Bad Apple #4: Reminders Stinks at Sorting

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Can you believe that Reminders is almost 8 years old now and still can’t sort acceptably? The iOS version lets you sort list items only manually, and the Mac version supports only a single sort order for all lists. Bad Apple!

And Reminders doesn’t usually sync properly between my iPhone and iPad. Bad, bad Apple.

I’m using 2Do, fully integrated with Reminders and Siri, both on iOS and MacOS. Can’t be happier. Definitely better than GoodTask, which I’ve also tried. 2Do is much more intuitive, quite flexible, very powerful, and uses Reminders as a backbone. Optionally, it could use Toodledo or Dropbox as sync backbone. Optionally, it can be configured to follow a GTD methodology with its Inbox.

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Similarly to Enrico, I only use Reminders as a front-end to OmniFocus. I say “Remind me to get Parmesan at Raleys” and it is automatically added to my Raleys list in OmniFocus.


I am using Things by Cultured Code that allows to import to-dos from one Reminders list.
I have a Grocery list that is imported into Grocery by Conrad Stoll.

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Thanks—that’s the best non-calendar option I’ve heard yet.

Good to know—OmniFocus is definitely more of a serious tool than I’m personally looking for. Even reading @jeff-porten’s review of it made that clear. :slight_smile:

Does Things keep itself in sync with Reminders or just allow a one-time import?

A little of both: live display of your Reminders without importing them into Things, or manual import.

Things is generally popular among the “OmniFocus is way too complex” crowd.

Hilarious article! Thanks Adam! What I have often wondered about Apple’s productivity apps is this: Does anyone at Apple use them? Keynote excepted? And perhaps Mail? (Although they keep crippling features.) I don’t understand why they don’t create a(n as big as needed) team that works on making the best programs out there. Claris is ages ago, and I’d rather have Apple bring their privacy principles to my calendar and task management, than give all my info to Google.

Adam, I don’t know whether the following would help you but it seems to tick all the boxes?
I’ve been using AnyList for my shopping and other lists. It seems to integrate with Reminders, can use Siri, and can sort Alpha or by Category (can custom Category), and can be shared with other users (annual fee involved for that feature).
Created by two former Apple employees … plays nicely!
p.s. No affiliation.

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Haha, this is a good point: does anyone at Apple actually use their own apps? And if so, do any of them realise or care about some of the basic flaws many of them have, one wonders?

I keep reading how Apple doesn’t have enough software engineers, and how teams get tasked with one thing then thrown onto something else entirely different (how true this is in reality, is hard to gauge from the outside, obviously). But given how many of their apps have (huge gaping) holes in them, often spanning years, why is this failing to be addressed by senior management?

What’s more, it’s undermining their hardware, as if you cannot do things in the software, then why bother paying their high rates for hardware, in a world where other (albeit maybe uglier) cheaper options exist.

It’s almost like they see ‘it’ll do’ for software being good enough, as really the money for the company is in hardware, and provided they have apps that ‘kind of’ work enough, they presume most users will suffer the pain of things being deficient.

Totally agree. Apple seems now to be best at writing emojis. Thankfully there are third party app developers to make up for the low grade Apple apps and software. I guess the folks at Apple must only use Apple software and apps because if they used the equivalent third party apps then they might realise how appalling is their software.

I don’t disagree with Adam’s criticisms, and it seems to me that sorting probably should be part of Reminders. But maybe not. When Apple provides too much ‘for free’, they get criticised for making it difficult for third parties to survive. Maybe Reminders and Calendar are exactly what they need to be – powerful enough for the majority, but leaving scope for third parties to provide for power users (with an official, reliable shared backend).

I consider myself a power user, but haven’t actually felt the need to sort any of my many lists in Reminders, aside from occasional manual sorting. If I did, I’m not sure I would object to using a third-party app. I already do for my calendar on iOS, and contacts on both Mac and iOS. I love that there’s room in the market for third party apps, and we’re not just reliant on what Apple choses to provide. Reminders is pretty solid in that it offers basic customisation, reliable syncing, and list sharing (this is a big one for me). Maybe a solid base is all it should be?

In general, I agree with the concern, but sorting feels like such an obvious feature given how core the concept of clicking a column header to sort is in macOS.

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Do we know why Claris was closed down? To me (someone who knows nothing about running a business), having a subsidiary (100% owned by Apple, I believe) whose mission is to make good software to use on Apple hardware made such a lot of sense.

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It does make a lot of sense now, especially since Apple never developed a database app to throw into the mix of its current suite of free office productivity tools. FileMaker was, and still is, a very successful product with small businesses and individuals. But back in Apple’s bad old days when sales were rapidly tanking, the strength of Claris’ apps had become a deterrent to developers who were reluctant to write software for such a small market that was expected by many to fail.

Any news on whether the new, significantly-updated Reminders coming with Mac OS 10.15 & iOS 13 sorts out sorting?

Unless information on that comes out during the WWDC sessions this week, any developer that is involved in testing won’t be able to answer due to having signed an NDA. You’ll have to either sign up for the public beta next month or wait until release in the Fall.

I don’t think that’s the case these days. There have been lots of details reported on, that weren’t in the keynote, about apps and other features in the new OSes. Either way, it will be interesting to see if the new reminders pleases Adam!

What I’m seeing in Catalina:

– set sort type for one list
– select a different list
– go back to the first list
– sort type has reset itself to “Manual”


2Do is fifty bucks!

Can anyone verify that it’s keyboard-friendly? I’ve tried every Mac to-do app under the sun and most have not played well with the keyboard. (I type 90 wpm and hate forced device-jumping.)