Microsoft To Do, Recent Thoughts

It’s been a while since I wrote about Microsoft To Do, which is Redmond’s premiere to-do list platform these days. I released a video course on how to use Microsoft To Do last year. But you might wonder, six months later, how do I feel about it now?

Here is my current thinking: Microsoft To Do is now my first recommendation when current Outlook users ask me what app to use to implement my simple One Minute To-Do List (1MTD) system. And that’s mainly because of its simplicity and its excellent smartphone apps.

To be clear, it is not my choice for MYN users (readers new to my work: see the difference between the 1MTD and MYN systems at this link). And that’s fine, not everyone needs the more powerful (and complex) MYN system; 1MTD is quite good for most people.

Let me drill down on why I like Microsoft To-Do so much for the 1MTD system.


To Do is a nice, simple to-do list system that is optimized for ease of use with non-confusing, highly intuitive controls. The average user can jump right in and start using it immediately.

It has a good drag-prioritize capability, meaning you can drag and drop tasks vertically to show their relative importance.

And if you link your To Do account to an Office 365 (Exchange) account, or an account, then emails you convert into tasks in Outlook will drop right into To Do.

And as you can see in the free videos at this link, To Do sets up quickly for 1MTD.

Good Smartphone Apps for 1MTD

It also has very simple mobile tasks apps on iPhone and Android. This is a big deal; Microsoft has never created smartphone task apps before. And these apps are well designed and easy to use.

Also, while To Do is primarily web based, Microsoft has created desktop task apps for this module that run on Windows, Mac, iPad, and Android tablets. So, Microsoft has done a good job of creating a multi-platform to-do list system that competes well with the many other multi-platform task apps on the market.

And by the way, all of the apps are free.

Nearly Identical Apps

That multi-platform presence is important by the way. In the past, your only options for accessing Outlook tasks away from Outlook were third-party apps that, while powerful, were not as simple, and you needed to learn the interface of each one and configure each one differently.

But the high degree of integration between the the various platform To Do apps is impressive. They all look and function nearly identically. If you drag sort a task in one app, almost instantly that task gets repositioned in the other apps. Any setting changes you make in one app migrate instantly to the apps on other platforms.

So for all these reasons, these days for Outlook users, Microsoft To Do is my first choice for implementing 1MTD. If you want to learn how to do that, watch my Microsoft To Do 1MTD video course.

Not for MYN

But all that said, Microsoft To Do has nowhere near the feature list needed to fully implement the more powerful MYN system. A user can get moderately close to MYN using some tricks in To Do, as I show in the aforementioned video course. But it’s just not good enough for processing high volumes of tasks.

Case in point: Right after I released that video course, I tried for months to use Microsoft To Do for real my business needs. All my daily tasks went into it, and it was pretty good for a while. But then my work pace increased, and To-Do just couldn’t keep up. I finally gave up and went back to the Windows desktop Outlook tasks system.

That experience confirmed for me that the Windows desktop Outlook Tasks module is still the most powerful task systems available, and it is still my choice for MYN users.

Future of Tasks in Microsoft Office

But it is also clear to me that the Microsoft To Do platform is the future of task processing in the Microsoft Office ecosystem. In fact, I would not be surprised if Microsoft eventually abandoned the older but more powerful Tasks module in favor of To Do.

Is that really going to happen? Well, Microsoft is slowly but steadily merging the feature sets of online and desktop Office apps, with the online versions getting most new development. And as of today, Microsoft has almost fully switched over Outlook Online to To Do tasks. Really, only time will tell.

The good news is, for my simple One Minute To-Do List system, To Do is a pretty darn good to-do list platform.

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8 Responses to Microsoft To Do, Recent Thoughts

  1. Rupert Watson says:

    I tried To-Do and I couldn’t make it work. I went back to Tasks in Windows Outlook and Toodledo for Mac and iOS.

    • Rupert Watson says:

      To be clear, I could make it work but didn’t like the way it worked; I wasn’t getting stuff done and missed too much of the way Tasks works.

  2. Michael Linenberger says:

    Thanks Rupert. You probably need the more powerful MYN system, and yeah, To Do is not great for MYN. Best for 1MTD, people with fewer tasks. It’s great for them.

  3. Pat says:

    Missing sorting by category function is almost a deal breaker but ammaking it work by assigning categories numbers then sorting alphabetically.

  4. Christian says:

    I can fully agree: I use To Do since 8 months now, based on your videos, with extensions for defer-to-review and defer-to-do and some small tweaks for my personal workflow. It works great and synchronisation with Outlook never failed me.

    I find it a beneficial that it is a separate app from Outlook: This way I can work on tasks without the risk of “accidentally” checking my email.
    And Outlook doesn’t have the satisfying “ping” sound when a task is completed. 😉

  5. Hakan says:

    I had tried many methods and software but in the end all was failure except MYN. For the last 2 years, my system is stable. I’ve not been searching for any other rather I concentrate my tasks. Thank you Michael.

  6. Leonel says:

    My solution to the To Do vs Tasks problem? Just use To Do as a front-end for Critical Now tasks from MYN. I must admit I strayed from the MYN system for a bit and boy, am I paying for it.

    Doing my best to jump back in and get back on track. Quick thought it is that it will be faster and more convenient to have the To Do widget on my phone’s home screen and set to Important. This way, Critical Now tasks are almost always front and center. When I need to manage other tasks, there’s always Outlook!

  7. Doug says:

    Leonel- would you be able to expand on your through to/settings/methods of using To Do? I need mobile app access to the tasks I manage from Outlook. It works for me in outlook but then when I’m away from Outlook I feel like I don’t have access to the my system. I used TaskTask before and it was the perfect combo but TaskTask doesn’t work any more and I’m trying to figure out a solution. Thanks

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