Comparing Things 3 and Todoist

I am a long time Todoist user (I am not sure how long but at least 6 or 7 years). Last month I switched to Things 3 after using them in parallel for the 15 day trial. Since I thought about this a lot before and during the process, I thought I would document the things that I like and don’t like on each and what drove my change.

I am not going to argue that one is better than the other. Everybody’s needs are different, work models are different, etc. As I noted in another post I start shaking every time MacSparky starts talking about OmniFocus. I can’t imagine the complexity. But that’s just me :slight_smile:

The primary thing that I liked about Todoist was the natural language input. Todoist is a relatively simple and straightforward task manager so there weren’t many features that grabbed me other than the natural language input (and the simplicity which is nice.)

That being said, there were several things that I didn’t like about it.

  1. It’s not a MAC app. In most cases this doesn’t bother me for apps in general as long as they are well-implemented. And in using Todoist it really wasn’t a big deal most of the time. But there were some things that bugged me a little. Like command-N does’t work to create a new ToDo, there is no Applescript support, things like that.

  2. Templates are cumbersome in Todoist. Things doesn’t seem to have templates at all (as far as I can tell after a few weeks) so this is actually a step backwards. So although I was unhappy with Todoist, it actually wins this round :slight_smile:

  3. Incomplete items are a problem for me. This one and the next (#4) are my two biggest gripes about Todoist. I have many tasks that I need to do “when I get a chance”. So I put them on my todo list for Today, and if I don’t get to any of them I move them to tomorrow. Todoist just leaves them as “Overdue” so each morning I have to move them to “Today”, and then tomorrow morning I move some again, and so. Things moves them automatically to the next day – and at the same time flags the new items for Today so that I can distinguish the old items from the new items. This has simplified things for me.

  4. Repeating items are a problem for me in Todoist. A repeating item doesn’t clone the next instance until you complete it. So, for instance I have a repeating item “Update Timesheet” that I do every evening. If I forget to check it off on Monday, then I see it as overdue on Tuesday morning (see #3 above). If I check it off on Tuesday morning (or if I am working late and check it off 1 minute past midnight), it clones it for Wednesday. I lose Tuesday completely. This has bitten me dozens of times over the years. I have to remember not to check it off once the clock has ticked over to Tuesday, but rather to reschedule it to Tuesday.

Things, on the other hand, clones the task on the day it is due. So, my “Update Timesheet” on Monday will get moved to Tuesday, but on Tuesday there is also new “Update Timesheet” for Tuesday. So, I can check off the Monday task and still have the Tuesday task.

Items 3 and 4 were the ones that pushed me over the finish line. In Things they are implemented the way I work and in Todoist they are not.

From a task scheduling point of view they are fairly equivalent. I can specify reasonably complex conditions in both programs (like 3 days after I finished the last one, or every 3rd month on the 16th of the month).

They both allow me to see a list of items that I have closed. In Things this is a little easier with the Logbook showing right in the sidebar.

A few other things. Like I said, Applescript support is important. I already have a Hazel rule that creates a Todo when my wife puts something in one of our shared folders–something that I have wanted for a while. I envision other similar rules.

Obviously there are things about Things that I am not happy about. For example when I create a Todo I can’t specify the project. I have to either create it in the Project or move it to the Project (which is a bit painful if the task is in the future).

I am ambivalent about the lack of priority in Things. I have created tags P1, P2, P3, that I apply. That might be enough.

Things allows you to select a task in the Today list and make it “This Evening” and it puts it at the end of the day under a heading called This Evening. This is very nice but there is no way to make it sticky for a task. So, every morning I have to select “Update Timesheet” and type command-E (This Evening).

I have only been using Things for about 3 weeks now so that’s all I have right now.


This might be equally cumbersome the first time you set it up.

Or, “As you might have realized, you don’t actually need to use Shortcuts. You could simply store a project in Someday and duplicate it manually – Shortcuts just makes it a bit faster.”

I use Todoist mainly because of its API integration, especially with todoist. I’m also a windows user for work, so it not being a Mac app
Is good for me!

As an app, I prefer Things, but the above mean I stick with todoist.


Something to play with. Thanks.

I never understood how using templates through Shortcuts makes things go faster unless you’re building in date math to the shortcut to make a complicated project with date intervals that can be determined when you are building the shortcut. I don’t have those type projects anymore. When I did, I was on OmniFu.

Yes, it is the math problem that made Todoist particularly problematic. I have several meetings where I have to do (a) 7 days before the meeting (b) 4 days before the meeting (d) the day of the meeting, (e) the day after the meeting, etc.

For todoist I had an XLSX file that let me specify the date of the meeting at the top and then each line computed the date for that line and then I exported the whole thing to a CSV which I could then import into Todoist. A real pain.

I made several recommendations over the years to Todoist to allow me to specify relative values in the CSV file (e.g., -7, -4, 0, +1) for each task. Then when I said IMPORT it would ask for the “base date” and create the tasks based on that. Seemed like a straightforward solution, but never happened.

I share most of your challenges but the new things 3 that is in Beta introduces a lot of apple shortcuts integrations / features that changed my opinion of things. This probably is better than Omnifocus 3 now but your Today view is not going to change in this release. Expected to go live later in Jan, I joined the beta to try it out and loving it.

Example: I’ve got a shortcut that appends :1st_place_medal::2nd_place_medal::3rd_place_medal: in front of the my P1, P2, P3 tagged tasks and creates a calendar event for 30 min, this is better than Todoist integration. You can create another shortcut to sync it back as well, ideally creating a two way sync.

I have morning, afternoon, evening & night tags for ease of filtering by time of day and use Drafts app to kick of templates in Things.


99% of the time I use Things “Quick Entry” using the default short cut key, even when Things is the active app. That input screen allows you to pick a project. See screen shot here where clicking it (or tabbing into it) will present a list of all your projects to pick. Also can off course enter dates, notes, tags, etc.

You are correct using the “+” does not present the project field. Hence I hardly use it unless I know I’m in the current project, like when I’m entering a whole lot of tasks for a new project or something.

Thanks! I haven’t tried quick entry yet.

Generally with Things, and so many other apps, if something feels obviously wanting or irritating, there is a way to avoid that. Just has to be discovered.


You could use the CMD+SHIFT+M shortcut when entering to select a project.


Yea. A discovery. Like I said.

I’m really loooking forward to this. Can’t quite justify running a beta for such an important part of my workflow.

Quick entry is great. If you use mail it can create a link directly back to the message thread. Or in Finder a link to a file. Or in a browser it can link the page. I’m possibly going to use KM to create a hookmark based macro to get similar functionality system wide.

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Yeh, I started playing with it a bit this morning. Thanks again.

:+1:t2: Just trying to help. Seemed like no one knew how to do it. :blush:

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I have now solved this problem with Things and AppleScript. I have an Alfred workflow (call it Schedule). I type Schedule 2/1/2023 into Alfred and it creates a new project with all of the tasks scheduled relative to the specified date. The workflow just runs an AppleScript to do all the work. This solves a bit problem for me.