App Wars:Todoist v Wunderlist

in Productivity

wunderlist&todoistHounds of Hades this is going to be a tough one to call; Todoist and Wunderlist are both at the top of their game.  Over many years I have been looking for the ideal task manager. I sought enlightenment with Asana (failed), tried to Remember The Milk (it went off) and Toodledoed all over the place before falling out with the interface.  Then I discovered Todoist and haven’t looked back since, although a slight blip last year made me look at Wunderlist which is why both have made the cut here. I was going to throw Trello into the mix but, although it has millions of fans, I don’t really like it and felt it unfair to include here. I must be mellowing.


wunderlist screenWunderlist is the brainchild of a German developers based in Berlin.  It was bought out by Microsoft last year, but thankfully shows no sign of being merged into Outlook and cutting off thousands of users as was the case with Sunrise Calendar.

It is a hybrid list builder and task manager that syncs across multiple devices and platforms.  But to think of it as a glorified shopping list maker is to vastly underestimate its power and potential. In common with many services Wunderlist is available on a freemium level.  One thing that does stand out is that the level of features available on the free version is very generous; probably over generous.


It is only if you are a small (or large) organisation that the premium offerings such as unlimited file sizes, unlimited sub tasks and unlimited assigns to co-workers or friends comes into play. Most people can survive on the free version. Oh, and you also get extra background themes, but that is not going to make or break the decision to upgrade.

wunderlist pricing

Sharing data is simple as right clicking a list and then choosing the add people option among the numerous other options available. So if you and your partner share a list you can post “it’s your turn to buy the cat food” type of message ( perish the thought) or to something truly worthwhile like planning that holiday of a lifetime.

Sub Tasks Simplicity

Two features that really stand out with Wunderlist is that making sub tasks is simplicity itself, far simpler than any other task manager. The second is that you can avoid long, scrolling lists that go on forever by arranging associated lists into folders. You will see that I have a Travel folder with Greece and UK as separate lists which can be minimised/maximised as and when.

It is possible, also, to email tasks into Wunderlist by registering the emails you are going to send from. The system recognises these and accepts them.

The last thing I want to point out is that synchronisation is lightning fast. If I tap data into my desktop and save it, it appears on my smartphone/tablet nanoseconds later.


todoist 1I don’t think it is stretching the truth to say that Todoist has grown into the leading task management system available today.  Like Wunderlist it can be run across multiple devices and platforms but it is when used on a smartphone or tablet that the real power kicks in.

Using real language input (something it shares with Wunderlist) you can create a whole task using words, symbols and abbreviations such as tom for tomorrow without leaving the quick add line on desktop and mobile platforms.

Todoist is designed in such a way to allow you to create your own working system, it doesn’t present you with a take it or leave it format. If you search for Todoist on YouTube you will find many offerings of Ben Hur length from people telling you how they organise their Todoist system.

Screenshot 2016-06-21 11.47.41


The one killer feature for Todoist which was released into the wild earlier this is templates. This adds a tremendous amount of turbo-charged oomph to Todoist in that complex templates for projects can be easily created in the likes of Excel and imported into Todoist and then shared among project participants.

You don’t have to be an Excel expert to take advantage of templates. Just copy the example here by Jill Duffy which is a inbox zero plan, and you will see how it works and how you can adapt it to your own specific needs.


The thing that strikes me when I use Todoist is how much thought has gone into the design and usability. The processes just flow seamlessly, although I must confess creating sub-tasks has proven a problem for me.  The explanation of how it is done shown here just defeats me. Let’s put it down to operator error.

The other aspect of Todoist I never use is filters, but judging by conversations on Todoist related for a, they are the next best thing to a lottery win.

Like Wunderlist, Todoist works on a freemium model and at 1 year for just $28.99 (that’s less than $2.5/month!) it is quite a bit cheaper than Wunderlist


It was always going to be a tough job separating these two and I am afraid I am going to risk getting splinters in my butt by sitting firmly on the fence. As a day to day task management tool, it has to be Todoist. The way that it has been thought out so the user can use it however he or she wants is exceptional.

But that isn’t to criticise Wunderlist which I have found myself using as a list tool. Although I could have created my Kindle reading list for this summer’s trip to the Greek islands on Todoist in a comment box, it is nestling happily in Wunderlist.

In essence , you cannot go wrong with either of these apps.

EDIT: Since I wrote this review Todoist has updated a new Android for beta with the following:

  • New! Activity Log.
  • New! Project Comments
  • New! Collapsing of similar notifications
  • Greatly improved task menu with additional options
  • Much simplified workflow in date / time picker
  • Scheduler option to remove dates
  • Improved Android N multi-window support
  • Improved workflow with comments in archived projects
  • New drag & drop to make it much more smooth and reliable
  • Added hint when managing projects / labels / filters
  • Multiple bug fixes and performance improvements

Edit:  I have been asked to point out by Robert Soeterbrock that I have my price comparisons wrong. In an email he states: “I read your article,  which was pretty good, thanx.  But you are wrong when you say wunderlist costs more…  It’s a lot cheaper Than todoist..  Not €28,- every year like todoist but only 1x. €9,90… That’s it. Nothing more…  Maybe you can rewrite that in your comment.  Thanx anyway for the comparison.. ”  Apologies for any misunderstanding and thanks to Robert.

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