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Making the Most of Apple’s Reminders App

by Sarah Dobson on March 16, 2020

It’s satisfying when you happen to remember to buy milk when you’re at the grocery store, but annoying when it occurs to you only after arriving home. If you could use a little help with remembering your to-do’s at the right time and in the right place, Apple’s Reminders app can help you stay on track. Although there are numerous task-management apps, Reminders has the benefit of being accessible from your Macs and iOS devices, plus the Apple Watch and HomePod, which ensures that it’s nearly always available.

Reminders is a relatively simple app, so it’s easy to maximize its utility. Here are our favorite ways to use it.

Set Up Multiple Lists

If your head is overflowing with things to track, you’ll find it helpful to organize your reminders in different lists, such as one for general things to do, another for gift ideas, and a third for items to pick up at the hardware store. To create a new list, in the Mac and iPad versions of Reminders, click Add List at the bottom of the sidebar; in the iPhone version, pull down from the top of the screen to reveal the search field and then tap the + button to the right.

Use Siri

Perhaps the best part of Reminders is that you can use Siri to create reminders, which works great on most Apple devices—including the new HomePod—but is particularly compelling on an Apple Watch. Just say “Remind me to purchase tickets,” and if you want to be reminded by a notification, expand it with a time, as in “Remind me to get tickets tomorrow at 9 AM,” or with a location, as in “Remind me to order tickets when I get home.” You can even tell Siri to add reminders to a specific list, as in “Add lag bolts to the Hardware Store list.”

Sync Your Reminder Lists

You can store your Reminders lists in iCloud and thus share them automatically among all your devices as long as each device is signed in to iCloud and has Reminders syncing turned on. On the Mac, look in System Preferences > iCloud, and in iOS, navigate to Settings > Your Name > iCloud. Make sure your default list on all your devices is the same and that it is stored in iCloud—that way, when you create a quick reminder with Siri, it will go where you expect it to and be available on all your devices. On the Mac, in the Reminders app, choose Reminders > Default List and pick a list from the submenu. On the iPhone or iPad, tap Settings > Reminders > Default List and select a list.

Share a Reminder List

You can share a list with your spouse or colleagues who use iCloud. To do this on the Mac, hover over the list name in the sidebar to click the Sharing button and then enter one or more iCloud-connected email addresses. In iOS, view the list you want to share, tap Edit > Sharing > Add Person and then either enter email addresses or tap the + button to select people from your contacts.

View Reminders in Your Calendar

Long ago, you could view your reminders in Apple’s Calendar app, but that feature was lost when Apple moved the reminders function into its own app. If you want reminders intermixed with your calendar events, check out BusyCal, from BusyMac, or Fantastical from Flexibits. Both are full-featured alternatives to Calendar that can also manage reminders.

It’s up to you to complete your reminders, but these tips should help you stay on track!