone will sync with an Exchange server to load all your task data.  It has a very natural user interface and fully uses all the power of Exchange/Outlook tasks.  Very nice.  I got it for $5 on the App Store.

For my calendar, I find iCal to be more useful than the Outlook calendar because it allows me to view other users' shared calendars in my environment (we also have an Apple server running an iCal server for shared calendars) and to subscribe to online calendars as well - it's very flexible to be able to overlay data from multiple calendars to see potential time conflicts, which Outlook 2011 doesn't do as well.  Plus the iCal interface is similar enough to the iPhone calendar interface that it's easy to go back and forth between the two.

I'm experimenting with Things (for desktop and iPhone) but I'm not sure how I feel about its supposed limitations.  There is a Forum post here on how to use it for TRO - the instructions are very similar to using Remember The Milk.  I'm just not feeling good about trusting it yet and it is clear that it's not a "100% TRO-compliant" solution.  To me, for the moment, it still has more warts than using Outlook 2011 (despite O'11's imperfections).

Finally, I've been toying with the idea of developing a FileMaker-based TRO solution.  This would be nice because FileMaker now runs seamlessly on PC's and Macs, and with FileMaker Go you could also access it on an iPhone.  This is a hugely time-intensive project so it's in my "Someday/Maybe" pile for now but if a group of interested collaborators were to get together on it, I'd be interested in joining (or possibly leading) the charge.

How are other Mac users tackling TRO?  (Using VMFusion or Parallels to run Windows-on-a-Mac doesn't count!  I started there but needed to get rid of Windows).


  • If you have to switch between Windows at work and Mac at home, you have to do a web-based task list. We don't have any other tried-and-tested methods that work for the tasks. 

    Things for Mac looks cool and can technically do TRO, but I do not recommend it. In order for TRO to work, you have to side-step most of the cool functionality of Things. 

    With FileMaker Pro, you can create custom databases. This means that you can, undoubtedly, make a 100% TRO task list. I recommend this solution only if your company requires all data to be on-site or if web task lists like Toodledo ( just rub you the wrong way. 

    Good luck, and thanks for posting your experimentations!
  • I forgot to mention that my company is planning to shut down our Exchange server, so I can't continue to rely on an Outlook-based solution that needs an Exchange back-end (which I currently need in order to get tasks on my phone with TaskTask).  I don't have a problem using a web-based task manager if I can sync it for offline access with something like Google Gears, but there are times I need to have access to it and don't have the "cloud" - so I need a "desktop" manager.

    This is why I've been playing with Things, although I may investigate the other options for Toodledo as well (at this time I haven't seen a desktop Mac program that syncs with Toodledo).  
  • TaskTask apparently does not let you see, sync, or set Reminder Dates, which are used as the "hard" date in TRO. IMExchange 2 is the iPhone app of choice with Exchange Server right now. You can set up TRO with Entourage and sync using your OWN personal hosted Exchange server (it's $10/mo, see You get Entourage free that way fromthe hosting provider.

    Things has nice email/task integration, that's a plus, but the TRO implementation is not quite perfect due to app limitations.

    Toodledo would be good if you can find a Toodledo-syncing Mac desktop app. (You can use TaskAngel for a Windows desktop sync, but not for Mac.)
  • Wait! I spoke too soon. Here is a new Mac desktop app that might let you use Toodledo to manage your tasks:

    Tell us what you think.
  • Kevin - I've been working with TaskTask, and it does let me edit and use *all* of the Exchange task item parameters - Start Date, Due Date, Reminder Date/Time, as well as tagging with one or more Categories, and it fully syncs to Exchange and back into Outlook.  I wonder if you guys evaluated an older version of TaskTask that was missing some of these features?

    One annoying "feature" is that when I create a new task in TaskTask, it (by default) sets the current day as the Start Date and the Due Date, but you can drill down and turn these off so the item will sit in your Unprocessed list (or you can wait till later to assign a Category, and update these fields at that time, or you can fully process when you create it).  I've avoided this by using ReQall for capture and processing into my task list right in Outlook...I just use TaskTask to view, and check off, items from a context group or my Do Today list when I'm on the go.  I occasionally use it to review the reminders for my Daily Review but I normally handle that in Outlook too.  TaskTask's reminders DO work, and if you hit "View" on each one as it comes up, they will open "on top" of one another so even if you have 4 or 5 tasks to look at that pop up with reminders for the Daily Review, you can see them all and decide for each one whether to "promote" its priority.

    The ONLY serious limitation of TaskTask is that it requires Exchange to work as a back-end.  You can't use it to sync tasks to a stand-alone desktop Outlook installation that's not talking to an Exchange server...

    I am going to look into TaskSurfer right away!!!
  • Are there any updates on which solutions work best on Mac for TRO? Any updates on TaskSurfer?

    I have access to a MacBook, an iPod Touch (gen 2), and an iPad. I could use any of these with TRO (as well as any cloud-based tools, such as Google apps, calendar, etc).

    Please let me know what Mac solutions are usable and work well.

    To the TRO you know, the ratio of Mac to Windows users keeps growing daily. It would be a smart marketing move for you to offer better support for the Mac!
  • I currently also have an individual Exchange account with my webhosting provider and for the time being it works just fine. For now I am not thinking of changing that.
  • Best task list solutions for Mac are still the web-based task managers. They are easier to access on mobile devices, do not require synchronization (which can be dangerous), and have wider adoption. A large fan base ensures that the application continues to get updated. 

    Almost every on-computer application we've reviewed for Mac has been grossly deficient. Part of the problem you are facing is that Mac users account for only 4% of the personal computer market, a number that has held steady for a decade. Because it is not a growing marketplace, and because it's a small marketplace, larger software companies focus their energies on PC software, not Mac Software.  

    The marketplace for iPhone the ipad apps is growing, and a lot of developers are looking there.However, cannot manage your tasks entirely on an iphone or ipad.  It's not fast enough.  We recommend that you manage your tasks on the computer and use the iPhone or ipad only for looking at your tasks.

    We typically recommend IMExchange2 for iPhone and iPad.Other applications work in their many applications that sync outlook tasks in some form or another.  Unless and until a client offers very strong reasons for recommending another app over IMExchange will continue recommending it. However, feel free to try anything you want.  
  • Correction: 
    It's been brought to my attention that my last post was vague. Let me be more clear:

    Best task manager options for Mac:
    1) Toodledo (web-based)
    2) Donedesk (web-based, team-oriented)
    3) Things 
    4) Entourage (only if you are already using it)

    I recommend the browser-based solutions, because they are more powerful and easier to sync to your iPhone.

    iPhone/iPad apps depend on which task manager you are using:
    Toodledo: use the Toodledo iPhone app
    Donedesk: use the web brower to access the full site (this works well on an iPad)
    Things: Use the Things iPhone app.
    Entourage: IMExchange2 if you are using Exchange Server. Some people have reported that they prefer TaskTask. 

    Hopefully that is succinct enough to be helpful.

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