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TaskPaper is a powerful to-do-manager for Mac OS


You may have read note about how you can create tasks as plain notes via a notepad. There are other, more convenient apps. We are going to talk about one of them.

TaskPaper is a to-do manager for Mac OS. You can create tasks, notes, projects using a special (uncomplicated) syntax. It is easy to understand, just run TaskPaper app, look at the examples and read the instructions.

Interview with Jesse Grosjean (Hog Bay Software)

Although TaskPaper is not for those who like graphical interface, you can create projects, tasks, notes, and tags here.

In addition to the text syntax, keyboard shortcuts are used. Maybe at first this interface will seem unusual, but on the other hand, here you do more actions with the keyboard, you can forget about the mouse. However, drag-n-drop can also be freely used.

Once you have a list of tasks sketched out as a text file, it's easy to organize them via @tag, type, or content. Lists can be split into parts, collapsed, and information can be searched everywhere inside the app.

Some difficulties may arise with date formats, there are a lot of them.

But after a while it becomes clear that this is also convenient, and everything is also sorted by tags of different nesting levels. Thanks to the scripts, you can create recurring tasks, use color labels and modify anything you want.

But that's not all. Although TaskPaper lives up to its name and everything is stored in text form, you can dive deeper and change the design theme via css styles. As already mentioned, there is Javascript scripting support for advanced users.

Among scripts are, for example, Repeating tasks, date change scripts, modification of search and sorting, autocompletion and many other options.

Here is instructions on how to use the scripts. There are truly unlimited possibilities here.

TaskPaper price is $29.99. You can download and purchase it at

TaskPaper contains everything you need to flexibly organize tasks. The functionality of the application is limited only by your desire to read documentation. To-do manager will suit those who like text interfaces and quick data input via keyboard, as well as those who'd like to adapt all programs to their needs.

Interview with Jesse Grosjean

- What is your background, how did you start your way in development?

I was interested in graphic design and computers in general when in high school. In college I did computer science and studio art. I've ended up programming, but I am at least a bit sensitive to UI designs.

- What things have you been unhappy with in other todo managers?

Unhappy might be strong, but my preference is for minimal apps. My goal for an app is to create a world with a few concepts that can be recombined in different ways. So simple and flexible. I think most apps are most user tasks focused, they provide more structure, but are more complex and less flexible. I think both approaches have benefits, but I find the simple and flexible approach more interesting.

- In your opinion, who is your main audience, who buys TaskPaper?

Most people that I interact with in my user forums are quite technical and interested in tinkering with things. I'm not sure if that represents my main audience or not, since it's not a big percentage of users that participate in the forms.

- What are the main advantages of using text-based syntax instead of the standard GUI with a spectacular design?

I think uniformity of the user interface. People know how to navigate and edit text, so if the entire interface is text then it's all accessible to them without much thought.

- How does your to-do list look, is there no problem with tasks only growing?

The thing is I'm not that good at todo lists. I have temporary ones that I work off for a while, but I don't often keep a well maintained list of everything. That approach definitely has drawbacks, but it also means I don't have an impossible, always growing list of tasks.

I use my apps more as thinking tools than list trackers. So for example I have a todo file, but it mostly tracks ideas and projects, flexible things that I may or may not do. Or I might use it for more temporary purposes like writing and rewriting app descriptions, trying to decide on pricing, etc. Just working through ideas.

- 3 tips that help you stay productive

Along with being a lazy todo list keeper I'm also not sure that I'm very productive. For example, give me a list of things to do that I'm not very interested in and my approach is to drag it out painfully for as long as possible.

I do best when I'm really interested in something and want to see how it turns out. Still not sure if I'm extremely productive in this case, but I'm very motivated because I want to see the end. So that's my one tip that's probably pretty obvious–work on things that interest you.

- What devices do you use to keep track of tasks? Are there other apps that help you stay productive? (probably Bike?)

I just use my Mac, I'm out of touch and can't work on iOS/mobile.

Yes, right now I'm pretty much using Bike for everything. It's not as capable as TaskPaper yet, but I'm the developer so I need to be using it. Also for my particular use cases it's better in many respects. Again I'm more interested in a "thinking space" than in a "tracking space" for my own use. And Bike does that well, I just like how it feels.

- HTML, markdown or plain text are suitable formats

Each has its place and benefits and drawbacks.

Over the years I've designed for plain text and markdown in my apps. The idea that the content saved to disk is exactly the same as what you see in the UI is very appealing. And it is valuable, it's great that you can open your markdown file in pretty much any markdown app and edit it.

With that said I don't think markdown/taskpaper/unstructured plain text is the perfect solution and have moved away from that approach with Bike. I've tried it both ways. I now feel like selecting text and choosing the bold command is easier than adding ** markdown formatting and I think the end result is also nicer to look at.