What Tips Do You Have?

Please add tips, special instructions, and links to solutions in the Comments at the bottom of any page. It helps others, reinforces the solution in your own mind, and improves TRO training.

Here’s how to set up and configure ToDoList for TRO:

  • Open “ToDoList.exe” (the program file).
  • If ToDoList asks whether you would like to modify the registry or use a .INI file for your settings, choose the .INI option. This will make your task list portable and allow you to import settings for Total, Relaxed Organization.
  • Exit ToDoList completely.
  • If you’re not already using ToDoList, download the TRO .INI file for ToDoList. (See box below if you’ve already used it.)
  • Copy and paste the .INI file you downloaded into the folder with “todolist.exe”.
    • When Windows asks if you want to replace the existing file, click “Yes”.

Manually Changing the Settings

Configuring ToDoList Manually

The .INI file download (above) configures ToDoList automatically without the headache of manually changing every option. If you have trouble downloading or installing it, or if you are already using ToDoList without a .INI file, use the following instructions to configure it manually.

You do NOT need to do this if the .INI file option worked for you.

Follow these directions to configure ToDoList manually for TRO. If you have been using ToDoList for a while, you may to keep some of your current settings so you don’t lose optional functionality you already enjoy.

The headings below correspond to the bold headings in ToDoList’s preferences window (Tools, Preferences). Most options are listed with explanations for what they do.


  • (Check) Minimize ToDoList to the System Tray when:
    • Select either option from the pull-down menu (we suggest “close button”).
    • (Check) Toggle Visibility on clicking the tray icon

Setting these preferences means that you can minimize ToDoList so that it is just an icon in your system tray (on the right side of the Start Menu). You will need to look at your task list many times during the day, so you want to keep it accessible without taking up workspace on your computer. Minimizing it to the system tray is a good way to do this. Whenever you want to see ToDoList, simply click on this icon: .

File Actions”

  • (Uncheck) Notify me of all tasks due…
  • (Check) Archive Completed Tasks
  • (Check) Refresh my active Find Tasks search
  • (Check) Remove archived tasks from tasklist
    • (Check) Only when all the task’s subtasks and siblings are completed
  • (Check) Autosave tasklist every:
    • Choose a length of time (we suggest 5 minutes).
  • (Check) Backup tasklists before saving
    • Pick a file location for backups and number of backups to keep (we suggest 50).

You don’t want to receive task notifications, at least you don’t want to see them the way ToDoList normally displays them. (If you find a stylesheet add-on that works for you, then go ahead and use the task notifications to remind you about your daily review.)

Archiving completed tasks and removing them from your tasklists will keep your lists clean, free from piles of completed tasks. Archiving them means that you don’t lose the information completely. If you want to delete completed tasks, simply change to the filter to show Completed Tasks and delete them all.

Auto-saving and backing up tasklists means that ToDoList will backup and save your tasks every 5 minutes (or however often you choose). If you have a problem, such as deleting half your tasks, you can simply go back to your backup and restore your task list. Always back up important information. If you lose your tasklist, you have to start back at the office sweep to recreate it.

User Interface


  • (Check) Only show editing controls for visible columns (recommended)
  • (Check) Only show menu commands for visible columns (optional)
  • (Check) Allow multi-selection in the Category filter (essential!)
  • (Check) Re-filter tasks as editing changes are made
  • (Check) Enable sorting by clicking column headers
  • (Check) Re-sort tasks as editing changes are made
  • (Check) Always sort completed tasks below other tasks (essential!)
  • (Check) Show always (the Task Comments, the place where you take notes)

Depending on the version of ToDoList you are running, some of these features are probably already checked. The first two options keep your screen uncluttered and make processing faster. Multi-selection of categories is non-optional; you’ll consistently use multiple categories to sort your tasks. Re-filtering and re-sorting tasks as changes are made keeps you from looking at tasks that are no longer related to the current view. For example, when you are processing tasks, they will disappear from the list when you finish processing them. You rarely want to look at completed tasks, and you never want them to interfere with your ability to look at the tasks at hand. Make sure that you can always see the Task Comments area, since you never know when you’ll frequently need to take notes on a task.

Column Selection

Make sure you get the right settings for the columns. Those listed below are essential, and processing your tasks will be frustrating without the right columns visible. If you feel a need to track other information (such as time spent on tasks), you may do so.

  • (Check) Select the following columns from Default Column Visibility
    • Category
    • Completed
    • Due Date
    • Position (recommended)
    • Priority
    • Recurrence
    • Start Date
    • Status
  • (Uncheck) All other columns (they are a waste of time, attention, and space)
  • (Check) Hide Start and Due dates for completed tasks
  • (Check) Hide Due Time field
  • (Check) Hide Start Time field
  • (Check) Hide Completed Time field
  • (Check) Strike through completed tasks (recommended)
  • (Check) Display completion checkbox next to task’s title

Selecting the right columns is essential to being able to process your tasks. You really don’t need more information on tasks unless your work requires you to track additional information (such as cost or time spent on certain projects). Having extra fields and columns visible makes ToDoList more confusing. The final three options help you to quickly mark tasks complete and have them visually separated from incomplete tasks.

Fonts and Colours

Only one option on this screen is strongly recommended for TRO (gradient color of priorities). If you have vision trouble and need a high-contrast option for your task list, this is where you can change your fonts, sizes, and colors. If you want to play here and make your task list pretty, knock yourself out.

  • (Check) Colour Priority Column
  • (Select) Gradient
    Pick two colors that are drastically different, such as dark blue and bright red. you want the high-priority color to grab your attention.
  • (Check) Use HSL to calculate intermediate colours
  • (Uncheck) Hide priority number
  • Recommended options:
    • (Check) Show Gridlines
    • (Check) Alternate line colour
      You may want to change the color from gray to another color for better visibility
    • (Check) Due task colour (red)
    • (Check) Due Today task colour (red)
    • (Check) Completed task colour (light gray)

By coloring priorities across a gradient, your prioritized tasklist will naturally feel like you should work from top to bottom—which you should be doing. Gridlines, alternating line colors, and due date colors all make your task list more navigable. If one of these settings doesn’t work for you, feel free to change it.

On this screen you will also see a place to choose colors for different categories. We recommend setting colors for different colors. Microsoft Outlook 2007 uses colors for categories very effectively. Your options include: 1) Choose colors for all categories, 2) Choose colors only for major contexts, or 3) Choose a different color for each context type (one color for major contexts, another for meeting contexts, another for all 1-1 contexts, and one more for action contexts). Experiment until you find a scheme that works for you.


TRO does not require any features listed in Time Tracking, Time Periods, or Attribute Calculations. If you have a need to track times with your tasks, feel free. Otherwise, ignore the settings on the first page, since they have nothing to do with your task list. Go straight to Default Task Attributes.

Default Task Attributes (Essential!)

Specifically click on Default Task Attributes below the Tasks heading. This page is not visible from the Tasks page. Before you begin the training, these settings must be right, or you might have a very hard time finding your unprocessed tasks.

If you have been using ToDoList for a while, you may already have settings you like here. The ones listed below need to be changed for TRO to work. By the time you finish the training, the reasons should be very clear.

  • Status: Unprocessed (just type this in)
  • Priority: <none>
  • Colour: Use black unless you can think of a compelling reason for another color
  • (Uncheck) Have subtasks inherit the following attributes

This means that new tasks will have the status Unprocessed and not have a pre-set priority. The status allows you to quickly change your filter to find all Unprocessed tasks instantly.

Keyboard Shortcuts

If you are a geek and you love your keyboard shortcuts, this is the place. If you aren’t, there are only two important things to change in this screen. The two changes are listed below with details about how to do set the shortcuts. After that comes a list of other shortcuts you might want to set up.

  1. Find the New Task heading in the list of shortcuts.
  2. Click on New Task at Bottom.
    • Click on the field Type new shortcut on the right side of the screen.
    • Hold down the Control key and press N(Ctrl+N).
    • The field should now say Ctrl+N.
    • Click the Assign button to make it stick.
      From now on, when you click Ctrl+N it will create a new task at the bottom of your task list.
  3. Select New Task at Top of Selected Task from the list.
    • Set the shortcut to Ctrl+Shift+N (by pressing those keys).

Other shortcuts you may wish to set:

  • Set Task Priority (Ctrl+Shift+# [1-0])
  • Expand: Selected task
  • Expand: All tasks
  • Sort by Category
  • Sort by Priority

Click OK at the end to save all your changes.

Lastly, define your master Status list:

  • Create a new dummy task by pressing Ctrl+N.
  • In Status at the bottom, type each the following, press Enter to save it, then clear out the field and enter the next value:
    • Active
    • S/M
    • Templates
    • Unprocessed
  • The task should show all four Status values assigned to it.
  • Check the Completed box to archive the task. Your Status list is ready to use.