Tue. May 21st, 2024

Having a well-organized to-do list helps you keep your work and life tasks in order and can reduce the stress that comes with having lots of things to do. If you’re looking for a free, easy-to-use to-do list app that you can use across multiple devices, Microsoft To Do might be the one for you.

We’re going to show you the perks of the Microsoft 365 To Do app in our examples below, but the same features can be accessed through the app on your phone, tablet, or the web version of the program.

To Do Is Free for Microsoft Account Holders

Many to-do list apps on the market charge a subscription fee for its best features. However, one of the major benefits of To Do is that it’s free and likely doesn’t require you to create another account to keep track of.

To access the app on Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android, all you need is a Microsoft account. If you have an outlook.com, hotmail.com, live.com, msn.com, or another Microsoft-managed email address, you already have a Microsoft account. If your school or business runs its systems on Microsoft, you can use the email address given to you when you first enrolled. Finally, you can also log in with a Gmail account.

Microsoft To Do is Easy to Navigate

When creating a to-do list, you want it to be a quick and easy process—creating the list shouldn’t take more time than actually doing the things on the list—and Microsoft To Do is just that, thanks to its user-friendly interface.

When you open the app and sign in with your Microsoft account, you’ll be greeted by a straightforward sidebar to the left of the main panel.

The Microsoft To Do landing page, called 'My Day.'

On the sidebar, you have:

  • My Day—this shows you the tasks that you’ve set yourself to complete today.
  • Important—you can set certain tasks with a higher priority to appear in this list.
  • Planned—any tasks with a due date or a reminder will show in this section.
  • Assigned To Me—with To Do’s collaboration tools, someone in your organization can delegate a task to you.
  • Flagged Email—If you flag an email in Outlook (providing you’ve logged into the same account), it’ll show as a task in this list.
  • Tasks—This is where your tasks will sit if you don’t assign them to a list.

You can also usefully search for keywords in the search box at the top of the sidebar.

The New List option will allow you to create a project folder to break down some of those bigger tasks you might have. To do this, click “New List” and rename your list by clicking on the “Untitled List” header that appears in the main panel. This list will appear in the sidebar for easy access.

Microsoft To Do's 'New List' option highlighted, the unnamed title selected for amending, and the new list showing in the sidebar.

To add a task to this list, right-click a task, hover over “Move Task To,” and choose the relevant list.

Microsoft To Do with a task selected via a right-click, 'Move Task To' selected, and the lists available displayed on the right.

You can also click the icon next to New List to group your lists.

Microsoft To Do with the grouping icon highlighted.

When you select one of the above sidebar options, the main panel on the right will show you everything in that section. Also, at the bottom of the My Day, Important, Planned, and Tasks sections, you’ll see a white bar where you can type a task to add to that section.

The Microsoft To Do white box at the bottom of the screen containing 'Type your task here.

When you select a task, another sidebar will open on the right-side of your screen.

Microsoft To Do with a task selected and the options available to edit that task.

  1. Click the star to add this task to your Important folder, and it will stay there until you complete the task or remove it from this list. These tasks will also stay at the top of your task list.
  2. You can add (and then tick off) sub-tasks to an overarching task by clicking “Add Step.”
  3. Click “Add To My Day” to remind yourself to complete this task today (more on this below).
  4. To add an alert to the task, click “Remind Me.”
  5. Select the “Add Due Date” option to set a deadline for this task, and this will also appear in My Day on the day it’s due to be done.
  6. Click “Repeat” to make this task recur at appropriate intervals.
  7. You can also attach a file or add a note to the task.

Microsoft To Do’s AI Saves You Clicks

One of the first things I appreciated when I started using Microsoft To Do on Windows 11 was that its AI does a lot of the work for you when setting a task. After all, adding to your to-do list shouldn’t be a task in itself! Go to the Planned section in the sidebar, and click the “Add A Task” box at the bottom of your window. As well as typing the task name, add the due date.

Microsoft To Do's Planned section with 'Email Lucy by 5pm today' typed into the box at the bottom of the main panel.

You’ll see that your date and time are underlined automatically, which tells you that To Do’s AI recognizes this as a scheduled event. When you press Enter, this task will be added to your Planned tasks section with an alert set for the time and date you stated. It really is that straightforward. What’s more, if you type “Today,” the task will also be added to your “My Day” list.

Manage Your Day With Microsoft To Do

Picture this: You’ve got 100 tasks on your overall to-do list, and you’re overwhelmed. Instead, you want to make today’s agenda more manageable, and have a list that doesn’t look so daunting. Microsoft To Do’s My Day feature does exactly that.

In addition to adding tasks to My Day list through the method we discussed previously, you can also manually add tasks to this section. Right-click the task you want to complete today, and click “Add To My Day.”

Microsoft To Do with 'Add To My Day' highlighted after having right-clicked on a task.

At the end of the day, this list will clear of all tasks—completed or not—so you can start afresh the next morning. However, even though the tasks disappear from My Day, they’ll still remain wherever you originally placed them if they’re yet to be completed.

Use To Do on Your Computer or Mobile

It’s great to be able to use Microsoft To Do on the move. Above and beyond full integration with your PC programs, the beauty of To Do is that you can access it seamlessly on your mobile devices, regardless of the network you’re on.

Microsoft To Do and Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft’s January 2024 edition of Outlook supports seamless and handy integration with Microsoft To Do, saving the need to tediously jump between the two Microsoft programs. Simply click the To Do icon in Outlook to launch a simplified version of your existing lists and add tasks.

The To Do icon in Microsoft Outlook is clicked and the integrated to-do list is on the right-hand side of Outlook.

If you didn’t think it could get any easier, try clicking and dragging an email from your inbox or another folder over to your To Do sidebar, and drop it into your list. If you add it to your To Do list as a task, the item will also contain a link back to the original email for access when needed.

The Outlook 'My Day' option open, with a task inserted into the To-Do list. An arrow highlights the link that takes you back to the original email.

You can also flag an email in Outlook, and this will then appear in the Flagged Email section of To Do, along with a notification number on the icon in your taskbar. This means you won’t miss that all-important message, regardless of which app you’re currently using.

Microsoft To Do on Tablet and Mobile

Once you’re familiar with the desktop app, accessing your to-do list on your mobile is remarkably straightforward, as the same sections as in your Windows app’s sidebar are available to view and amend.

First, download the Microsoft To Do app from your app store, and then log in with your Microsoft account to sync your lists. When you first open the app, you’ll get the option to allow notifications, which you should allow if you want to be reminded about upcoming deadlines and today’s tasks.

Collaborate With Others on Microsoft To Do

What good is a to-do list if you can’t palm off some of your tasks to your friends, colleagues, and family members? Microsoft To Do has you sorted—you can either email a copy of a list to someone else or share and assign tasks within a list.

To email a list to someone, right-click the list in the sidebar and click “Email List.” You can do this with any of the items in your sidebar.

Microsoft To Do's Email List function highlighted.

This will open the list in an Outlook email, formatted in plain text for you to amend and send.

To assign tasks to individuals, you first have to invite them to a list or group you have created. After you have added a new list or group as explained in the first section above, right-click its name in the sidebar and click “Share List.”

Microsoft To Do's Share List function highlighted.

You will then be prompted to create an invitation link which you can copy to your clipboard or send via an email. Once the person you’ve shared your list or group with has signed in and accessed the list, you can assign them to a task within that list or group.

To do this, select the relevant task and click “Assign To.”

Microsoft To Do's Assign To option highlighted.

You will then see their name appear as an option, which you can click to put that item into their “Assigned To Me” section. Task: delegated.

Microsoft To Do is just one of many to-do lists out there for you to try. With so many to choose from, check out our top five to-do list app alternatives.

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By John P.

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