Things vs Wunderlist

27 04 2012

In the past, I have struggled with getting things done. I eventually resorted to a professionally-designed and developed GTD solution, called Things. Then its quality fell off a little bit. Then I started looking around for something else and I found Wunderlist.


Things icon

I first heard about Things when it was announced at MacWorld 2009 in San Francisco. I finally purchased a copy of it the following October and started using it right away. An iPhone version of the app came out at about the same time. I bought it because I was really impressed with the fit-and-finish and the functionality of the application. The Mac/iOS device syncing was especially attractive. I purchased the Mac version at the discounted student price of $35.00 (USD) and the iPhone version was $10.00 in the App Store.

It was not an insignificant expense for a college student, but I really needed something like this in order to keep myself on track so I could keep my GPA up and graduate on time. Those both happened, in 2010.

Unfortunately, Things seems to have become “the app time forgot.” Updates are still coming every month or two, but they only contain small bug fixes, with no new features or functionality appearing for a long, long time. Meanwhile, Cultured Code’s competitors caught up with them, and then some. I stuck around with Things because it was familiar and because non-cloud sync was not a big deal-killer for me.

I really do like Things’ task tags, Places, and People. They make it very easy to categorize and sort tasks. I have a list of tasks for Home, one for School, one for Work, and so on. That way, I can easily see a list of tasks appropriate for my location. I also make use of repeating events for tasks like paying the monthly utility bills.


Wunderlist icon

I came across Wunderlist very early in 2012 while I was searching for new GTD apps. I was impressed with its slick interface and its very well-executed cloud sync. Not only is Wunderlist on the Mac and all iOS devices, it also exists on Windows and Linux and it has a web interface. The user experience between all nine of its platforms is remarkably consistent and you would see virtually the same interface wherever you use Wunderlist. Even better, Wunderlist is still under development and is not (yet) abandonware.

Wunderlist is still under development, however, and there are a few features that I liked in Things that are not there yet, namely repeated events. I heavily use repeated events in Things so that I do not have to worry about constantly changing the due date on an event to remind myself about something next week or next month. It is one feature in Things that I really like that I find missing in Wunderlist. In fact, repeated events is probably the one thing that is keeping me from completely abandoning Things all together.

Synchronization in Wunderlist is amazing. As someone who has had to find ways to work around the idiosyncrasies of Things’ WiFi sync for two and a half years, cloud sync in any GTD app was a breath of fresh air. I can have Wunderlist running on my iPhone, my MacBook Pro, and my iMac and they all stay in sync no matter where I go. With Things, I was only able to sync between one Mac and one iOS device. There is some lag when syncing two or more devices through the cloud, but I do not think this would be a big problem for most people in most situations.

Development on Wunderlist is still proceeding and you can follow their progress on their official blog.


There are a few key points that I wanted to highlight about both GTD solutions. These are points that I, personally, would consider but there may be other factors that you would consider.

Feature Things Wunderlist
Price $50 (Mac), $20 (iPad), $10 (iPhone) Free
Cloud sync Private beta Yes
Repeating events Yes No
Projects for tasks Yes Yes
Task comments Yes Yes
Task tagging Yes No
Location-specific task lists Yes No

Final thoughts

In case I get any feedback from someone that there are more than two GTD solutions available, rest assured that I know. I wrote about these two in particular because these are the two that I am most familiar with, mainly because I use them on a daily basis.

Unless Cultured Code starts making bigger changes to Things, I am afraid I will have to completely jump ship. I love Things and I think it is a very nice, polished Mac/iOS app. I would love to continue to use it. Unfortunately, Cultured Code seems to have spent so much time trying to craft its own cloud sync solution that they have neglected their app itself.

Neither Wunderlist nor Things completely meets my needs at the moment. I am in the position of having two GTD apps running at the same time. It takes a bit of thought to prioritize things, rather than having the app do all of that for me. I am just presenting my experiences with these two app here and if it helps you make a decision about a GTD solution for yourself, consider putting your own experiences in the comments.




6 responses

29 04 2012

I went through exactly the same process as you – I was an ardent Things user until I became so fed up with the poor synchronisation and lack of updates that I, too, switched to Wunderlist.

I don’t miss repeating to-dos – I always use my calendar for those – but I really miss tagging. I understand that tagging is on the roadmap, so I’m sticking with Wunderlist.

I also looked at a lot of GTD applications, including OmniFocus and others, but I find that the simplicity of Wunderlist is exactly what I need.


22 05 2012

I will miss Things. As much as it is lacking in feature updates, I do prefer its UI to Wunderlist’s. Hopefully, they will start working on it again. I would happily work on Things, given the chance.

23 05 2012

I think here we will have to agree to disagree! I prefer the Winderlist UI – I love its simplicity.

23 05 2012

I think they took two different paths on their UI development. Cultured Code went out and came up with a solution the made the most of Apple’s built-in UI classes. Wunderkinder has consistency across several platforms, but I do not believe they used Cocoa and Cocoa Touch as Apple would have intended.

I really like Cultured Code because it is faster and makes the best use of Apple’s APIs.

3 09 2012

As a longtime Things user who had to look beyond Things to find a multiplatform (e.g. Windows and Android as well as Mac/iOS) GTD program, Wunderlist fits the bill well, especially because it is free and has cloud syncing.

However, when it comes to the desktop app it is simply outclassed by Things, which looks, feels, and runs like a mature, OS X-native app with many niceties that Wunderlist doesn’t have (e.g. the ability to select/move multiple tasks, a much more polished mac-like interface, repeatings tasks, the list goes on) and with Things now having cloud sync, anyone who lives an Apple-only lifestyle will benefit from Things’ Mac/iOS focus.

That being said, Things is a fairly expensive program, especially if you are getting all of the iOS apps too. And for many whose task needs are simple, the price of Things is hard to justify, so it really comes to to individual preference on how much one is willing to pay for polish, the ecosystem(s) of the user, and how picky they are about their GTD system.

1 09 2013

Hello… I am new to Mac though i already use iPad and iPhone… At first i used to use Apple calendar and almost made it a to-do list by creating different calendars and even used to make notes related to certain events and thus making it a note making app too. Then I came across Wunderist which i use even on my Windows PC and stopped using calendar …now that i have Mac too, I am confused as to whether i should switch back to apple calendar. Like evryone else, me too want everything at one place. Could you help me with this!
P.S. I know Calendar and To-do list maybe used for different purposes. But i want to forget those nuances and put it all together at one place.

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