Comparision

Microsoft To Do vs TickTick: Should You Pay For The Free To-Do App

The Microsoft To Do app is built on Wunderlist, which will be shutting down soon. At GT, we love the To Do app and how it works. It’s an all-in-one task app that has almost everything you need, but it’s not the only one. TickTick has been gaining traction for quite some time now and promises to offer a comprehensive planner with a calendar thrown into the mix.

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TickTick is not free. Since it is a third party app, it needs to pay customers to keep adding new features, troubleshooting and providing customer support. Do you need TickTick? Will you continue to use Microsoft To Do?

Let’s find out.

1. User Interface

Microsoft To Do comes with a clean user interface that does not have a bottom or sidebar menu. I’m amazed that they manage to keep everything simple and on hand. You’ll notice all the lists you’ve created neatly arranged in groups in a straight line.

There are two buttons at the bottom to create a new menu and group on each side and your Microsoft account details at the top. Clicking on the name will allow you to manage accounts and settings. Love this new UI view without tabs, buttons, or menus.

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TickTick adopts a traditional UI approach with a sidebar menu to access/manage menus and tags, and a bottom bar menu for switching between tasks and a calendar. The user interface is still easy and fun with an orange theme (more themes are available in the store) with a big plus icon to get started quickly.

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Both to-do apps are well designed, but I like Microsoft To Do just because they chose to go a different route. This is risky because you don’t want to break functionality or confuse users but you worked well.

2. Create tasks, notes, groups and tags

You will have to choose a list before you can create a task in Microsoft To Do. Once you do that, you will find an icon “+“The fashionable downstairs. Supports Natural Language Processing (iOS only), so you can type as you think or dictate, and the app will analyze details like date and time automatically. I wish Windows and Android had this too.

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The hidden feature is a tag where any word prefixed with . is transformed # to one in To do. It should be more clear. Clicking on any tag will list all tasks with that tag across groups. Each task can be divided into subtasks called steps, and you can add files and notes.

Surprisingly, cloud storage is not supported. Not even OneDrive. You can only add files saved on the device or via the camera.

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TickTick supports natural language processing right out of the box, even for free users. Adding tags is more visible with the tag icon that you will notice while creating a task or subtasks. The first option is the calendar, but we’ll explore that separately later.

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There is a priority option that will change the color of the checkbox before the task to get your attention. This way, you will know, at a glance, what you need to do first on the list. There are four priorities to choose from, but there is no way to create more or change existing priorities.

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Microsoft To Do has a star icon next to each task to mark it as important (added to a smart list) but it doesn’t let you go deeper and choose colors or priority level. Starred tasks automatically rise to the top of the list.

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You can create a new menu from the sidebar in TickTick and assign a color and folder to it. One of the interesting options is the type of menu, where you can choose it to be a note.

Both TickTick and Microsoft To Do allow collection lists to further manage workflows or projects. Both also create multiple smart lists that reveal themselves when needed, such as “Important,” “Planned,” “Events,” and more. But, TickTick has more smart menus, and you can turn them on/off.

3. Create notes, share or collaborate

TickTick offers something Microsoft To Do sorely misses. Ability to create formatted notes. Once you create and set a new menu, you will notice it in the sidebar.

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The formatting options seem to be comprehensive with options like title tags, lists, checklists, links, and more. It reminds me of Google Keep, but even there, you can either create a list or a note but not at the same time and on the same note.

Microsoft To Do only allows notes within the task, which is not the same. TickTick has this feature named as Description.

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You can also turn a task into a quick note from the three-dot menu. It allows you to create a template for reuse (recurring tasks or projects), copy the link to it, add comments and communication, add images and attachments, and the location. The latter option will allow you to set location-based reminders, which again are missing in Microsoft To Do. One example where you can use it to pick up groceries on your way home.

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You can share lists or tasks in Microsoft To Do and collaborate with others in real time.

4. Calendar and other features

TickTick comes with a custom calendar that you can access from tasks or via a separate tab. It grabbed all my events from Google Calendar automatically. You can subscribe to new calendars, too.

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Microsoft bundled the calendar feature with Outlook, Microsoft’s all-in-one email solution, which also makes sense. But, having a calendar in your to-do app adds more variety to your workflow. It’s not useful for everyone, but those who do will appreciate it.

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TickTick comes with more useful features like Pomo timer to track time spent on individual tasks, ability to track changes (schedule), and progress tracking.

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Microsoft To Do is a solid to-do app, and I use it for both personal and professional reasons. It has everything I want, but different users have different needs. The free version of TickTick is very restricted to a maximum of 9 menus and one attachment upload limit per day. The pro version will cost $27.99 per year with advanced features such as change tracking, progress measurement, timer, priority levels, notes, to-do lists, and a calendar. That’s a lot for the asking price in one app.

I suggest you assess your needs and what you want to achieve. Try Microsoft To Do for a while and see if it’s late. Check out the free version of TickTick and if you feel the need, upgrade and enjoy the premium features.

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