Evernote is one of the best free utilities to ever hit the Mac or iPhone. Needless to say, I’m a huge fan and use it on a daily basis. However, one thing that constantly bugs me is Evernote’s lacklustre handling of task lists (to-dos). You can create a basic list with checkmarks inside of Evernote, but the options are really limited and you aren’t then allowed to edit this list on your iPhone.
Egretlist is an iPhone app that seeks to right this wrong. It’s a full-service to-do list manager that lives on your iPhone and sinks with Evernote. Today we’ll take a brief look at some of the things you can and can’t do with Egretlist and discuss how the app held up in our review process.
In case you’re wondering, an egret is a type of bird. Now that we’ve got that nagging question out of the way, we can move on to the application.
When you first open the app, you are prompted to enter your Evernote username and password. This is not an optional step. Evernote and Egretlist go hand in hand so you have to sign up for a free account if you want to use the app.
The Egretlist interface feels like a notebook and is very well designed. The snapshots above show a few of the more dull examples but later the app has lots of bright colors and a cool sticker theme that feels a bit like Gowalla at times.
The Home Screen
Egretlist’s primary interface is shown below. The four main sections are Notebooks, Categories, Saved Searches and Archived To-Dos.
You can access the application’s preferences by hitting the gear icon in the top left and the three buttons along the bottom are for adding a to-do, managing your notebooks, and syncing with Evernote.
Whenever you’re finished making any changes, be sure to hit the sync button so the changes will be reflected in Evernote.
Egretlist does an excellent job of walking you through how to use each feature. Tapping on a category that you’ve never used before will bring up a little illustrated explanation that guides you through everything step by step.
As you can see in the shot above, tapping the plus button will bring up a to-do. Here you can title the to-do, place it in the notebook of your choosing, tag it, and insert extra content like photos and notes.
When you’re all done with a note, tap “Save & Close.” Your to-dos are kept in simple lists with the to-do title and a checkbox. Swiping across a task will bring up the options seen on the right. Here you can perform tasks such as editing a note, adding tags, etc.
Tapping on a to-do will show you the screen dedicated to that specific item. Here you can see the complete title along with any extra items that are attached to the to-do like notes or images. These are shown taped onto the bottom of the to-do.
Notebooks and Tags
One of the really nice features about Egretlist is that all of your notebooks and tags are brought over automatically from Evernote for you to access and use extensively.
Egretlist integrates these seamlessly into the workflow and makes it super easy to add and edit lists in any of your current notebooks.
As you can see in the shots above, every little part of the interface has been beautifully styled to fit the notebook theme. The icons for each of your Evernote notebooks are customizable and look like little Moleskine journals.
There are several categories that you can use to setup your GTD system. Each of these has a specific purpose but essentially work the exact same way.
For example, in the screenshots above you can see that projects are meant to be a collection of related to-dos that make up a single overarching task. Similarly, responsibilities are “things that depend on you.”
To use any of these categories, you simply assign different tags. So for instance, you could create a “finances” tag that you assign to all of your bill-related to-dos and a “work” tag that you assign to all of your work-related to-dos. These tags will then be listed under each category along with an automatically generated list of their respective to-dos.
For the most part, I absolutely loved Egretlist. The interface is perfect and really fun to use. Navigating around the app is easy and quick and creating/managing to-dos is a breeze. The fact that it syncs with my Evernote account allows me to see the information from my Mac and have access to the extensive system I’ve already created with tags and notebooks in Evernote.
My one serious complaint is the lack of any sort of due date feature. I definitely understand that this is as much Evernote’s fault as it is Egretlist’s, but I still can’t help but miss the functionality. Being a writer means that I’m always considering to-do applications based on how much they can help me stay on task and meet deadlines. However, with Egretlist, there is simply no support for adding a deadline or start date.
Again, since Evernote really doesn’t support this I’m not sure how it would be implemented, but there’s surely a way to at least make it work on the iPhone side. At the very least, including a way to quickly add a date to the title of the to-do would go a long way and would still function on the Evernote side.
If you’re looking for a way to boost Evernote lists into fully functional to-dos, Egretlist is for you. It has a beautiful interface, works smoothly with zero bugs or freezes and does everything it claims with an added dose of time-tested GTD principles. As long as you don’t need due dates, it’s well worth the $2.99.
How do you get things done on your iPhone? Tell us about your favorite iPhone to-do list app and how it stacks up to Egretlist.
Egretlist is an excellent app for pushing the functionality and usefulness of your Evernote to-do lists. The app is fully integrated with Evernote and utilizes syncing as well as the notebooks and tags you've already created in EN. Egretlist has a beautiful interface that really makes the app fun to use. My one complaint was the lack of a "due date" feature for to-dos.9