Wunderlist has been one of the most popular and best to-do list apps around. In 2015, Microsoft acquired this app and announced it would kill it off…eventually. Nearly four years later, Wunderlist’s doomsday still has not arrived, and Microsoft doesn’t have an estimated date when it will happen. Given this predicament, should you pick up this great little to-do app or continue using it if you already have an account? What else is out there, and what are the benefits, if any, of riding out Wunderlist until its final days? Below, I’ll help you answer all these questions and more so you can choose the best task-management app for your situation.
Allow me to cut to the chase and say if you already have a Wunderlist account, there’s no reason to panic just yet. If you don’t already have one, I recommend you instead consider an Editors’ Choice to-do app, namely Todoist Premium or Asana. I like Todoist better for personal tasks and Asana for business and teamwork, but explore them for yourself. They both offer more than pretty much any other to-do app on the market.
What’s Up With Wunderlist?
Here’s the full scoop on what’s happening with Wunderlist. Since Microsoft’s 2015 acquisition of it and announcement to pull the plug on the app, the company is no longer building new features or enhancements. Microsoft is, however, continuing to support Wunderlist in terms of providing security fixes to anyone who still uses it. That explains why Wunderlist still gets the occasional app update.
In short, you can keep using Wunderlist without any worries about security, but you won’t see anything brand-spanking new in it.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has promised to keep Wunderlist alive until it has incorporated all the best features from it, as well as requested features, into an app that will one day replace it, called Microsoft To-Do. That app first appeared in 2017, and in its short lifespan, it hasn’t done anything wildly impressive. It came out of the gate weak, missing many key features found in the best to-do list apps. Microsoft To-Do has improved little by little, but it’s still not all that impressive.
As with so much of Microsoft’s software, To-Do will probably continue to grow slowly, lagging behind competitors in core features but increasing its connectivity with other Microsoft apps all the time. If To-Do does manage to one day capture all the best features from Wunderlist, that could be great. The problem is Wunderlist is now four years behind its competition, and time is of the essence. Would I hold my breath? No. I would not.
Can You Still Sign Up for Wunderlist?
If you don’t have a Wunderlist account already, you can still create a new one, if you want it. You sign up by logging in to any account from Microsoft, or by using a Google or Facebook account as the authenticator.
I have three reasons for dissuading you from creating a new account and starting fresh with Wunderlist at this stage. First, it hasn’t changed since 2015. Second, there are better to-do apps that have kept pace with change and offer a better experience. Third, and most important of all, Microsoft could yank Wunderlist away from you at any time.
Existing Wunderlist users: If you’re still happy with Wunderlist, I recommend you keep using it until you feel ready to switch. Certainly, Microsoft will give you some warning before retiring the app for good, and you might as well stick with it if it does what you need. When a kill date is finally set, you can see whether Microsoft To-Do is a suitable alternative or whether it’s time to migrate to something else.
Is Wunderlist Pro Still Available?
Wunderlist used to have a free tier of service and a paid Pro service. Now it just has a free service that includes all the features that used to be Pro. Microsoft stopped billing people for the Pro service some time ago, even though I still found that Wunderlist’s Pro page and calls to upgrade still exist in the app and on the website.
No matter. If you use Wunderlist now, it’s free and you get everything that was formerly behind the paywall.
Why Do People Love Wunderlist?
Wunderlist looks straightforward to use, and it is. Intuitive options and menu selections make it easy to get started right after creating an account. You begin by creating lists for your to-dos, which you can group into folders. For example, you might have lists for Grocery Shopping, Chores, and Travel Planning that are all grouped into the Household folder. When you first set up an account, the app even suggests some lists to get you started, such as Work, Private, and Movies to Watch.
Next, you add a few items, which are the same as “tasks” or “to-dos.” Every item can have a name, due date, reminder, subtasks, assignee, comments, and attachments. You can also add a star to tasks; there’s a filter in the app’s left menu bar to view all tasks with a star. You can collaborate with other people by inviting them to any list you like. Families who like to share chore lists or shopping lists will find that Wunderlist gets the job done handily.
Exploring Wunderlist reminds me of how it feels to get started with the team messaging app Slack in that the presentation is almost deceptively simple. Use either Slack or Wunderlist for a few hours, and you’ll peel back layers of functionality that somehow never clutter the screen. Not all the features stare you in the face, but they aren’t exactly hidden either.
For example, a natural language feature lets you type simple due dates, such as “tomorrow” or “today.” When Wunderlist understands what you mean, it underlines the word and has a little animation that indicates it’s now saved. Also, you can create tags for your tasks at any time by using a # symbol in the name of the task. Neither of these features jumps out at you, but both are highly useful for making the most of this task-management app.
The interface works smoothly, with drag-and-drop capabilities in all the apps. Another highlight is that it allows collaborators to carry on conversations within the context of their lists, which is something you typically see in more advanced task-management tools.
Wunderlist also supports collaboration. You can invite people to join any of your lists, and once they do, you can assign tasks to them. They can also add tasks and assign them to you or anyone else in the shared list. If you don’t want to fully collaborate with someone, you can send them a list of tasks by email instead.
People who use Wunderlist usually tout its cross-platform support as a major benefit. Wunderlist has apps for macOS, Windows, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, and Amazon Fire devices. You can install browser plug-ins for Chrome and Safari, too, and there’s a standard web app as well. Most of the apps work smoothly and without issue whether you’re online or offline. The web app is the weak link, however. In testing, I found it finicky. I was frustrated in particular that I couldn’t even edit the name of a task once I committed it. All the other apps work fine.
How Is Wunderlist Stuck in 2015?
Wunderlist works well and has great features, but it doesn’t have everything you can get out of the very best to-do list apps.
For starters, its natural language input is rudimentary compared with what Todoist can do, which probably has the best natural language input I’ve seen in a to-do app. With Todoist, you can type “ev Mon” right in the task title to get the app to set a recurring due date of every Monday. You can also type rather complex dates, such as “every first Tuesday at 4 p.m. starting Oct 1.” Now that’s impressive. Wunderlist only understands the simplest language.
Subtasks are also stuck in the past. Subtasks in Wunderlist are merely checklists without all the rich detail that you can add to parent tasks. In other words, you can’t add a due date, reminder, assignee, comment, or attachment to a subtask, the way you can to a task. If you want the ability to add a lot of detail to subtasks, Asana and Todoist are your top options.
Another feature missing from Wunderlist is location-based reminders in the mobile apps. Any.do, Todoist, TickTick, Todoodle, and a few other apps have them. Location-based reminders let you set a notification when you’re in a specific geographic location rather than on a time and date. You can create a reminder to pick up the dry cleaning when you leave work, for example. Or you can set a reminder to put the laundry in the dryer when you arrive home.
Tags could be better, too. You can add them to a task, and you can pull up a list of all tasks with the same tag by using the search bar, but you never see a list of all your tags in the left side menu. Additionally, there are no advanced search options for using your tags to filter down to very specific results, like all tasks in the Household folder tagged #phonecalls and #low-energy. Seeing as you can’t make these advanced searches, you also can’t save them, which you can do in Todoist.
Remember, Wunderlist isn’t getting any more new features or major changes, other than security updates. So, it’s not like anything I’ve mentioned here might one day be added.
What to Do About Wunderlist?
What should you do about Wunderlist? If you have a Wunderlist account already and the app does what you need, hang onto it. There’s no rush to jump ship just yet. Keep using the app until Microsoft announces a firm deadline for its demise. At that time, you can decide whether to migrate to Microsoft To-Do or switch to something else; but there’s no immediate pressure to decide.
If you’re curious about Wunderlist, you can still sign up for a free account and give it a go, but it could be a huge waste of your time. If you haven’t yet invested any time into it, you’re better off looking at other top to-do apps. I’d push you toward Todoist Premium or Asana over anything else.
There are a few other excellent to-do apps, but they usually have at least one major quirk, such as being for Apple products only (Things 3) or not supporting collaboration (OmniFocus 3). Todoist and Asana are clear winners in the category. Maybe Microsoft To-Do will be a winner too, someday, but it’s not now.