Things for Mac and iOS
Things is a very robust app system that provides users with a well-defined productivity tool. It is designed for Apple devices only so it works really well with that ecosystem. I've used it daily since I've been testing it and the system has worked flawlessly. It's been responsive and syncs well between devices. The pricing is a little high when you consider that you have to purchase each device version separately but it's better than having a subscription model for purchase.
- EASE OF USE
Things is an outstanding, clean, and robust task management system for Mac and iOS that keeps you on track
While in the process of migrating our site to a new hosting provider, making design changes to macsources.com, and still managing the content creation side of things, I decided it was time to implement a task-tracking system.
I’ve been using Reminders from Apple as my to-do list for a long time, but I feel as though it didn’t offer all the functionality I wanted from that type of productivity app. I wanted a dedicated app system that would allow me to keep track of tasks and keep me accountable for what I want to see get done in my daily life.
Would a pen and paperwork for this? Yes, it would, but I have never been a paper-type person. I would rather have a well-built app that I can keep on my home screen and see the dreaded RED icon with the number of tasks to complete. This type of visual keeps me motivated. This is what moved me towards Things.
Things is the product of the development company, Cultured Code, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany. The company was founded in 2004 with the intention of creating software solutions for developers. Three years later, Cultured Code decided to focus on Things, which was officially launched in 2008.
In 2012, Things 2.0 was launched with cloud sync as one of its main features and five years later in 2017, Things 3.0 was released with a brand-new design and powerful new features. The app has won multiple awards since its launch and is currently featured as one of the App Store’s Editor Choice apps.
All the apps for Things were written using Obj-C, but the codebase is gradually being written in Swift over time. Things Cloud is a mixture of technologies that sit on Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services.
- To-Dos: the building blocks for the Things system. Each to-do is a small step to a larger goal. Users can add notes, tags, schedules, and even sub-tasks to to-dos.
- Projects: a way to categorize to-dos into groups. A project is set up as a large goal to meet. Then, to-dos are nested inside the project to create an outline for the project. There is a place to jot down notes and deadlines to keep the project on schedule.
- Areas: these are for different parts of your life. Users can create areas for work, family, finance, etc. This feature helps to keep projects and individual to-dos organized.
- Plan: all items on your schedule will appear within the Today and Upcoming list views. Each day, users can plan their day according to where the different tasks fall.
- Reminders: allows users to set a time for Things to remind you about a task
- Repeaters: a feature that allows users to repeat to-dos on a set schedule
- This Evening: a view that provides a look at your plans for the evening
- Calendar: allows users to see their events and to-dos together
- Tags: help to quickly filter to-dos
- Quick Entry: users can create to-dos as soon as the thought hits them
- Quick Find: allows users to locate to-dos, headings, or tags
- Type Travel: users can jump from list to list by just typing
- Widgets: allows users to see their lists in Notification Center
- Mail to Things: send an email to Things to create a to-do
- Headings: break up larger projects into sections
- Checklists: can be added to to-dos that take several steps but don’t require a project
- Magic Plus: creates a to-do that can be dragged to where it should go
- Jump Start: provides an option for users to make quick scheduling decisions
- Slim Mode: collapses the sidebar with a two-finger swipe
- Multiple Windows: on the Mac version, users can open multiple projects in their own window panes
Pricing & Availability
Things is available on Mac, iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad. The macOS version offers a 15-day free trial if you download it from the website rather than the App Store. Each version of the app requires a separate purchase and is available through the respective App Stores. There is no ongoing subscription and is only a one-time purchase.
Even though each device version is a separate purchase you can install the app without additional cost on as many devices (of the same kind) as you want and Things is available via Apple’s Family Sharing. As of publishing this article, Things does not offer any discounts or bundle offers for the purchase of their app licenses due to the way the App Store functions.
In their help section, Things suggests that users who are students or teachers refer to Apple’s Education Program and if businesses are using it, they should check out Apple’s Volume Purchase Program. Things uses its own cloud service (Things Cloud) and it is offered as a free service. For additional information about availability, review this article from Things.
|Mac||requires macOS 10.13+||$49.99|
|iPhone & Watch||requires iOS 12.1+||$9.99|
|iPad||requires iPadOS 12.1+||$19.99|
I used Things years ago and remember how much I loved it and how upset I was when I had to stop using it. It’s been one of my favorite apps for years. So, getting the opportunity to take a new look at a past love of mine was something I was ready to jump on.
One of the first things I want to comment on is the pricing structure. Some users may scoff at the $50, $20, and $10 (a total of $80) price tags attached to each one of the device versions, but I would prefer to pay a one-time charge than incur an ongoing fee from a subscription.
I do appreciate that Things provides users with the option to use the Mac app for two weeks at no charge AND that they provided Things 2 users the option to upgrade to Things 3 at no additional charge. Some developers will choose to require users to pay for upgrades if they pay a one-time fee rather than a subscription, but Things went to great lengths to make contact with their users and offer them options for upgrading.
After you make your app purchases, it’s time to download and install. Because these apps are designed to work specifically with Apple devices (and no other platforms) and because they are offered in the App Stores, this process is quick and painless. When you open Things for the first time there is a basic and easy-to-follow setup that explains how to use the app. This was incredibly helpful – even for a former user.
Things is “Apple Centric” and because of this, it integrates well with other Apple and iOS features such as Shortcuts, Reminders, and Apple Calendar. This is a feature that I greatly appreciate given my dedication to Apple products. It’s also quite obvious that Cultured Code has paid a lot of attention to the way its apps look and feel. They are very user-friendly and intuitive.
Along these same lines, I’ve been very impressed with how quickly and easily all my devices sync together. Each one runs its own instance of Things and each one fills in new data within a few seconds of my entry on a different device. It hasn’t mattered which device ends up being the primary entry point. I’ve entered tasks on my Mac and it syncs to my iPhone and iPad within a few seconds and the same can be said if I have entered a to-do using my iPad. Things has built a fabulous system that just works really well.
One of the features that Things does not have with its current version is some sort of collaboration tool. This actually suits me just fine since I’m using it for individual projects and nothing that affects anyone else. Another productivity to-do list app we’ve reviewed – Todoist – has a feature that allows users to pass tasks off to others but Things does not. For me, that’s not a deal-breaker but it could be for someone else.
The feature I use the most is definitely the Quick Entry option. With this feature, users can set a keyboard shortcut to open a to-do entry window. This saves an ENORMOUS amount of time for me because I don’t have to stop what I’m doing when a thought enters my mind. I can simply enter my shortcut, type out the to-do I don’t want to forget, and then go back to the task I was working on. It’s a beautiful feature and one that I think a lot of people would get use out of.
Another one of my favorite features is the When option. This is the scheduling aspect of Things. When a schedule is set for a to-do, Things recognizes that timing and filters items into different views. I love being able to look at “Today” and know those are items I pre-selected to be completed that day. I also really like being able to just set a schedule for ‘Someday’ and leave it on my extended to-do list.
The checklist feature comes in very handy as well. While I was testing out the features of Things 3, I ended up needing to use this feature. I set a to-do item for setting up a NAS device. Along with that, I needed to move stored data to a different hard drive, install new drives, and reformat the HDDs. It was great to be able to put those individual steps beneath a to-do rather than create an entire Project for that one set of tasks.
Because I am a visual person, I also really like the Progress Pie Chart. This gives me an idea of where I am on any given Project. I like feeling as though tasks are being completed – even if they are smaller tasks. The pie chart gives me a quick look at how far a certain project has gotten.
While Things doesn’t necessarily give users the opportunity to set up larger goals, it does help them to manage day-to-day tasks, which is exactly what I need. Things is a very comprehensive productivity tool and as long as you can become accustomed to adding deadlines to tasks, then it could really help keep you on top of that ‘almighty to-do list.’
In my opinion, Things is a must-have app. It’s something I use daily and I forgot how much I needed this in my life until I had it once again. I feel more productive than I have ever and this makes me feel good.