Free alternatives to iCal for managing To Dos

I’ve ranted at great length about the usability nightmare that is iCal – and the fact that Leopard’s iCal is, if anything, worse than Tiger’s. One saving grace of Leopard, though, is that Apple have opened up the iCal framework, allowing other apps to create and edit events and To Dos. And sure enough, such apps are starting to emerge. Here’s a quick look at a couple of free To Do applications for Leopard.


One new app I’m currently playing with is FlexTD. This app’s sole objective is to make it quick and easy to enter new To Dos. It installs itself as a preference pane; all you have to do is assign a keyboard shortcut to it. Then, whenever you want to add a new To Do, you press the keyboard shortcut (from within any app) and start typing. It’s fully keyboard accessible, so you can set the calendar, priority and due date easily via the keyboard.

It’s nicely done, but it’s a shame you can’t edit the Note field as you’re creating a To Do, which makes project entry a la GTD a pain.


Another free To Do app is Anxiety. Unlike FlexTD, which only lets you add To Dos, this one also lets you view and edit your To Dos. Well, sort of. You can scroll through your current list of To Dos by calendar and mark To Dos as done, but you can’t edit a To Do’s title or other info; to do that you have to double-click (Arrgh! No keyboard shortcut) a To Do to open it in the dreaded iCal. Also, like FlexTD, you can’t view or edit a To Do’s Note field without switching to iCal.

However, entering new To Dos is as simple as hitting Return and typing, and you can also set the To Do’s calendar as you enter it. (You can’t set its priority, but being a GTD follower I don’t need task priorities, thank you very much.) Switching between calendars in the To Do list is also lovely – just hit the Up or Down arrow, choose a calendar, and press Return. Much, much nicer than in iCal.

Both these free apps are a step in the right direction – and are more elegant than iCal for entering tasks – but you still have to resort to iCal to do anything serious with your To Dos. However, it’s great that Apple have opened up the Calendar Store in Leopard (the cynic in me says this is because they’ve finally realised they can’t write a decent calendar app), which hopefully means more high-quality calendar and task management apps for the Mac in future.

(Maybe I should walk the walk, dust off my C skills and write my own To Do app. That’s one for the To Do list…)

[Via TUAW and Lifehacker]

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2 Responses to “Free alternatives to iCal for managing To Dos”

  1. Dan Says:

    For implementing GTD you might try out this web-based application:

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

    As with the last update, now Gtdagenda has full Someday/Maybe functionality, you can easily move your tasks and projects between “Active”, “Someday/Maybe” and “Archive”. This will clear your mind, and will boost your productivity.

    Hope you like it.

  2. Matt Says:

    Looks interesting – thanks Dan!