Tip o’ the Week 498 – Go do, To Do (you do so well)

clip_image002The Microsoft To Do desktop and mobile applications and services (all available from https://todo.microsoft.com/) had a major update recently, which included being slightly renamed. Instead of “Microsoft To-Do”, the core app is now simply clip_image004Microsoft To Do”, and it has a new logo (well done if you noticed)… instead of a blocky light-blue and white tick on a blue background, it’s a slightly rounded and shaded blue tick on white background.

clip_image006Still, To[-]Do’s functionality has stepped forward greatly since its first release a couple of years back, taking more than a few leaves from the Wunderlist app that preceded it. The new v2 of the To Do app includes background images that can be shown behind task lists, including one of the Berlin Television Tower which was synonymous with Wunderlist.

After Microsoft’s acquisition of 6wunderkinder (the company that made Wunderlist), it was announced that, at some stage, the Wunderlist application would be retired but still there’s no confirmed date or anything, with back-end engineering apparently taking a good bit longer than was first expected.

When the To-Do app was launched, it was a somewhat poorer cousin. Now, the story is that To Do v2 has enough of the functionality of Wunderlist, and lots of new capabilities (such as Cortana integration), that it’s time for Wunderlist users to transition.

See more of the detail here. See what’s new in versions of To[-]Do. For further To Do tips, check the help center.

The founder of 6wunderkinder has taken to Twitter to offer to buy back Wunderlist before Microsoft shuts the service down. It remains to be seen if the offer is being considered or not…

Tip o’ the Week 434 – To Do: update To-Do

clip_image002Lots of people like to-do lists – from Post-it notes stuck on the side of your monitor (or the digital equivalent on your PC’s desktop), to the Tasks you might have in Outlook, up to dedicated list-management apps that run on your PC and on your phone; such delights have been covered in ToW’s passim, (the Wunder of lists, or what a right To-Do we’re in… see #various).

Well, the seemingly unloved Microsoft To-Do app has been updated recently, with a few new clip_image004capabilities – notably steps (sub-tasks, in other words) and the ability to share lists.

The Windows Weekly video from MJF and Paul Thurrott talked a little about To-Do recently, too.

See here for more details on the updates. List sharing sounds a lot like the existing Wunderlist capability, to collaborate on tasks with someone you work or live with; for now at least it’s most likely one or the other.

You can share a list with someone else only within the same organisation, if you’re signed in with Office 365 credentials – so you can’t share with parties outside of your own O365 org. if you choose to mix work and home, then you’d need to sign in with your Microsoft Account to be able to share tasks with your SO, unless they also happen to be a co-worker.

clip_image006Steps are simply a way of breaking things down – handy if your method of task management starts with “Sort my life out” / “Get a new job” / “become a millionaire”,  rather than going in at the level where action is obvious… (“Tidy my bedroom” / “re-write my CV” / “buy a lottery ticket”).

There are so many time management tools and techniques out there; like diets, maybe one day we’ll find a single one that can’t be improved on, and put an end to the industry peddling new ideas. Some people love to work on task management, some people just don’t do it. We think we work one way, but when stressed, do it the other…

Before you do any more thinking on Time Management, go and watch the lecture by the late Randy Pausch – a brilliant professor and speaker, had terminal pancreatic cancer when he delivered “The Last Lecture” and then, later (wha?), gave an extremely practical session on time management: someone with hardly any time left (he died 8 months later) knows more about managing time than any corporate productivity jockey.

If you haven’t watched both of these, go and carve out 3 hours of your life, and do so. You won’t regret it. Srsly.

Tip o’ the Week 415 – Another right To-Do

clip_image002It’s been 9 months since the unveiling of Microsoft To-Do, the task manager app that will someday replace the much loved Wunderlist (see ToWs passim317, 376, et al); the celebrations were muted in the halls of Wunderlist superfans, though, as To-Do has a much reduced feature set, albeit with a mission to be clear and easy to use. “Maybe it’ll catch up quickly”, some said.

There has been very little noticeable progress on the features front, though there have been lots of minor upgrades and fixes to the Windows 10, iOS and AndroidMicrosoft To-Do” apps (note the hyphen and the design of the icon; the respective app stores are awash with inferior “todo” apps with a variety of tick logos).

Since publishing this tip internally at Microsoft (where some early builds of new functionality are available in test versions), Thurrott.com highlighted the quiet announcement that we’re working on shared lists and subtasks, as well as deeper integration to Outlook. Watch that space, basically.

Recently, though, the To-Do web app has been released in clip_image004the Office365 Portal (after a few months of opt-in preview), and a tantalizing teaser shows up on the “Your apps” page… though doesn’t really tell you a whole lot that isn’t immediately obvious.

To-Do can import tasks from your existing Wunderlist task list if you have one, and automatically syncs with Outlook Tasks, therein exposing a rub – most people will have signed in to Wunderlist with their Microsoft Account, but for To-Do and Outlook to get along well, you’ll need to be using Office365 and therefore a different set of creds.

There are various solutions, the practicality of which will depend on how many active items you have in Wunderlist – you could share your MSA-homed lists with your O365 credentials, then log in with the latter and copy the contents across. Laborious, maybe.

You could make a clean break, or else use the Outlook addin for Wunderlist to sync the list items into Outlook as Tasks, then install To-Do and sync them back out again.

clip_image006The To-Do / Outlook task sync is pretty quick – just add an item to your To-Do app and it will quickly appear in your Outlook tasks view, reminders, notes and all. See more here.

The reverse is also true, though if you add Outlook tasks without putting them directly in the folders created to mimic the To-Do structure, (such as Tasks that were created in OneNote), the new item will just be lumped in the general “To-Do” list at the top.

Dragging and dropping the item, either within Outlook (from the clip_image008“Tasks” list into on a suitable corresponding folder to your To-Do lists) or by doing the same within the To-Do app or web app itself, and you’ll keep things nicely arranged.

If you like the idea of being more task organised, find Outlook Tasks too cumbersome, then To-Do could be a great way of simplifying the junction. It may not be as functionally rich as Wunderlist, but the latter is still available for those who want it.

Tip o’ the Week 376 – Toodle-oo, Wunderlist!

clip_image002Toodle-oo (like it’s synonym, toodle pip) is, if you’re not otherwise familiar, a charming and olde-wurlde English way of bidding farewell. It seems somewhat appropriate, as Microsoft announced plans to retire Wunderlist in favour of a new app that’s been in the works for a while, with the codename Project Cheshire.

Reviewers who had an early look at Cheshire around a year ago, commented on the fact that it’s kinda similar to Wunderlist, in that both are trying to achieve the same sort of thing. As the product now called Microsoft To-Do was announced, it became clear that the team behind Wunderlist has been working to evolve some of what they’d done before, bringing tighter integration with Office 365 and the promise of more groovy features to come.

Right now, To-Do (to hyphenate, or not to hyphenate?) is in Preview, which means it’s not fully featured (eg sub-tasks that you might use in Wunderlist haven’t made an appearance yet), and as well as a web version, there are Windows, Android phone & iPhone apps – others are due though we’ll see whether the same breadth of coverage as Wunderlist provides is maintained. The Preview nature also means that Wunderlist isn’t going away soon, but it will eventually give way to To-Do, or http://todo.microsoft.com

clip_image004Start by signing in, and looking in the top left menu – if you have used Wunderlist before, it can import your existing tasks, thought it might take longer than you think. It’s a one-way process, so try to make sure you don’t keep adding stuff into Wunderlist, though you can choose to sync only selective task groups, so you could potentially re-import to get only new stuff. Be careful when running an import for the 2nd time – the process doesn’t merge sections that already exist, so if you’ve imported already, you might end up with lots of Project (1) type lists and tasks.

The preview version of To-Do also supports importing from the alternative todoist. The web client has an import command from the context menu under the user, but you may need to go to the Settings pane in other clients, or else just go to https://import.todo.microsoft.com/ and be done with it.

imageIf you sign in on a machine that’s already set up for Office 365, your default login to To-Do will be your O365 credentials, and it will automatically show you Outlook Tasks as to-do items… and synchronizes with Tasks as the back end for To-Do is Office 365.

You might need to play around a bit if you also use To-Do with your Microsoft Account – the one you maybe logged into Wunderlist with, for example…