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There is an almost endless selection of to-do list apps, with features to help you organize your work and get more done. For most of us, though, the digital equivalent of a basic checklist is perfectly sufficient. This is exactly what Google Tasks offers, right inside your Gmail inbox. What’s more, it is completely free.
Primarily an adjunct to Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Tasks began life as a sidebar alongside your inbox or itinerary, respectively. It was extremely basic, with a text-centric design that let you add tasks and check them off—and little more. That's changed with the new Gmail redesign, which brought a new design to Google Tasks along with deeper integration into Gmail and standalone mobile apps.
You'll find Google Tasks inside both Gmail and Google Calendar, though in slightly different places. In Gmail, click the blue Google Tasks icon in the right sidebar alongside your mail; in Google Calendar, check the Tasks calendar in the left sidebar to open Google Tasks on the right.
Either way, you'll have a simple way to manage tasks. You can type in individual tasks—press enter to save the task and immediately add another. Click-and-drag on tasks to rearrange them, or click the pencil button on a task to add a note, due date, and sub-tasks (which can also be dragged into the order you want). Finish something? Check it off, and all sub-tasks will be checked off automatically.
And you can add multiple lists. If you used Tasks in the past, Gmail will automatically start a new list when you first try the new version. Click the My Tasks menu at the top to switch lists or add a new one—then you can move tasks to a different list from their edit options.
It's a basic to-do list, but its integrations with Gmail and Google Calendar make it the most compelling. Add a due date to a task, and it'll show up on the top of that date in Google Calendar. Have an email you need to add to your to-do list? Drag it from your Gmail inbox over to Google Tasks to save it, complete with a link to the original email. Or, open the email, click the 3-dot button, and select Add to Tasks to put it on your to-do list.
Then, it works wherever you want, too. There are new apps for iOS and Android, along with a Chrome extension to check off tasks from your browser. And there's a Google Tasks mobile web app that works on almost any browser—even on a Kindle.
In short, Google Tasks is just a really simple way to stay organized. Dedicated Gmail users will get the best experience, of course, but it is entirely usable on its own with the Google Tasks mobile apps and Chrome extension. And with its Zapier integrations, Google Tasks can keep track of everything you need to do in a simple to-do list.
Originally published November 16, 2015; updated April 26, 2018 with details on the new Google Tasks.