Apple Reminders User Guide for the iPad

FAQs

How can I get Apple Reminders on Windows?

Apple Reminders has a web app that you can access on Windows using a web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.). However, the web app does not have all the features you get in the app on other devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac).

Getting started (Beginner)

Apple Reminders is a get-things-done app for the iPad, Mac, and iPhone. This guide will help you master how to use it on your iPad.

Supported OS

  • Apple Reminders requires iOS/iPadOS 10.0 or later, watchOS 2.2 or later, and on the Mac.
  • It’s not available on non-Apple platforms
  • Its web app is terrible, so much, it is unusable.

Alternatives

AppsiOS/iPadOSmacOSWindowsAndroidWeb
Microsoft To Do
Google TasksWeb Extension
Todoist
Alternatives that are available on other platforms

Orientation

  • Apple Reminders is a minimalist GTD app that is divided into two columns; a small left column for your lists and tags, and a right one for your tasks/to-dos. This guide will use tasks and to-dos interchangeably.
  • The right column further divides into three distinct sections. Starting from the top, it has your smart lists, Lists, and Tags.
  • At the top of the right column, you have a customisable toolbar for quick actions.
  • The homepage of the app is also its workspace. To help you understand what that means, let’s look at Noteful. Noteful has a homepage for organising your notes. But when you open a notebook to start taking notes, it has an entirely different user interface with different tools. This is called a workspace. Now back to Apple Reminders, we don’t have a separate homepage and workspace. This is a typical setup with most GTD apps.

Simple lists and tasks

  • Before you can start creating tasks, you need to create a list:
    • Tap Add List (bottom of the sidebar) > name your list > pick a colour and icon > tap Done to save the list. Apple Reminders adds your new list to the sidebar under My Lists.
  • To start adding items to the new list go to New Reminder (bottom of the right column) > name your to-do > tap the Return key to add another task.
  • That is the simplest to-do list you can create in Apple Reminders. As you tick off the items on your list they disappear from the list.

Creating date-based reminders

  • To add a date to your to-do, tap on it and then the calendar icon on the top toolbar. You can add dates for Today (if this is a task you need to do today, for example, call Mom about Mauritius today). I can choose to call her Tomorrow, Next Week, or This Weekend. or choose Custom to pick a specific date and time.
  • There are those tasks that you need to do multiple times, though. Creating a new reminder for each time is not very practical. So, for my travelling plans, I need to research about Mauritius. The activities that we can do, and accommodation options. That’s something I can create a reminder for once and it keeps repeating. The easiest way to do that is just to write it out (on Sunday every two weeks, at 16:00hrs). Apple calls this Natural language. It works great for simple repeats that are straightforward.
  • You also have preset repeat options in Apple Reminders for Hourly, Daily, Weekdays, Weekends repeats, etc. and if these don’t work for you, you can use Custom repeats that support Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly repeats. To give you examples, I could choose to go on holiday every two years. A student could practise Maths every 3 days and a professional could check emails every eight hours.
  • You can also decide when to End (the) Repeat. For my holiday, it’s not something I want to end, so that will Repeat Forever. A student might revise Maths until the day of the test, which will be a specific date (March 29). Each time you make changes to your time, you must tap Apply to save them.

Just a quick recap you can:

  • Add dates with natural language, when creating your to-dos in Apple Reminders, for example, go to Nancy’s chess game next week Thursday at 1400hrs.
  • You can repeat your tasks and choose when to end the repeats, for example, I could schedule to study Noteful every day, for two weeks and then end the repeat.

Hopefully, now you know how to add dates to your to-dos and why repeating options are important for a to-do app.

Adding items to your reminder

Notes

  • Sometimes, dates are not enough, especially when planning a complex project. You need notes to add important details to your tasks. You can add notes to your reminders by going to the inspection icon > Notes, or right below your task name.
    • The keyboard toolbar has some basic formatting options. Select the notes you want to format, then you can make them Bold, Italic, or Underlined.
    • On the popup menu, go to Format for more formatting options to add a Bulleted List, Dashed List, and Numbered List. Formatting helps add structure to very long notes.
    • This notes section has a limit of 4000 characters, which is about 500-1300 words.
    • On your list, the app displays some of the notes, but not all of them. So, you have to tap them, as though you’re editing if you want to see them fully.
    • Instead of notes, you can add web links to the notes section of your task (as many as you like).
    • Apple Reminders also has a dedicated slot for a web link (go to the inspection icon > look for a URL slot). This slot only accommodates one link. It’s ideal for adding the main website you visit often for that task.
      • Tapping a web link opens it, in your default web browser.
      • Long-pressing a link in your notes, or right-clicking it gives you options to Open Link, Copy Link or Share it.
      • Long-pressing a link, the web link in your URL slot or right-clicking it lets you Copy, Share and also change the size of your thumbnail. It can either be a small or large thumbnail. Web links look better when you add them to the URL slot instead of your notes. You can also Delete the thumbnail.
      • One thing you get with long-pressing, but not with right-clicking a web link is a preview of the website. You can choose to hide it, if you want; tap Hide preview (top right corner of the preview window) and Tap to show preview to bring it back up.

Images

  • Images can be useful when added to your reminders. In Apple Reminders, you can add images from the Photos library or your iPad camera. Tap the task > then the inspection icon > scroll all the way down to Add Image.
  • Let’s Take Photo with the iPad camera. This one is fairly simple. You can turn on the flashlight if you want, but some iPads don’t have this feature, though. You can also flip the camera. Retake the image if you don’t like it or Use Photo to add it to your task.
  • You can also a Scan Document using the iPadOS scanning feature. We will cover this feature in a different video. You can then adjust the edges of your scan before you Keep Scan to save it. You also have the option to Retake scans you’re not happy with. Unlike with your photos, Apple Reminders temporarily saves all your scans. You can, therefore, scan many pages at once. Save to add them after you finished scanning all the papers you need to scan.
  • The third and final way to add photos to your task is from the Photo Library. You can only add one picture at a time, though. Apple Reminders can handle 14 images without a problem, after that it starts glitching.
  • To delete some images, tap the red icon in front of the image.
  • Tap Done to save the images to your task.
  • Apple Reminders displays your images below your task as big thumbnails or as small ones. Long-press any image to change the size of your thumbnail. You can also long-press an image to Delete it.

Tags

  • There are several ways to add tags to your to-dos in Apple Reminders:
    • To tag your task, tap the notes section and start typing the hashtag. Apple Reminders will show you some suggestions on your keyboard toolbar of tags you’re already using. You can pick it up from the toolbar, or continue to write yours if it is new > tap space to add the new tag.
    • Under the inspection icon, you can also add Tags from the ones displayed, or you can Add New Tag > the space bar or return key will save the new tag.
    • When all your tags are listed, you can easily select and deselect the ones you want for your task. Taping on the tag lets you deselect it, so you can decide the tags you want and select them to add to the task > tap Done to save.
    • The top toolbar also has a tag icon that you use to tag your tasks. Tap on it > and pick the tags you want to use or Edit Tags > Add New Tag to create a new one. When you have added your new tag > tap Apply to save the changes.

Flags

  • Another way to organise your to-dos is to flag them, and there are two ways you can do that:
    • The fastest and easiest way is to swipe to the left > tap Flag. You can also easily unflag a task the same way.
    • You can flag your tasks in Apple Reminders: under the inspection icon > go to Flag and turn it on > then tap Done to save the changes. An orange flag appears on the far right side of your task to show that it has been flagged.

Priorities

  • The priority feature adds exclamation marks before your task, which will immediately grab your attention when you’re going through your to-dos. To add some, tap the task to bring up the inspection icon > go to Priority and select the priority level you want: Low, Medium or High. Tap Done to save the changes.

Intermediate level

Location-based reminders

Sometimes you might not want date-based reminders. You might need a notification when you arrive at a certain place, or when you’re messaging someone. So that is what we’ll try to set up in this lesson.

  • You can set a location-based reminder in three ways:
    • Select the reminder you want to work with > go to the location icon on the top of the toolbar. You can be notified when Getting in/out of Car. Custom lets you enter a location > then when Arriving or Leaving that location > tap Done to save your changes.
    • Tap the reminder to bring up the inspection icon > turn on Location then you can choose the similar options you get: getting in/out of the car and Custom for when Arriving or Leaving your chosen location > Details > Done.
    • Ask Siri to set a location-based reminder for you.

Message-based reminders

  • You can make Apple Reminders notify you of a to-do when you’re messaging someone. Tap the reminder to bring up the inspection icon > go to and turn on When Messaging > Choose Person from your contacts > Tap Done to save the changes. Apple Reminders will send you a notification when you chat with that person in the Messages app.

Organisation

Apple Reminders has groups that let you organise your lists. Lists in the app can be part of a group, or they can be independent (standalone). Lists are a collection of tasks (also called to-dos). You can then have subtasks under your tasks. Apple Reminders, therefore has four levels of organisation:

  • Groups
    • Lists
      • Tasks/to-dos
        • subtasks are as detailed as tasks.

Groups

  • To add a group, go to the three-dots icon (top of the app) and then Edit Lists > tap Add Group (bottom left corner of the left sidebar). You can then name your group, Include the lists you want in the group (simply tap on them) > go back to New Group and Create.
  • To edit the lists in your group, go to the three-dots icon > Edit Lists > tap the inspection icon on the group you want to edit > go to Include > tap the plus icon to add a list and the minus icon to Remove them. You can also rearrange your lists (grab the three-bar icon and drag where you want it). Go to Group Info > tap Done to save your changes. It is faster to long-press the group > go to Show Group Info and start editing your lists.
  • On the sidebar, under My Lists, you can toggle to view or hide the lists in a group (tap the arrow on the right side of the group name). To move a list between groups, long-press it and drag it to the group you want it in. You can also drag it out to make it a standalone list.
  • To delete a group, long-press it > tap Delete Group > then choose to either Delete Group Only (and keep your lists) or Delete Group and Lists to delete everything.

Lists

  • Lists are a collection of to-dos or tasks in Apple Reminders that you can edit even after you have created them. To do that, go three dots icon > Show List Info then you can rename the list or change its colour and icon. Tap Done to save your changes.
  • Sometimes, you need to edit several to-dos at once. Under the three-dots icon > go to Select Reminders and pick all the reminders you want to edit. Once selected, you can then:
    • change the Date, TimeRepeat and End Repeat > tap Apply to save the changes.
    • move the tasks to another list. Tap the folder icon and choose a list to move the reminders to.
    • delete the selected to-dos.
    • do more actions under three-dots icon (bottom right corner) to Mark as Completed, You can also Mark as Incomplete if they’re completed. Add Tag or Flag all the selected tasks.
  • To arrange your tasks in the list, go to the three-dots icon > Sort By and choose from the available options for how your to-dos are organised in the list:
    • Manual: to drag and rearrange the to-dos yourself. 
    • Deadline from Earliest First or Latest First.
    • Creation date arranges your to-dos according to when you added them to the list, from the Oldest First or Newest First. 
    • Priority from the Highest First or Lowest First. 
    • Title in Ascending or Descending order.
  • Apple Reminders can either show or hide your completed tasks. Three-dots icon > Show Completed if they are hidden or Hide Completed to declutter your list.
  • When you Delete List (under three-dots icon) it will delete all your to-dos in the list, as well as the list itself.

iPadOS 17 updates

Sections 

  • You can now add sections to lists in Apple Reminders. To do that, go to the three-dots icon (top left corner of the app) > Add Section. Name the section and then you can start adding tasks to it by either moving already existing to-dos or adding new ones. You can add as many sections as you like: three-dots icon > Manage Sections > Add Sections. To toggle the to-dos under your sections, use the down-facing arrow
  • Lists are the default view for the section in your lists. But, you can change that to the column view, by going go to the three-dots icon > View as Columns. Tapping the three-dots icon (right side of a column) lets you Rename, or Delete the column. Deleting a column also deletes all your tasks under it.
  • Long-pressing your columns and sections lets you rearrange them. You can also toggle your subtasks, in both views. In the column view, to-dos that don’t belong to any column are all listed under the Others column. On the list view, they are listed at the bottom of your list, without any section. Under the three-dots icon, you can manage both columns and sections: Manage Columns/Sections > Edit Columns/Sections. This lets you rename or rearrange them. 
  • When creating or editing tasks, you can now choose a column or section for it. Go to the inspection icon > Column/Section and choose where you want the to-do > tap Done to save the changes. You can also create a new column or section for a task by taping on the New Column/Section with Selection tab > tap Done to save the changes. 

Shopping list

  • Apple also added a new list type for shopping. To add it, go to Add List (bottom left corner) > List Type > Shopping. You can then name your list, pick a colour and icon, and tap Done to save it. Like you do with other lists. Adding items is the same as with any other list in the app, only the app automatically organises your grocery items into different categories (which are effectively sections or columns depending on your view). 
  • To help improve the accuracy of your shopping list, you can rename the sections and move your items to the right sections. 

Early reminders

  • You can now set early reminders for your date-based reminders, under the inspection icon > go to Early Reminders:
    • For tasks that only have a date (without time), you can set an early reminder from the daily, weekly and monthly presets: 1 day before, 2 days before, 1 week before, 2 weeks before, 1 month before, 3 months before, and 6 months before. Under Custom, you can get early reminders Minute(s), Hour(s), Day(s), Week(s), Month(s) (and all range from 1 to 200) before your event.
    • For tasks with a date and time, you can set early reminders from minute and hourly presets as well: 5 minutes before, 15 minutes before, 30 minutes before, 1 hour before, 2 hours before, 1 day before, 2 days before, 1 week before, and 1 month before. But, Custom options are the same.  
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