uTodo: simple yet versatile to-do / task management program

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uTodo is a simple yet powerful freeware to-do list software. It provides a lot of flexibility for organizing to-do lists across both different “lists” and tags in addition to setting dates and priorities.

It can be used to implement a GTD- influenced task management system and even includes a GTD template that users can use as a starting point and customize. Can convert items to sticky-style notes visible on the desktop (and hide them back again), and can be used portably from a USB.

If you’re in the market for a simple yet versatile task management software check this one out. uTodo is simple to learn and versatile/powerful enough to accomodate many different styles of organizing to-do’s. It also has a very interesting function whereby your tasks can be instantly displayed as sticky notes hovering on your desktop.

For this review I am going to list my top 10 favorite features about this software followed by the 2 items on my wish list (yes I’ve been watching too much David Letterman!)

Top 10 things I like about this program:

  1. Allows you to organize your items BOTH by lists and by tags. Lists could be something like “Project X”, “Deferred Actions”, “Future Projects”, “Personal Errands” or some such, and tags could be anything such as “Work” or “Personal” or even “Project A”. It’s up to you to design these in the way that makes sense for you. The GTD template implements the GTD “context” concept as tags (e.g. “@Home”, “@Work”, “@Calls”, “@Email”, etc.
  2. uTodo Screenshot sticky noteTasks as Sticky-notes: right click to convert any task to a sticky note. The sticky note can be made to stay on top of other windows, and the size, color, font, and transparency are customizable. You can close it at will without deleting it from your tasks list.
  3. Quick entry of items via keyboard and special syntax: it is possible to do this if you use an easy to learn special syntax, where any part is optional and seperated by a semicolon from other elements. For example, you can enter the following (without quotes): “+;8/18/2009;[@Work]Add Bounce Rate to dashboard”, which means that this is a high priority item (+), due on 8/18/2009, tagged “@Work”, and the task text is “Add Bounce Rate to dashboard”. Very cool once you get the hang of it. Note: if this is not your thing you can forgo it.
  4. Easy filtering by LISTS or TAGS: simply click on the left sidebar. Another cool feature is the ability to “grab” a task and drag-and-drop it on the left sidebar to add to lists or tags.
  5. The GTD template: all this is is (a) tags pre-defined as GTD-influenced contexts (at home, at work, etc), and (b) lists pre-defined in a GTD influenced scheme (including “Next Actions”, “Deferred”, “Waiting for”, and “Someday/Maybe”. What is conspicuously absent is the ability to enter items to get them off your mind and not worry about classifying them. To do this, you would probably simply add a list and call it “process these later” or something and it would serve the same function.
  6. uTodo Screenshot lists listForces you to assign a new task to a list: (this only applies if you have not already selected a list from left sidebar. Type in a new task and press enter and what happens? A dropdown appears right next to your cursor that allows you to scroll down and assign your newly created task to a list, which I think is a great idea. (See image to the right).
  7. Sort items by clicking column headers OR Group tasks together (or both): clicking on a column header will sort your items by that column. In addition to this you can group your items so that all the items that belong to a list, tag, due date, or priority are displayed together no matter what column you sort by (the first screenshot above shows
  8. Add notes to tasks: each task is also a note. The program recognizes links or emails that are entered and makes them clickable.
  9. Lightweight: about 3 megs in memory. uTodo minimizes to system tray when closed and will consume only 1 meg when minimized. Note: minimize-to-tray on close can be changed in the settings if you don’t want it.
  10. Portable: simply insert your USB and install the program there.

Wish list: two items that can make this program better

  1. Forcing the user to assign a TAG to the task: this is similar to point #5 above relating to lists. It would be cool if this was OPTIONAL; i.e. can be enabled/disabled in the settings. To be done, of course, by automatically popping up the tag selection prompt once the user hits “enter”.
  2. Expanding the search function: there is a filter function that your tasks list as-you-type. However, that it only looks at the text in the task itself; the text in any associated notes, tags, or lists is not scanned. It would be great if this were expanded to include both notes and text in the list and tags (even if it is easy to filter lists and tags by clicking on the left sidebar).

The verdict: what I like about this program is that it is very straightforward but also very versatile and can adapt to different styles of use (including a GTD-ish methodology if that is your want). The interface can take a little while to get used to but once that happens it is very easy to use.

[Thanks Peter for letting me know about this one]

Version Tested: 1.0

Compatibility: Windows Vista, XP, ME, 2000

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 1.31megs).